tv Conference on Counterterrorism Future of Terrorism Panel CSPAN September 8, 2017 10:13am-11:10am EDT
topic and doing it in such a civil and friendly way, the example that you set has really been tremendous, especially for the bipartisan policy center. we want to thank the other commission members and staff here with us today and be mindful of the jampacked schedule that we have today. i want to transition to our next panel as governor kane said, it's important to every once in a while reassess the nature of the threat and as the chairman said, even as the caliphate is collapsing, the threat persists. to discuss with that threat looks like going forward, what we can expect from isis, al qaeda and other groups, and what the prospects for further radicalization are given conditions on the ground. we have an expert panel today. i will go in alphabetical order which might not be quite
the way they're seated but first, a senior fellow for middle east policy who has written excellent analyses of the situation in syria and iraq as well as within islam. if you're not familiar with the analysis preceding the civil war which identified the ground war for possible sectarian conflict in syria, it was really an impression analysis and he remains one of the best analysis of the situation that i know of. kristin is the president and ceo of the organization and has had a long productive career.
i should add they both are members of our task force. finally, katherine zimmerman from the critical threats project at the american enterprise institute, her article is an excellent read. finally, as our moderator we are pleased to have kim barker from the new york times who has tremendous experience reporting from afghanistan and pakistan and whose excellent book i also recommend to all of you on the taliban shuffle, strange days in afghanistan and pakistan. >> thank you for having us here today. i'm excited to talk to these folks and then we will open it up to questions from the audience. can everyone hear me? >> if anyone has any problem hearing anyone, just raise your hand and we will try to adjust that. i just want to start and get right to it.
want to address everyone on the panel about what they think the strategy of various various terrorist groups is going to be in the future. you have a conventional wisdom that they are against the ropes and al qaeda is irrelevant and i want all of you to talk about this. we can start from my left. >> thank you for having me here. i think the strategy has gone forward as the same strategy that have had for a while. they don't see eye to eye on many things but one thing they agree on is this idea that it's little things that matter. this idea is basically translated into war of attritio attrition. for example, one thing they both read makes the argument
that during the time of the crusaders in the war it wasn't really the major battle that we know the iconic scene. [inaudible] it was actually the small battle that happened before that when they reach the point of that major battle, the enemies were already defeated and weakened. this is the argument isis has made privately and publicly. they say for example, ten years ago when isis was active in ira iraq, the united states had an appetite to send
thousands and thousands of troops into iraq but ten years later they don't have the same appetite. whether the obama administration or the trumpet ministration, they don't have the same appetite to send troops. they say it's vindication of their strategy and they say it's working. now obviously that's wrong. they would say the new strategy which is basically relying on locals to do the fight for them while they provide air support from the sky could be better. they don't have to send troops. they see that in terms of their strategy as success,
that they have done that much damage to american resolve, and they say this is what were going to do next. that is why they don't agree with each other because they think their strategy is working and they don't have to change the strategy even though they have lost all their territories over the past three years. they will continue this war of fighting and erosion. i think it's important to keep them perspective because we see the headlines that isis is banishing and i don't think that's a healthy thing to have in mind. i think it's important to think of their strategy is what i said, the little things that matter.
as long as they have the will to fight, i think they will continue. >> maybe you can build on that idea a little bit, talking about whether you think isis ambitions are stay safe, stay home, act where you are, homegrown terrorism versus trying to go to another country. >> let's begin with this idea of why they target the west. it is not their primary ambition. their thinking on targeting the west is that they will make the cost so high to the point where they are left alone. their thinking is that they want to neutralize the
situation whereby the west or western countries intervene in the region on behalf of their regional allies. if we presume there is a creature called the jihadist strategist and we try to think through the problems as they do, i feel there is a difference between al qaeda. [inaudible] does that person have a certain approach. the big question now, what happens next, are they going to recede or find a margin
where they can try to remain relevant, or, which i think to be the correct with a more accurate way of understanding them, they're going to keep trying to go big. they're not going to regress into margins. they are still going to go because the threshold of their brand after trying to attempt catastrophe in syria and iraq, they're trying to recapture that glory in that land, going back to the village is not how they think. the question becomes what can they do or what remains for them to do, how much of a fight remains in iraq and
syria, and do they have other options, egypt, turkey or saudi. they have been telling us they attend to go to saudi. whether that, whether they have the capacity or there's opportunity there, but it's a big question. this is also part of their style. in 2002, they then had the gall to attempt to launch the jihad in 2003. the demographics, the might of the u.s. army, the morale of the jihad after the defeat, a lot of things were working against them but he saw something others did not see.
from their point of view, they were successful. when we look at egypt or other places we have to be mindful that we might not see what they see. their style suggests they will keep trying to go big. >> can you talk about, is al qaeda dead? what's happening to al qaeda well isis is grabbing all the headline. >> both are from the same ideological movements and our focus on one group or another has allowed the other side to actually continue to strengthen. while we been focused on defeating isis inside mosul, al qaeda have strengthen not just inside syria but afghanistan and yemen and
somalia and it is looking to capitalize on the libyan civil war. what were looking at is the united states and the west focused on the threat from islamic state which is significant, but in the meantime, al qaeda has gone below the radar. it has issued attacks against major western targets but it has avoided drawing the attention back and what it is doing is pursuing its primary objective. it is not sticking to kill americans as a number one objective. that's what we see, but al qaeda and the jihad movement is focused on the muslim majority world. that is where the effort is and that's where al qaeda has been focusing. the efforts that we've seen from al qaeda are not just the military side but the fact
that al qaeda was in now is one of the strongest groups in the syrian opposition, but al qaeda has pursued governance and sought to win the hearts and minds, it's something we have struggled to do as we get involved in conflict and al qaeda has struggled as well and it's actually poised to move forward in a way where it's embedding itself within local population and insinuating itself into conflicts that will let al qaeda be much stronger in size in ten years. it hasn't given up on those terrorist attacks, the big attacks that bring down airliners, the bomb maker that was al qaeda and yemen signature bomb maker even though syria is still at large training individuals, we should expect to see something come from al qaeda in the next 5 - 10 years if not before that. the question is when it turns its attention back on the united states. i think ezra looking at those,
this is where our counterterrorism strategy is falling short. from our perspective, we focused on the terrorist. they are the ones connecting and proving to be a threat to the united states. meanwhile, the jihad movement, both al qaeda and isis have focused on the people in which they are operating and people that are the focus of their efforts. we could win the war by killing isis, we could win by killing off al qaeda terrorist but we've actually lost it in terms of preventing them from gaining strength within populations because the conditions are driving people to accept the presence of these groups for a variety of different reasons. >> before we start talking specifically about what the strategy is and what we should be doing, i would like to ask
kristin about how recruitment and what you see coming in the future because of all the folks under 30 right now, particularly in muslim majority countries. >> thank you very much. i think as many people know, there is a huge boom across many parts of the world, the middle east, africa and south asia where terrorist groups are prevalent and also gaining ground. the reason why people and organizations like my own that focus on new development see a boom rather than a bulge, middle-aged ladies like myself think the word bulge has a negative connotation. i think the key to this youth population is certainly that this is a potential threat. if this group of young people are not engaged, do not have opportunities, are angry, can
be appealed to buy certain ideologies and given a purpose in their lives, then yes, it's a tremendous threat and it will compound the existing threat many times over given the size of the demographic, but it's also a potential opportunity. we are not fighting the same people. we are fighting on 911. many of those people were preschoolers were in grade school. the future recruits are still very young. there is still an enormous opportunity to engage these people in a positive way. they could transform the strategic landscape. as we were talking before the session, my question is for how many years of was how many lives and dollars will we continue to blame lack of mol
-- wack mole. >> with that idea, let's talk the strategy and what the west has been doing and what it should be doing, as specifically as possible. feel free to talk about failures you've seen and also about what solution you see going forward. it's so easy to point out problems. what's difficult is talking how to change things in the future. what you talk about some possible solutions. should also added like you to talk about what's happening with the state department right now and how you think the military is focused versus what were doing in terms. [inaudible] >> i think step number one is
to pay attention. i'm coming out of the national security community so i'm a very unusual person to run an educational development organization. i was stunned, shocked, floored to find out how few of our existing development and diplomacy resources go to young people over the age of ten. the budget for youth are already quite small, relative to the overall budget. most of the money is going towards young children and yes, there have been some huge advantages in terms of survival rates and children who have entered primary school and those are things that we should be varies proud. for actually want to talk about the conditions that we
need to spend many more of our resources on young people ten and up making sure they have a successful transition to adulthood. our dollars need to go not just to the primary education in k3 but giving people secondary education and jobs. it's not going to make sure they don't become a terrorist, all the evidence points against it, it's part of a holistic strategy, they give people something in their lives besides boredom, anger, lack of a future which makes them susceptible when a friend or brother or neighbor comes to them and offers the opportunity to do something with their lives. >> i think this is where we have a slight point of disagreement. i very much value development and opportunities that come forward from a tour but i see the solution to popular driven
sense of education and lack of employment going forward, but are not simply the provider and opportunity but ensuring they have a future to go forward and something to look at. it is, the idea that we don't need to replicate in american life abroad, but we simply need to be ensuring that people are living their life to their fullest as they see it. many of the grievances are driven by the governments lack of interest in development and the allocation of what money should be going to schools and infrastructure, but to pursue a program for the sake of doing it, i've seen it fail because it's not actually.
[inaudible] 's it is the grievances that are allowing these groups to move-in. there are stories of al qaeda coming in because the community has asked for teachers for a decade and the government never responded in seville say will provide the teacher. the teacher comes in and provides the ideology alongside the lessons which is a major problem. >> i hate to disappoint. what we actually need an counterterrorism is a holistic strategy. i hate to even say that because it's such a washed out buzzword but there is something to this. if you think about it, the centerpiece for the target, the centerpiece is the
terrorists themselves and the people most at risk and then the more targeted intervention that katie's talking about but then there is this broader ecosystem. i think the problem is that the further you get away from the center of the eye, our strategy gets weaker and weaker. >> you talk about this idea and the promises you felt beforehand and what will come after. >> argued even further in the discriminant. this conversation about root causes and whether or not the youth gets the job or not, that's really falling down on the list of priorities and how
young people across different demographics think. young people have decided there's a narrative going on in their being beaten up on and what are we going to do about it. the goods too late for these kinds of macro strategies to be put in place. the u.s. was not going to go in a big way in syria but syria is this big festering wound in the middle east. the scale of it is unclear.
it's still a shock to syrians themselves in a shock to the region. i think we would disagree on this, but i see the syrian army reaching the isis lines, that's very symbolic. the syrian regime will think this is victory. whether that is analytically correct is beside the point. that narrative will provoke a response from someone who sees that victory as a loss and a defeat for them. i was suggesting there is a window of time, about six months where the u.s. can get turkey and saudi, with all their logistical problems and all their political problems, but call them as allies and go in there, to prevent the
narrative of the syrian regime winning. that to me was the last macro possibility that we have going forward is too much unpredictability to be able to put together any programs, and what happens next is just reactive and reactive. >> i share the sentiment about jihadism. i don't think the u.s. has the capacity the the europeans see
for special movement. it will transform but it won't die out. it will transform into something else. they don't realize how things play out in the region and there's optimism when you defeat an organization, although the massive resources deployed to fight an organization like isis, i don't know. [inaudible] >> in the beginning, u.s. officials had been saying when they went to muslim countries and asked the leader why in your opinion you are citizens join isis, and the question,
the answer to that they said is because of the idea that people want to go and join an organization like this, they don't think. [inaudible] >> i think that was true, they continue and say once that crumbles you defeat the idea. i think that's true in the first year in the second year, but it's too late now. it has transformed into something and it has one something else. has become a transnational organization that might be better more favorable to isis than the caliphate and maybe
it has lost but it has one something in return. go back to this idea, a lot of people have this punditry, every now and then when isis goes down they say forget about isis when al qaeda goes down they said forget about that, isis is the bigger threat. i think there has to be seen as to threats emanating from two directions. they're building up and becoming bigger. more than $2 trillion to spend on mobilizing all the countries in the world and the resources and what we have today is a bigger isis and on top of that a bigger al qaeda
and isis over the global leadership of jihad as they compete over the global leadership and on top of this threat, we have something we don't talk about a lot which is, i think we can start the third way of jihad. the next big thing in jihad which is an idea between a kite is focused on winning the heart and mind and trying not to provoke the population against it and between isis aggressive way of even speaking against, no matter what people in our area say and they did that when against
what people think is right, they overplayed the hand we have a new movement of people who say something in between. we can still be jihadist but we need to be more in touch with the popular ideas. they understand this idea of winning hearts and mind and being in sync with the popular mindset, but at the same time not trying to reach their peaceful means but through jihadist. >> with that i will open it up to questions from the audience. if you're watching this you can feel free to treat me any questions at kim barker. please keep your questions as specific as possible. don't make speeches. i'm a militant moderator and
will cut you off. if you can pick one person you would like to answer the question or two because we want to get through as many as possible. state who you are. with that, questions yes, you. >> i have question mark. >> pick one. >> christine you are running such a great. >> you had to pick one we only have a few minutes. >> what you are doing to counter isis, the people who run away from mosul, where are they now?
>> that's a good question because for us in washington are outside, we tend to be more rational so we analyze according to what we have available to us. other than that i am pessimisti pessimistic. i think people don't have a good option. isis fails to have a popular face before it came and imposes hope on the population. at the beginning they welcomed isis because they didn't know what it was but now people understand it and this goes to the bigger point of being optimistic about the defeat of isis because more sunnis than ever lived under isis and experienced isis so they're
going to be more active against its rise next time. however, i don't think there is an alternative. the u.s. policy has failed because they don't have a syria policy or a counterterrorism, they have a kill isis policy. that's not a policy. that's just enabling militias. with syria for example we have the regime which people rose up against six years ago and somehow people now want people to accept the regime back after all the destruction because there's a bag guy. there's a lot of disconnect
between how the policies are happening and playing out in the region and how people on the ground see it and i think that disconnect will ensure that isis and others will be able to come back to these areas at some point. >> i run a relief organization and were not working in this stage. i'll just simply call attention that humanitarian relief are having a terrible time reaching these people in need and one of the many reasons is that turkey is stopping organizations that are trying to help. >> why did they choose that style as opposed to evacuating a city like falluja. they're very symbolic places.
if you look at the top places, that was an incredible prize for the islamic state, but the way they chose to fight their was not a last stand. they do not put all the resources. they put enough people to blood he the forces but it was more about a statement of going to make this hard for you rather than this is where were putting our stake on the line with the city. why they are doing these things is a big open question. i don't think we are even close to understanding how they're taking those positions.
the reason i say were so far of off, there are still big gaps in the narrative, lots of blurry areas that how they began, how they think so it's an important question. i don't agree anywhere near understanding and this of course cast a shadow about if they're not putting other troops there, what is the last and going to look like and maybe they're not thinking in terms of last stand. >> my question is for kristin. talking about the points of failure, can you identify a
muslim majority country that you think is successful in countering violent extremism. >> and the guy can point to any that is a success, but let me point to one that the success of this country would have tremendous cascading effect and that is tunisia. tunisia is a country that started the arab spring. the democracy that had successfully transitioned with the cooperation of islamic righties to a new government. it's a country that has enormous potential. my view from a u.s. perspective is that if we were to invest seriously in the success of tunisia, it would do more to conquer isis, al qaeda and all similar groups and many of the other tactics that we've been trying for many years. it has been very hard for the u.s. to coordinate a strategy like that. >> i think you have a question.
>> i'm a student from germany attending university. thinking about the future of terrorism, i think it's important to address the issue with children. my question goes to kristin. when you look at the isis propaganda, you see children having rifles and shooting. i think we all agree children are most susceptible to what they see happening around them. those children who live in these areas will most likely carry on these acts. so when we talk about combating terrorism, how do we go about addressing the issue of children in these areas. >> i don't have any easy answer to this and perhaps my colleagues would like to weigh
in. it's just a terrible tragedy when people, not just in terrorist groups for others around the world employ child soldiers. it puts our troops in awful positions. there's very little we can do except to undermine the power of these groups because frankly it's coming from the power and the ferocity of these groups themselves that are either forcing or coercing children have very few options into the group. unless those conditions change there's not much we can do about it. perhaps my colleagues have better answers. >> does anyone have the answer to that. >> i just think that this comes back to the grievances of the condition where we are focusing on terrorist groups in our strategy and it's actually policy decisions outside our strategies that have driven support for these groups. rarely is it ideological but
it allows them to expand and recruit children. we don't have robust programs in place once the groups are removed to d radicalized children and i know they been working on it in iraq and syria but i don't think it's widespread enough. when you look at the conflict zones you're watching a generation that has lost. they haven't been to school for at least five years. they are usually malnourished, they been exposed to violence a young age, and this is one of the things we need to get out of this idea that counterterrorism is a four-year fight that can be one in a presidential term. it's a multi generational fight. >> i just want to distinguish, you're talking about children and youth. children are often either ordered or they don't know any better. i think what they're talking about is a relatively small number. a far larger number is young people and those are people
more and more drawn to it for all the reasons that katie just mentioned. >> we have time for one more question. >> yes. you. >> i think there's a lot of confusion about what terrorism is, especially with the qatar crisis. i actually want to know what the saudi role is. are they cutting down on charities or improving textbook textbooks, could you maybe comment on that. obviously we have a new crown prince so what kind of roles,
how can the u.s. work, how can we work together. >> doing to take that one? >> sure. saudi arabia is going through changes. they have this vision of 2030, the overhaul of their economy, they have this young crown prince and he's talking about radical changes. what interests me is how do the jihad is under stand radical changes. do they see this as a threat or do they see it as enough of a d stabilizer as traditional that gives them an opportunity to do something.
but, clearly lots of people in the world should have a vested interest in these reforms succeeding because alternatives most of them are pretty horrifying. however, there's still a big question on whether this can be pulled off. for example, at a time when there are countries projecting to be leaders of the sunni arabs were they have to do something, as dramatic as what's happening in syria, they go and they take this parochial fight. it's marginal and it says something about the capacity
doing reforms or projecting strength. >> we will close the session. thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you to all the panelists for a wonderful discussion. we will take a short break so i encourage you to step outside for the coffee is good, the croissants are better but the best thing you can do is grab a copy of our new report and we will reconvene at 1105 so in about ten minutes for a keynote from nathan sales. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]
>> as you heard, this should be about a five minute break. during the break we wanted to give you an update on hurricane irma. the national hurricane center said it has weakened a bit but it remains a powerful threat to florida with storm surges that could reach 10 feet in some places. the winds have dropped to 150 miles per hour, still dangerous storm. now it is moving near cuba with warmer waters which can intensify storms. it was category five, it's now a four. here is a comparison to the last category five storm to hit florida. hurricane andrew in 1992 headwinds of 165 miles per hour compared to 185 of irma. andrew was 400 miles wide well irma is 650 miles wide and hurricane irma spent four hours over florida. irma is expected to be over
florida for more than a day. here is a picture of the size difference between the two storms. the big swirl is irma. the small one is hurricane andrew from 1992. also, the white house tweeted about this weather channel video today explaining the differences in hurricane categories. >> let's start off with a category one storm. the damage here's not too bad. a couple shingles fall off, you have some palm spending in the wind but everything physically remains intact. category two, you start to feel it. look at the windows of the house. they can be hit from debris from the outside and already start breaking in a category two storm. :
>> the walls of the house start to fall. that's just catastrophic damage. that's just from the wind. there are other impacts from hurricanes and the all very during this season. so stick with the weather channel to keep you safe in your neck of the woods. >> a look at fema update on hurricane from earlier this morning.
>> all right. morning everybody. very similar to harvey, there's unified effort to lean forward to help our island partners as well as our u.s. state parties to achieve the response and recovery goals. starting with the islands, the goal right now is to stabilize the virgin islands and puerto rico to make sure that we are addressing all life safety life-sustaining issues and we are in really good position to help them do that. there's great communication with both the governors in the island communities, and the object is a very clear. emergency power and restoring power, life-saving, life-sustaining commodities, emergency communications and security. so those of the goals that we are currently supporting. this is a massive effort. because the village of the skull -- legislature of accessing items we are very right of our partners with dave department of defense. they provide over six different
navy ships in the area that will be operating today to help us accomplish, or help iva our isld partners a copy stickles. moving on, obviously hurricane irma continues to be a threat that will devastate the united states, either florida or some of the southeastern states. this is a complex forecast. anybody from alabama to north carolina should be watching this storm very closely. the forecast and direct impacts of this storm had yet to be determined because one, it's a very powerful storm, but the nature of the curve in the forecast after 72 hours is going to be the key to see who gets the worst impact. it's not a question of if florida will be impacted. it's the question of how bad florida will be impacted and where the storm in simple the next 45 days as th as a passes . it's important to point out, anytime the center of circulation of that storm travels inside that forecast,
whether it's on the left-hand side or the right inside it's a good forecast. then you have to add into that maximum radius wins, how far out hurricane winds extend from that senate circulation. so that's one thing anybody from alabama to basically north carolina needs to be monitoring and taking preparations. obviously has a lot of evacuation activity taking place in florida over the last 24-48 hours. he'd all the warnings. the goal is get out of the storm surge foldable areas. that is when driven coastal flood waters coming on sure because most devastating hazards associate with hurricanes. get out of the storm surge area and get into a facility that can withstand the wind. that doesn't mean you have to travel hundreds of miles to do so but get out of the storm surge area, into a facility that can withstand the winds. later today i know other state are also considering evacuation movement, and the jurisdiction
to ask or call for mandatory evacuations may be directed by the governor or your local officials. so make sure you understand who issues about morning, while you being moved, and take precaution. obviously governor scott has been leaning very far forward. we have been in support of governor scott, and where helping him to address the few l issues. yesterday the president proactively waved with the jones act to supply more fuel to help the governor get more fuel into his state. the president has been very quick to also issue disaster declarations in support of the response movements that are going forward, and will continue to work with our partners. with me today a secretary price from hhs. obviously emergency management as i been saying is a partnership. battle a partnership or cost the federal government, it's a partnership through all levels of government all the way down to the citizens that we saw proactively step forward in harvey.
we will need the same community approach today, and with me as secretary price, i'd like to turn over to her for a few words about health and medical issues. >> thanks, brock. anytime in emergency which makes her get the best people coordinating, and i can tell you that the american people can be more proud of the folks at fema in the leadership that brock long and his team are doing. i want to share a few words about harvey and then come in terms of harvey, we remained unresponsive recovery efforts that continue. the life-saving activities are transferring to life-sustaining activities. still have a lot 16,000 people in shelter, from a health standpoint there are four hospitals that remain closed, this comes down from high of about 3 30 hospitals that were close at the peak. about 13 dialysis units are close but this capacity to accommodate all of the patients in the southeastern texas very. 26 nursing homes remain close
but the capacity has been able to handle patients who were moved from those nursing homes. hhs has had about over 5000 patient encounters since the beginning of the storm, and the best mentor of those unrelated to the storm itself but needing to have attention and mostly minor health activity. cdc is working with the state to work out a mitigation plan for mosquitoes in the vector, and that is ongoing and will continue for days and weeks. turning to burma, in terms of the virgin islands, that,, hospital, the main hospital on st. thomas is closing. the critical patients have been evacuated already and the remainder of the patients will be evacuated today either to st. in terms of florida, as brock said that remains a remarkably dangerous storm, and the window to get yourself in the right
spot for weathering the storm either evacuating are weathering the storm is closing rampantly. others along with fema direction of pre-deployed a number of individuals either in atlanta or southern georgia as well as in dallas, preparation for moving into florida as the need arises and as a local individuals in the state request. we have extended waivers so that medication can be provided for longer period of time through pharmacies and i would encourage individuals to take advantage of the. one of the things hhs does is to identify those folks that are electricity dependent for the health and needs. so whether it's folks and oxygen concentrator or those dialysis patients or individuals who have electric wheelchairs that they use in order to be mobile, we share that data. we provide that data to the states and it done so to florida so they can then contact those individuals directly, and there
are about 5000, 5400 dialysis patients that it can provide to this date, over 20,000 electricity dependent, and about 6700 patients who are electricity dependent on oxygen concentrator. i want to just echo the words brock stated by the governors leaning in. governor scott has been remarkable partner in all of this. they have come along with the governors in georgia and south carolina, they have been very, very aggressive in making certain that they're getting the word out to the population. we'll have a couple of rough days, a number of rough days, and whatever befalls us because of the storm i can assure the american people that your federal government is working as diligently as a can to make certain we can respond whatever needs arise. thank you. >> such as to recap -- >> is everybody, please take a