In 2013, then-US President Barack Obama announced the War on Terror was over. It was a rhetorical end to the “war”, however, and within a year the Iraqi city of Fallujah had fallen to militant forces, heralding the rise of the so-called Islamic State terror group. The War on Terror (as launched by George W. Bush following the September 11th attacks) might have officially been declared over, but it certainly didn’t feel like a victory.

Is it even possible to “win” against terrorism? Is it possible to stop terrorism from being used as a tactic by groups and individuals with a grudge? Can we imagine living in a world without terror attacks? Or, at the very least, can we work to reduce their number? Can we discourage the use of violence and improve our resilience as a society?

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Cécile, who wonders if it’s possible to ever live in a world without terrorism. She thinks it’s sad to think this way, but believes the reality is that there will always be terror attacks.

Is Cécile being too pessimistic? Perhaps it’s not possible to end terror attacks completely, but maybe they can be dramatically reduced in number? We put Cécile’s comment to Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. What would he say?

I would say yes and no. We’ve had different forms of terrorism in Europe, and if you look at the IRA, or ETA in Spain, or the Red Brigades in Italy, or the Red Army Faction in Germany, they came to an end. There are ways to get to a point where it stops. So, I would be not so negative.

The current forms of terrorism, linked to jihad, linked to Da’esh and Al-Qaeda, will likely last for some time – because a lot of the reasons why they developed remain – but I would not be that negative. One day, it will stop and maybe other forms of terrorism will start.

So, that’s why I cannot say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I think history shows that it sometimes stops and morphs into something different. But, in this respect you could say that terrorism never stops, but the current form of terrorism will.

For another perspective, we put the same comment to Bjørn Ihler, a Norwegian counter extremism expert, peace activist, and survivor of the 2011 Utøya mass shooting. How would he respond to Cécile?

So, I think that’s – as she says – a kind of sad way of seeing it. But, in the foreseeable future, I think it’s also realistic… People in the field of counter-terrorism and countering radicalisation and violent extremism are hoping we can in the long-term at least push towards the reduction of terrorism and push towards other forms of resolving conflict.

We’ll always live in a world with conflicts, the question is how we manage those conflicts. Unfortunately, right now, some are managing their conflicts and grievances through terrorism, while if we do our job well enough in the long-run the hope is that people will find other ways of managing their grievances and conflicts.

Next up, we had a comment sent in by Philip, who believes there should be tougher laws against spreading extremist propaganda online. What would the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, say to that?

I do agree with his statement. We’ve been working with the large internet platforms the last 2-3 years through what we call the Internet Forum to get, through a voluntary approach, more unlawful content removed from these platforms. But we’ve reached a limit which led the Commission to suggest legislation, which is currently being negotiated in the Council and with the European Parliament, which foresees an obligation for the companies to remove [unlawful content] within an hour, to take much more proactive measures, to issue a transparency report, and to develop the necessary human and technical resources to reduce this terrorist propaganda online to a minimum. So, I hope this legislation will be adopted before the next European election, because this is a very important piece of legislation.

Finally, how would Bjørn Ihler respond to the same comment?

It’s always been possible to spread messages. The revolutionary thing about the internet is really the speed and efficiency of doing it. However, policing the internet has proved tricky because it’s so international and such a global platform. Getting unity among governments and governing it has been difficult, but also having the technical capacity to do it has been difficult.

So, really, what I’m striving for when it comes to the internet is building resilience in online communities, so making sure that communities have the power within them to combat hate speech and the spread of propaganda. And there are several approaches to that, including working with the platform providers – so, Facebook and Google and so on – creating better policies and algorithms for deciding what you see.

However, one of the big political problems when it comes to policing content on the internet is first of all freedom of expression. So, who gets really to say what is terrorist content and what is not? This has proven tricky in countries such as Turkey, where a lot of academics, journalists, and human rights activists have been accused of spreading terrorist propaganda. So, that’s a massive problem in terms of deciding what constitutes terrorist propaganda or content. Another problem is that if we push the extremists off of the mainstream platforms they’ll just move onto hidden platforms. We have encrypted chat services that a lot of extremists are on and using actively, and those hidden spaces are impossible to monitor by the security services, and those of us working on the softer edge of preventing radicalisation have no way of monitoring it properly. And another element of that is that extremists who would otherwise get exposure to other worldviews and ideas through interacting with normal people on the open access platforms are getting into their own little worlds where they only interact with people who agree with them…

It’s an incredibly complex challenge and a lot of work is needed to figure all of these things out. These are just a few of the problems that we are thinking about and working on actively in that field.

Is it possible to win the war against terror? Should there be laws making it harder to spread terrorist propaganda online? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – palinchak; PORTRAIT CREDITS: De Kerchove (c) European Union, Ihler (cc) Jwslubbock


34 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Olivier

    Yes with Marine Le Pen and Salvini…. Others have no political will to do it

  2. avatar
    Liz

    Who created it,can stop it. If he said it’s finished, I believe it ! :)

  3. avatar
    Jay

    yes, lol. when you feel terrified , try to think rationally and calm down, form a plan and act. this will end you terror and you have won.

  4. avatar
    Alfredo

    Repatriation and borders closed.

  5. avatar
    Παυλος

    Yes if ofc we are willing to stop messing around with middle East and we are willing to take distance from the US policies in the area..
    So the real question is are we willing?

  6. avatar
    Bernard

    Not with mass immigration continuing.

    • avatar
      Παυλος

      the immigration is a secondary problem the real problem is that Europe isn’t willing to make a stand against the US policies in the middle East that produced those problems in the first place

    • avatar
      Bernard

      Well, while you’re saving the world from real or imaginary problems, we need to close the border, as Mr Orban and Mr Salvini have done.

    • avatar
      Florin

      Build a bigger table, not a taller fence. How about just letting them be?

  7. avatar
    catherine benning

    Παυλος

    The immigration into Europe at the level it is at, is not a result of war in the middle east or Africa. First of all, we are not at war with India and in the UK the highest level of immigrant is from India and Pakistan. And colonialism isn’t the reason for it either.

    Most of the highest level of German immigrant is Turkish. Is Germany at war with Turkey? The war in Africa, Somalia, or, Yemen is Saudi, not European. Yes we sell arms. Again that is not the reason for mass migration into Europe. You are buying the globalist line.

    The main reason for mass migration into Europe is political deviance. And began long ago before WWII. Read all about it or go to youtube and type in, the Coudenhove-Kalergi plan.

    Every year political leaders in Europe get a prize they call the Charlemagne Prize. It is given to those who have done most for diversity in Europe. The first winner of this prize is Richard Coudenhove Kalergi.

    https://www.karlspreis.de/en/the-charlemagne-prize/origin

    And some of the winners. Anyone you know?

    https://www.geni.com/projects/Recipients-of-the-Charlemagne-Prize/12120

    And here is the message. Scroll down.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_von_Coudenhove-Kalergi

    Did you get a vote on this package? Were you ever advised of the plan?

  8. avatar
    Bernard

    How about they build their own table, in their own countries?

  9. avatar
    Alexander

    Terror is a performance act. A form of avant-garde art that feeds on attention. In reality there are much worse threats than 100 people killed in the middle of a big city, 4 times an year. Thousand die in car crashes every day but you cannot win an election by making a campaign against cars in general.

  10. avatar
    Marc

    No. Pull out and leave them to it!

  11. avatar
    Julia

    Green energy, nationalise banks and defence corporations, global GMI.

  12. avatar
    Manuel

    no way…
    after the fall of “Warsow Pact” , “Pacto de Varsóvia”, the only way to control people was to invent a new global fear…

  13. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    There will be an end to Islamic terrorism when the main reason for it is addressed and dealt with – the extremist philosophy of violence towards others, the belief that problems between people can be solved with weapons, in the name of “god”. What is the root inspiration behind such philosophy? It is not online propaganda, because that is also motivated by something else in the first place. The main reason for terrorism are “holy” teachings such as these:

    1) “The unbelievers are your inveterate foe” (Koran, surah 4:97).

    2) “Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends” (Koran, surah 5:51).

    3) “You shall not kill – for that is forbidden by God – except for a just cause” (Koran, surah 6:149).

    4) “Do not grieve for the unbelievers” (Koran, surah 5:65).

    5) “Make war on the leaders of unbelief… God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them and heal the spirit of the faithful” (Koran, surah 9:12).

    6) “Unbelievers are those who say ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary.’ Unbelievers are those who say ‘God is one of three'” (Koran, surah 5:70).

    7) “The believers who stay at home are not equals of those who fight for the cause of God” (Koran, surah 4:93).

    8) “God will not forgive idolatry. He will forgive whom He will all other sins” (Koran, surah 4:114).

    9) “Seek out the enemy relentlessly” (Koran, surah 4:103).

    10) “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them” (Koran, surah 4:34).

    11) “Those who deny Our revelations We will burn in fire” (Koran, surah 4:56).

    12) “Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of God; whoever fights for the cause of God, whether he dies or triumphs, on him We shall bestow a rich recompense” (Koran, surah 4:67).

    13) “Therefore fight for the cause of God. Rouse the faithful: perchance God will overthrow the might of the unbelievers. Mightier is God and more terrible is His punishment” (Koran, surah 4:82).

    14) “He that disobeys the Apostle after Our guidance has been revealed to him, and follows a path other than that of the faithful, shall be given what he has chosen. We will burn him in the fire of Hell” (Koran, surah 4:114).

    1.8 billion people in the world vow by those teachings. They all need to understand a different philosophy – that of peace and religious acceptance. Then there will be no Islamic state and terrorism. The task is huge.

  14. avatar
    Evyn Jacob Tyndzik

    If you are representing freedom then you have to compare this challenge to a prohibition in the past.

    Prohibition didn’t work evidently today alcohol still harms the public.

    This demands the potential and inclusion of AI, and new and advanced software technologies.

  15. avatar
    Andy

    I wonder if extrajudicial killing the main suspect of the 911-terror attacks on foreign soil was an act of terrorism. The responsibility took Barack Obama in plain sight.

    I would also argue that secessionist movements are not on the same level as state sponsored or religious terror groups. They take arms for the self-determination of a people. There is e.g. no point in the Italian occupation of South Tyrol, the British rule over NI, or the Spanish rule over Catalonia or the denial of Kurdish self-determination. You don’t have to take sides against their activists and support repressive interests.

  16. avatar
    catherine benning

    Is it possible to win the war against terror?

    The only way to win the war against terror is to reject it entirely in our society from its roots. Do not engage in any of it and do not condone or enable it culturally or environmentally by funding it.

    And what I mean by that is, accepting it as forgivable and protecting the terrorist in whatever form is, encourages it. Enabling it is a betrayal of our principles and a betrayal of our people. To condone murder by those who wish us horrendous harm and death is treasonous.

    Here is an example.

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1087006/ISIS-Islamic-State-news-British-schoolgirl-Syria-terrorist-group-terrorism-terror

    This woman is a criminal, not a schoolgirl, who said on film she was not phased by seeing severed heads in a bin when her lover/husband killed for jihad. She was of this ilk after having been raised in the UK by parents and a complete family of radicals. Seen by the fact they wear and are required to wear a cover of the body of females from head to toe since infancy.

    To enable her and her family to live in the UK is directly against the welfare of the citizens of our country. To let these people reside in our midst is a threat to their neighbours. And to allow this person the idea that after such horrendous acts they will be accepted ‘back’ to our environment to be safe and nurtured by us, is condoning and encouraging their radical behaviour. Additionally, to dare to expect the tax payer of this country, or any country that does not encourage terror, to fork out to protect them as haters of our culture, in our midst, is a direct insult to us all. Just paying for their legal fees alone is betrayal of our own. principles. And she is just one of hundreds. The entire family raised this girl in this utter confusion, they too must leave this country and return to their land of creation. For that is where they are happy and feel at peace. This girl says she does not regret her decision. She would repeat her actions. It is what they have signed up for.They must be ready to live what they propagate, not expect solace from those they want dead. If that is allowed to continue it will fester in them, no matter how lenient or tolerant those who take them in are. Put it to the public in a vote and see how many are willing to fund their own demise by accepting this open malice by feeding it this way.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/isis-british-jihadis-return-uk-iraq-syria-report-islamic-state-fighters-europe-threat-debate-terror-a8017811.html

    It is possible to win the war if you do not agree to its use. If you agree to its use and fund it, then you are sending the message that this is the way to go. Politicians should remember, they alone must be held accountable for their actions as well. They are in the business of protect and defend. And if they are not willing to do that job, then they must quit the job they hold. Otherwise, they are in a position they are not qualified to hold.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      Is it possible to win the war against terror?

      According to this article, and if it is true, the German leader is now openly ready to reveal she is not willing to defend the indigenous German people from terrorists in their midst. In fact she is encouraging the foe to live and thrive amongst those they wish to eliminate.

      We hear the cry of, they are protected by the international courts. Who are these people who set the laws in the International court? Were they ever elected and if so, by whom? Who agreed to the terms and the laws of such courts who are in the business of defending undemocratic terrorists to the point where they force the citizens of countries hated by them to nurture them regardless of their own safety. Who are the individuals who sit in judgement in the courts of human rights? Have you been made aware of what those human rights do to your human rights? Who are the people who consented to the agreed laws on Human Rights? Anyone know? Where do they sit? Who set the rules for it and who were asked if these rules were fair to those who will have to live under the ill thought through result of such proclamations? Are the people who pass out these judgements willing to be held accountable to the people of the world when the vengence of those they protect kill their fellow man for an ideology they have been used for?

      Are Merkel and her ilk ready to take the blame the next time a German man, woman or child is mutilated, raped or murdered for the cause of those she is willing to protect and defend by offering them a home? Regardless of the mayhem and confusion she is creating by doing this?

      People, in a true democracy, must insist those elected by them be held accountable for their actions if it goes against the well being of those they represent. If they are against defending those they lead they are betraying the principle of their office. They lied to their citizen in order to acquire an office in which they could defeat them. Therefore, they are against what their electorate stands for. They are, in fact, protectors of the enemy within.

      Are the peoples of the world ready to be slaughtered by those they have elected, in good faith, to lead them to the better future they promised when running for office?

      It may be time to have elected officials pass a mental health screening every couple of years whilst in office.

      ing she is not for the peace and prsoperity of the German people. If this article is the truth.

      https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1088940/isis-fighters-return-germany-angela-merkel-immigration-latest

  17. avatar
    Roger

    To win a war against terrorism you need to battle the ideology or religion behind them, since most of the terror acts in Europe is religious based and most people don’t want to touch that dialogue with a stick not mutch can be done as of now…

  18. avatar
    Olivier

    Not with EU and weak governments policies…. With populists…. Yes…

  19. avatar
    Rumy

    Yes …by not importing 13 century cultures into Europe

  20. avatar
    Jean-Philippe

    First try to solve the problem: no justice = no peace. Than from there, try to argue that terror was not driven by the disproportion between standing forces.

  21. avatar
    John

    Not as long as Eu exists and immigration from 3rd world countries is continued to be forced upon us

  22. avatar
    Enric

    Yes, but changing the policies. We can be brothers but not be the mat where they clean their shoes.

  23. avatar
    Paul

    No more than it’s possible to win a “war” against drugs…you can take steps to contain…mitigate impact. ..reduce proliferation etc…but accept that these problems will continue.

  24. avatar
    Christophe

    They don’t want to end it. A false flag here a false flag there.they can keep this going forever.

  25. avatar
    Stephen

    9/11 was the springboard for the illegal wars in the Middle East which intern caused the catastrophic refugee problems in Europe all by design. The 9/11 truth will show who has orchestrated the racial change to Europe. By way of deception thou shalt do war.

  26. avatar
    Richard

    Yes by us not going to other people’s countries and killing their civilians…pissing them off to such an extent that they kill a few of us and then we call them the terrorists 🤔

  27. avatar
    Hermann

    against governmental terror, impossible

  28. avatar
    Boyko

    Sure can, just need more teddy bears.

  29. avatar
    Daniel Filipe França Neves

    The War On Terror is a urgent question and the governments are waiting too long to deal it and solve it. We need huge work to deal with it. First we need to provide all the people who would probably be radicals, a job, education and occupation. One of the things contribuying for the problem of radicalisations is the fact the governments only give subsidies to the people and do nothing to educate them and mantain them occupied.

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