Counter-terrorism - Home Affairs Committee Contents

4  Capacity Building

61. In her foreword to the July 2011 Contest Strategy, the Home Secretary noted that

    Most of the terrorist plots against this country continue to have very significant overseas connections. We must continue to work closely with other countries and multilateral organisations to tackle the threats we face at their source.[59]

UK capacity building

62. While the police, security and intelligence agencies work tirelessly to protect British citizens we believe that building stability overseas is also crucial to the success of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy. As the CONTEST strategy makes clear:

    Terrorist groups gravitate to and emerge from fragile and failed states...the absence of the effective rule of law not only encourages terrorism, but makes counter-terrorism operations significantly harder. In some cases, terrorists who we know and who are planning operations in this country have been able to do so without hindrance for many years. Building the capacity of failed and fragile states is therefore vital to our national security.[60]

63. This work is delivered through political and diplomatic engagement, and through specific counter-terrorism projects in priority countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria. Syria, in recent years, has also become a priority.

64. The Government also uses its international development programme to gain maximum benefit in stabilising areas which in turn restricts the growth of extremism. Governments are not the sole providers of capacity building projects-NGOs play an important role in countering terrorism. The UN provided an example of their work to develop effective and proportionate strategies to prevent terrorism financing through NGOs. The project, launched in London in 2011 with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom, was supported by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States and brought together more than 60 countries and 80 NGOs to examine the risks. Experts from the United Kingdom, including the Charity Commission of England and Wales, played a leading role in the organisation and implementation of this initiative, which the UN maintain provided invaluable guidance and policy advice.[61]

65. In their written evidence to us the Home Office said that the Government had introduced a more strategic approach to developing the capacity of international partners to investigate and prosecute terrorists by building justice and human rights partnerships. The work was being carried out with countries where there is both a threat to UK security and weaknesses in the law enforcement, human rights and criminal justice architecture.

66. Specific counter-terrorist projects are supported by a £30m FCO CT Programme. These projects are delivered by and with a range of Departments and agencies, including the Ministry of Defence, Department for Transport, Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police Service.[62] These projects aim to:

·  Build the CT capacity of overseas security services to improve compliance with the law and human rights and to make them more effective;

·  Improve the ability of local investigators to build cases based on evidence rather than confession. The police CT network plays a critical role in this regard: support is delivered through the network of Counter-Terrorism and Extremism Liaison Officers (CTELOs) posted overseas who work with organisations in their host countries and regions;

·  Ensure prosecutors and judges are capable of processing terrorism cases through the court systems, effectively, fairly and in line with the rule of law;

·  Improve and where appropriate monitor conditions in detention facilities so that convicted terrorists can be held securely and their treatment meets with international standards.[63]

67. The Government emphasised that capacity building work overseas were carried out within a framework built on accountability and respect for human rights and that

    It is vital that our CT work supports justice and the rule of law as well as meeting our security objectives. Although work on the partnerships is in its early stages, we have already delivered progress in a range of areas.[64]

68. The police provide an important role in capacity building overseas. In her written evidence to us, Cressida Dick, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police explained how the police counter-terrorism network played a critical role in supporting countries overseas to investigate and prosecute terrorists who may threaten the UK and our interests. She told us that the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism and Extremism Liaison Officers (CTELOs) are strategically located around the world and work closely with police counterparts in their host countries and regions. They have a wide range of roles and responsibilities including:

·  providing assistance in efficiently progressing CT-related enquiries emanating from, and directed into, the UK (this includes working within Europol);

·  acting as the forward deployment for UK CT police in respect of terrorist incidents where UK nationals or interests are involved to assist the host country in conducting their investigation;

·  mentoring and building effective and human-rights-compliant CT capability within foreign police agencies in support of the FCO Justice and Human Rights Partnership (JHRP) Programme.[65]

69. The network of Counter Terrorism and Extremism Liaison Officers (CTELOs) has recently increased its geographical coverage in response to the expanding and more diversified threat overseas. According to the Metropolitan Police, it is now more effectively placed to deliver the policing component of the Government's upstream counter-terrorism operations so that it is possible to tackle the threat at its source and better establish where there is a direct threat to the UK or its interests.[66]

70. The Metropolitan Police highlighted the relationship between CTELOs and NCA colleagues where the two organisations have common posts. Furthermore the Metropolitan Police described how the CT Network is

    Actively engaged with the NCA in examining potential areas of coordination and collaboration and some of these overlaps may well be identified in capacity building activity, specifically where we are interacting with the same organizations overseas.[67]


71. The Metropolitan Police gave two recent examples of their CTELOs supporting national law enforcement in investigating terrorist incidents abroad.


    The Counter Terrorist Command in the MPS led the UK response following the terrorist attack on a gas plant processing facility in In Amenas, Algeria in January. This is an ongoing operation, with extensive support being provided by us to the Foreign Office and the HM Coroner and there continues to be significant family liaison work and engagement with a range of international partners. The deployed team were able to manage the recovery, identification and repatriation of any UK deceased, conduct interviews and evidence gathering from survivors.

    Led by the Forensic Management Team, the UK set a strategy for the international identification and repatriation of deceased and their remains, managing all aspects of the mortuary process. With the assistance of international partners from Norway and Japan, the team examined a high number of bodies and body parts, conducting all DNA work here in the UK. This process enabled the repatriation of UK and other international victims and all associated body parts to UK Coronial standards. The mortuary process allowed the UK team to support local authorities through the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process with the sharing of best practice and the training of local staff. In addition, officers were able to visit the scene and gain an insight into the events of this attack in order to support the coroner.


    Following the attack on the Westgate shopping centre, the CTELO had been heavily engaged with the Kenyan police response. The decision was taken to deploy a Counter Terrorism Command team of investigators in order to assist the Kenyan police investigation and mentor local resources in the effective examination of a terrorism scene, along with all the issues associated with body recovery to an internationally approved standard.

    The CTELO has an extremely good relationship with the Anti-Terrorist Police Unit and this allowed the investigation team access to relevant material and allowed for the team to assist local staff with scene examination and body recovery. Previous training has been delivered to the Kenyan police by the Counter Terrorism Command but this was their first major scene. Working alongside the Kenyan police, with the assistance of FBI colleagues, the team were able to mentor them through all aspects of scene management, scene investigation and body recovery. This included mortuary management in mass fatality terrorist attacks.[68]

Funding for capacity building

72. Given evidence presented as to the increasingly diverse and dispersed nature of the threat and its impact on the UK and our interests overseas, capacity building is a vital tool in influencing and shaping the international response to terrorism. In his evidence to us Richard Barrett emphasised:

    Capacity building in some areas I think is very important. I think it is very important to encourage people to act by the rule of law and so on, of course, building capacity overseas from the point of apprehension to the point of verdict, if you like, so that the treatment is correct. A terrorist, after all, sees the state as his enemy, and therefore if the enemy is responding to the terrorist in a way that they would respond to any citizen, that slightly undermines the narrative. We know, of course, of examples of people who have been rather surprised by their treatment by Government in a positive way, which has tended to de-radicalise them. Similarly, of course, if you treat people badly, they become more radicalised. I think capacity building just in the sense of awareness and understanding is enormously important.[69]

73. One of the more troubling aspects of capacity building is knowing how effective they are. Richard Barrett argued "that absolutely every effort should be made to measure the impact, because after all you are talking about taxpayers' pounds, and this should be spent responsibly."[70] However, he also noted that capacity building is not a straightforward process and neither is measuring the impact. He told us:

    It is very difficult to say whether something was effective or not, and I think the more you can get your funds into the hands of local partners who are working on the ground in the community and measure what happens as a result of that work, clearly the better. That means you are not spending £30 million, but you are spending maybe £30,000, because there are community groups who cannot absorb huge amounts of money. Then there are all sorts of knock-on effects about administrative costs and everything else."[71]

74. On a recent trip to India, the Prime Minister indicated that he was willing to see the UK's spending on international aid be used to

    make sure that the funds we have at our disposal are used to provide basic levels of stability and security in deeply broken and fragile states … We have our moral responsibilities for tackling poverty in the world. We also have national security responsibilities for mending conflict states and helping with development around the world and we should see DfID in that context.[72]

It was suggested that funding could be diverted to Ministry of Defence projects as a result.

75. The increasingly diverse and dispersed nature of the threat makes capacity building a front-line defence against a changing threat landscape. We note that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's budget is limited by available resources but given the importance of capacity building to the Government's counter-terrorism efforts we look to the OSCT and the FCO to reassure us that the Counter-Terrorism Fund will be maintained at current levels in this and the next financial year. In the light of the announcement that the Prime Minister is considering using some of the UK's aid budget on peace keeping and other defence-related projects, we recommend that within the definitions of Overseas Development Aid, money could be used to increase resource for capacity building abroad.

76. Jean-Paul Laborde, Executive Director UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) highlighted that such work is also done through the UN. CTED conducts work in collaboration with its partners within and outside the UN system. It works with them to develop the appropriate tools and methodologies to measure the impact of the work that CTED and its partners are undertaking in order to ensure that counter-terrorism measures are effectively deployed.[73] The nature of such capacity building support will vary depending on the context but will include: training and mentoring local CT police units in evidence based investigations, interviewing and forensic techniques, where an emphasis is placed upon the importance of human rights compliant processes and safeguards to deliver reliable and viable prosecutions.[74]

77. We asked the Government for details of its capacity building projects. The response we received was that the UK Government

    Do not publicly disclose the location, number or purpose of all our counter terrorist capacity building projects overseas because they very often have a counter terrorist operational purpose.[75]

The only programme it was willing to provide specific details upon was the CAPRI (Counter-Terrorism Associated Prosecutorial Reform Initiative) project in Pakistan which has the overall objective of supporting national capacity in the fight against terrorism and organised crime networks. However, we understand that despite the Government informing us that CAPRI is part of the FCO's Justice and Human Rights Partnership Programme, it is in fact funded by the European Commission. The project is indeed being carried out by the UK but is funded entirely from European budgets.

78. We accept that some of the UK's capacity building programmes are sensitive but we believe that greater transparency about how much the Government spends on capacity building overseas and who funds these programmes (i.e. fully by UK Government or jointly between UK and EU) is crucial for accountability.

The European Union

79. In his evidence to the committee, Gilles de Kerchove, the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, painted a worrying picture. Mr de Kerchove said that national budgets devoted to counter-terrorism are declining across the EU but that

    the threat that we face is becoming more diverse, more diffuse, and more unpredictable.[76]

Mr de Kerchove was particularly concerned about Africa where he suggested the threat was growing and becoming a major obstacle to development.

80. In his evidence to us, Mr Laborde of CTED said that

    All States have had to make cut-backs in their own expenditure. However, CTED, like its partners, works hard to "do more with less" by developing capacity building projects that are designed in very practical ways to maximize the use of resources. These include the implementation of regional approaches, in which capacity-building addresses the needs of a number of countries at once.[77]

In order to respond to the changing threat picture governments will have to increasingly identify pools of funding and coordinate their action not least if national budgets are in decline. Furthermore there is anecdotal evidence that there was substantial duplication of effort and therefore and EU member states could be better joined up in their actions.

81. In many cases focusing solely on Counter-Terrorism will not be enough and should be part of a broader and more comprehensive security and development strategy. The EU has set up a number of programmes where it works to build capacity and ensure that responses to terrorist activity are in line with the rule of law. A full list of these programmes can be found in the written evidence provided by the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.[78] For reference, two of the programmes are described below:

·  CT Sahel: 8,696,750€, 36 months (10/2011-10/2014), Mali, Mauritania and Niger, with possible extensions to Burkina Faso and Senegal. The aim of the project is to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement (police, gendarmerie and garde nationale) and judiciary in the Sahel to fight against terrorism and organised crime with the purpose to support the progressive development of regional and international cooperation against these threats.

·  CT Pakistan (CAPRI): 1,800,000€, 36 months (01/2013-12/2015). The overall objective is to support national capacity in the fight against terrorism and organised crime networks. The purpose of the action is to improve the ability of Punjabi agencies to successfully investigate, prosecute, convict and detain terrorists. The project is being carried out by the UK.[79]

International capacity building efforts

82. In his evidence to us Jean-Paul Laborde, Executive Director, UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate spoke of capacity building as a key plank of international cooperation and its importance to achieving national and international security.

    The transfer of know-how, through capacity-building programmes, and technical assistance and training on identified areas of need, from high capacity countries to lower capacity countries, and through the activities of multilateral agencies, such as those of the United Nations, not only builds capacity where required, but also identifies best practices, and creates regional and international networks of specialists and fosters the habits of cooperation at the working level.[80]

83. Mr Laborde echoed previous witness by highlighting the need for capacity building projects to be coordinated. There is no doubt that CTED plays an important role in regular convening donors and providers for briefings on capacity building needs in particular States or regions but proper coordination of activity is limited on the international stage and does seem to translate to action on the ground. Given national budgets are in decline, the necessity to act in unison and collaborate between states is more important than ever.

84. One way that states can act in unison is by supplying and utilising the information databases held by multi-lateral law enforcement organisations such as Interpol. One of the key databases collated by Interpol is the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database. Whilst its use by the UK authorities is extensive—it was checked 140 million times last year with 16,000 travel documents identified as not being valid—amongst other countries, including European allies, its use is not as widespread. The table below shows the number of time it was checked last year by the most frequent users of the database.
Country Number of searches % of searches of database
UNITED STATES238 389 094 29%
UNITED KINGDOM140 184 265 18%
JAPAN34 712 623 4%
CROATIA34 131 673 4%
SINGAPORE29 271 045 4%
SERBIA18 646 856 2%
SWITZERLAND17 259 652 3%
BULGARIA15 408 808 1%
CARICOM15 094 026 2%
QATAR12 000 981 2%
FRANCE11 587 347 1%
EL SALVADOR10 472 105 1%
ALBANIA10 214 658 1%
MONTENEGRO8 465 312 1%
OMAN7 811 925 1%
ROMANIA6 574 033 1%
CÔTE D'IVOIRE 6 473 294>1%
PERU6 179 778 1%
Other 8%

Source: Interpol

85. Today the terrorist threat is a global one and an attack anywhere in the World has the capability to harm UK citizens and UK interests. We recommend that the Government raise the issue of Interpol databases as part of discussions around counter-terrorism at the next EU Justice and Home Affairs Council and encourage others to utilise the tools at their disposal.

86. Interpol also carry out capacity building projects as well as supporting national law enforcement agencies in criminal cases which involve an international aspect. At present Interpol can deploy their incident response teams to a suspected terrorist incident within 24 hours. However, there are suggestions that INTERPOL support to agencies would be greatly increased should a proposal go ahead to develop an International Mobile Platform to assist in the investigation of suspected terrorist incidents. Such a platform would facilitate the records of individuals to be cross-checked across all of the national security databases of INTERPOL member countries as well as share or compare information and intelligence with national security units around the globe. It is envisioned that the platform would only be used in large-scale incidents where multiple nationalities are involved. The platform would require both resources and support from member countries as it will comprise highly trained and equipped teams that can support first responders in the affected country and assist that country conduct sensitive and complex transnational investigations. In order to be effective, it would have to be based in a permanent command control centre with teams able to deploy to the affected region.

87. Interpol is an international policing organisation with a proven record of success and should be widely supported. We recommend that the Government take the lead in working with Interpol and the UK's international partners to create an international operational platform supporting terrorist investigations. The UK should use its pivotal position in the G7 to ensure that this change is achieved. Whilst UK policing may lack sufficient resources to supply a significant number of staff to such a platform, we also recommend the Government consider offering to host the permanent base of the platform.

59   CONTEST: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering Terrorism, July 2011, Cm 8123 Back

60   Ibid. Back

61   CTE0035 Back

62   CONTEST: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering Terrorism, July 2011, Cm 8123 Back

63   INQ0007 Back

64   Ibid. Back

65   INQ0003 Back

66   CTE0031 Back

67   Ibid Back

68   INQ0003 Back

69   Q700 Back

70   Q691-722 Back

71   Q703 Back

72  Back

73   CTE0035 Back

74   CTE0031 Back

75   INQ0010 Back

76   CTE0034 Back

77   CTE0035 Back

78   CTE0034 Back

79   CTE0034 Back

80   CTE0035 Back

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Prepared 9 May 2014