The meeting marked the launch of the so-called ‘Arab NATO’ led by Saudi Arabia.
“Today, more than 40 Islamic countries are sending a very strong signal that they will work together and coordinate very strongly to support each other’s efforts, whether in military efforts or financial, intelligence and political aspects”, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said during the meeting. “Extremist terrorism is distorting our tolerant religion and we will not allow what they have done of distorting the tolerant religion and intimidating innocents in Islamic states and all countries of the world.”
During a press conference on the same day, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa defined the term “terrorism” as “organized action that sparks fear, anxiety and destruction in property, and is carried out by organizations and groups with an ideological background.”
Some important and interesting statements from the IMCTC final declaration:
…the Ministers of Defense affirm that terrorism represents a constant and growing challenge and threat to peace, security and regional and international stability, as it has transcended the borders of countries, while casting aside all values. Terrorism has become deadlier than ever before, particularly in our Islamic world, which suffers from the crimes of terrorism, leaving heavy losses in property and lives, and has shattered the dreams of broad sectors of societies trying to live in peace and tranquility.
The Ministers affirmed their determination to work with every possible means to confront extremism and terrorism, in all their ideological notions and perceptions, to reveal their truth. Furthermore, they plan to expose extremist misuse of legitimate texts and events through delusion, allegation, false methods and deceit. The Ministers are aware of the terrorists’ blind obsession, false thoughts, and misinterpretations of religious texts, and are acutely aware of the perils posed by ideological extremism, its ability to spread, and its profound impact on individuals and society.
The Ministers stress the importance of investing in digital media platforms to raise awareness among members of society and prevent them from succumbing to terrorist messaging.
The final declaration also emphasized the importance of combating against terrorist financing:
1. The Ministers emphasize the importance of draining the sources of terrorist financing and cutting off any financial support for its operations and activities. This can be achieved by coordinating efforts and accelerating necessary measures and procedures to combat terrorist funding and shutting down the flow permanently…
3. The Ministers stressed the importance of ensuring the adequacy and effectiveness of systems and procedures to block terrorist financing. Increased levels of awareness of the various ways terrorists finance their operations must be enhanced, in order to find the best and most successful solution to eliminate terrorist financing.
As to the military cooperation, the declaration includes only short general statements:
1. The Ministers stressed the importance of the military role in combating the threat of terrorism, enhancing security and peace in the Coalition member countries and contributing to regional and international security and peace.
2. The Ministers emphasize the importance of providing the necessary military capabilities to ensure that terrorist organizations are weakened, dismantled, eliminated and deprived of the opportunity to reorganize. Within the framework of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, the participation of the coalition states will be defined in accordance with each country’s capabilities and resources, as well as in accordance with each country’s desire to participate in a given military operation.
3. The Ministers agreed on the importance of the role of the IMCTC Counter Terrorism Center in coordinating and integrating military efforts, the exchange of information and intelligence, and conducting training courses and joint exercises.
The declaration devoted a significant attention to mechanisms and security of the IMCTC. In general, it looks like that the meetng participants were deeply concerned over the issue of securing “property” which could be destroyed as a result of terrorist attacks; the issues of reducing transborder (mutual) terrorist financing and the bureaucracy isues.
However, in any case, the creation of such forms of coordination is better than nothing.