Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use

Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use: Recommendations

  1. As has been shown by this report, IED users constantly evolve tactics, whether it is through innovation or by adapting to local realities. The international community should strive to more quickly and adequately adapt counter IED efforts accordingly. This includes devoting more resources to IEDs as its own area of study rather than simply one feature of terrorism, and through analysis of existing data attempt to foresee trends in IED usage to prevent future casualties.
  2. Although manufacturing an IED is relatively simple, groups often rely on certain people training others, particularly for more advanced devices. Preventing these bombmakers from diffusing their knowledge should be a number one priority, and intelligence efforts should pay equal attention to locating these individuals as to locating leaders.
  3. The global coalition against IS should continue to push back the group. As IS lost territory throughout 2016, its sources of revenue have consequently declined. Limiting the area IS controls in Iraq and Syria will thus affect the group’s global reach. However, solutions need to be found in terms of managing the retaliatory IED attacks that IS employs as a response to lost territory.
  4. There needs to be increased endeavours to proactively address and disrupt Boko Haram’s access to other groups active in Africa. With its heartland in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has potential reach into both North and West Africa. There have been connections between Boko Haram and IS, as well as between Boko Haram and AQIM. Given AQIM’s tendency to use foot soldiers from all over Western Africa and its decent relations with Boko Haram, there are opportunities for both to coordinate efforts should the security situation in the Sahel deteriorate further.
  5. A stronger security and intelligence apparatus on the Horn of Africa could potentially disrupt cooperation between al-Shabaab and AQAP. As this report has shown, the two share infrastructure and AQAP is said to have trained al-Shabaab fighters in IED-making. The international community should push for increased intelligence and action against their cooperation, which could present harm to both groups.
  6. Cooperating with manufacturers of precursor materials has rendered crucial intelligence of how especially IS builds their IEDs. The security and counterterror sector should actively engage manufacturers to prevent their products from ending up in the wrong hands.
  7. Access to terrorist propaganda and hateful messaging inspiring terrorism need to be restricted. This does not only apply to jihadi online forums. Hateful and inciting messages are, as has been mentioned in this report, spread on publicly sponsored TV channels across the Middle East, particularly from Saudi Arabia. Whilst freedom of expression should not be restricted, pressure should be put on TV stations that allow so called “televangelists” to incite violence against minorities and non-Muslims.
  8. Middle Eastern states enjoying lucrative and prosperous relations with many Western states should be called out for their active and passive support for transnational IED networks. Allies should actively consider suspending cooperation with states that passively or actively support groups that harm their own troops and interests. These states include to (various degrees) Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey, Pakistan, Kenya, and the United Arab Emirates. Although the manner in which these states have support terrorist groups differ, Western allies should in general pressure them to implement and enforce stricter anti-terrorism financing legislation and to tackle corruption and cooperation between military bodies and terror groups. Some Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, have shown promising signs of improvement in anti-terrorism financing legislation, but more needs to be done to fully come to terms with these states’ support for IED users.
  9. Many groups take advantage of existing crime networks for revenues, for example in the narcotics trade and other smuggling activities. This serves as evidence that a holistic approach aiming to eliminate other criminal activities is required to eradicate terrorist networks. Support should be provided to states affected by IED violence to assist taking on crime syndicates that help terror networks acquire funds.
  10. The obvious needs to be stated. In order to prevent the transnational IED networks from expanding, there needs to be an end to conflict. To prevent people from joining violent insurgent groups in the first place, several holistic approach measures must be implemented. This includes providing economic opportunities for socio-economically challenged areas, as well as universal access to participation in democratic procedures. As the chapter on foreign fighters shows, this is not only relevant for the Middle East but also for Europe.

This post is part of the report, “Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use”. To see the sections of the report please go here. This research was undertaken with assistance from the NATO Counter-IED Centre of Excellence.