Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Cooperate to counter terrorism challenges

By Shao Zheng (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-15 07:19

The recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and elsewhere have demonstrated that the global fight against terrorism is far from over, and it still faces many challenges.

After the death of Osama bin Laden, the threat posed by al-Qaida as a global terrorist organization has declined. However, the threat posed by its affiliates still persists. The al-Qaida threat continues to diversify, with numerous loosely linked affiliates and associated radical individuals and cells innovating with regard to their targets, tactics and technology.

Terrorism is still around. For example, the risk of attacks by al-Qaida affiliates across the Sahel persists. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula continues to be a strong factor affecting the security situation in Yemen. Al-Shabaab remains a serious threat to the security of the region. In Syria, an affiliate of al-Qaida in Iraq has gained influence and recruits from it are fighting in the civil war.

With the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014 approaching, it is hard to tell whether the situation in Afghanistan will be better or worse. Al-Qaida and the Taliban, taking refugee in the mountainous areas along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, may take advantage of the United States' withdrawal to launch attacks. Afghan troops and law enforcement forces still lack the capability to keep the situation under full control.

The shutdown of US embassies last year in many parts of the world is a demonstration of the severe threat of terrorism. The Boston Bombing incident also showed that individuals can pose a serious threat to peace and security. Recent terrorist attacks in China alerted people once again to the threat of terrorism. All these have shown that terrorism is still one of the most serious threats to peace and security. Terrorist attacks are spreading, becoming more isolated and hi-tech. The international community should work together to prevent and combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Any acts of terrorism are criminal acts and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

To prevent terrorist attacks and fight terrorism, major efforts should be made in the following key fields:

There needs to be more sustained and comprehensive counterterrorism efforts. The United Nations should play a leading and coordinating role in these efforts. Terrorism can only be defeated by a sustained and comprehensive approach involving the active participation and collaboration of all states, as well as international and regional organizations. At the same time, terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization. We should encourage more tolerance and dialogue among civilizations.

There also needs to be more strategic planning. We should follow the terrorism situation in Afghanistan and elsewhere closely. Efforts should be made to take a strategic approach to prevent and counter terrorism by earnestly following the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, especially its four pillars (addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, preventing and combating terrorism, building counterterrorism capacity, and ensuring respect for human rights for all and the rule of law).

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