Words or Deeds: Combating Terrorism

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Evgeny Primakov, CEO of Russian Humanitarian Mission, presenter and author of “Global Review” TV-program (channel Russia 24)

My American friends are saying that they are mourning together with us, Tunisian colleagues are saying that they feel sad with us – tragedies unite people. Heartfelt sympathy is respected as a helping hand. But we also wait for help, not just for sympathy.

Covert intelligence work can prevent a terrorist attack at the stage when it is prepared, when a plan is worked out and logistic is discussed. Believe me, it is much easier than installing metal detecting archways with tired people in uniforms monitoring them wherever it is possible. Moreover, a crowd near this archway is also an attractive target. Each terrorist, if he is not a lone psychopath with a knife, always “brings” contacts and connections with him, and each of them may lead to an informant. Then the terrorist may be caught. These are the essentials of specials services’ work.

But what should be done with the whole system of politically or religiously motivated violence? What should be done with the system of motivation and financing if it is exterritorial? Where that global headquarters of fighting terrorism are situated? Here we are absolutely unprotected. Each state is developing its own methods of fighting terrorism. At the same time many states hope that terrorism can become a new weapon – dangerous, but applicable and justifiable weapon. And it is not necessary to directly provide terrorist organizations with weapons or train their militants – it is enough just to “let” them exist, closing eyes to business in the “grey zone” of smuggling oil products and weapons, not to touch financial networks through which terrorist groups get their supplies.

Global and regional players’ interests are interweaved in the Middle East, which is now the major base for exporting violence to the outer world – to Europe, United States, and even Africa and Asia-Pacific region which have always had enough flashpoints. And, as it turned out, only Russia is systematically calling on the world to coordinate its efforts to combat the evil of terrorism as terrorism cannot be “useful” or “not that useful”.

We understand that, as for military aspect, there soon will be the end of the Islamic State[1]. I will voice the idea which unusual to many: coordination of military efforts, concerning this issue, is necessary only in order not to affect “partners” working on the ground. We may actually do well without real military alliance of Russia and the West. Yes, it will be more difficult, but militants, even if they were trained by Saddam’s officers, will not be able to stand against armies, even acting individually, for a long time.

But this is only about physical redeem of Raqqa and Mosul. Terrorist underworld does exist and all of us are combatting terrorism in our cities. Information exchange, security holds, combination of military force and humanitarian operations in accordance with the experience that Russia and its partners/competitors have – all these could become a quality weapon to undermine the system of management of terrorist groups, undercut the influence of extremist propaganda, block financial flows and destroy training camps.

After a dreadful terrorist attack in Paris last year France nearly concluded an alliance with Russia against terrorist groups in Syria. “Our major ally” was written on the covers of French magazines together with Putin’s photo. The only French aircraft carrier was sent to the Mediterranean Sea and Putin called France Russia’s ally in struggle with terrorism. The alliance did not work out after the hollo from Washington. Besides, France could not afford a long foreign military campaign. Once again Russia is solving the problems of the “civilized world” alone.

It is important for us to know that others feel sorry for our pain. But cooperation and joint efforts would be much more useful than condolences.

[1] ISIS is a terrorist group forbidden in Russia.

Photo: Reuters

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