New technology gives new tools “to those who want to do harm”, warns EU’s counter-terrorism chief

    Ilkka Salmi is the EU’s prime man relating to counter-terrorism. He lately took up the position of coordinating the response of member states to the safety threats going through the bloc immediately. His appointment comes at a time when right-wing extremism is on the rise and on-line propaganda is a rising concern. Simply a few of the points that we mentioned with him, on the European Council, in Brussels.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: To begin with, we simply began a brand new yr. In 2022, how would you outline terrorism?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: I might say that now we have to nonetheless understand that terrorism exists. If we take into account, for instance, as an instance, radical Islamist views or jihadism, the ideology remains to be there, even when the Caliphate has been defeated in Syria. And now we have to be ready for that.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: You are taking up this position at a time that terrorism appears, in some way, to have gone away and is a bit low on the agenda. Has the risk simply slipped off the political agenda?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: Sadly, the terrorism risk is consistently there. We must say that it is partially… it is maybe elevated. We will not actually say that it is gone away fully. In fact, points like – particularly from the European viewpoint – the pandemic might need had an impression. I imply, folks do not transfer round as freely as they used to. One factor that I most likely additionally wish to spotlight, and it’s, in fact, a great factor, it’s resilience.

    We’ve seen, in Europe, small scale terrorist assaults, very unlucky ones, the place lives have been misplaced. However, societies have truly managed to recuperate.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: What’s, in your view, the present state of affairs once we speak about terrorist threats in Europe and the urgent points?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: I might say principally two… truly three issues. The primary one, jihadism or the novel Islamist risk remains to be there. Secondly, now we have certainly seen right-wing extremism, particularly violent white right-wing extremism, grow to be extra outstanding in Europe. After which, the third difficulty is, in fact, the event of expertise. And the brand new expertise additionally performs a job in spreading hate speech or terrorist content material on-line.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: Up to now, a number of European nationals have joined terrorist-linked organisations. In your view, is Europe nonetheless engaging for these organisations to recruit folks? And what could possibly be the basis causes of such recruitments?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: Properly, what we noticed, as an instance again in 2012, 2013, 2014, particularly, or in 2015 linked to the disaster in Syria and the formation of Daesh or ISIS again in these days, the state of affairs actually tempted some Europeans to go away and be a part of the ranks of these terrorist organisations. Theoretically talking, it nonetheless exists in a means. We’ve seen the developments in Afghanistan. It is definitely one query that we are going to observe.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: Within the final quarter, migration once more turned an enormous matter on the agenda. Do you suppose there’s a hyperlink, as some folks argue, between migration and terrorism or that’s not the case in any respect?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: Drawing a line – you already know – a type of direct line between migration and terrorism is much from the case. On the identical time, and having mentioned that, now we have to understand that if there’s a nice motion of individuals world wide, terrorist organisations may attempt to use that to their profit and attempt to infiltrate people into it.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: We’re in Brussels, a metropolis that has been touched by terrorism previously. In your view, what are the priorities to make Europe a safer place?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: We’ve to ensure that the steadiness between points akin to privateness, on one hand, and safety, on the opposite, will probably be coated, so we ensure that our laws permits our legislation enforcement businesses to work effectively, however on the identical time ensure that the brand new expertise is obtainable for these businesses.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: Transferring to a unique matter. On the pandemic, which is a urgent difficulty as effectively, a current Europol report referring to 2020, said that terrorist-linked organisations are making the most of the Covid-19 pandemic to exacerbate hate speech and hatred, and on-line propaganda in that path. What’s being finished to combat this and to deal with this difficulty, which has the potential to grow to be greater sooner or later?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: It’s truly very well timed to deal with these challenges. The so-called Terrorist Content material On-line laws will come into pressure. That is European laws, with principally the underside line being that service suppliers and social media platforms are obliged to take away terrorist content material, which they see on-line… I imply, based mostly on experiences, by member states, authorities, and likewise it goes via Europol. So principally inside one hour that form of data or messaging must be eliminated. And I believe it is a very, excellent growth during the last years that now we have managed to go this form of laws, which is able to come into pressure now subsequent summer season.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: Today we additionally see numerous speech in opposition to vaccination on-line, within the context of the pandemic. Do you take into account that this has the potential for use by right-wing extremists to form of degenerate and thus win over extra followers?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: I do not see that we might ever label that as terrorism in the intervening time. Having mentioned that, in fact, there was some concern that, you already know, marginal components of those that are very a lot in opposition to would radicalise once more via that and maybe search alliances with totally different teams, violent right-wing extremism, for instance. However in the intervening time, we nonetheless must understand that freedom of speech and expression remains to be there and the best to reveal.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: As tech evolves, it appears so, terrorism is evolving. How will we deal with all of this?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: To begin with, in fact, now we have to place plenty of effort into preventive work, attempting to ensure that folks do not radicalise, they do not get these views, particularly while you discuss Europe and, in fact, globally as effectively. Secondly, now we have to ensure that legislation enforcement businesses, the safety authorities have (a) sufficient sources and (b) a authorized framework that they will function in.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: Is on-line the weapon of alternative for the longer term and the way would you deal, in that sense, with combating cyber-terrorism?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: I completely imagine that is certainly the way in which ahead. It won’t change, in fact, what’s going to occur in the actual world. As a result of that is the place, sadly, all of the terrorist incidents would have a psychological impression. However on the identical time, the brand new expertise, protecting in thoughts that it is extraordinarily helpful for you and me, on the identical time, additionally offers new instruments to those that wish to do hurt. And that is precisely why now we have to ensure that we sustain with technological developments.

    PEDRO SACADURA, EURONEWS: In your view is there a form of one-size-fits-all strategy, a pan-European strategy that may be utilized?

    ILKKA SALMI, EU COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATOR: If we focus on the risk, that definitely varies amongst totally different EU member states or totally different international locations in Europe. So, in that sense, we most likely cannot converse of 1 type of monolithic strategy to this query.

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