UK: Terrorists exploiting wars in Arab states

British counter-terror document highlights four-point action plan to tackle terrorism

Dubai: This week, the British government released ‘CONTEST: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism’. This is the fourth published version of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. As Prime Minister Theresa May put it, “Our refusal to be defeated by terrorism is our greatest asset in the fight against it. But to be truly effective it must be twinned with practical measures to prevent extremism, to pursue those who would do us harm, to protect our country against attack and to be properly prepared should the worst happen.”


The 94-page document proposes a four-point response to the terrorist threat:

(i)Prevent – to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism;

(ii) Pursue – to stop terrorist attacks;

(iii) Protect – to strengthen our protection against a terrorist attack; and

(iv) Prepare – to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack.

One of the concerns expressed is the increased threat mainly caused by the rise of Daesh, combined with the persistent threat from Al Qaida, especially Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Daesh has been constrained militarily but its ability to direct, enable and inspire attacks still represents the most significant global terrorist threat, including to the UK, its people, and its interests overseas, the document notes.

The document notes that the UK will disrupt terrorist threats in the UK earlier, and share information more widely and support more local interventions with individuals in its own communities who are being groomed or incited to commit or support acts of terrorism.

On the foreign front, the document takes a dim view of the way terrorists have exploited the power vacuum in countries Libya, Somalia, Syria or Yemen. “In these environments, terrorists can gain access to weapons and resources, control territory in which they can recruit and oppress local populations, set up training camps and media centres, and plan and prepare for attacks. In some cases, terrorist organisations may gain support by providing stability, security and governance, where no other exists because of corruption or state fragility. Political violence by governments, political exclusion and group grievances are drivers of terrorism,” it notes.

The British government has said it will work to address these root causes of terrorism and other national security problems by helping to tackle conflict, marginalisation, discrimination and human rights abuses through development programmes, integrated with wider diplomatic and defence efforts.

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