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Justin Siberell: Saudi Arabia Is Major Partner in Fighting Violent Extremism, Terrorism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Secretary John Kerry at GCTF on September 26, 2015. (U.S. Department of State)

New York – Counter terrorism and prevention of violent extremism were the main highlights of the seventh ministerial meeting of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), which was held in New York on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a summit meeting of the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The forum, co-chaired by Morocco and the Netherlands, brought together experts and practitioners from countries and regions around the world to share experiences and expertise, and develop tools and strategies on how to counter the evolving terrorist threat.

A statement issued on the GCTF official page said the meeting saw the adoption of the “Toolkit of the Initiative to Address the Life Cycle of Radicalization to Violence”, along with new GCTF framework documents addressing various stages of the Life Cycle, as well as Good Practices in the area of border security and management in the context of counterterrorism and stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and recommendations relating to contributions of parliamentarians in developing an effective response to terrorism.

During a closed meeting organized by the New York Foreign Press Center on Wednesday, Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department Justin Siberell informed a small number of reporters of the latest efforts deployed by the U.S. and Arab and European states to face violent extremism in its various forms.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Siberell talked about cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council on fighting the flow of foreign fighters into ISIS, as well as the leading role assumed by Mohammed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center in rehabilitating ex-terrorists.

Asked about the Initiative to Address the Life Cycle of Radicalization to Violence, Siberell said that the initiative was launched a year ago by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and mainly focuses on the role of governments in facing extremist ideologies, preventing youth from joining ISIS and other extremist groups, as well as rehabilitating and reintegrating former terrorists in the society.

Siberell noted that a new initiative will be launched in the coming year to protect easy targets such as restaurants, theaters, hotels and public places from terrorist attacks.

The U.S. official lauded Saudi Arabia’s efforts in fighting terrorism.

“Saudi Arabia is an important partner in fighting violent extremism and terrorism,” Siberell said, stressing the “high level of cooperation and information exchange” between the Kingdom and the United States.

Siberell laid high importance on the work achieved by Mohammed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, noting that the best means to fight extremism was to listen to personal experiences of ex-terrorists.

The U.S. official also highlighted the strong partnership between the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United States in fighting terrorism.