Updated: 04-Feb-2002 NATO Speeches

At the
International Conference

NATO Defence College
4 February 2002

"Role of the Military in combating terrorism"

Introductory Word by the Defence Minister of the Russian Federation

Ladies and Gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the Conference and personally to George Robertson for the invitation to participate in the forum and share my views on approaches of the Russian Federation to the role of the military in combating terrorism.

Today, it is an open secret that international terrorism challenged not just a single state but also the whole international community. We all got convinced that not a single state or nation are immune from this threat.

Therefore, the main peculiar feature of the new international situation is an absolutely obvious convergence of interests of individual countries and international organizations, based on facing the same enemy. The enemy is present-day terrorism.

The terrorists expected to intimidate and split us, to play on conflicts between states. We responded with unity and solidarity.

Time has come to translate the antiterrorist cooperation into practical steps. So, from that standpoint the subject of the Conference is rather relevant and useful.

Allow me to say a few words about some most typical features of present-day terrorism.

First of all, the tactics of terrorism has undergone transformation.

Earlier, it basically existed in a form of single assassinations of heads of states and governments, top officials. Today, the situation has radically changed. Present-day terrorism is no longer represents uncoordinated individual actions, rather, it features numbers of various terrorist attacks aimed against a broad range of people and infrastructure. Those attacks are carefully planned and executed by mostly qualified personnel and well-organized groups. At the same time, one can observe a dramatic growth in numbers of terrorist attacks resulting in multiple victims and significant material damage, as well as joining effort by some extremist groups and criminal world on the international level to achieve their political ends.

Second, both structures of terrorist groups and concealment or cover of their activities have improved.

In many cases terrorists began operating in small groups and made the check up on new members more stringent. Inside terrorist organizations it has become a practice for units to major in different fields such as: financing, intelligence and counterintelligence, supply of weapons and ammunitions, execution of terrorist attacks.

Third, forms and methods of terror have become more brutal.

The use by terrorist organizations of extremely brutal forms and methods in their attacks increases the danger of committing the acts of so-called "technological terrorism". In the first place, it involves the use or a threat to use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, radioactive or highly toxic substances as well as attempts of seizure of nuclear and other industrial facilities by extremists.

The main reasons for the "technological terrorism" to emerge are as follows:

  • Broad dissemination in the world and easy access to information on the issues of nuclear physics and technologies, poisonous agents;
  • Growth in production and use of fissile materials in many countries that increases the danger of their seizure by terrorists with the purpose of fabricating nuclear explosive devices or which we think to be more realistic so far using radioactive materials with terrorist aims; specialists call it a dirty weapon;
  • Possibilities of stealing, purchasing or seizing various nuclear and other WMD systems elements by terrorists.
    Here, I would like to stress that in our view this is the key sphere in terms of establishing coordination and cooperation on the international level.

The main targets for terror involving the use of weapons of mass destruction can be civilian population, transport networks, nuclear industry factories, and bodies of state governance. The execution of nuclear terrorist attacks is linked with possibilities to carry out bomb attacks at nuclear power plants, nuclear waste storage facilities and place containers with radioactive materials in densely populated areas.

However, given the difficulties of getting access to fissile materials, terrorist organizations will likely seek to possess more accessible types of weapons of mass destruction. At the present time, the use of chemical and biological weapons by terrorists is seen as most probable. It is rather easy to purchase or manufacture components of such weapons, produce it in required quantities and carry out concealed attacks in big cities resulting in possible disastrous consequences.

Fourth, present-day terrorists have adopted a policy of taking advantage of scientific and technological progress achievements.

The progress evolution gives birth to new kinds of terrorism which destructive power is growing continuously. Thus, modern community in everyday life has become dependant on electronic databases and transmitted information. The issues of defence, activities of secret services and law enforcement bodies, banking business, functioning of life support and utility systems of cities etc. depend on their use. In this connection, vital spheres of functioning of any state have become accessible and vulnerable to hackers whose coordinated actions can not only immobilize a country but lead to numerous victims as well. Therefore, today, the threat of information and electronic terrorism - terrorism of a new type - is getting special importance.

Fifth, terrorism based on religious and ethnic hatred is on the rise.
Today, not only groups of insurgents who participate in fighting directly pose a danger. They are also numerous preachers of radical Islam, including militant Islam, who were trained in Islamic educational establishments of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt and recruited by Islamists. A comparative analysis of situation development in the Balkans, North Caucasus and the Central Asia shows that these are the Islamic preachers who are assigned a task to be the first in implementing a long-term mission of spreading the ideas of separatism and religious extremism in different regions of the world.

At the same time, terrorists try to drive a wedge between the Christian and Islamic worlds, to fan the flames of "a clash of civilizations". It must not be tolerated. Our common enemy has neither a religion nor a nationality. I liked the metaphor Joseph Liberman used in Munich about the new iron curtain between Islam and the rest of the world.

Sixth, both human and financial resources of international terrorism have expanded.
Today, terrorism can be view as kind of the price the world community has to pay for progressing globalization in international relations. Large-scale migration processes that can pose a serious threat to stability and security not only in a tranquil Europe but for the whole international community is one of the consequences of such globalization.

The processes are known to have been generated by a strive of population of some countries to join in the world of universal democratic values. It is no secret that immigrants are led by representatives of intellectuals. Many Western countries are willingly draining the cheap "human intellect" especially from low-developed countries. According to preliminary conclusions all the participants of September 11 inhuman attacks come from the immigration environment of that kind. Having no firm views of their own they can be easily manipulated by terrorist ringleaders.

The other source of revenues for international terrorism is drug trafficking. In this respect, in my view, it is enough to quote bin Laden: "In the fight against infidels drugs is the same weapon as an automatic rifle". It should be noted that the narcoaggression against European countries on the part of the Taliban had been growing with every passing year, but many people were reluctant to notice that.

The trend of merger between Islamic extremists and international organized crime is bringing about serious political and operation implications for secret service of different states. For instance, 40 per cent of revenue items of Al-Qaida "annual budget" were made up of drug trafficking profits while the share of racketeering totaled 10-20 per cent. Another remarkable fact is that the radical Islamists are intensively establishing contacts with international criminal syndicates in a number of the world offshore zones, Mediterranean ports as well as with pirates of South East Asia.

Thus, today the whole world community faces an insidious and well-equipped enemy. To fight the enemy effectively it is necessary to devise a mechanism of international cooperation, which would contain the whole set of tools enabling us to neutralize the evil and ranging from the use of military force to the elimination of terrorists' sources of financing.

It is true that, today, it is impossible to create a panacea, a universal medicine to cure the ailment. Therefore, there is no other more relevant task now than strengthening our unity in combating terrorism. First of all, we have to ensure joint actions by law enforcement establishments, secret, customs and financial services, coordination of information policies. To achieve this objective, a totally new level of coordination between our countries is required.

Here, I would like to emphasize the following notion. If somebody still finds it beneficial to render "hearty welcome" to representatives of the Chechen terrorist groups as it happened a few days ago at the regular session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, in Washington, or London by official Foreign Ministry representatives, then we state it firmly that all the talking about our unity and solidarity may remain "empty words".

Russia was one of the first countries to have been struck by present-day terrorism. We were fighting it on our own. Today, a broad coalition of countries prepared to counter the threat has been formed.
I am confident that the military should make the main contribution to the fight against terror, specifically it concerns the destruction of logistics and infrastructure of international terrorist activities.

We must create an atmosphere of total rejection of terror in the world. We will be able to achieve that end only if "terrorist international" is countered by "international of law and legality".

Thank you!

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