Terrorists and terrorist networks are increasingly transnational in nature. Jihadi terrorist groups and, increasingly, right-wing extremist groups alike have cells and connections abroad and use social media platforms to mobilise, recruit, coordinate and move financial resources across borders to support their activities.
To combat this, during the last decade governments have increasingly adopted legislation that criminalizes the preparation, facilitation and incitement of terrorism. Furthermore, states have implemented a range of administrative measures – including listing procedures, the use of watchlists, control orders and deprivation of nationality – aimed at the prevention of terrorism. Some of these efforts pose serious challenges to human rights and the rule law.
The counter-terrorism framework has continuously and significantly expanded in the two decades since 9/11. Various prosecutorial strategies are followed, such as indicting terrorist suspects, including foreign terrorist fighters, for ordinary crimes, for terrorist crimes, for international crimes, and increasingly for preparatory offences. A suitable interplay between the terrorism and other legal frameworks can foster more effective CT responses.
By ensuring CT laws and measures are grounded in the rule of law and respect human rights, policymakers and practitioners can maximise effectiveness, reduce the likelihood of counterproductive consequences, and improve prosecution outcomes while upholding the rights of victims, witnesses and the accused.
Our Priority Areas
In order to address the evolving challenges and threats of terrorism, States have adopted a broad set of measures to address root causes, establish a criminal justice response and create a rehabilitative framework. To complement existing counterterrorism legislation and policies, additional administrative measures can constitute a valuable tool to deal with an individual considered to be a risk for national security when there is not enough evidence to open criminal proceedings. When administrative measures are used within a rule of law framework they could contribute to prevent individuals from committing a terrorist crime. The GCTF Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group (GCTF CJ-ROL Working Group) has developed Recommendations for the use of administrative measures that fully respect human rights and the rule of law. The Recommendations offer guidance to policy makers, law enforcement officials, and other relevant stakeholders for the design, implementation, and monitoring of administrative measures in accordance with applicable domestic law and in full respect of applicable international law.
This trilogy of perspectives by ICCT Senior Research Fellow Tanya Mehra examines:
The Linkages between Terrorism and International Crimes Project began in September 2020 and will end in October 2021. It is spearheaded by ICCT and is being conducted in association with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum’s Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group. The project builds on the Abuja Recommendations on the Collection, Use and Sharing of Evidence for Purposes of Criminal Prosecution of Terrorist Suspects, but will also build on other relevant GCTF documents such as Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector and Madrid Memorandum on Good Practices for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism Immediately after the Attack and in Criminal Proceedings, as well as the Addendum to The Hague Good Practices on the Nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism: Focus on Criminal Justice.
The aim of this essay is to trace the evolution of extreme right-wing violence by paying close attention to its changing patterns from the late nineteenth century to the present. Its basic subject is the specific form of violent actions that have historically emerged from the Right. As such, it takes the form of a study of deeds rather than propaganda. This paper will go on to discuss the perpetrators and methods of right-wing violence from its statist emergence in the late nineteenth century to its pivot in the early twentieth century to taking the ‘low route’ to power, as Italian fascists and Nazi stormtroopers developed strategies focused upon the ‘conquest of the streets’. This essay will conclude by asking: having examined the historical violence of its antecedents, just how tactically innovative is today’s right-wing violence?
This report offers a concise, comprehensive, and critical overview of the empirical findings available on the background and possible motivations foreign fighters. It focuses on the young Western men and women who became jihadist foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. The analysis compares thirty-four reports and academic articles published between 2014 and 2019. The analysis focuses on demographic factors, socio-economic marginalisation, past criminality, mental health issues, and ideology/ religion. The report summarises the findings, delineates the methodological limitations, and identifies interpretive biases present in much the research.
Notwithstanding the fact that civil authorities are usually involved in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist crimes, reality on the ground often leads to a different situation. Indeed, the military may be called upon to carry out law enforcement activities when embedded in situations characterised by conflict, high risk level of threat and/or a lack of local civil capacity. In this Research Paper, the role of the military when performing law enforcement activities in terms of collecting evidence and/or securing suspected terrorists is analysed. Dr. Bibi van Ginkel and Dr. Christophe Paulussen point out that past experiences, for instance from counter-piracy operations and evidence-based operations, may provide some guidance for future cases.
With a background in international law Tanya Mehra is involved in conducting research, providing evidence-based policy advice, advising governments on a rule of a law approach in countering terrorism.
Tanya’s main areas of interest are international (criminal) law and rule of law approaches in countering terrorism, with a special focus on accountability of terrorism-related crimes, human rights implications of countering terrorism approaches.
Matthew Wentworth’s research interests include, inter alia, the crime-terrorism nexus, counterinsurgency, irregular warfare, and counter-terrorism strategy — with particular emphasis on the UK’s use of executive counter-terror measures.
Joanna joined the ICCT in August 2021 as an intern for the Rule of Law pillar. She holds a bachelor in French and international law, having studied in France and Sweden. Joanna recently graduated cum laude from the Leiden University Public International Law LLM, for which she wrote a thesis on alleged forced labor of the Uyghur minority in China as a crime against humanity.
Andrea Bianchi is a Full Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva since 2002. He has consulted for international organizations on matters related to counterterrorism, security and human rights, and for multinational corporations on business and human rights issues.
Fiona de Londras is Professor of Global Legal Studies at the University of Birmingham (UK) and Honorary Professor at the Australian National University. Her work is primarily concerned with the role, operation and impacts of rights in complex policy areas, with a particular focus on counter-terrorism at national and transnational levels.
Dr. Ahmad El-Muhammady is an Assistant Professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia. Since 2011, he works closely with the Special Branch’s Counter-Terrorism Division, Royal Malaysia Police and Prison Department to implement the Rehabilitation and Deradicalisation programs for individuals detained under terrorism laws in Malaysia.
Seamus Hughes is the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. He is an expert on terrorism, homegrown violent extremism, and countering violent extremism (CVE).
Sidney Jones is founder and senior adviser to the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict where she has focused on Islamist extremism, insurgency and conflict in Southeast Asia with a particular focus on Indonesia and the Philippines.
Dr Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi is a Researcher in International Law and Counterterrorism at the T.M.C. Asser Institute, a Research Fellow at ICCT and the Managing Editor of the Netherlands Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law. Her work reflects on counterterrorism and, more precisely, on our evolving legal and policy capacity to deal with security threats, where new forms of non-state transnational risk, counter-risk strategy and technology are in play.
Allan Ngari is the Regional Organised Crime Observatory Coordinator for West Africa, in the Enhancing Africa’s Responses to Organised Crime (ENACT), at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). He has extensive experience in international justice, particularly with accountability processes; and participatory and reparative rights of victims.
Dr. Christophe Paulussen LL.M M.Phil is a Research Fellow at ICCT, a senior researcher at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and coordinator of its research strand ‘Human Dignity and Human Security in International and European Law’, and coordinator of the inter-faculty research platform ‘International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform’.
Professor Ben Saul is Challis Chair of International Law at the University of Sydney, Australia and an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. He has taught at Harvard, Oxford, The Hague Academy of International Law and Italy, India, Nepal, and Cambodia, and been a visitor at the Max Planck Institute for International Law and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights.
Letta Tayler is an Associate Director in the Crisis and Conflict Division of Human Rights Watch, where she leads the division’s work on terrorism and counterterrorism. Her focus includes the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, counterterrorism policy at the United Nations, foreign ISIS suspects and families, the extreme-right in the United States, and drone strikes and other targeted killings.
Dr. Rumyana van Ark (née Grozdanova) is a Research Fellow and a Coordinator at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague. She is also a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and International Law at the T.M.C. Asser Institute within the Research Strand ‘Human Dignity and Human Security’. Her work focuses on the impact of counter-terrorism measures on the individual terror suspect and the long-term implications for the rule of law.
Van Ginkel’s expertise spans the wide variety of focus areas of CT and CPVE, from rule of law issues to trends and threat developments, counter-terrorism, countering violent extremism responses, and prevention strategies in combination with development-aid initiatives.
Beth Van Schaack is the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School where she teaches in the areas of international human rights, international criminal law, and human trafficking, among other subjects, and has been the Acting Director of the Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic. She is also a Faculty Fellow with Stanford’s Center for Human Rights & International Justice.
Clive Walker is Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice Studies at the School of Law, University of Leeds, where he has served as the Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (1987‐2000) and as Head of School (2000‐2005, 2010). He has written extensively on constitutional, terrorism, and internet issues.