Fighting Terror Post-Brexit: The Need for Cooperation
3 min read
Posted on: 25th August 2017
This year alone we have seen ISIS carry out deadly attacks in Britain, France, and most recently in Spain. The Islamist threat facing Britain, the rest of Europe and beyond has no regard for international sovereignty or borders.
Brexit cannot be allowed to put British, European and international security at risk.
The fight against Islamist-inspired terrorism does not simply affect one country; the threat is lucid and permeates much further. This is a struggle that neither the United Kingdom, nor any European Union member state can face alone; cooperation is crucial.
We cannot afford to compromise or undermine the integrity of Britain's security and intelligence-sharing relationships with our closest partners. Not only are EU members closer to the UK in proximity, they are closer in their understanding of the nature of the challenge too.
Anis Amiri, who carried out a ramming attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, was killed by police officers in Italy, where he reportedly fled to after passing through the Netherlands. Salah Abdesalam, who was involved in the November 2015 ISIS attack in Paris, was eventually apprehended by security forces in the notorious district of Molenbeek, Brussels.
Cross-border intelligence sharing and security cooperation is not optional - it is necessary to keep us safe. Strong institutions and a close working relationships help to deliver swift action against a number of transnational threats.
Security infrastructure that fails to match or exceed the cohesiveness and mobility of European jihadis will inevitably fall short.
As has been demonstrated by jihadi attacks and plots across the continent, the threat that we face is mobile and agile, with attackers, supporters, and sympathisers dispersedacross Europe. Security infrastructure that fails to match or exceed the cohesiveness and mobility of European jihadis will inevitably fall short.
While the leaked report acknowledges that UK-EU cooperation would continue in a post-Brexit context, it also warns that any such cooperation would be "less effective or slower" and that none of the tools for cooperation available to non-EU member states "match the speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness" of the tools available for cooperation between member states.
As European nationals who travelled to join the ranks of ISIS in Iraq and Syria continue to find their way back to Europe, the acquisition and circulation of information about their travels, history, and connections will be essential for safeguarding all EU member states. Broken links and slowdowns only favour extremists who will exploit any vulnerability they sense or we show.
Undoubtedly, Brexiters will decry that this leaked report is nothing more than a smear campaign against the country's decision to exit the EU. But let's consider the security benefit of the union outside of the European union. The leaked report cited the response to the 2015 Sousse terror attack in which 30 Britons were killed. The coordination among member states and the EU was such that resources and expertise were swiftly redirected to offer support and assistance to those in need.
In the fight against terrorism, close partnership with the EU is not simply about how we collectively prevent and respond to attacks at home, but the security and support that it offers to citizens abroad. Losing access to such swift and coordinated support is not an option.
Security cooperation agreements with the US, the Gulf, or with Five Eyes are all necessary and positive steps to help preserve Britain's national security. But the fact remains; the terrorist threat facing Britain is likely to come from much closer to home. The efficacy and efficiency of Britain's working relationship with the EU in matters of security and intelligence cannot be compromised.