Counterterrorism characterization Pre 9/11

Analysts previously defined “counterterrorism” broadly to include “psychological, communicational [and] educational” initiatives but generally argued that governments paid too little attention to addressing terrorist propaganda and to the communicative aspects of counterterrorism itself.

2003 U.S. “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism”

2003 U.S. “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism” is best remembered for its single reference to the use of pre-emptive force against threats, it undertook to win the “war of ideas” and utilize “all the tools of statecraft” to prevent terrorism.

The 2005 “European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy”

The 2005 “European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy” set out four pillars: prevent, protect, pursue, and respond. The first of these entails an explicit focus on “conditions in society which may create an environment in which individuals can become more easily radicalized.”6 As part of the United Kingdom’s response to the 7 July 2005 terrorist bombing in London, the CONTEST strategy similarly established a “prevent” strand to address “structural problems in the [United Kingdom] and overseas that may contribute to radicalization” and to challenge the “ideologies that extremists believe can justify the use of violence, primarily by helping Muslims who wish to dispute these ideas to do so.

The 2006 United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The 2006 United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy also set aside a separate pillar on “conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism,” elaborating a wide range of such conditions that may yield terrorism and that should be addressed as such.

Multiple Fronts of Action of CVE

Ministers from more than 60 countries and representatives of regional and multilateral organizations gathered in Washington D.C., to participate in the 2015 White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. The ministers “reaffirmed that intelligence gathering, military force, and law enforcement alone will not solve—and when misused can in fact exacerbate—the problem of violent extremism.”1 In response, they “reiterated that comprehensive rule of law and community-based strategies are an essential part of the global effort to counter violent extremism.” They duly set out a broad and ambitious agenda. Countering violent extremism (CVE), they said, requires action on multiple fronts, including:

  • Development assistance and the provision of economic opportunities
  • Educational initiatives
  • Measures to empower youth and women
  • The resolution of protracted conflicts
  • Community policing
  • And the dissemination of counter extremist narratives, including through social media
  • Further, governments cannot deliver this wide-ranging agenda alone, underscoring the role of civil society and “credible and authentic religious voices” in CVE.[1]

[1] Peter Romaniuk, 2015, Does CVE Work? Lessons Learned from the Global effort to Counter Violent extremism, Global Center.