London- Last week, The Gulf Research Center (GRC) concluded a highly successful one-day workshop in London at the Carlton Tower Hotel entitled, “Confronting Terror: Promoting the Arab-British Partnership.” Attended by key British government officials and terrorism experts, as well as high level Arab and Muslim delegates and academics, the meeting was a positive move on the road to greater cooperation between the Muslim world and the West in the fight against terror. This message was conveyed strongly by the main speech of the workshop given by HRH Prince Turki al Faisal.
Initiated by the GRC in response to the horrific terror attacks of July 7 in London, the workshop aimed to provide a substantive and institutional Arab/Muslim response to the terror attacks. It did so in terms of expressing solidarity with the British government and people in combating terror and by outlining new ideas to tackle this spreading disease.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Gulf Research Center, Mr.
Abdulaziz Sager stated that the meeting aimed “to pass on a message of solidarity from the heart of the Arab and Muslim world. It aims to express their revulsion at this act with the British people and British government and to say that there can be no religious, moral, or political justification for the murder of innocent people.”
The first two sessions dealt with the responses of both the British and Arab governments to the crisis. Government officials, academics and senior media figures outlined the critical problems posed by the threat of terrorism and tried to analyze some of the root causes. British officials and academics stressed in the first session that the war on terror was one that must be fought on several fronts including, militarily, financially, concerning sharing intelligence as well as the hugely important battle to win over the hearts and minds of those in the Muslim world.
HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal emphasized that the real nature of the terrorist organization was not Islamic, but rather a cult psychology which has borrowed an Islamic language to propagate perverted messages to justify its actions. “This terrorism is not based on Islam, but is a perverted cult ideology. Its followers have absented themselves from normal society and from the family, and placed themselves outside of reality to fulfill fantasies that have nothing to do with the real world,” he said. “It is a terrorist cult, rather than a classic terrorist organization like the IRA or ETA.”
Other Arab officials concurred with HRH Prince Turki’s words, calling for more responsible and direct leadership from the Muslim communities of the West. Arab academics and Middle East experts called on the Arab and Muslim world to focus on the root causes of terrorism at home, including improving the educational system and allowing for greater civil liberties and political participation.
Moving from the interesting and productive political debate, the second part of the day was concerned with the practical elements of combating terror, including an in-depth discussion concerning the recruitment to terrorist cells in the United Kingdom, as well as future intelligence co-operation between the West and the Arab and Muslim world.
The workshop highlighted some important areas of debate, including the consequences of the terror attacks on the immigrant community of the United Kingdom, the importance of Arab-British ties in light of the shared threats posed by terrorism, and the need for the West to tackle some of the root causes of terrorism as part of the battle. The conflict in Iraq and the subsequent debacle in that country have had a huge impact on the recruitment of terrorists, and the workshop therefore concluded that foreign policy in the West will play a major role in the future war on terror.
As agreed by all the speakers, the partnership of the Arab and Muslim world in this fight against terror is hugely important. “Terrorism today does not recognize geographical and political borders, nationality, race, or religion. It is an act of blind and indiscriminate killing,” said GRC Chairman Abdulaziz Sager. The war on terror is therefore one that must be undertaken by all countries around the world. However, understanding and analyzing the problem before acting is a vital part of finding the solution, which is why many participants valued the importance of workshops such as this one, held by the GRC in London. As stated by a British official, “The right action will not be taken if the analysis is defective.”