ABU DHABI, 28th November, 2016 (WAM) — On the occasion of the 45th National Day celebrations of the United Arab Emirates, the Emirates News Agency, WAM, has issued a series of reports regarding the achievements of the state over the past year. In part three, we look at the role of the UAE in the fight against terrorism.
As a responsible, committed member of the international community, the United Arab Emirates strongly condemns terrorism and extremism in all forms. By working closely with the United States of America, United Kingdom and other international partners and allies, the UAE is demonstrating its commitment to confront, degrade and eradicate terrorism and extremism across the Middle East and worldwide.
The UAE reaffirms that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and underlines the need to bring perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.
The UAE reiterates that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.
The UAE condemns the brutal methods used by terror groups and organisations in the name of Islam and affirms that they have no connection with the tolerant teachings of Islam, which calls for peaceful coexistence and acceptance of others.
In his statement at the General Debate of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York in September, Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said, ”We are all aware of the incidents of violence and terrorism which have taken unprecedented forms and used heinous methods, causing fear and terror not only in the Middle East but in many countries of the world, and which proved that violence and terrorism are no longer associated with a certain state or a region, but are global threats, with no borders. ‘Countering terrorist groups is a right and duty of all states.”
The Government of the United Arab Emirates continued to build its counterterrorism capacity and strengthened its international counterterrorism cooperation. The UAE government remains dedicated to providing strong support for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh. Prominent officials and religious leaders continue to publicly criticise violent extremist ideology and decry and criminalise terrorist acts taking place across the world.
Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in a speech at the Third Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate, ADSD, in November 2016, said, ”The UAE is absolutely committed to combating and overcoming extremism and terrorism. The UAE argues that the link between extremist ideologies and terrorist acts is a clear one. We cannot face up to one without the other.
‘’Furthermore, we believe that confronting extremism and terrorism is a long drawn out and extended challenge. This understanding is essential in our efforts to confront extremism and terrorism. Various tools are required in this lengthy battle, including control of financial flows and deconstructing the extremist ideology,’’ he said.
He added that the UAE is an active member of the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh and fully supports the international community’s efforts to degrade and destroy Daesh. The ongoing battle to liberate Mosul is a critical turning point in this effort, he said.
UAE government leaders and senior Emirati officials publicly highlighted the dangers of Daesh and violent extremism, using media to counter Daesh messaging.
The UAE is leading efforts to promote tolerance and compassion through Islam, countering the root causes of extremism and disrupting online messages that lead to radicalisation.
The Sawab Centre, a joint collaboration between the UAE and US to counter extremist propaganda and terrorist messaging in the online space, was launched in July 2015 to contest Daesh’s online presence by responding directly to its propaganda through immediate reactive messaging as well as proactive campaigns. It uses other content that exposes Daesh’s true nature, highlights the successes of the Global Coalition, amplifies regional voices of moderation, and offers an alternative, positive vision that underscores the true values and diversity of Islam.
Under the UAE government’s cybercrime law, the UAE criminalises the use of the internet by terrorist groups to promote their ideologies and finance their activities.
Another major UAE initiative is Hedayah, the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, CVE, which was created in response to the growing desire from members of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and the wider international community for the establishment of an independent, multilateral centre devoted to Countering Violent Extremism in all of its forms and manifestations.
The Abu Dhabi-based centre’s mandate focuses on three core areas: Dialogue and Communications, Capacity Building Programmes and Research and Analysis Cataloguing.
In late October, 2016, Hedayah launched the “Creative Minds for Social Good”, a new public-private initiative to increase the capacity of credible private voices in the Middle East and North Africa to create and disseminate compelling online content that counters terrorist propaganda and promotes positive alternatives in the region. Hedayah conducted the programme in collaboration with the US Department of State and Facebook.
Through close coordination and cooperation, the UAE and the US are working together to stop the influx of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq. H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in September, that, ‘’My country has built mechanisms and means to protect our youth from falling into the clutches of extremism and violence.
‘’We established the Hedayah Centre to combat extremism, and participated with the United States of America in creating the Sawab Centre. Additionally, the Muslim Council of Elders and the Forum for the Promotion of Peace in Muslim Communities were established to demonstrate the true face of Islam. These institutions aim to protect young people who have been polarised by extremist, sectarian and terrorist groups, and to counter the false claims of these groups,’’ he added.
The UAE is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, GCTF, and chaired the Working Group on Countering Violent Extremism with the UK.
Through close monitoring and strict enforcement, the UAE has effectively prevented and disrupted the illicit financing of extremist groups through the UAE financial system and within UAE borders.
The Joint UAE-US Financial Counterterrorism Task Force enhances cooperation, coordination and information sharing to shut down terrorist financing networks and cut off the flow of funds to extremists.
The Task Force helps block funding to extremists from individuals and commercial activity such as black market sales of oil, and prevents access to the international banking system.
The UAE supports strict enforcement of counterterrorist financing laws and regulations, encouraging increased monitoring of charitable fundraising and further examination of money flows across the region.
Regionally, the UAE called upon the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, to adopt a collective and strategic approach that strengthens its role in international counterterrorism efforts.
“Extremism, terrorism and sectarianism have become an international menace that seeks to undermine the nation-state, dismember the social fabric and societal harmony, and threaten national and regional security as well as international peace and security,” said Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, in a statement at the annual coordination meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the OIC, which was held on the margins of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Globally, the UAE has endorsed a United Nations plan to prevent terrorism and extremism. The country welcomed the adoption of a UN draft resolution that aims to prevent violent extremism, saying it must also address factors that promote extremism, such as foreign occupation and state terrorism.
The UAE said the plan must also hold states that compromise the principles of sovereignty and interfere in the internal affairs of other nations accountable for their actions.
Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s permanent representative to the UN, said that the initiative should be a blueprint for coordinating efforts to combat extremism.
Nusseibeh applauded a recommendation to create regional plans of action to prevent extremism, while stressing the need for international efforts to assist states in ending conflict.
She also pointed out UAE efforts to prevent extremism, which include youth involvement, female empowerment and the participation and role of religious leaders ‘to promote the values of peace’.