Homegrown terrorism: how
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Homegrown terrorism: how can NATO fight it?

The threat from homegrown terrorists is clearly a security issue. But it is one largely dealt with by national intelligence and security forces – not the military. So what exactly can NATO do to counter it? And how does this fit into NATO's wider fight against terrorism? We ask NATO’s counter terrorism expert.

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Homegrown terrorism:

how can NATO fight it?

Homegrown terrorism

is a major threat

to many NATO countries

and their populations.

Attacks have already caused

multiple injuries, damage and death

in countries such as Norway,

the UK and the US.

So what can NATO do about it?

To find out we asked

NATO’s counterterrorism expert,

Dr Juliette Bird. Having worked

on sensitive projects previously,

we are unable to show her face.

Juliette Bird, how much of a new

concept is homegrown terrorism?

That’s a good question because

it’s probably a very old concept.

The difference is now that terrorism

has moved away from home.

Terrorism would be

to fight for a cause

and your cause would

be found on your doorstep.

The change in the ways

that we can communicate,

have meant that only now

do you have a picture

of what is happening elsewhere.

And so the desire to get involved

in struggles that are

not close to you physically.

The world becomes transnational

with this transfer

of knowledge and people.

Does this increase the risk

of homegrown terrorism?

Certainly the Internet

is a tool for everybody

and there is no reason

to assume that it is used

in any different fashion

by terrorist groups.

It’s a huge library of information.

It’s a great way

to reach out across the world

to people who think like you do.

Even if there are only five

in the world who think like you,

you feel you have a community.

How important is actually

being physically part of a community

to the homegrown terrorist?

The bonding issue is probably more

important than what can be taught

by being in a training camp or being

with those who feel the same way.

It’s the ability to discuss the ideology,

the reason that you want

to take up weapons

and do violence

to the people you live amongst,

that brings you together.

What role can NATO play

in addressing homegrown terrorism?

Fundamentally,

NATO is not a lead player.

We’re talking

about homegrown terrorism.

There's nothing

more domestic than that,

so that makes it

an issue for law enforcement,

for intelligence agencies,

for the government as a whole

to decide what it is going to do

about its domestic problem.

So there is not a great deal

NATO can do actively about that.

It can ensure that the things

that are being learned

by different nations are shared.

How successful have we been

at doing this in NATO?

Once a year,

NATO as a whole produces

an agreed threat assessment

and that sets out

what it understands the threat to be.

And it’s from this document

that the policy flows

and policy guidelines were given

to us at the Chicago Summit recently.

And we will be turning

those into action areas

for different parts of the wider NATO.

And they include

what areas for example?

They include everything really,

from education and training

of both allies and partners to

recognize terrorism when they see it,

to know what areas NATO

is capable of working against,

where it can contribute.

Who else is active in the field

and should be looked to for expertise.

It can be having the right capabilities

to be able to resist attacks

using improvised explosive devices

or perhaps

how to harden your aircraft

to be more resistant

to the use of manpads.

It can be the soft side,

it can be consultations.

It can be the hard side,

it can be physical capabilities.

And it can be building

the capacity of partners

and being part of the global effort

to counter terrorism.

The point is, I think,

that international organisations

of themselves can do very little,

but as part of an international,

global counterterrorism strategy

which is what the UN has in place

and now monitors the application of,

it can be a useful player.

Homegrown terrorism:

how can NATO fight it?

Homegrown terrorism

is a major threat

to many NATO countries

and their populations.

Attacks have already caused

multiple injuries, damage and death

in countries such as Norway,

the UK and the US.

So what can NATO do about it?

To find out we asked

NATO’s counterterrorism expert,

Dr Juliette Bird. Having worked

on sensitive projects previously,

we are unable to show her face.

Juliette Bird, how much of a new

concept is homegrown terrorism?

That’s a good question because

it’s probably a very old concept.

The difference is now that terrorism

has moved away from home.

Terrorism would be

to fight for a cause

and your cause would

be found on your doorstep.

The change in the ways

that we can communicate,

have meant that only now

do you have a picture

of what is happening elsewhere.

And so the desire to get involved

in struggles that are

not close to you physically.

The world becomes transnational

with this transfer

of knowledge and people.

Does this increase the risk

of homegrown terrorism?

Certainly the Internet

is a tool for everybody

and there is no reason

to assume that it is used

in any different fashion

by terrorist groups.

It’s a huge library of information.

It’s a great way

to reach out across the world

to people who think like you do.

Even if there are only five

in the world who think like you,

you feel you have a community.

How important is actually

being physically part of a community

to the homegrown terrorist?

The bonding issue is probably more

important than what can be taught

by being in a training camp or being

with those who feel the same way.

It’s the ability to discuss the ideology,

the reason that you want

to take up weapons

and do violence

to the people you live amongst,

that brings you together.

What role can NATO play

in addressing homegrown terrorism?

Fundamentally,

NATO is not a lead player.

We’re talking

about homegrown terrorism.

There's nothing

more domestic than that,

so that makes it

an issue for law enforcement,

for intelligence agencies,

for the government as a whole

to decide what it is going to do

about its domestic problem.

So there is not a great deal

NATO can do actively about that.

It can ensure that the things

that are being learned

by different nations are shared.

How successful have we been

at doing this in NATO?

Once a year,

NATO as a whole produces

an agreed threat assessment

and that sets out

what it understands the threat to be.

And it’s from this document

that the policy flows

and policy guidelines were given

to us at the Chicago Summit recently.

And we will be turning

those into action areas

for different parts of the wider NATO.

And they include

what areas for example?

They include everything really,

from education and training

of both allies and partners to

recognize terrorism when they see it,

to know what areas NATO

is capable of working against,

where it can contribute.

Who else is active in the field

and should be looked to for expertise.

It can be having the right capabilities

to be able to resist attacks

using improvised explosive devices

or perhaps

how to harden your aircraft

to be more resistant

to the use of manpads.

It can be the soft side,

it can be consultations.

It can be the hard side,

it can be physical capabilities.

And it can be building

the capacity of partners

and being part of the global effort

to counter terrorism.

The point is, I think,

that international organisations

of themselves can do very little,

but as part of an international,

global counterterrorism strategy

which is what the UN has in place

and now monitors the application of,

it can be a useful player.

quotes
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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