Statement by Mr. Igor Sirotkin, Deputy Director, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Head of Central Office, National Antiterrorism Committee (NAC) UN High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States
On behalf of Russia’s FSB, I would like to extend my salutations to the participants of the United Nations High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States. We are hopeful that this international gathering convened on the initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency, Mr. António Guterres, would enable a fruitful exchange of opinions, convergence of approaches to counter-terrorist efforts by national competent authorities and, altogether, greater security and stability, both globally and regionally.
The Russian Federation actively promotes the United Nations’ central coordinating role in building intergovernmental cooperation to counter emerging terrorist threats and challenges. In this context, I would like to underscore the pivotal role of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate, as well as the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, which makes the United Nations’ venue available for a dialogue of relevant top-level officials of the Member States so as to enable the proper coordination of international counter-terrorist efforts.
We believe that this is practically attainable, given the Russian Federation’s experience of holding since 2002 the Meetings of Heads of Special Services, Security Agencies and Law-Enforcement Organizations, as these regular events provide ground for a systemic work of consolidating the efforts on the part of the global security intelligence and law enforcement community to counter international terrorism in the vein of the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), despite the divergence of views on specific issues on the current intergovernmental cooperation agenda. Through the entire history of such Conferences, their working vector has been in line with the UN recommendations set forth in the Security Council counter-terrorist resolutions 1624 (2005), 2178 (2014) and 2354 (2017).
The long-standing practice of the aforementioned gatherings of top-level professionals shows that the divergence of views on particular issues of current international agenda and governmental cooperation could never be an insurmountable obstacle to find a mutual understanding and establish “alliances” so as to counter global terrorism effectively.
Speaking at the VII-th Moscow Conference on International Security on 4 April 2018, Russia’s FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov called for “leaving politics to politicians while focusing on our standing tasks, to include providing safety and security to common citizens as a top priority”.
Russian integrated approach is based on developing a system, which combines the use of force and preventive measures aimed at disruption of any terrorist scenario. When making relevant decisions and implementing counter-terrorist measures, we take into account our experience and use the potential of international partnership.
We proceed from the assumption that, although the primary striking element of international terrorism, – that is ISIL and aligned groups of militant extremists, – has sustained heavy losses in Syria and Iraq and yet, even deprived of any chance to materialize its territorial ambitions, it is still posing a serious threat after its effective reshaping into a network-like outfit. Being interconnected or even operating autonomously, individual cells of this network are currently “creeping” outside the Middle East, particularly to Central and Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. A persistent security threat emanates from foreign terrorist fighters as well as members and facilitators of terrorist groups making use of migration channels.
In the given circumstances, a particular importance is attached to implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 2178 (2014), aimed to elaborate a set of efficient measures to counter foreign terrorist fighters, to improve information sharing efficiency, to formulate concerted measures so as to strip the terrorists of any logistical and financial support, as well as the manpower.
Our suggestion is that the parties concerned should more actively update and use the International Counterterrorism Database, which is a powerful tool to that effect. As of today, 41 security intelligence and law enforcement agencies of 34 states of Europe, Asia and Africa, 6 dedicated counter-terrorist bodies of intergovernmental organizations, namely the UN and CIS, the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, as well as the Interpol have access to the Database.
Security provision of major international events is a vivid example of our multilateral security intelligence efforts against terrorist threat. For over a decade, the issue has been in a particular focus of the aforementioned Meeting. A dedicated Working Group of Security Intelligence and Law-Enforcement Experts has been functioning since 2010. The Working Group’s performance along with efficient practical steps taken by Russia’s FSB in coordination with foreign counterparts helped us a lot in ensuring the high level security of guests and participants of such multinational events as the 2013 World University Student Games in Kazan, 2014 Winter Olympic / Paralympic Games in Sochi and 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. The function of the Working Group in 2018 is to enable coordination and preventive threat intelligence sharing in conjunction with the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the event currently hosted in Russia’s 11 cities. The Center for International Cooperation was set up by Russia’s FSB as a venue for round-the-clock (24/7) liaison and interaction with totally 116 representatives of 53 security intelligence and law enforcement agencies of 32 states during the entire course of the World Cup events.
We appreciate our foreign colleagues’ active contribution to the Center’s operation and are hopeful that productive cooperation in this area will continue.
It is noteworthy, that the above-cited examples of multilateral cooperation among relevant authorities of several states set a benchmark for taking a meaningful and scrupulous approach to international cooperation in matters of counter-terrorism.
Security threats stem from the aggressive and, we must admit, fairly efficient use of sophisticated information and telecommunications technologies by the terrorists worldwide, aimed, apart from the massive worldwide indoctrination and brainwashing of new followers via the Internet, at the clandestine “remote” command and control of militants and their facilitators, fundraising, as well as training in terrorism and sabotage tactics.
The measures taken in response to these alarming developments are generally sufficient to reduce opportunities for the terrorist use of the Internet and related technologies. However, the increasing magnitude of the threat requires of national governments and relevant stakeholders more efforts to find adequate solutions in both legal and institutional areas to deal in practical terms with the Internet-based terrorism.
Despite an apparent military defeat on a traditional battlefield, leaders of international terrorist organizations show increasingly more vigor, trying to disseminate their narratives across different world regions, effectively fostering the already existent or creating new centers of social, religious and ethnic tension, and, by the same token, advancing radicalization on the part of their potential followers who end up persuaded into the commission of what they refer to as “individual jihad”.
Based on our assessment, a systematic preventive work focused on inculcating zero tolerance attitude towards terrorist narratives should be done to deal with implanting of terrorist narratives into the hearts and minds of various groups of the population.
As our country’s national experience shows, this work can only be successful under certain conditions.
A preventive outreach work must be individually-targeted, that is, it must be done with due consideration of social and ethnic background, psychological profile, age and other characteristics of the individuals making up a particular target group.
Preventive outreach activities must be based on the national policy and legislation under the guiding role of the governmental authorities with active engagement of civil society institutions, prominent clerical, cultural, sporting and other leaders.
The standing order of the today’s gathering does not allow me to cover this important issue in detail. I would just point out that this activity is being coordinated on the federal, regional and local (municipal) level by legally established collegiate bodies, namely the National Antiterrorism Committee (NAC) and the antiterrorist commissions, the latter being in place in every constituent territory and municipality all across the Russian Federation.
The above-referenced preventive outreach activities are targeted primarily on the individuals currently serving or those who have previously served prison terms for terrorism-related crimes, as well as those who quit terrorist and extremist activities voluntarily. Other targets are relatives of the previously identified terrorists (including those eliminated) and immigrants from the countries where an increased level of terrorism threat or terrorist ideology acceptance by the population is indicated.
I cannot help mentioning the positive results of this work. Specifically, in 2017, over 1,300 citizens of the Russian Federation were effectively persuaded to quit extremist activities, which marks a nearly 20 percent increase in number, as compared with the statistical record of 2016. The number of those who disengaged from a terrorist milieu over the same period amounted to 58, which is half as much again, compared with what we recorded in 2016.
Over past several decades, the Russian Federation has made some achievements in the field of combating terrorism and extremism, which I have tried to present in my statement very briefly. Being ready to share this experience for the sake of our common cause, we also welcome and highly appreciate any steps towards the same goal made by our foreign counterparts.
We remain firm in our uncompromising approach to oppose terrorism-related threats and to refrain from a “double standard” policy, which practically sets preconditions for interference in other countries’ internal policy and allows terrorists to evade criminal charges. It is also our strong belief, that the United Nations Organization with its internationally unmatched reputation and legitimacy must remain the central authority to marshal international relations and coordinate the world politics in the 21st century.
Let me inform you that the XVII-th Meeting of Heads of Special Services, Security Agencies and Law-Enforcement Organizations will take place in Moscow from 7 to 8 November 2018. The event’s agenda will encompass the pressing counter-terrorism issues of special interest to security/intelligence agencies worldwide, such as activities to counter foreign terrorist fighters, radicalization, spread of terrorist ideology. Apart from that, we look forward to discussing the prospects of building a trustworthy environment for security intelligence and law enforcement cooperation in cyberspace, and summing up the experience in making security arrangements for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
We invite our partners, as well as the senior executives of the UN counter-terrorist entities, namely: the Under-Secretary-General of the Office of Counter-Terrorism, the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and the Chair of the United Nations Security Council sanctions committees, to attend the XVII-th Meeting in Moscow. We hope to continue the dialogue in a spirit of business-oriented cooperation, which has become a hallmark of the Meeting.
Thank you for your kind attention.