Lessons From the Italian ‘Counter-Terrorism’ Model

Italy has a very tricky relationship with Jihadism or rather the Islamic Fundamentalist Ideology. It is one of those kinds which looks very simple and straight-forward from the outside but gets as complicated and scary as any other conventionally tagged European country with a threat of Jihadism like the United Kingdom or France. In order to begin with the analysis of how has the Italian soil seen and experienced Jihadism over the past few decades and dealt with it, let us first set the premises by defining what exactly is meant by Islamic Fundamentalism.

Islamic Fundamentalism is an original and literal interpretation of the Quran. They believe that the Arabs or rather the Arabic Peninsula is the only region in the world which has true followers of Islam. The Arabic Peninsula consists of the countries of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Oman, etc. They believe a lot of the present practices of Islam are not as per the original recommendations. They plan to change the corrupt, modern and all the non-Islamic influences that have become a part of the society.

In Europe, a lot of Islamic extremist ideology has been spreading since the 9/11 attack. Not just in Europe and USA but everywhere in the world, various organizations have been formed that radically attempt to spread this ideology. One of their major tools is the legitimate use of violence, which has been termed as Jihadism. A lot of 21st Century theologians view this ideology of Jihadism as being clearly directed towards the West.

A series of attacks have taken place in Europe in the 21st Century like in Madrid (2003), in London (2007), Paris (2015) and Brussels (2016). The country of Italy has somehow, as it may seem, has never been on the radar. Although there are enough places of religious and other importance such as Vatican City, Rome, as predicted by many security analysts, is a place of symbolic importance. However, in November 2017, the Wafa Media Production had announced that Italy would be their next target.

In Italy, there are two important organizations that spread and profess the Islamic Fundamentalist Ideology. The Sharia4Law is a radical organization that wishes to implement the Sharia laws in their areas of control, while the Islamic Alliance of Italy is an important trans-Islamic organization as it has connections spread across Germany and France and finally with the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Over the years, Italy has seen a lot of growth of extreme ideologies. This includes far-left extremism as well as far-right extremism. Due to this, Italy has also been at the forefront of taking the necessary steps in order to curb any kind of public violence or terrorist activities. Italy was one of the prominent organizers of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism in the year 2005. It was a sub-regional organization and  a regional effort towards bridging the cultural gap between the East and the West and thereby attempting to dilute the differences present between the understandings of the two cultures. One of the major aims of the Convention was to play a key role in the Global Coalition in the effort to counter the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq.

Although acculturation does play a very important role in curbing terrorism activist that take place under the name of religion, Italy does not strive away from using a realist position in terms of military intervention. It believes that military intervention must be the last resort and is necessary. This is the reason why Italy is one of the most generous contributors to the North-Atlantic Treaty Alliance. In the year 2017-18, Italy sent 1099 personnel and a financial contribution of 255 Million Dollars to the United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces.

Italy has a very strategically important port-center in the Mediterranean Sea, making it vulnerable to attacks. Thus, securing its sea-related entry-points becomes a very important task for the country. The country has come up with an extensive system to protect its sea routes and uses External Border Management as a vital national security. Over the years, since the breaking of the Arab Spring, Europe has experienced a lot of influx of asylum-seekers. The migratory pressures on the continent were enormous and the port-cities and countries were under extreme humanitarian pressures.

Counter-terrorism measure can be defined as the military and the non-military techniques, tactics and strategy that a government, military, law enforcement, businesses and intelligence agencies use to combat and prevent terrorism. Italy being one of the most celebrated NATO members do not shy away from putting into place a very extensive and comprehensive mechanism for counter-terrorism. However, the country is not only active in its traditional methods but has shown equal consideration in tackling the problem by non-traditional and soft techniques. One of the most important aims of the latter has been towards curbing the sentiment of xenophobia. Finally, it also advocates working with the Islamic countries on a bilateral basis to facilitate cultural assimilation.

Thus, the article opines that the kind of counter-terrorism that Italy has made in the past few decades does serve as a model for the rest of the European countries.

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