Partnerships needed to defeat foreign fighters

Partnerships needed to defeat foreign fighters

Terrorism is one of the greatest challenges the world faces today and tragic attacks on the innocent all over the world, including in Turkey recently, are clear evidence that it must continue to be given the utmost priority by all governments. 

The challenge for the world is that, just like all other organizations, given time, space and where they can find partnership, terrorist groups evolve and innovate. Today, foreign terrorist fighters are increasing the intensity, duration and intractability of conflicts all over the world. The actions of foreign fighters poses a serious threat to their states of origin, the states they transit and the states to which they travel, as well as states neighboring zones of armed conflict in which foreign terrorist fighters are active and that are affected by serious security burdens.  Foreign fighter’s add new energy and distorted perspectives to conflicts as they raise morale, bring new ideas, finances, language skills and are targeted specifically to recruit more from within their own communities.

Today, foreign terrorist fighters are engaged in the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and many other places. In Somalia, 85 percent of suicide bombings were carried out by ethnic Somalis with other nationalities including European and African ones. Somalia has an enormous diaspora living all across the world and, while they are generally a force for good in our national development journey, we classify those who return to join and partake in terrorism foreign fighters as they return to destroy the country and society our government and people are working so hard to build. 

The recruitment of foreign fighters is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history young men and women have been lured to fight battles far from the comfort and safety of their own homes by different motivations including radicalization which distorts and exploits all major religions including Islam. 

We should be under no illusions: in foreign fighters and terrorists in general, we are fighting a tough and determined enemy. Tough because they have no regard for human life and determined because they are driven either by an extreme, twisted and arrogant belief in their own moral superiority or by a cloak of moral superiority hiding pursuit of material gain. This makes them one of the greatest security threats the world faces today.

In order to confront the evil of terrorism and effectively cut the foreign fighter recruitment supply line, governments must collaborate, coordinate and devise implementable strategies to win the war against terror. This is the only real way that terrorism financing, the movement of foreign fighters across continents and borders and the radicalization that misleads them can be challenged. 

Somalia is on the verge of militarily defeating al-Shabaab and our government is doing all it can to work with partner nations and organizations, of which Turkey, the U.N., U.S., GCC and EU are prime examples, to disrupt the international operations of terrorists in all fields including the poisonous recruitment of foreign fighters. 

Despite every efforts and resources, it is not possible in an age of globalization, fluid borders and technological advancement to insulate ones nation or interests from terrorism alone. Partnership, knowledge sharing, adequate resources and comprehensive developmental partnerships, including economic investment, are as vital as the heightened security and physical armored personnel presence in most major cities across the world today. 

While Somalia is turning the corner towards peace, progress and prosperity, we understand the pain and misery terrorism and violence causes both people and nations.  We therefore are staunchly committed to working with all partners to make the world a safer place for its diverse and interdependent people. 

*Dr. Abdusala H. Omer is the minister of foreign affairs and investment promotion of the Federal Republic of Somalia.