Fusion of Intelligence to Eradicate Terrorism
No country can be free from the terrorism threat. Even a superpower country like the US and another great country like France often become the targets of terrorist attacks. Terrorism is a transnational crime involving a big network, thus cannot be easily prevented.
A systematic international cooperation involving many parties is required to prevent and deal with terrorism. One of the cooperation that is needed is the fusion of information resulted from intelligence activities. The intelligence such as information on financial transactions, a map of the network of radical groups, and conversations data of radical groups become key information for preventing and combating terrorism.
International intelligence cooperation might be hampered by the barriers and the secret nature of intelligence that works covertly. However, with strong commitments and agreements as foundation, the cooperation and mutual trusts can be built. The main goal to prevent, address and eradicate terrorism must be placed higher than other sectoral interests.
The Anti-Terrorism International Conference in Bali (8-11 August 2016) hopefully will become the beginning of more systematic and productive international intelligence cooperation to combat terrorism. Russia as one of the participants appealed to the participating countries to join and use the database possessed by FSB (Federal Security Bureau of Russia) to handle terrorism. Currently, it is known that there are 29 countries and international organizations, including the United Nations that have joined the FSB’s data centers. Terrorism-related database owned by FSB consists of data of suicide bombers and their group movement.
Fusion of terrorism-related information can also be manifested by a neutral international institutions based on the agreement of the participating countries. A neutral institution that does not refer to a specific country will increase the confidence of the participating countries to join and use the terrorism-related information. International institutions such as the UN is appropriate to initiate a fusion of terrorism-related information.
International intelligence cooperation, especially the fusion of information, will create more effective prevention and treatment. Activities of radical terrorist groups in a country is a very important data for other countries, given the global and cross-country nature of terrorist networks. Some important information that needs to be put together (fusion of information) and to be shared among countries to deal with terrorism is as follows:
“Follow the money” method is very effective to unravel a crime, including terrorism. The direction of the cash flow shows the actors and the direction of activities. Money is the main capital for terrorist groups to perform their actions. The institution which has the authority and competence to investigate the financial transactions in Indonesia is PPATK. On that basis, PPATK has a very vital role in preventing terrorism, especially to monitor the direction of money transactions.
Data of PPATK mentions that there is a flow of funds from abroad before the acts of terror in Indonesia, such as the Thamrin attacks. This indicates that the acts of terror in Indonesia are financed by the cross-country network. Besides, the flow of funds from other countries shows that terrorists in Indonesia are controlled or associated with international radical groups.
Without the money, attacks will be difficult to conduct. The financial data of PPATK is very effective for the prevention of terrorist acts. Money inflow indicates that there will be actions of these groups, including acts of terror. If the flow of funds allegedly to finance the activities of radical groups could be stopped, the terrorist acts can be prevented. Combined financial transaction data of radical groups across countries will be very beneficial for the prevention of terrorist acts.
The consequences of the financial transaction information fusion are such as, terror groups then will perform deceptive activities regarding their financial transactions or prefer to do transactions in cash / manually, or look for sources of funding at local level to carry out the action as through robbery. A new mode like “narco-terrorism”, selling narcotics to finance terrorism, might possibly appear.
Network of Radical Groups
The network of radical groups in each country is different. Even within one country, there are often a lot of groups. However, the movement of these groups can be predicted from its ideological direction. Radical groups from various places (countries) will be easier to unite if they have similar ideology, for examples radical groups affiliated with ISIS. Many radical groups in various countries such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and MIT in Indonesia have declared their allegiance to ISIS.
This ideologically mutual interest becomes the unifying power of radical groups from different places and countries. This unifying power facilitates these groups to work together. The form of cooperation may vary such as in training, human resources, logistics, weapons, finance and others. If each country has the data associated with radical groups and then the data is united and integrated, it will map a large network of radical groups.
The radical groups follow technological advances in carrying out their activities. They use applications to establish communication across the boundaries of time and distance. Internet becomes a catalyst for the radical group to conduct attacks. It even becomes an effective tool for recruitment, propaganda, and the transfer of technical knowledge such as bomb making.
This communication data from the internet, if can be tapped and gathered, will greatly help combating terrorism. If each country can tap the communications of radical groups in each territory and such information is combined with other countries, the movement / action of global terrorism will be able to be predicted.
Ultimately, intelligence agencies cannot work alone. Cooperation among countries in terms of fusion of essential information must be pursued in combating terrorism. Acts of terrorism that occur across countries must be eradicated with the cooperation across countries too, more importantly by intelligence cooperation.
International intelligence information fusion would be difficult to do if there is no trust and benefit for participating countries. To anticipate this, an international institutions that incorporate and handle terrorism-related information needs to be created. This great importance of fighting against global terrorism must be realized, but maintaining trust among countries regarding intelligence activities is also absolutely necessary.
*) Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence and terrorism analyst, alumni of Strategic Intelligence Graduate Program, University of Indonesia. Residing in Jakarta.