Arab and international experts attending a recent symposium in Jordan agreed that better regional co-ordination is one of the keys to preventing and combating terrorism in the Middle East and Europe.
Participants attending the January 16th event, hosted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, said there is a great opportunity to defeat terrorism through increased co-ordination and by fostering a culture of pluralism.
Jordan has been working in co-ordination with neighbouring countries to thwart any terrorist plot, said Col. Majdi Harasis of the Jordanian Armed Forces’ Directorate of Military Intelligence during the discussion session.
Greater co-operation is needed to lessen the opportunity for terrorists to carry out their plans, however, he said.
The kingdom has succeeded in maintaining its security and stability despite the volatile regional situation, he added, noting that ongoing co-ordination with neighbouring countries has played a key role in this.
Jordan continues to participate in the military campaigns being waged to defeat groups such as the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), he said.
Additionally, half of the Jordanian armed forces are deployed on the kingdom's northern and north-eastern borders to thwart any potential threat.
"The so-called Khalid ibn al-Walid army, which is affiliated with the terrorist ISIL group, is only two kilometres away from the Jordanian border, and the Jordanian army is effectively monitoring the movements of those elements," Harasis said.
Jordan also is co-ordinating with Iraqi forces to block any threats, he added.
Combating hate speech
"The key to combating the phenomenon of violence and extremism is to combat hate speech," Iraqi researcher and political analyst Mushriq Abbas told Al-Mashareq on the sidelines of the session.
"Unfortunately, the spread of the phenomena of marginalisation, exclusion, non-acceptance of others and lack of knowledge of the customs, culture and traditions of the components of Arab society has led to extremism and terrorism," he said.
Abbas called for greater efforts in Arab countries to promote pluralism, tolerance and respect for the opinions of others, noting that an "environment fueled by hate speech is conducive to the spread of terrorism, extremism and fanaticism".
He also stressed the "role of the media in combating hate speech, which has spread dramatically in recent times", pointing out that social media has been "a fertile platform for the spread of hate speech and fueling bigotry in all its forms".
Terrorism is a worldwide scourge that affects all countries, not only those in the Middle East, said Friedrich Ebert Foundation's resident director Anja Wehler-Schoeck.
"The focus should be on addressing all the factors that contribute to terrorism, be they economic, social or other factors," she told Al-Mashareq, adding that "the fight against terrorism is the collective responsibility of everyone".
Key role of women
Women play a major role in combating terrorism, Jordanian researcher of extremist movements Hassan Abu Haniya told Al-Mashareq.
"ISIL used women extensively in its operations, co-ordination and other activities, and we will see increased use of women by terrorist groups in the coming period," he said.
But women also can be used as a deterrent, Abu Haniya said.
There ought to be an "aggressive policy" to counter the recruitment of women by extremist groups, he said, and to enhance the role of women in raising awareness against terrorism and fighting extremist ideas in the community.
Women can play an essential role in this regard, he added, but to date, no concentrated effort has been made to involve them in the fight against terrorism.
On a separate note, he warned of the dangers of the recruitment of child soldiers, adding that ISIL has "trained an entire generation of so-called cubs of the caliphate, who are children who take part in carrying out terrorist attacks".
"In conjunction with military operations, there is a great need for programmes to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society those who repent and return to the correct path," Abu Haniya said.