This research note reports the results of a pilot questionnaire on priorities in terrorism and counter-terrorism, which was completed by seventy-five security-sector professionals from more than fifty countries who attended the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies (PTSS) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (GCMC) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, from July to August, 2017.
The results reveal that these practitioners consider terrorism to be one of the most serious threats to stability in their countries. Participants were especially concerned with jihadist terrorism and were more or less equally concerned with lone actors versus foreign fighters. The majority identified online versus offline methods as most important to terrorist recruitment, however this difference of opinion was not large. Looking to the future, they viewed hacking/cyber attacks by terrorists as particularly likely. In terms of counter-terrorism (CT), intelligence agencies were seen as playing the lead role, while cooperation between domestic CT agencies was seen as the biggest challenge. In contrast to this, terrorist use of encrypted communications was seen as least challenging.
Participants were evenly split in their views on political negotiations with terrorists, but displayed a comparatively high degree of optimism about the prospects of deradicalization. Nevertheless, they also appeared to hold a government-centric view of CT, seeing relatively little role for civil society and non-governmental organizations. Border control was viewed as the capability most in need of further development.