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Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility: Redesigning Military, Police and Intelligence Institutions in Liberal Democracies

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - GTCMR (Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility: Redesigning Military, Police and Intelligence Institutions in Liberal Democracies)

Berichtszeitraum: 2019-01-01 bis 2020-06-30

The September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC by Al Qaeda operatives catapulted international terrorism to the top of the security and political agendas of western liberal democracies and produced immediate and profound global consequences, not only politically and militarily, but also economically. Subsequently, there have been a number of specific and sporadic terrorist bombings of civilians in other liberal democratic states, including in Bali in 2002, Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, New Delhi in 2005, Mumbai in 2006, Boston in 2013, San Bernardino in 2015, Paris in 2015, Brussels in 2016 and Barcelona in 2017. More ominously, there have been ongoing terrorist attacks in a number of theatres of internecine war, notably in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan, and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle-East. Most recently, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) (also known as ISIS and ISIL) has emerged as a potent new terrorist organisation operating in Iraq and Syria and has pushed international terrorism again to the forefront of the security concerns of western liberal democracies and, indeed, globally, albeit especially in countries with substantial Muslim populations such as in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Russia, Somalia, Indonesia and China. In inflicting major losses on Iraqi government forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga and, in particular, in taking and holding large areas of Iraq and Syria, IS gave some credence to its ambitions to re-establish a caliphate (Islamic state) and demonstrated a capacity to go beyond Al Qaeda’s modus operandi of mounting a series of terrorist attacks in a given location. That said, Al Qaeda’s various ‘franchised’ groups, such as Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Somalia, continue to operate in disparate locations, notably in recent times in Syria where internecine warfare has provided fertile ground for the Al Qaeda designated affiliates. While IS’s self-styled Caliphate has all but been defeated in Iraq and Syria, it’s battle-hardened foreign fighters remain a potent treat to liberal democracies in Europe and elsewhere.

The counter-terrorism response to international terrorism, if it is to be successful in the long
term, is a profoundly difficult enterprise involving multiple institutional actors coordinating their activities across multiple agencies in respect of various security and security related aspects (e.g. inter-security agency cooperation between the police, the military and the intelligence agencies, inter-agency cooperation between the police, financial institutions and community organisations, transnational cooperation etc.). Crucially, counter-terrorism should be explicitly framed as a collective moral responsibility of governments, security institutions (such as the military, the police and intelligence agencies) and, importantly, the citizenry of the many nation-states adversely affected who security agencies increasingly need to rely on for intelligence and other forms of cooperation. This collective moral responsibility is the premise of this proposed research project. When it is framed in this manner a number of inter-related questions and associated tasks come into view and these are the focus of the project.

This proposed research project has as its main objective to provide an answer or set of answers to the following pressing, yet highly complex and problematic, normative question: What ought a morally permissible and efficacious (i) structure of counter-terrorist institutional arrangements, and (ii) counter-terrorist tactics, for a contemporary liberal democracy collaborating with other liberal democracies inter alia facing the common problem of international terrorism consist of?
To realise this main objective requires answering a number of constitutive subsidiary questions
addressed in a systematic manner. The most important of the ones to be addressed here are:
- What is the nature and are the causes of international terrorism and how is it to be morally and conceptually demarcated from, for example, wars of liberation and more traditional forms of terrorism?
- What is the analysis of the notion of collective moral responsibility applicable to institutional actors?
- What forcible counter-terrorist tactics, e.g. preventative detention, targeted killing, are morally permissible and under what circumstances?
- How are these tactics to be integrated with a broad-based counter-terrorism strategy which rely on the citizenry and includes such non-forcible measures as anti-radicalisation measures?
- How morally ought the key security agencies – police, military and intelligence – be redesigned to combat international terrorism in the diverse contexts of well-ordered jurisdictions (London or Madrid), disorderly jurisdictions (e.g. FATA) and theatres of war (Syria)? How, for example, is the military role to be demarcated from the police role in counter-terrorist operations in disorderly jurisdictions? Is there a morally problematic blurring of the roles of different security institutions ,e.g. militarisation of police? Should an intelligence agency such as the CIA be in charge of operations involving the use of lethal force? What powers of security agencies constitute morally impermissible institutional overreach in a liberal democracy?
- What accountability mechanisms need to be designed in relation to the use of (otherwise morally acceptable) counter-terrorist tactics, e.g. judicial oversight of drone strikes?

The project comprises a number of stages (work packages) conducted over a five year period, each stage aligning sequentially with the need to address these key constitutive questions in logical order.
Realizing the main objective also involves the utilisation of a multi-disciplinary methodology which
integrates philosophical theorising/analysis, empirical description/interpretation and legal input.
In the first three phases, the focus of the research was on the following general research questions:
What is the nature and causes of international terrorism and how is it to be morally and conceptually demarcated from, for example, wars of liberation and more traditional forms of terrorism? What is the analysis of the notion of collective moral responsibility applicable to institutional actors? What forcible counter-terrorist tactics, e.g. preventative detention, targeted killing, are morally permissible and under what circumstances?

For this purpose, research has been undertaken resulting in the preparation of 50 research papers by members of the ERC research team, a number of which have already been published, e.g. Seumas Miller “The Moral Justification for Preventive Detention” Criminal Justice Ethics (2018), or presented at international conferences, e.g. Adam Henschke “What Good is Restraint: Practical Reasons for Limits to Counter-terrorism” International Society of Military Ethics (Europe) Annual Conference, 2017. These 50 research papers, include theoretical papers (e.g. nature of collective responsibility), background empirical papers (e.g. US counter-terrorism strategy) and papers in applied ethics (e.g. ethics and efficacy of targeted killing), have been presented in the five internal workshops over the period ending in June 30th 2018 – three workshops in The Hague and two at the University of Oxford.

During this period three external workshops have also been conducted: one in The Hague, one in Washington DC and one at the University of Oxford. These external workshops consist of experts in counter-terrorism, e.g. senior police, military and intelligence personnel, academics and policy-makers, making presentations to the ERC team on a variety of key issues, including the use of lethal force, detention, undercover operatives, interrogation of detained terrorists, extremist jihadist use of social media, and counter-radicalization.

In addition, during this period twenty in-depth semi-structured and unstructured interviews have been conducted with key informants in The Netherlands (The Hague), UK (Oxford, Manchester, London and Hereford), the US (Washington DC), and India (Delhi). Additional interviews have been arranged in each of these countries, but also in Israel, Australia and Canada. The interviewees include former heads of intelligence agencies, such as the CIA, and senior military commanders who have served in Iraq and elsewhere.

The original partnership in this ERC project consisted of TU Delft (host institution) and the University of Oxford. This partnership has been extended to include the Centre for National Security and Law, Georgetown Law at Georgetown University in Washington DC, USA, and the Australian Centre for Policing and Security at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia. Each of these partners is providing additional resources, such as senior academic input and part-time research assistants. A website (www.counterterrorismethics.com) has been constructed. Abridged versions of the 50 essays have been published on the website, as have lists of publications and descriptions of external workshops conducted thus far.

The theoretical, empirical and applied ethics research completed so far forms the basis upon which to address the following research questions in the next stages of the project: How are ethical and effective counter-terrorist tactics to be integrated within a broad-based counter-terrorism strategy for liberal democracies? How morally ought the key security agencies – police, military and intelligence – be redesigned to combat international terrorism in the diverse contexts of well-ordered jurisdictions? What accountability mechanisms need to be designed in relation to the use of (otherwise morally acceptable) counter-terrorist tactics?
Progress beyond the state of the art:

The project’s progress beyond the state of the art will, it is expected, take place mainly in the next stage of the project. However, at this time a novel disciplinary direction for applied philosophy and the process has begun of establishing of a new research program within counter-terrorism studies, namely philosophically grounded, moral analysis which is both legally and empirically informed. This is evidenced by the preparation and publication of research papers on both the ethics and efficacy of various counter-terrorism tactics. Hitherto philosophers have focused on ethics issues while practitioners, social scientists et al have focussed on the efficacy issues. However, the ERC’s multidisciplinary team working with practitioners has been able to produce output which addresses the ethical and efficacy issues simultaneously.

Expected results:

(i) A Major Report, outlining for policy-makers what the morally permissible, efficacious (i) structure of counter-terrorist institutional arrangements, and (ii) set of counter-terrorist tactics, for a contemporary liberal democracy collaborating with other liberal democracies facing the common problem of international terrorism ought to consist of.

(ii) An Authored Academic Monograph: elaborating the content of the major report in scholarly terms

(iv) x 3 Edited Collections

(v) x 2 PhDs: (1st) Collective Responsibility, Counter-terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs); (2nd) Bulk Data Collection and Analysis for Counter-Terrorism: Efficacy and Ethics

(vi) Website: Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility – continue to enhance the website offerings so that it becomes a one-stop-shop for an extensive range of material (written, video, podcasts etc.) on issues dealt with in this research project and on relevant academic, policy, practitioner and other events world-wide.

(vii) 4 additional internal workshops and around 45 essays to be presented x 7 Key Informant Workshops : x 5 have already been conducted (x 3 in the period up to the end of June 2018 and x 2 since then).

(viii) Major International Conference on Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility: The Hague, Netherlands, 2020