The terrorist attacks at Tunis’ National Bardo Museum last week shook up the country and occurred as ISIS continues to gain steam in Africa. We now see that the Tunisian government is implement tougher anti-terrorism laws in order to stem the rise of terrorism and protect the country’s citizens and its tourism industry. The focus on this proposed law seems to be similar to many others we have seen being proposed around the world; dealing with terrorists returning from foreign lands, curbing the illicit funding of terrorism, better prosecution, special anti-terrorism judges and more.
Tunisian cabinet has approved a draft anti-terrorism bill
“According to Ahmed Zarrouk, the draft law also provides for the creation of a national committee of fight against terrorism, in charge of the follow-up of the implementation of the international commitments and the proposal of measures to be taken against other authors of alleged terrorist crimes, in addition to the achievement of a national study on terrorist crimes, means to face them and the modalities of prevention.
Thus, he said, the future law bans the use of “secret bank accounts”. The text of the law includes 60 articles and provides aggravated sentences until the death sentences, Ahmed Zarrouk in a statement to TAP. According to him, the terrorist returning home after having fought with terrorist organisations will be punished by the new text as was the case of the law of 2003.
Answering a question if the text of the law includes penalties for anyone who joins a terrorist organisation in Tunisia as well as abroad, Ahmed Zarrouk replied in the affirmative.
Besides, the cabinet meeting reported the official spokesman, listened to briefings of the Ministers of the National Defence and Interior on the general security situation in the country.” (allAfrica.com)
Decisions around terrorism – everything from counter terrorism strategies, anti-terrorism legislation, travel advisories, security recommendations, etc. are more often made on whims and special interests than they are research. The news and analysis, from organizations like the U of M’s Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism Global Terrorism Database are used to put forth the view that terrorism is a growing concern, while other empirical data shows that it is a relative small player in the overall misery on Earth. The Anthony Biglan looked at some of the peer reviewed research around terrorism to see how many studies have been conducted, the type of study designs and research methodologies that were used, and the preventative measures that may have been recommended. Terrorism related research seems scant at best even as governments are putting funds in place to better study and hopefully find ways to prevent terror attacks in the future.
“Jon Baron, who leads the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, which advocates for the use of randomized trials to evaluate government programs, reports that his organization has been able to identify only two experimental evaluations of antiterrorism strategies. One of them, a field experiment reported in a paper from a World Bank office in 2012, randomly assigned 500 Afghan villages to receive a development aid program either in 2007 or after 2011. The aid program had significant positive effects on economic outcomes, villagers’ attitudes toward the government and villagers’ perceptions of security. The aid program also reduced the number of security incidents, though that effect was not maintained after the program ended and was observed only in villages that were relatively secure before the program began.
Thus the study found an unequivocal but limited benefit of an aid program in reducing insurgent violence. I say “unequivocal” because randomizing villages to receive or not receive the aid made it extremely unlikely that differences in attitudes and security resulted from anything other than the aid program itself.” (New York Times)
Commentary on the (lack of) scientific research and studies on terrorism
Canada has been caught up in the recent terrorism fervor that is making the rounds. With the Canadian economy hitting a bit of a bump (thanks to low oil prices) the ruling Conservative Party has shifted focus to passing new anti-terrorism legislation that will likely make its way as part of their election platform later this year. Bill C-51 has raised a lot of questions about the extent to which it may be sacrificing the liberties of the Canadian people for some perceived security.
Four former Canadian prime ministers (including a Conservative) and five former Supreme Court justices have warned Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that protecting the security of Canadians and their most important freedoms is not a zero sum game.
In their own words criticizing his anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, they warn: “Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security.” (Toronto Star)
Political debate over proposed Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-51
But like a lot of countries, the major political parties in Canada are on the same page when it comes to anti-terrorism legislation. Here the Conservatives and Liberals would likely bring forth the same law, with minor adjustments, but the same overall impact.
The NDP, oddly, has much the same message: were the Liberals to be elected, nothing much would change. Only it’s aimed at a different group of voters — not the centre-right voters the Liberals hope to lure away from the Tories, but the centre-left voters the NDP hopes to lure away from the Liberals. What’s the use in changing governments, they are telling those voters, if nothing else changes? Only the NDP represents real change, they will say, and the Liberals’ willingness to vote in favour of this bill is proof of it. (National Post)
Religion in a communist country like China is much more regulated than most people realize. The central government in Beijing has been weary of religion being used to question their authority and create discord in its various far flung regions. Xinjiang, the home of the Muslim Uighurs is one such (vast) region in the North-West of China. The Chinese authorities are openly fighting their own “war on terrorism” with open police action and propaganda/information warfare directed at foreign and domestic entities. They have used the rise of ISIS/ISIL as a rallying cry to root out Islamic terrorism in Xinjiang, claiming that hundreds of ethnic Uighurs have traveled to the middle-east to wage jihad for the Islamic Caliphate. Justine Drennan, writing for the CFR’s Foreign Policy magazine, looks at the Chinese policies and their potential consequences to its domestic security situation.
How China deals with its native Muslims will impact its security
“The general consensus, according to Georgetown professor James Millward, is that radicalized Uighur expats, who mostly seem to be based in Pakistan rather than Iraq and Syria, haven’t provided any operational support for recent violence in China, but rather just propaganda. And any who are fighting with Middle Eastern jihadi groups don’t seem to be rising very high in their ranks, said Raffaello Pantucci, an analyst at London’s Royal United Services Institute.
China, however, has been quick to label moderate Uighurs who speak out as radicals. Last year a Xinjiang court sentenced Uighur professor Ilham Tohti to life in prison on charges of “separatism,” for running a website that discussed Uighur experiences in the region. The United States condemned Tohti’s sentence, with Secretary of State John Kerry warning that silencing moderate voices “can only make tensions worse.” (Foreign Policy)