Eurasia and Armed Radicalism. Spaces, flows and finances of an evolving terrorism.
Berlin – 27 January 2016
The new avatar of armed radicalism (ISIS) is a fundamental change in the structure and practice of terrorism. Al-Qa’eda in 1989 was a major innovation because it was a network, able to self-finance itself and to act with considerable political and operational freedom vis-à-vis traditional states sponsoring terrorism. Nevertheless al-Qa’eda tended to associate itself within existing political national structures, be they internationally recognised – like Sudan – or de facto governments – like the Taleban Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Like a parasite it exploited host governments as territorial springboards for a world-wide radical “religious” campaign.
The project of a new “state” wants to destroy the old Middle Eastern geography, dating back to the First World War, by creating a hostile political and operational reality aptly dubbed SYRAQ (like AFPAK in Central-South Asia) and synergising in a flexible way with other terrorist groups from the Gulf to the Levant to North Africa and the vast Sahel region till Nigeria. ISIS of course cannot replace all existing armed radical groups, many of which continue to exist either in a competition, coexistence or collaboration relationship. This is particularly true in the rest of Asia, where, ideo-religious affinities notwithstanding, the variety of terrorist groups presents a distinct political, intelligence and security challenge. It is important avoiding to conflate distinct risks and connect instead in the right way different strands of terrorism and underlying political interests.
This leads to the crucial question of terrorist funding. The FATF lists at least eight broad funding categories (in addition to state sponsorship), including at least seven sources from criminal proceedings where trafficking, smuggling and fraud are prominent indeed. It is evident that the past piecemeal approach needs to be replaced by a structured and holistic one. The G-20 has given a new impulse to co-ordinated and targeted action in this field.
What: closed door 1 day seminar structured into three panels (Chatham House rules):
1. The first is dedicated on the diffusion and apparent confusion created by the proliferation of groups, cells and “provinces” by prominent radical armed groups in the area.
2. The second tries to focus at a more global scale on the transnational nature of the phenomenon, considering its reverberations not only in South and Central Asia, but also in South East Asia and important areas of the Pacific, which is closely intertwined with Europe via the Eurasian space.
3. The third panel tries to tackle the difficult issue of terrorism funding. On the one hand new state and non-state sponsors have emerged in the Gulf and the Levant; on the other independent funding via legal, illegal and criminalised economic activities continues unabated.
The conference is aimed at offering added-value input in order to analyse the context of crucial new security developments Europe, Africa and Asia which are directly relevant the security of the international community.