A group of high-ranking diplomats from around the world is calling for greater international cooperation in the global war on terrorism. The diplomats spoke at a forum organized in Washington.
The gathering of diplomats was sponsored by the Potomac Institute's International Center for Terrorism Studies to get a variety of perspectives on global terror activities and different approaches to fighting them.
The chairman of the Potomac Institute, Michael Swetnam, says many terrorist groups that began in one country are now becoming united and are therefore a worldwide concern.
"It is the international groups, led by organizations like al-Qaida, that are becoming the threat of this new century,” he said. “The fact that local causes bring many of these radicals together, it is now becoming an international organization that unites them. It causes them to share funding, share training, and threaten not just the peoples of the land in which many of these groups originate, but threaten all of us across the world. It is the internationalization of many of these radical groups that scares us all today and unites us in our fight against them."
Diplomats from Turkey, Singapore, Egypt, Indonesia, Germany and Spain attended the forum and agreed that the internationalization of terrorism must bring together the global community to join the war against it.
The Turkish ambassador to the United States, Osman Faruk Logoglu, says he is concerned the world is focusing on terror carried out by Islamic extremists, while ignoring other groups he says are just as dangerous.
"The debate on terrorism increasingly appears to be on and confined to Islamic or jihadist terror,” he noted. “This is not just wrong, but at the same time I think it is, as an element of policymaking, a fatal mistake and as an element of public diplomacy dangerously divisive. It is wrong because terror perpetrated by Muslims is only one kind, among many. To put it otherwise, terror, as we have repeatedly said in Turkey, terror has no religion, ideology, ethnicity or nationality."
Harry Purwanto, the deputy chief of mission at the embassy of Indonesia, says terrorists are now using the Internet for networking with other groups, spreading propaganda, fundraising and coordinating illegal activity.
Mr. Purwanto says the worldwide reach of the news media is also having an impact.
"In this global world the nature of aggressive and extensive live coverage by media often meets terrorists' expectations for having the immediate impact of terrorizing more people and sending their message to the rest of the world,” he said. “Even worse, a detailed and extensive story and news coverage of terrorist attacks and terrorist acts at one spot of the world most likely inspires people in other distant places to play copycat or to use it as a reference to improvise and to develop their plan for other horrible acts of terror."
The deputy chief of mission of the embassy of Singapore in Washington, Susan Sim, says nations fighting terrorism need to develop what she calls an ideological counterforce to challenge the rhetoric of extremist preachers in religious schools.
Ms. Sim says moderates need to be encouraged to speak out against those who would advocate the use of terror.
"In practical terms we need to support the mobilization of the moderate elite in the Muslim community and not allow them to be intimidated by the extremist fringe,” she said. “We also need to regulate and normalize extremist schools by curtailing or removing their extremist teachers. This is necessary if we are to neutralize the venom they infect the students with in the course of their religious schooling."
Juan Sell, a political counselor at the embassy of Spain, says better intelligence is the key to more effective law enforcement action against terrorists.
Mr. Sell warns that despite rising threats, civil liberties must be protected.
"We have learned that terrorism can only be defeated with the weapons of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights,” he added. “In the fight against terrorism there are no short cuts. Terrorists will claim victory when democracy, in the name of security, sacrifices the freedom or the rights of its citizens. We have learned that we need to rely mainly on the constant action of our security forces and the effort of our intelligence services."
Mr. Sell and his diplomatic counterparts agree that no country can stand alone against terrorism.
The diplomats say increasing cooperation between nations is the best way to counter what they see as the growing internationalization of the terrorist threat.