The 18th World Summit of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) took place 3-6 September 2018 in Herzliya, Israel. Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), delivered one of three keynote addresses. Although it was the first time she participated in her current capacity, it was the fourth time Ms. Coninsx attended the World Summit.
“ISIL has suffered significant territorial losses in Iraq and Syria, but it has not been defeated. ISIL continues to shift to a covert network, capable of conducting and inspiring major terrorist attacks around the world, including through its affiliates,” Ms. Coninsx said in her keynote address.
She continued by underlining that the current counter-terrorism challenge is greater than ISIL (Da’esh) and its affiliates, stressing that terrorist groups and the attackers they inspire continue to focus on soft targets, with lone actors – often using unsophisticated methodology – an inter-linked and concerning trend. Faced with these and other threats and challenges, “the only effective response is an international one,” she said.
Ms. Coninsx also reminded participants that while terrorism is never justified, “we must also acknowledge that in many countries, certain factors – including prolonged unresolved conflicts, political exclusion, and social or economic marginalization – can contribute to the alienation of parts of the population, and may lead to radicalization to terrorism. Reducing the terrorist threat will require more progress in addressing these underlying conditions.”
In terms of returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), although the number is not as high as some Member States first feared, they pose several challenges, according to Ms. Coninsx. These include conducting comprehensive risk assessments, particularly for women whose roles in the conflict zones may be uncertain or that of victims; addressing the needs of children, while treating them in a manner that respects their rights; evidence-related and jurisdictional challenges that hampers attempts to prosecute these individuals; managing the potential risks of in-prison radicalization, particularly in over-crowded and under-resources prison systems; and developing and implementing tailored rehabilitation and reintegration strategies.
On the margins of the summit, Ms. Coninsx held a number of bilateral meetings, including with Professor Boaz Ganor, Founder and Executive Director of ICT.
CTED was also actively involved in the rest of the 18th World Summit, and co-organized and moderated a workshop on the Return of foreign terrorist fighters: New challenges. All of the panelists were members of CTED’s Global Research Network (GRN). Some of the challenges highlighted were the issue of children of FTFs, including the need to repatriate them and to provide them with necessary care/support, and the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration, especially given the long-term nature of the broader challenge.
Additionally, CTED co-hosted with ICT a working luncheon, which also included members of GRN, and focused on identifying future terrorism and counter-terrorism trends.