More than international military cooperation needed to thwart terrorism, says NATO’s GÁBOR IKLÓDY

Terrorists often operate in small groups or as individuals, independently of their Governments and out of step with the majority of their fellow citizens. Defeating them requires more than armed forces.

“We have to clearly understand that terrorist attacks cannot be deterred by the threat of military retaliation, nor will large-scale military operations be the most appropriate response to terrorism in most cases,” said Ambassador Gábor Iklódy, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Speaking at a meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee on 8 September, in the run-up to the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Ambassador Iklódy recalled how even the world’s strongest military power was shown to be vulnerable that day, suffering at the hands of a relatively small group of terrorists who used mainly civilian means to launch a strategic attack “almost as devastating as if they had used a small nuclear device.”

Mr. Iklódy called for deeper international cooperation, particularly in the areas of information-sharing, capacity-building and investment in new counter-terrorism technologies, all of which have proven effective in thwarting a large number of attacks. He also emphasized that countries should work together to ensure that when attacks do happen, damages are minimal and recovery is quick.

“Our focus should consequently lie first and foremost on preventing terrorist attacks and on enhancing the resilience of our societies and critical infrastructure,” he said, noting that several terrorist attacks have and “will continue to happen” around the world despite an “unprecedented level” of international cooperation in the past decade.

Partnership with the United Nations, he said, is essential to NATO’s efforts to prevent and manage the consequences of terrorism. The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant Security Council resolutions, such as Resolution 1373 (2001), provide the framework for the collective action of NATO members.

While NATO is mainly known for its unique military capabilities and large scale crisis management operations, Mr. Iklódy said the organization is “a lot more than that.”  As a forum for  political dialogue, it seeks to “complement, reinforce and actively support the work of the United Nations in addressing terrorism in a holistic way.”

NATO promotes information-sharing and political dialogue among its 28 members and 50 partner nations, and sponsors training and technical assistance programs in regions where terrorists are suspected to operate, recruit or hide. Formed in August 2010, the division for Emerging Security Challenges, headed by Mr. Iklody, seeks to coordinate NATO’s approach to terrorism and other cross-cutting threats, such as cyber-attacks, energy threats and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

During his presentation, Mr. Iklody also outlined concrete proposals to enhance collaboration between NATO and the Counter-Terrorism Committee in the coming months.

This page was last updated on: 14-Sep-2011 4:07 PM EST