A number of MEPs have written to Mr. Josep Borrell, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the European Commission, urging action over the concerns raised in Tactics Institute's 2019 report on radicalisation in the Balkans. The report can be read in full here.
Brussels, June 20th, 2020.
Dear Mr. High-Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission,
We, Members of the European Parliament, following the report on Radicalisation and Social Exclusion in the Western Balkans, presented at European Parliament in Strasbourg, last 26th November 2019, by the London-based TACTICS – Institute for Security & Counterterrorism, which recognised that:
- radicalisation has been about numbers, creating a pool of individuals from which terrorist groups can recruit;
- the Salafi movement is actively targeting socially called excluded communities across Europe, not least the Western Balkans, including the Roma population in North Macedonia and Bulgaria;
- there are several indicators linking radicalisation to the social exclusion of communities rather than merely individuals, thereby creating a pool for terrorist recruitment;
- more than 1000 nationals of Western Balkan origin fought in Syria while several hundred participated in setting up an enabling infrastructure, allowing ISIS to recruit fighters and raise funds for its catastrophic activity.
- all of these fighters exposed to a radicalising Salafi-Wahabi ideology, are linked to institutions and individuals in the Gulf States, notably the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE);
we call on the European Commission to:
- invest in social outreach programs that go beyond “profiling” individuals, targeting socially marginalised communities in the Western Balkans, thereby improving radicalisation referral and intervention programs;
- invest in specialised debriefing programs examining the social context of radicalisation and politically significant faith-based terrorist action, providing valuable intelligence that can guide policy- development – work with focus groups rather than individual interventions;
- invest specifically in the study of radicalisation and social exclusion, exploring key triggers to bridge radicalisation and extremist action and to create a consolidated list of effective best-practices in prevention;
- establish an EU-wide “sponsoring of terrorism” country ranking index, that includes a cluster of variables, monitoring third country progress in assuming responsibility for radicalisation activity and take concrete action, beginning with the submission of remedial action plans. The countries named above must immediately stop their activities in the Balkan region. Media outlets also revealed that KSA and UAE weapons bought from the Balkan were found with some of these terrorists groups ;
- ensure that check-book diplomacy from countries like the KSA and the UAE does not buy tolerance for the sponsoring of radicalising discourse that legitimates violence;
- create a list of clear and escalating countermeasures for countries with a historical contribution to radicalisation discourse, ensuring that national security forces have wide-ranging political leverage and do not exchange tolerance for intelligence.
We stress the need for the European Commission to take this increasing problem of Salafi radicalisation and social exclusion in the Western Balkans seriously. We thank you for your support and efforts in this matter.
The undersigned Members of the European Parliament
Fulvio Martusciello (EPP, Italy)
Gianna Gancia (ID, Italy)
Adrian Vazquez Lazara (Renew, Spain)
Marco Campomenosi (ID, Italy)
Milan Zver (EPP, Slovenia)
Thierry Mariani (ID, France)
Fréderique Ries (Renew, Belgium)
Salvatore De Meo (EPP, Italy)
Giuseppe Milazzo (EPP, Italy)