The Counter Terrorism Yearbook is ASPI’s annual flagship publication curated by the Counter Terrorism Policy Centre, now in its second year of publication.
It is a comprehensive resource for academics and policymakers to build on their knowledge of counterterrorism developments in countries and regions around world.
Each chapter in the Yearbook is written by internationally renowned subject matter and regional experts, who provide their insight and commentary on counterterrorism policy, legislation, operations and strategy for a specific country/region, concerning the year in review, and looking at challenges for the year ahead.
Three themes emerge from the Counterterrorism Yearbook 2018.
First, there’s a shift towards broader approaches to CT that go beyond military power. In multiple countries, such as the UK, Australia, the US, Morocco and Tunisia, governments have been working to address the sociocultural and political issues that create conditions conducive to radicalisation towards violent extremism. There’s been a conscious shift to try to move away from ‘deradicalisation’ and ‘counter-radicalisation’ towards a social policy focused approach that calls for prevention and engagement as more effective tools. It will be of paramount importance to learn from mistakes made in the past if this shift is to be implemented successfully. The yearbook highlights a growing urgency—particularly in Western Europe, the UK, the US and Australia—to develop robust monitoring and evaluation measures to assess policies and programs for countering violent extremism. The difficulty has been in identifying best practice in this emerging and highly controversial field, in which no two paths into and out of violent extremism are the same.
Second, the aftermath of the military defeat of the Caliphate in Iraq has generated new challenges for the international community. After the military operations conducted by the anti-IS coalition, the international community acknowledges its moral—and statutory—obligation to work with Syrians and Iraqis to promote and nourish sustainable rebuilding and regeneration. The sociopolitical situation remains extremely fragile, and mishandling the recovery effort would inevitably exacerbate existing political, sectarian and geostrategic tensions, further fracturing regional stability and providing fertile ground for non-state actors to exploit. IS has not vanished; it has merely faded into a volatile insurgency that could erupt again at any point, given the right social and political climate.
Third, although the contemporary terrorist threat remains very much attributable to Salafi-jihadi terrorism, there are indications that the nature of Islamist terrorism across the globe has morphed, and that participants are becoming criminally rather than ideologically inspired. This development has posed a challenging for security services and CT operations, especially as traditional intelligence-gathering processes have had to adapt considerably to remain effective.
The Counterterrorism Yearbook 2018 indicates that CT strategies must continue to evolve towards more proactive and inclusive approaches that can better pre-empt the adaptability of terrorists and their causes.