A Statement by the Minister of the Interior, Mr Angelino Alfano, on International Terrorism Motivated by Religion


On 9 September 2014, on the occasion of an urgent speech at the Chamber of Deputies, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Angelino Alfano, commented on international terrorism motivated by religion. The Minister discussed the dangerous and aggressive nature of the Islamic State and addressed the phenomenon of foreign fighters.

The Minister stated:

Terrorism is the systemic subversion of fundamental values, religious traditions, cultural backgrounds, rights and liberties. [..]

Nowadays, international terrorism motivated by religion takes on, in its most evolved and aggressive form, also a European connotation, moving unsuspectedly in unsuspectable contexts and posing an unprecedented challenge to global security.

As such, it acts as a new threat and looks more recklessnessly to the West, namely to those countries and continents that do believe in the freedom of the human being, in its undeniable uniqueness and in democracy.

This challenge to global security, which has already had dramatic effects, calls now for a global response, for similar events not to occur again. Mindful of this context and of the potential alarm caused by it, Western countries have now decided to jointly face this challenge . [..]

Today’s urgent speech aims at getting to the heart of the matter and at confirming that this threat is carried forward by an organisation with enourmous ambitions and whose ultimate goal is to establish itself as a true state subject. [..]

The Islamic State, although historically connected with Al Qaeda, is a more aggressive version of the danger represented by fundamentalism, due to a number of reasons: first, as the name itself suggests, it considers itself and aims at standing out as an antagonist state subject, which tends to take advantage, to the greatest extent, of the nation-state crisis that Islamic countries are currently undergoing.[..] Further, the particularly dangerous nature of the Islamic State is associated with a certain independence from external sources of revenues and with the availability of weapons, also as a result of the dissolution of entire units of the Iraqi regular army. [..]

In addition, the Islamic State, unlike other jihadist formations that are strictly selective with respect to their recruiting methods, benefits from more flexible mechanisms of access and affiliation [..]

Taken together, these specific characteristics have contributed to encouraging the phenomenon of foreign fighters, namely young Islamic extremists, often belonging to the second generation of immigrants, who decide, generally after a period of self-indoctrination, to travel to theatres of war and take part in the fighting, despite not holding Syrian nor Iraqi citizenship. [..]

Another reason of concern for both Western countries and Europe is veteranism, i.e. the return of foreign fighters to their place of origin after taking part in hostilities, backed by the practical experience and the charism acquired and inured to the inherent brutality of every conflict. It is plausible to expect that those veterans will be willing to pursue jihadist activities in the countries where they go back to, thus giving rise to a continuation of the conflict in a different form. […]

Yet another is the reason for concern within this scenario, upon which I would like to focus and comment: the threat of the Islamic State against the Western world makes undoubtedly use of the web as a powerful means for the propagation of fundamentalist fanaticism. [..] Also the threat associated with fundamentalism seems to take a liquid shape, in which the structure of the criminal enterprise aimed at carrying out terrorist acts in Italy or abroad ends up being replaced by the web, in its immaterial vastness.

Against this backdrop, it is necessary to strengthen the legislative weapons available in the area of terrorism, in view of effectively addressing this serious and treacherous phenomenon, by means of new tools capable of taking into account the evolving nature of such a threat. The participation in armed conflicts or terrorist acts taking place outside our boundaries should always be prosecutable, including the cases of the ‘lone wolf’, that is when the actor does not seem to belong to any terrorist organizations or have served as a recruiter […] Our goal is to ensure the prosecutability of all behaviors implying a threat that need to be neutralized in time, even if characterized by individualistic efforts or resulting from processes of self-radicalisation. [..]

With respect to the possible strategies for reaction, the Minister said:

The effort of each country is a necessary yet not sufficient condition, being unthinkable for one State to single-handedly face this type of danger. The global scale of the threat, considering also its dynamic and cross-cutting character, calls for the adoption of a joint international cooperation strategy capable of leveraging and sharing information among the various police forces and organisms such as Europol and Interpol. Italy has already promptly replied to any requests aiming at stengthening the activities of police cooperation and meant at further investigating the jihadist threat and the foreign fighters phenomenon. […]

I strongly believe that, at the international level, a modular strategy shall be pursued, nurtured by exchange of experiences, information and good practices between the continental countries that are most involved in the issue, as well as by an enhanced multilateral dialogue, starting within the European Union. […]

Furthermore, the goal of triggering joint initiatives, in the awareness of the general scale of the phenomenon, has been included in the post-Stockholm guidelines as approved by the European Council in June. With respect to foreign fighters, the goal of a tighter judicial and police cooperation is highlighted. […]

It is necessary that the international community as a whole lays down a more vigorous, effective and coherent response, based also on a wise policy of cooperation with moderate Islam countries. The conclusions of the NATO Summit, which took place last week in Wales, encourage us to believe that a decisive step has been taken towards a strong and decisive cooperation, since the leaders of the Atlantic alliance unanimously agreed on the need of firmly tackling the challenge of the Islamic State by means of a joint action to weaken and destroy its offensive capacity. […]

As to Italy, the threat represented by the Islamic State is to be qualified, even more than in the case of Al Qaeda, as a global war, since a large-scale, boundless conflict has been proclaimed, aiming at annihilating each and every cultural and religious minority, and from which Islamic opposing factions are not immune either. […]

The activity of prevention and counter-action has been directed, in continuity with an established practice of security intelligence, towards the monitoring of Islamic extremism, with due regard to the significant variety of the means of spread, all subject to a profound transformation in the recent years, favoured by the widespread use of Internet and social networks.

The original version of the statement can be found here.

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