The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is spearheading an international effort of creating a military coalition of forty one Islamic States (Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition - IMCTC) which will coordinate and unify efforts to counter terrorism at the international/regional levels and in the process improve Islam’s image globally.
“Organisation ist alles” as the Germans say - “organisation is everything”. The IMCTC needed to heed this maxim in letter and spirit. It might have been more advantageous for the IMCTC to have been organised as an alliance. A coalition is largely mission oriented, limited in scope, aims, objectives, time and geographical dimensions, whereas an alliance may have a wider frame of reference and scope, have deeper strategic dimensions demanding more commitment and be more permanent in nature. Since terrorism is a persistently evolving threat an alliance might have been more appropriate to fight, defeat and eliminate it in all its forms and manifestations.
The IMCTC will function through a Center HQ in Riyadh and will be headed by a Chairman of the IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council who will appoint the Secretary General (President of the Center) and the Military Commander of the Coalition. The Chairman will approve the Center’s procedural rules, annual budget and regulations. He will also make arrangements for the Coalition members to nominate their delegations to the Center, initiate partnerships with international organisations and highlight its role in the fight against terrorism internationally. The IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council will meet annually to follow up on the strategies, policies, plans and programs to achieve IMCTC objectives, review reports of the IMCTC CT Center in order to pursue concerted efforts in various areas to combat terrorism. The IMCTC further aims to mobilise, coordinate the use of resources, facilitate the exchange of information and help member countries build their own CT capacities. It will ensure synergy and synchronisation of efforts/operations of member states and share intelligence to defeat terrorism. It is ostensibly not aimed against any one country or sect, however till such time that states like Iran, Iraq, Syria etc are also included in the IMCTC its true Islamic character will remain under question!
The IMCTC intends to wage its war on terror across four main domains.
In the Ideology Domain the IMCTC intends to confront extremism and terrorism in all their ideological notions and perceptions. It plans to expose extremist misuse of legitimate texts and events through delusion, allegation, false methods and deceit. Overall, the perils posed by ideological extremism to individuals and society will be addressed. It intends to counter terrorism and extremism through education and knowledge, by highlighting correct Islamic concepts and practices and peaceful coexistence with the global community.
In the Communication Domain, the IMCTC intends to embrace the multidimensional media to counter terrorist propaganda and expose its agenda. Furthermore, it will combat extremist ideology, countering and exposing symbols of extremist and deviant thought. The IMCTC will exploit digital media platforms to prevent members of the society from succumbing to terrorist messaging.
In the Counter Terrorist Financing Domain, the aim will be to drain the sources of terrorist financing for its operations and other activities. Coordinated efforts, measures and procedures, monetary policies, legislations and financial controls will be developed and enforced to improve compliance to align with international standards. The IMCTC will seek increased coordination, technical and security cooperation in the exchange of data and information and the transfer of knowledge and expertise in combating the financing of terrorism. Terrorist financing will be blocked and eventually eliminated.
In the Military Domain, the IMCTC intends to enhance security and peace in the Coalition member countries as well as at the regional and international levels. The member countries will be provided with enhanced capacities to weaken, dismantle and eliminate terrorist groups and deprive them of the opportunity to reorganise and regroup. Within the framework of the IMCTC the participation of the member states will rest on each country’s capabilities and resources and its desire to participate in a given military operation. The IMCTC will further coordinate and integrate military efforts, exchange information and intelligence and conduct training courses and joint exercises.
There ought to have been another stand alone domain, the Intelligence Domain as one which could form the basis of all activities across all domains and seriously augment the functioning and effectiveness of the IMCTC. Since by virtue of its scope the IMCTC will be restricted to the territories of its member states therefore there will be a need to develop a modus operandi to engage with the international community at large and coordinate CT efforts with it to have a more effective response to terrorism across the regional and global spectrums. The intelligence agencies of major countries of the IMCTC could be incorporated in to the system as such. Regional HQs could be organised with the HQ IMCTC having its own Intelligence Directorate for command, control and coordination purposes. The flow of information could move upwards from individual countries to regional headquarters, be collated there and then forwarded to HQ IMCTC as actionable intelligence. There could be an exchange of such intelligence reports with other major countries/powers of the world, too. A consolidated and comprehensive intelligence picture with deep strategic and intelligence appraisals could thus be formed and forwarded to the member/other states for information and further necessary action. The IMCTC and all its members could thus have a common intelligence picture at all times, be aware of the activities of extremists and terrorists globally and region wise and be well prepared to tackle them in joint/coordinated/solo operations. Thus it could provide broad based and real time intelligence and information to member countries which could then counter and impede extremism, prevent and even pre-empt terrorist activities through intelligence based operations at national, regional and global levels, simultaneously. Most importantly, the IMCTC could thus remain abreast of all terrorist movements of men, materials, funds, literature, arms, weapons, munitions, explosives, equipment et al at the inter and intra regional levels. A vigilant eye and prompt actions against them could seriously jeopardise the terrorist’s plans and operations.
The author is a retired Brigadier and is currently on the faculty of NUST (NIPCONS).