DUSHANBE -- The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) concluded a three-day national tabletop exercise in Tajikistan on Friday (August 23) on countering the use of the internet for terrorist purposes.
The OSCE's Dushanbe office and Action against Terrorism Unit organised the event.
The exercise centred on a fictional and interactive scenario developed by the Action against Terrorism Unit. It was based on real-world events and emerging security threats relevant to Central Asia.
More than 45 representatives from across national institutions, the judiciary, civil society, the information and communication technologies (ICT) industry, the media and law enforcement took part in the event.
The focus was on developing and enhancing national capacities to counter terrorist content online by focusing on international co-operation and sharing current initiatives, projects and best practices among participants coming from both the private and public sectors.
"Collaboration between government and civil society in preventing and countering the use of the internet for terrorist purposes is absolutely crucial," said Filippo Crivellaro, acting head of the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe.
"Non-governmental organisations, the media, local communities and every individual as a concerned citizen can play an important role in preventing and countering terrorists' exploitation of the internet and ICT," he said.
'Lives at risk'
It is essential to step up counter-terrorism efforts as militants ramp up the use of technology, said Ilkhomiddin Atoyev, deputy director of the Tajik State Communications Service.
"The evolution of modern technologies and their accessibility provides terrorists and violent extremists with new opportunities to plan and execute their attacks," Atoyev said. "If we do not take any measures to counter terrorists in the virtual world, we will put our security and lives at risk in the real world.”
Komron Khidoyatzoda, deputy director of the Department for Regional Security Issues of the Strategic Research Centre under the President of Tajikistan, lauded the goals of the OSCE exercise.
"We are confident that this tabletop exercise will lay the ground for developing practical measures and recommendations in analysing and solving the problem," Khidoyatzoda said.
The exercise included a number of presentations from the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime, Europol's Internet Referral Unit, the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate-led Tech Against Terrorism initiative and the Civil Initiative on Internet Policy, as well as from the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
The exercise is expected to lead to a document containing actionable policy responses and recommendations for national policymakers who are confronting threats posed by terrorist use of the internet.
Specialists will tailor the recommendations to fit local context and help policymakers formulate pertinent, human-rights compliant and gender-mainstreamed policies and frameworks for preventing and countering terrorists’ exploitation of the internet and ICT.
This is the second national tabletop exercise on countering the use of the internet for terrorist purposes organised in the OSCE area, with the first one held in Tashkent in January.
The Action against Terrorism Unit plans to conduct similar events in Central Asia and southeastern Europe in 2019 and 2020.