Think Tank (1/2021)
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What Happens Now? Terrorism and the Challenges of Counter-terrorism in the Next Decade
27 Jan 2021

The threat of terrorism is omnipresent and growing despite the onset of the pandemic and worldwide lockdowns. This is evidenced through the recent attacks in Europe and America, which show the ever-evolving, dynamic nature of terrorism across the ideological spectrum, from Islamist to far-right, and the societal tensions that seem to be driving it.

Ms Suzanne Raine, Affiliate Lecturer at the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University and former head of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) in the UK, offered fresh new insights on contemporary and future terrorism and the counter-terrorism landscape on 27 January 2021. The ICPVTR Webinar titled “What Happens Now? Terrorism and the Challenges of Counter-terrorism in the Next Decade” covered three broad segments: continuity in terrorism, cycles of violence, and counter-terrorism response.

In the first segment, she argued that very little has changed in the terrorism landscape in the last 30 years, post 9/11. There has been no noticeable reduction in the underlying forces that nurtured terrorist threats in the first place, as well as chaotic violence from Islamist and far-right terrorism. This was due to a variety of factors such as persistence of underlying anger and disenfranchised communities, online radicalisation, and political instability.

Terrorism, according to Ms Raine, is cyclical in nature, corresponding to peaks and troughs on a graph. However, decline in activity does not necessarily correspond to a decline in threat. In fact, periods of decline are often used by terrorist groups to regain strength and regroup in preparation for future attacks.

She highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had material consequences on the resource allocation of governments towards counter-terrorism response. The current situation, in which states are financially burdened and forced to shift resources away from national security to pandemic management, may well be exploited by terrorist groups.

On the whole, inter-governmental cooperation, continued dialogue, and vigilance are crucial in dealing with the current and future terrorism threat. This is especially important given the continually developing range of threats faced in the West, from the challenging lone-actor terrorism to the new ideologies that have started to emerge.

Catch it here on the RSISVideoCast YouTube channel:

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