The Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) held, on Monday December 15th, 2014, in Marrakech, the inaugural meeting of its working group on foreign terrorist fighters, co-chaired by the Kingdom of Morocco and the Netherlands.
Speaking at the opening of this inaugural meeting, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Nasser Bourita, underlined that the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters has taken an unprecedented magnitude, and enables therefore terrorist organizations to acquire important material resources, fighters from different nationalities and sophisticated weapons, in addition to the evolving objectives and ambitions of these organizations with the proclamation of States and their inclination to extend their control over large areas, which has brought about a big threat to territorial integrity and the sovereignty of many countries all over the world.
He also recalled Morocco’s efforts to face this phenomenon thanks to a global, national and pragmatic strategy to fight against terrorism in its various manifestations, indicating that such a strategy is based on the High Instructions of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, for a realist approach based on three pillars that are good security governance, the adaptation of the legal framework to the evolution of the terrorism phenomenon, and the treatment of social precariousness through sustainable human development, in addition to the constant efforts for the preservation of identity and authentic religious and cultural values.
Mr. Bourita, furthermore, noted that the security approach alone, despite its importance, remains insufficient to deal with the various complex aspects of terrorism, if it doesn’t take into account the factors behind this phenomenon, adding that more than the security aspect, it is important to implement a preventive strategic approach at the political, socio-economic, cultural and religious levels.
The international community, he continued, is called upon to mobilise the necessary means in order to assist the developing countries, particularly in Africa, in their efforts to overcome the challenges of socio-economic development, through coordinated actions to fight against poverty.
Mr. Bourita recalled, on this occasion, the preventive actions carried out by Morocco to counter the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, within the framework of a national strategy to fight against terrorism in compliance with the Kingdom’s commitments in this field.
He also noted that the successful efforts of the international community in the fight against terrorism depends on the sincere will of cooperation between countries, and a close coordination inspired from the “Hague- Marrakech memorandum” recommendations, related to the fight against foreign terrorist fighters, a support to States’ capacities to preserve their territorial integrity and national sovereignty in order to face the separatist tendencies whose acquaintance with terrorism is now a proven fact, calling for a particular interest to be given to the recruitment methods used by terrorist groups, particularly via new information technologies and social networks.
Through co-chairing the working group on foreign terrorist fighters, Morocco confirms its commitment for a constructive participation in the international community’s efforts in order to reinforce the cooperation and coordination at bilateral, regional and international levels.
In this regard, Mr. Bourita said that it’s a truly open approach and without any exclusion, founded on effectiveness, far from any propaganda or disinformation, and a sincere will for responsible cooperation, away from narrow political stakes, adding that Morocco has played a leading role as a founding Member of this Forum and fully plays its roles in its working groups.
For his part, the Ambassador-Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Mr. Piet De Klerk, underlined the importance of the topic, taking into account the alarming growth of the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and its cross-borders nature which requires an efficient international cooperation.
The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters has emerged in Iraq in the early 2000’s, and has taken an alarming dimension in the current conflict zones, he said, noting that the fight against terrorism inevitably involves concerted international efforts to identify recruitment networks, dismantle them and thus prevent foreign fighters from joining terrorist organizations in conflict zones.
Mr. De Klerk added that this fight involves a close international cooperation, a broad and global approach and a promotion of good security practices in compliance with recommendations of the “Hague –Marrakech memorandum” on the efficient fight against foreign terrorist fighters’ phenomenon.
After recalling the importance of the GCTF’s work in mobilizing efforts for a global fight against terrorism in all its aspects, Mr. De Klerk underlined that the working group on foreign terrorist fighters aims to further reflect on the fight against this phenomenon, the means to ensure a better security cooperation, emulation of efforts’ synergy on this complex issue with many implications.
The work of this conclave consists on thematic sessions, notably, on “foreign terrorist fighters’ phenomenon and international efforts to counter it”, “the implementation of the La Haye-Marrakech memorandum on good practices in the fight against foreign terrorist fighters”, “the use of the GCTF’s good practices related to foreign terrorist groups as a tool to support the implementation of the 2170 and 2178 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council”.
Participants will also have to exchange on “the role of bilateral partners for the application of the GCTF’s good practices”, “elaboration of the mandate and definition of priority regions of the GCTF’s working group on foreign terrorist fighters” and “the review of the work plan and the calendar of the working group on foreign terrorist fighters”
Established by Member countries’ Ministers of Foreign Affairs, on September 22th, 2011, in New York, the GCTF is a unique platform for decision makers and experts from main State partners in different regions in the world in order to share ideas and best practices to counter religious extremism and international terrorism that threaten Member States.
Besides Morocco, the GCTF comprises, notably, among its 30 members, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, Canada, Spain, Australia, India, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and New-Zealand.
Aware of this persistent and critical issue, Morocco and the Netherlands launched, in September 2013, an initiative under the auspices of the GCTF to counter foreign terrorist fighters’ phenomenon. This initiative aims to bring together the practitioners and political decision makers from a wide range of countries and from various disciplines to share lessons learned, good practices and the difficulties encountered in responding to this threat in all its aspects.
The good practices contained in the Hague-Marrakech memorandum, resulting from this initiative, aim to inform and guide governments to develop policies, programs and approaches to counter the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters. These good practices can also be used to define technical bilateral or multilateral aid or any other assistance to reinforce the capacities provided in this area.
The memorandum presents a set of good practices in order to face the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, in four major categories: radicalization leading to violent extremism, recruitment and facilitation, travels and the fight, and the return and reintegration.