Counter-terrorism Measures in Italy
International cooperation as the keystone in the fight against terrorism
The international community's response to terrorism has been firm and resolute, especially following the events of 11 September 2001. The goals and general approach of this response are, for the most part, commonly shared, although there are some differences of emphasis, with some insisting on military means and "law enforcement" and others on the aspects of prevention and dialogue. The European Union stresses the need for an integrated approach, each component of which (investigative surveys, intelligence gathering, the political–diplomatic dimension, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, crack-down on financing, transport security and, where necessary, the use of military force) plays an essential and synergetic role.
In terms of policing measures, the Al Qaeda and Taleban Sanctions Committee is talking about the arrest of more than 3000 Islamic terrorist network militants between 2001 and today, in over 100 States, of an overall world-wide total of operatives estimated at approximately 20,000. U.S. State Department data on the number of terrorist bombings carried out each year shows little variation between 2002 and 2003 (190 bombings in 2003 as compared with 198 in 2002), while the number of victims has dropped sharply (307 victims in 2003 compared with 725 in 2002). Three-quarters of Al-Qaeda's leadership seems to have been eliminated or captured.
With regard to blocking the financing of terrorist activities, 173 States have adopted measures by which to freeze financial assets earmarked for use by terrorists; over 100 countries have approved new legislation in this area and 84 States have set up Financial Intelligence Units.
According to the data of the Australian government, frozen financial assets traceable to terrorist organisations across the world amount to approximately 138 million dollars (approximately 500,000 euro of which in Italy); adding to this the value of non-financial assets and property seized yields a grand total of approximately 285 million dollars.
As of 4 December 2004 the UN's black list showed 318 individuals and 115 terrorist organisations subject to various types of sanctions (freezing of financial assets and others, arms embargo, travel bans).
The criticism is often made that the majority of these assets — approximately 112 million dollars — were frozen in the months following 11 September 2001, and that the funds earmarked for the Al-Qaeda terrorist network amount to between 20 and 50 million dollars per year, for a total of approximately 5 billion dollars.
Nevertheless, the problem cannot be separated from off-shore activities (and the reticence of many States that host them to cooperate in efforts to stamp out money laundering), as well as the objective difficulties in fighting alternative systems of financial transactions that use channels operating outside the formal system (for example, the so-called "hawala", an alternative remittance system hinging on non-registered international relationships set up on the basis of trust and family relations).
Finally, a summary of international counter-terrorism efforts cannot ignore how important daily preventive activities are — thanks also to international cooperation channels at all levels — in striking at the operative capabilities of terrorist networks. In other words, prevention activities have positive results that cannot be listed on a balance sheet but which have a major impact on the practical level.
Italy's legislative and institutional response
Italy responded promptly to the terrorist threat emerging after 11 September 200, in keeping with the pertinent resolutions adopted by the United Nations and with the various regulatory instruments adopted by the EU.
Urgent measures were adopted, through Law No. 438/2001, for the prevention and prosecution of crimes committed for the purposes of international terrorism, along with the introduction of a new category of criminal collusion for the purposes of international terrorism (art. 270 bis of the Penal Code).
Law No 431/2001 provided for establishment of the Committee for Financial Security (Comitato di Sicurezza Finanziaria — CSF) at the Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs, whose chairman is the Director General of the Treasury. It is made up of 11 members and includes representatives of the Ministries of the Interior, Economic and Financial Affairs, Justice and Foreign Affairs, the Bank of Italy, the National Commission for Business and the Stock Exchange (CONSOB), the Italian Banking Association, the Italian Exchange Commission, the Police, Carabinieri and Financial Corps and the National Anti-Mafia Directorate. It is the CSF's task to prevent terrorist organisations from using the Italian financial system. It coordinates Italy's efforts to halt the financing of terrorism, and is authorised to freeze the assets of individuals or organisations associated with terrorist organisations.
The Committee monitors the implementation of EU regulations in this area, supervises the application of the sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council and approves the proposals for the inclusion of individuals or entities into the list of the Sanctions Committee against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The value of the financial assets frozen by the Italian administrative authorities amounted, as of December 2004, to approximately 500,000 euro; in addition, assets and property worth approximately 4 million euro were seized at the request of the judicial authorities.
Principal areas of multilateral cooperation against terrorism.
The United Nations
In the UN sphere, Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) constitutes the basis for establishing numerous Member State obligations, whichinclude: international judicial and police cooperation, the signing and ratification of the 12 UN Conventions against terrorism, the fight against the flow of capital that fuels terrorist groups, the development of technical aid programmes aimed at strengthening the operational capacities of member states in this sector, and so on.
The Security Council disposes of two subsidiary organisations with mandates to fight terrorism:
- the Counter-Terrorism Committee, CTC was set up after 11 September on the basis of Resolution 1373 with a monitoring role and the task of boosting the overall counter-terrorism activities;
- the Sanctions Committee against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, has the specific task of updating the list of individuals and entities associated with these organisations, and of monitoring the enforcement of sanctions.
As mentioned above, Italy has ratified all 12 international Conventions against terrorism and strongly supports the actions of the CTC. Furthermore, Italy provides a decisive contribution to the Sanctions Committee against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Indeed, since April 2002 it has presented seven proposals for a total of 79 individuals and 14 organisations listed by the Committee's. Italy is in second place, after the US, in terms of the number of proposals for additions to the list.
The G8 has systematically dealt with the main themes related to terrorism at the political level, above all in the course of the last six summits (Kananaskis 2002, Evian 2003, Sea Island 2004, Gleneagles 2005, St. Petersburg 2006 and Heiligendamm 2007).
At expert level, there are two specialised bodies, the Lyon/Rome Group and the CTAG:
- The Lyon/Rome Group is the result of the merger, decided on at the 2002 Kananaskis Summit, of the Lyon Group (active in the fight against organised crime) and the Rome Group (set up under the Italian Presidency and thus named in confirmation of the appreciation for its efforts) created after 11 September with a specific mandate in the field of combating terrorism. It is a forum for information exchange, analysis and promotion of coordination and cooperation initiatives in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. It meets three times a year and develops proposals for approval at political level (Heads of Government, Foreign Affairs Ministries, Justice and Interior Ministries), as well as "best practices" and "guidelines" for the adoption of operative measures on the part of specialised multilateral bodies (for example the ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organisation) and the IMO (International Maritime Organisation).
- The CTAG (Counter-Terrorism Action Group) coordinates technical assistance to third countries that are weaker institutionally and more exposed to the terrorist threat. Italy has taken the lead, within CTAG, of a specific initiative for security in the framework of counter-terrorism in airports in the western Balkans.
In the context of the European Union, Italy actively contributes to the realisation of the Plan of Action against terrorism adopted by the European Council on 28 September 2001. The Plan of Action contains a wide range of measures to be adopted in various crucial sectors in the fight against terrorism (judicial and police cooperation, transport safety, border controls and document security, blocking financing, political dialogue and external relations, defence against biological-chemical-radiological-nuclear etc. attack), was reviewed and approved by the European Council of June 2004, and integrated with subsequent measures (European Council of 16-17 December 2004).
One of the EU's most innovative instruments are the community level lists aimed at freezing the assets of individuals and terrorist groups other than Al Qaeda (Position 931/2001 and Regulation 2580/2002). In May 2004 the Red Brigades and nine other Italian organisations were included on these lists following proposals by Italy.
Through Regulation 881/2002, the European Union automatically acknowledges the revisions of the UN Sanctions Committee's lists and enforces them in the regulations of Member States.
On 25 March 2004, the European Council adopted a Declaration which constitutes the main document on this issue after the approval of the September 2001 Plan of Action.
On the same occasion, the "Declaration on solidarity against terrorism" was adopted, which, anticipating the provisions of Article 42 of the Treaty on the European Constitution, establishes the obligation to assist, "with all the instruments available, including military resources", any Member State struck by a terrorist attack.
The European Union has made terrorism one of the cardinal elements of its political dialogue with regional groups and third countries. An anti-terrorism clause is foreseen in participation and cooperation agreements and in other similar instruments.
The Italian EU Presidency of the second semester of 2003 achieved results of great political and operational significance under both the second and third institutional pillars. Within the context of the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) a dialogue has been set in motion with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries on the subject of financing terrorism (a specific meeting was held in Brussels on 7 November 2003, and was followed by a second meeting in Abu Dhabi on 5 and 6 March 2005).
"Ad hoc multinational teams" were set up in the third pillar, made up of investigators from EU countries operating in the "pre-judiciary" segment of police investigations; a related "operating manual" was also approved. The first time the multinational teams were employed was on the occasion of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. The European Union has also defined a series of regulations concerning border control, exchange of information and judicial and police cooperation.
In this respect, the Hague Programme to reinforce the European space of freedom, security and justice, aims at developing an integrated management system for external borders, with responsibility and financial expenses divided equally between Member States. The European Agency for External Borders, which will coordinate operational collaboration to stem illegal immigration and its connections to organised crime and trafficking of human beings, will be operational as of 1 May 2005; in this framework attention will also have to be paid to the risk of these illegal flows becoming a vehicle for terrorist infiltration from Sub-Saharan African countries sympathetic to Muslim fundamentalism.
In order to strengthen the fight against illegal immigration, the Programme foresees the implementation of security measures through the use of innovative techniques, such as biometrics, in identity checks at the borders and in European Union territory, and by achieving inter-operability between the Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Visa Information System (VIS) and EURODAC, by the end of 2005. It is in this context that the adoption of Council Regulation no. 2252 (2004), regarding regulations on security aspects and the biometric elements of passports and travel documents issued by member states, has been adopted, as well as a proposal for a conclusion of the Council on biometric information in visas and in temporary residence permits of citizens from third countries. This proposal is aimed at accelerating the setting up of the VIS, and is currently being examined by the appropriate Council working groups. As far as common policy in terms of visas is concerned, the Hague Programme foresees the future creation of joint services for the issuing of visas between Schengen area countries, and in this connection the Council has asked the Commission to present a proposal, before the end of 2005, for the establishment of joint centres for the introduction of visa requests.
Many legislative instruments have been adopted in the framework of judicial, penal and police cooperation. Some of these are already being applied in practice in response to delays associated with the ratification or acknowledgement procedures in the organisational arrangements of Member States. Some Framework Decisions could be mentioned at this point: on the European arrest warrant; on joint investigation teams; on the fight against terrorism; on the creation of Eurojust; on the recycling and confiscation of the instruments and proceeds of crime; on the specific measures for judicial and police cooperation in the fight against terrorism; on the proposal being examined by the Council for reciprocal acknowledgement of decisions to confiscate. In this context, the Convention on mutual criminal assistance between member states, and the additional protocols to the Europol Convention, should also be mentioned.
The European Council of 16-17 December 2004 approved a series of further measures in the area of the fight against terrorism, which include reinforced intelligence capability in the Council Secretariat General, outline of a global protection strategy for critical infrastructures, terrorism financing block, integration of counter-terrorism activities in the European Union's external relations with regard both to the development of political dialogue and to technical assistance to third countries. Particular importance was given to the radicalisation of the terrorist phenomenon and the recruitment of terrorists on the basis of the common principles as regards integration adopted at the Groeningen Conference, including inter-religious dialogue.
The European Union has moreover recently adopted a Directive (which has already been acknowledged in the Italian legal system) on the granting of compensation to the victims of criminal acts that also covers cases of victims of terrorism. The European Union is now examining the possibility of adopting a specific instrument in favour of the latter.
Finally, in anticipation of the commemorative celebrations for the attacks in Madrid on 11 March 2004, the European Commission presented a report in memory of the victims of terrorism (SEC. 2005-272).
- Within the NATO framework (for further details please refer to the NATO page of the MAE site as well as to the NATO website), Italy is taking part in the naval mission "Active Endeavour" (with which Russia has recently become associated), whose objective is to combat terrorism in the Mediterranean. In addition, NATO approved a Declaration on terrorism at the ministerial level informal Atlantic Council on 2nd April 2004. The Declaration reaffirms the principles of cooperation and solidarity between member states and refers to the guidelines established by the UN for collaboration in opposing international terrorism. NATO's activities in Afghanistan and in training Iraqi military forces constitute a commitment in the struggle against terrorism in a broad sense.
- Furthermore NATO is collaborating with the European Union in the development of cooperation for civil protection and defence in the case of CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) attacks. An analogous form of collaboration is taking place in the framework of the NATO-Russia and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Councils.
International cooperation in the fight against terrorism
Trends in counter-terrorism approaches vary and must be adapted to the development of terrorism strategies, above all in terms of public policies and operational methods.
In the first place the trend toward reinforcing intelligence capabilities must be underlined, both at national level and at that of international organisations.
One measure in this sense is the previously mentioned one adopted by the European Council of 16-17 December 2004. The NATO Declaration on Terrorism of 2nd April 2004 contains a series of operational measures referring to the improvement of intelligence information exchanges, and the organisation is completing the implementation of a "Terrorist Threat Intelligence Unit".
With regard to the United Nations, the need to reinforce the organisation's capacities in this field is being pointed out from several quarters.
Another crucial sector is transport safety. At the G8 Summit on Sea Island (8-10 June 2004) the Heads of State and Government approved an Action Plan (SAFTI – Secure and Facilitated International Travel Initiative), which extends and develops measures already approved at the Kananaskis Summit of 2002. The Plan principally concerns air traffic and consists of a short Declaration and a more detailed Action Plan covering a wide series of measures intended to heighten aircraft safety standards, improve airport control procedures and facilitate exchanges of information. One section of the Plan concerns the safety of maritime transport and infrastructures.
Document security and the application of new technologies is another prominent trend in this field. In order to guarantee adequate protection against the possible forging of passports and other travel documents, also for the purposes of terrorism, several States have decided to insert biometric data into such documents. The EU is also preparing to apply new technologies to travel documents so as to establish a reliable link between the citizen and the document. Agreements on joint approaches and standards in this area of considerable operational importance are being discussed within the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). Significant activity in terms of analysis and proposals in this field is also taking place within OSCE.
On the subject of international cooperation against the financing of terrorism, 9 Special Recommendations against the financing of terrorism have been drafted (which have been added to the already existing 40 Recommendations against money laundering) by the GAFI (Gruppo di Azione Finanziaria Internazionale, FATF – Financial Action Task Force). To date more than 90 States not belonging to the GAFI have presented self-assessment reports on their conformity with this body's recommendations.
In addition to operational measures in specific sectors, increasing recognition is being given to the importance of wide-ranging prevention based on dialogue between cultures and religions in order to promote reciprocal knowledge and understanding and thereby also deny space for fundamentalist propaganda and the recruitment of terrorists.
Italy is playing a leading role in this area, with the aim of setting up a European and Western partnership with moderate Islam, both in the countries of origin and in the Muslim communities residing in our countries. A meeting of the Mediterranean Observatory was held in Rome in October 2004 on the theme "Islam and Peace", aimed at encouraging dialogue and denouncing violence, which saw the participation of the foremost Islamic institutional organisations.
The European Union has set in motion an internal debate, aimed also at enhancing the instruments already in existence (Barcelona Process) or in the definition phase.
In the G8 context, the Sea Island summit (June 2004) launched a specific initiative called "Broader Middle East and North Africa" based on principles of equality among the states involved: partnership, inclusion and "ownership" of the process. The first meeting of the "Forum for the Future", which brought together political, entrepreneurial and civil society components, was held in Rabat on 11 December 2004. On that occasion, Minister for Foreign Affairs Fini spoke on the outcome of the first meeting of the "Democracy Assistance Dialogue", a specific component of the BMENA co-sponsored by Italy, Turkey and Yemen. The initiative is based on the recognition of the risk for Western security in the near future constituted by the critical factors identified in the United Nations report on the human development in the Arab world. On the basis of these principles, the G8 countries are committed to supporting endogenous processes of modernisation, democratisation, economic development, and incentives for investments and entrepreneurial activity in the Arab world, processes that also involve all the forces of the civil society.
Finally, strong emphasis is placed on regional cooperation, both in the political sense and in the sense of solidarity, also at the operational level. The United Nations encourages this type of agreement, as is demonstrated by the periodic meetings organised by the Counter-Terrorism Committee with various regional bodies (the most recent took place in March 2004 in Vienna, in collaboration with the OSCE and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). On the operational level, various regional centres for training and sharing of experiences have recently been set up with the clear intent of reinforcing bonds of solidarity and achieving scale economies. Some examples are the SEARCCT (South East Asia Regional Centre on Counter Terrorism) based in Kuala Lumpur, the JCLEC (Joint Centre on Law Enforcement Cooperation) based in Jakarta, and the Anti-terrorism Centre of the African Union inaugurated in October 2004. Italy fully supports such initiatives, also within the framework of the European Union, and has arranged for collaboration with some of these centres. A forum for political dialogue and counter-terrorist collaboration of particular importance is the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), in which EU countries and a significant number of Asian countries take part.