Professor Boaz Ganor Quoted in NY Times

NOV 17,2015

The following excerpts are from an interview about how to defeat the Islamic State with Professor Boaz Ganor, the director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.

ISIS is a hybrid terrorist organization a terrorist group that also holds territory, with the pseudo-legitimate activity of providing services to the population it rules over, such as education and welfare. But you have to be cautious about removing the label of terrorist organization. Some go in the direction of arguing that it’s a state. It’s not.

Operation capability is easier to deal with than motivation, physically, through targeted killings or the arrest of leaders and operatives, striking infrastructure and weapons stocks, drying up monetary sources, striking at their ability to recruit all those things together will reduce operational capability.

There is a need to fight more effectively against the organization’s sources of income. Why do we not see flames over the oil facilities that ISIS sits on? ISIS is not on the coast. It is reasonable to assume that it is selling oil through Turkey. How has that not been stopped?

I understand the American reluctance to put boots on the ground, after Iraq and Afghanistan. But a hybrid organization cannot be defeated only with airstrikes.

Fight Against Religious Extremism

The American and Western approach is not to relate to the religious element behind ISIS, to refer only to violent extremism.

That’s a grave mistake, in my view. One of the greatest enemies of the war on terror is political correctness. In this war, we need to agree on who is the enemy, on the instrumental causes, on what goals they are trying to achieve.

That doesn’t mean that Islam is the problem. We are talking about a small group within Islam the Salafi jihadists who are seeking to hijack the religion.

But to deal with ISIS, you cannot disconnect from the religious aspect. It cannot be done with winks and hints.

So the Muslims themselves have to come out against the jihadis. We, the Western world, are here to help. But it is the Muslims problem first and foremost.

Define Terrorism

Another basic requirement that I have been fighting to advance for 30 years is to come to an international consensus on the definition of terrorism.

In my definition, it is the targeting of civilians to achieve political goals. That’s it. Instead, all sorts of politics gets mixed in. This one’s a freedom fighter, and so on. Even if a group has a legitimate cause, it should be agreed that using that tool of targeting civilians is not legitimate.

Nothing justifies terrorism. This is an embryonic concept that the international community must adopt. Without it, Mossad and the C.I.A. can work well together, but they won’t get to the required level of cooperation. How can you fight terrorism or track the sources of funding if you don’t agree on what terrorism is and who the terrorist organizations are