What's In Blue

Meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee on Foreign Terrorist Fighters

Tomorrow (24 November), the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) is planning to hold a meeting open to the UN membership at large on the issue of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). The meeting is expected to include presentations by members of a global research network launched by CTC’s Executive Directorate (CTED) earlier this year.

The presentations and discussions are expected to build on the conclusions of a special meeting in Madrid in July on stemming the flow of FTFs, which identified a number of areas that required further research and reflection. According to a concept note circulated by CTED in preparation for tomorrow’s meeting, presentations will focus on the motivations and backgrounds of FTFs and the rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for returning FTFs. A 24 March report of the Monitoring Team of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee on the issue of FTFs stated that successfully screening, monitoring or rehabilitating returnees and preventing radicalisation in the first place are at the heart of an effective global response.

The summary of the presentations and discussions from tomorrow’s meeting—which will be disseminated on the CTC website—are expected to contribute to the work of the CTC and the Council in tackling the issue of FTFs following up on the summit-level debate on foreign terrorist fighters on 24 September 2014 that was chaired by US President Barack Obama. At that debate, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2178, which defined FTFs as individuals who travel or attempt to travel to a state other than their states of residence or nationality “for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts, or the providing or receiving of terrorist training.”

On the radicalisation process, participants in tomorrow’s meeting are expected to focus on the motivations and backgrounds of FTFs. The Council has authorised law enforcement measures and called for the development of other preventive strategies to stem the flow of FTFs. Resolution 2178 introduced an international obligation requiring member states to establish criminal offenses sufficient for would-be terrorist fighters to be prosecuted for their intention to travel in order to participate in terrorist acts. The CTED has been conducting regular assessments to identify gaps in the implementation of resolution 1624 of 14 September 2005, which calls upon member states to prohibit by law the incitement to commit terrorist acts. The CTC is furthermore expected to convene a special meeting on 16-17 December on “Preventing Terrorists from Exploiting the Internet and Social Media to Recruit Terrorists and Incite Terrorist Acts, while Respecting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.” Lastly, in early 2016, the Secretary-General is expected to present a Global Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.

Tomorrow’s meeting is also expected to focus on rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for returning FTF as well as issues related to screening and assessing returning individuals. (That last aspect is particularly timely given the fact that at least six of the nine suspects who perpetrated the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November are believed to have travelled to and back from Syria). The monitoring team of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee identified three major elements in returnee policies: how to screen returnees to assess risk adequately, how to develop and implement deradicalisation policies for returnees and how to reintegrate returnees into society.

According to the CTED’s concept note, other under-researched areas that require further attention include the rehabilitation and reintegration of young and female FTFs, as well as understanding their motivation for returning.

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