Publications on the internet
Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 231-vi
House of COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE the
Home Affairs Committee
Tuesday 28 January 2014
Gilles De Kerchove
Evidence heard in Public Questions 499 - 553
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
Any public use of, or reference to, the contents should make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.
Members who receive this for the purpose of correcting questions addressed by them to witnesses are asked to send corrections to the Committee Assistant.
Prospective witnesses may receive this in preparation for any written or oral evidence they may in due course give to the Committee.
Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 28 January 2014
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator, Council of the European Union, gave evidence.
Q499 Chair: Bonjour. Order. Un moment, s’il vous plaît. Could I call the Committee to order and I refer everyone present to the Register of Members’ Interests, where the interests of Members of this Committee are noted? This is the Committee’s continuing investigation-the inquiry into counter-terrorism-and we are delighted to have speaking to us from Brussels Gilles de Kerchove, the EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator. Good afternoon, Mr Kerchove, and thank you very much for giving evidence to the Committee.
Gilles de Kerchove: Good afternoon, my pleasure.
Chair: Members of the Committee-you cannot see some of them at the moment, but you will when they ask their questions-have a number of questions to put to you about the situation regarding counter-terrorism. I do not know whether you have been following the deliberations of this Committee over the last four months, but we have come to you because we are very interested first of all in your role as the EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator. How long has this role been in existence?
Gilles de Kerchove: The function was created after the Madrid bombings in 2004. I have a Dutch colleague, Gijs de Vries, who did the job for three years, and I was appointed by the former High Representative of Foreign Policy, Javier Solana, in September 2007, so I have been in the job for six years now.
Q500 Chair: How big is your support staff and your secretariat to support the very important work?
Gilles de Kerchove: It is very light. Since this week I have four advisers and two secretaries.
Q501 Chair: Now, what we are interested in, of course, is first of all the architecture of counter-terrorism. We know about the structures that exist in the United Kingdom. How do our structures fit into what you do? How do you relate to our Government? Through the Council of Ministers, presumably.
Gilles de Kerchove: The EU architecture, you mean?
Gilles de Kerchove: Yes, I should start-and it is not rhetoric-by reminding you of the legal framework. As you know, after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, internal security is now a shared competence between the member states and the European Union, but I used to say that even if it is a shared competence, the actual division of what I would call labour, or power, if you want, remains nevertheless 90% member states and 10% European Union.
In the field of counter-terrorism, it is even more for member states. They are really in the driving seat, because part of the fight against terrorism is done by the intelligence services. As you probably know, in the Treaty of the European Union, Article 4, member states who negotiated the Lisbon Treaty added one sentence to a sentence which already said that the member states are primarily responsible for internal security, the following sentence was added: "Members states are solely responsible for national security".
Chair: That is very helpful.
Gilles de Kerchove: Therefore, I would say that the European Union sees its work as purely complimentary to member states’ prime responsibility in the fight against terrorism. So what we try to do-and what I myself try to do-is to determine where we can add value and support member states’ efforts against terrorism.
Q502 Chair: Of course. Would you have met the head of our security services, the head of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ? Have you met these people?
Gilles de Kerchove: I have never met the head of GCHQ, nor the head of MI6, like the head of the French DGSE or the head of the German BND, but I have met Jonathan Evans in the past and the current head of MI5. It took three years to be invited, but since then I have been invited to the six-monthly meeting of what is called the CTG-the counter-terrorism group-which is the meeting of the heads of service, internal security service, MI5-type, every six months.
Q503 Chair: They meet with whom? Each other or somebody in the EU?
Gilles de Kerchove: Yes, the 28 heads of service, plus Norway and Switzerland, I think. The heads of service meet every six months at their level and they have other meetings I am not aware of. I am invited twice a year, to the six-monthly meeting, at the level of the heads of service.
Q504 Chair: How do you relate to the Lyons Group?
Gilles de Kerchove: The G8, you mean?
Chair: Yes, the G8. As you know, the G8 set up their own counter-terrorism organisation or support. Do you relate to them at all?
Gilles de Kerchove: It is much less operational. The Lyons Group was created many years ago in the context of the G8. It is more policy oriented: it is more the executive of the actual intelligence service who attends these meetings, but I have been invited once or twice to these meetings.
Q505 Chair: Thank you for that; that is very helpful. Let me start by asking you about one issue that is really causing us concern, which is the number of British citizens and EU citizens who are travelling to countries like Syria and involving themselves in terrorist activities. Do you have any figures to give the Committee about the number of EU citizens who have gone to Syria in order to help them there?
Gilles de Kerchove: It is difficult to have accurate figures for either EU citizens or EU residents who have been to Syria, are currently in Syria or are back from Syria. I know, for instance, the 700 French mentioned by the French President. When I discussed the issue with the Home Secretary in the UK, Theresa May, she mentioned low hundreds. You will understand what "low hundreds" mean-I suppose 200, 300 for the UK. I know for Belgium that we are above 200, so when you aggregate all these different figures, we are probably above 2,000.
Q506 Chair: We have been given some figures for Britain by Charles Farr-who is the head of the Home Office dealing with these issues-of about 366 British citizens and the countries that we have been told by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalism, a figure of France at 412, Germany 240, Belgium 296 and the Netherlands 152. Are those the countries in the EU-France, Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands-where their citizens travel to Syria? Those are the top countries, are they?
Gilles de Kerchove: Yes, you are right, these are the top countries. I would add Denmark and Sweden a bit. That is mainly the core group of countries.
Q507 Chair: Do we take it that the people going over are those from the diaspora from Syria-in other words, people who share the same religion as the people in Syria-or Syrian people who happen to be settled in these countries and then want to return? Are those the vast majority of people who are going?
Gilles de Kerchove: The vast majority, I would say, are from the first category that you mentioned. There are some converts and some Syrian-born, country nationals, but the bulk are, I think, Muslim residents or citizens in Europe.
Q508 Chair: What is the EU trying to do to stop them going?
Gilles de Kerchove: We have tried to raise the issue very early. I myself raised the issue a year ago in February. I was alerted by the high number of young Belgians going to Syria, and I came to the Justice and Home Affairs Council with a package of 22 measures in June last year. There were five main objectives. The first one was to try to understand the phenomenon better by sharing as much information as possible. Who are these people? Why are they going there? Are there networks involved? Is there money coming from somewhere? What are the travel patterns? That is for those that are going there.
Q509 Chair: How many of those measures were adopted? How many of those measures were adopted by the Council? When you took those 22 measures, how many were adopted?
Gilles de Kerchove: The package of 22 was adopted-I am more than happy to share this document with your Committee-
Gilles de Kerchove-and then I was asked in December to report and take stock of the implementation, but we are currently working on them. I will explain the four other main set of measures.
The second one is on prevent. How can we design a mechanism to stem the flow? This is, of course, a huge challenge. The third one is to reflect on whether we have an adequate legal framework to investigate and prosecute those who have joined the most radical groups.
The fourth set of measures is how can we maximise the existing mechanisms, like the Schengen Information System, or adopt new mechanisms, like passenger name records, to detect suspicious travel of unknown travellers, and finally, how can we engage collectively more with transit countries and mainly with Turkey?
So these are the set of five objectives, where we have several ideas, but we are currently in the process of trying to design a concrete project. Let me take one or two.
Chair: We will come to some of those projects in a second; I just want to bring other colleagues in. Thank you very much for that; we would be very grateful if you could send us the list of those 22 measures.
Q510 Mr Winnick: Do you think that those who are going to Syria to fight are doing so in the main because they believe that there is a blatant injustice arising from the violence and terrorism of the Assad regime, or do you think it is more a question of religious support-Sunnis against the religion of the Government in Syria?
Gilles de Kerchove: It is a very good question. I think they are both reasons. I think that was why many member states at the outset thought that the reason why people were going to Syria was because they were idealist people who wanted to help fellow Muslims pushing for democracy. What we see now more and more is the ideological dimension as a main driver for this process.
I would say the internet plays a very important role and satellite TV. The call, in many places in the Muslim world, for violent jihad, the al-Qaeda rhetoric-I would not say they are religiously driven; it is more driven by the al-Qaeda ideology.
Q511 Mr Winnick: It is more, as you say, religion than, say, the way in which over 70 years ago so many young men went to Spain to fight the fascists. Do you not draw a comparison there?
Gilles de Kerchove: Yes, indeed. Initially, I think some of them may have been-and still are-attracted by that feeling that it is their duty, like in the late 1930s, when people were going to join the international brigades against the fascists in Spain. I think it is more and more the ideology that plays a role.
Q512 Mr Winnick: What worries us in Britain, and no doubt in other European countries, about those who go to Syria to fight is that some of them may be so indoctrinated by terrorist elements-obvious terrorist elements, which we all know about-that they come back to our countries, Britain in this case, and inflict or try to inflict terrorist attacks on our people. Do you think there is any such danger?
Gilles de Kerchove: I fully share that concern. I think you have three elements. Those who are joining the fight will learn how to use a bomb, how to use a Kalashnikov or how to build a bomb. They will most likely be indoctrinated even more and so get more radical; and, not insignificantly, they will have friends from all over the world. It is a huge magnet for would-be jihadists coming from all over the world, so they will be connected to friends in Libya, Indonesia and everywhere from the Muslim world. Therefore, I think it is likely that among those returning to Europe, some will get back with bad feelings, so may even be directed by groups in Syria to mount an attack in Europe. It is a very legitimate concern. That is why we try to be prepared, to design mechanisms to assess-and I think this will be necessary for each and every returnee-whether this person poses a threat, and whether they need psychological support, because many have been confronted with a really ugly war, or social support to help them get back to normal life, to find a job or to retrain for that. Some will have to be sent to a court, because if they have joined ISIS or al-Nusra, they are violating the law. Some will have to be monitored discreetly, so we will have to design a response for each and every returnee.
Mr Winnick: Our security authorities should be somewhat on the alert in Britain, as in other countries, for those who return, as some could be a potential danger to our citizens.
Gilles de Kerchove: Very much so.
Mr Winnick: Thank you very much.
Q513 Paul Flynn: Last year, throughout the whole year, 26 people were arrested in Britain for travelling between Syria and the United Kingdom. Already this month, 16 people have been arrested. That means by the middle of next month there will be the same number as travelled throughout the entire period of last year. Is this accelerating trend happening in other countries in Europe?
Gilles de Kerchove: I must confess I do not have the recent figures on the returnees. What I have seen recently was, because of the fight between the Islamic Front on the one hand and the ISIS on the other one, the most radical group, and al-Nusra being a bit on the part of Islamic Front in northern Syria, some foreign fighters may be asked to get back home, because they would be pushed aside by the less radical movement and that would have prompted a quicker return. To be honest, I do not have the most recent figures that show an increasing return. It may be that your services are detecting them better. That may be another explanation.
Q514 Paul Flynn: Can you give a clear picture of some kind of proportions of people that are going to the al-Nusra group and others going to the other groups there, the Government and the conventional opposition?
Gilles de Kerchove: I think this is more a question for the security services, but my understanding is that few foreign fighters are joining al-Nusra as such, because this group is much more demanding on those who can join. There is a vetting procedure, which is much more demanding, while ISIS, initially the Iraqi terrorist group, is much more open to any form of foreigners and they do not check their background and so on. I think the bulk of foreign fighters are more on the side of ISIS. How many are still with the Islamic Front or the Free Syrian army? I must say I do not know. My assessment is that, nevertheless, most of the foreign fighters are more on the side of the extremist group.
Q515 Paul Flynn: On the 16th of this month, two women were arrested carrying a large sum of money to Syria. Is this, again, another trend that is obvious throughout Europe-of women being used as couriers for large sums of money?
Gilles de Kerchove: I had not heard many cases of that sort, but that is probably the first time we have seen that women are going to Syria. We have not seen that trend in Somalia or Yemen or Afghanistan in the past.
Q516 Paul Flynn: This is my final question. Have you any theory on why this trend should be accelerating? Clearly, Syria is very much in the news, but the acceleration in the number of people travelling does seem to be alarming. Why is it happening?
Gilles de Kerchove: I think that there is objective criteria as to why we have such a high number. It is first because it is so easy to reach Syria, unlike the Sahel for instance. You may have even asked why we did not have more would-be jihadists going to Mali after the French intervention, because this was a Western army entering into a Muslim country. As your predecessor said, in Syria we have a fight among Sunnis and Shi’a, both Muslim. The easy way to enter Syria is one explanation. Another one is, if I may say so, the environment. Many of the would-be jihadists are urban people and the biotope is more similar in Syria than it is in the desert at 40 degrees. That is the second. In turn, the internet, social media, Facebook, Twitter pay a huge role in this acceleration. We have a sort of dynamic. A lot of these young jihadists in a way are narcissists. They want their portrait with Kalashnikov. They put their picture on YouTube, Facebook, and they try to encourage colleagues, friends to join. There is a sort of internal dynamic here.
Paul Flynn: Merci, Monsieur, je vous en prie.
Gilles de Kerchove: Merci.
Q517 Lorraine Fullbrook: Good afternoon, Mr Kerchove. I would like to pick up on the point about the internet, social media and satellite TV. In your opinion, how big of a role is satellite TV, internet or social media playing in driving this ideological movement and the recruitment of foreign fighters? Secondly, how do we tackle that?
Gilles de Kerchove: That is a good question, if I may say so, but a very difficult one. I think most people agree that the internet is the critical recruitment factor, especially as I said it is no longer the web 1.0-the website. It is more the social media, the web 2.0-Facebook, Twitter. They played a significant role in indoctrination, recruitment, radicalisation, for sure. As for satellite TV, there is some television. If I can just mention one, al-Wesal-where you have preachers calling for violent jihad. It is interesting to see this last three years some of the Salafists are now advocating for violent jihad, not only the classic jihad.
You may have seen in Cairo some months ago some very well known imams and clerics in the Muslim religion stated that it was a duty for the Muslims to join the fight. This, I think, plays a role, no doubt. That requires a response on our side at three levels. First, we have to monitor all this, and that is for the security services mainly. We have set up at Europol a common platform called Check the Web, where we have tried to pull some resource together, but it is still very modest. So the first one is monitoring. The second one is taking down illegal websites. That is a very difficult issue where, in your country, you have worked on for years. The third one, which is even more difficult, is: how can we ourselves use the internet to counter the narrative?
On the second one, Commissioner Malmström, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, will set up a forum to discuss with the big players, Google, Facebook and Twitter, how we can improve the way we remove from internet illegal-and, if not illegal, undesirable-websites, because as you know, it is very sensitive, because it raises the question of the balance with freedom of speech. How can we improve referral mechanisms by which the users themselves let Google know that they have found some unacceptable websites, videos and pictures on the internet? This is a discussion that we have started with these big companies.
The last one-how we can counter the narrative?-is something on which you work, the Home Office works and RICU, inside the Home Office, works, but I am not convinced that the Government are well placed to do so. It is more about how we can reinforce the communities themselves-those who want the counter the narrative-to use more internet. Anything we can do to help them to be more professional in the way they use the internet, I think, would help. We can support some projects, translate some materials, but I am not convinced that Governments themselves are credible voices in these kinds of narrative, because it will be seen as biased. It is more about create an environment that is conducive to that sort of narrative.
Q518 Lorraine Fullbrook: Do you mean the narrative has to come from within the communities themselves?
Gilles de Kerchove: Indeed, it is much more credible. Of course, we could try to use former jihadists. We know that some of them have a lot to tell about their experiences. They maybe went to Syria with idealistic ideas and discovered quickly that it was not what they had in mind-that it is an ugly war, a lot of blood, that people are suffering, beheading, and so on. It would be interesting to see the jihadist himself explaining the terrible experience he went through. Again, it is very difficult to set up that sort of project. The Commission, in its recent communication on radicalisation and recruitment, said that it would be available with financial support to support those efforts in the communities themselves.
Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you very much.
Chair: Before I come to Michael Ellis, Mr Winnick just wishes to correct one thing that he said, for the record: that those who went over to fight in Spain, he said, was 73 years ago, but he should have said 78 or 77 years ago. Just for the record, I am sure that does not apply to anyone sitting in this room, but we apologise if that has upset anyone who is watching this event.
Q519 Michael Ellis: Mr Kerchove, thank you very much for coming on. Moving on a little from what you have just been asked, are you familiar with the counter-terrorism infrastructure that has been established by the British Government and the mechanisms for dealing with counter-terrorism and anti-terrorism in the United Kingdom? If so, do you have any observations about it? Are you supportive, generally speaking, of the mechanisms that have been brought into operation here?
Gilles de Kerchove: It is not my role to assess the way member states exercise their main role of providing security for their citizens. Let me start by saying the UK is one of the member states helping me the most and, since the beginning of my function as EU Co-ordinator, I have always received outstanding support from the different Home Secretaries, from the Home Office, the FCO. It is really very helpful. When I go, for instance, to Pakistan and I try to develop a project there, it is always with the great support of the High Commissioner and all colleagues in the UK. That is for the record; I have to insist on this; it is very helpful.
I must say, I am very impressed by the real professionalism of Charles Farr and his team and the colleagues in the FCO. These are people who are doing their best to design the right policies. We have to acknowledge it is sometimes a difficult experience. I have been in many panels in the UK myself where there were discussions as to whether we should only address radicalisation leading to violence or we should start focusing a bit earlier on the ideology and radicalisation as such. This is a discussion that has taken place recently. How do we engage with the communities? There were criticisms of the policies of the previous Government and so on. No one has the magic bullet.
The experience gained in the UK has had some influence on the European Union and on other countries. For some time the French have been reluctant to enter into a real strategy for prevention; they are currently doing this. The EU CT strategy, for instance, is in a way replication of the four Ps of the CONTEST strategy: prevent, protect, pursue, prepare.
Even if it is not my role to comment, I would say that the British Government is extremely active in Europe in helping us to design the right response.
Q520 Michael Ellis: You have referred to the fact that you do not think there is a magic bullet to deal with these issues. With the issue of radicalisation, particularly of young people, juxtaposed with the ideology issue that you have also referred to, do you think there is any more that member states of the European Union, particularly the United Kingdom, can do to address these inherent problems and factors that lead to the sorts of issues that you have been answering questions about this afternoon?
Gilles de Kerchove: Again, I don’t want to single out anything special in the UK. I will say collectively we have to know that we have a consensus to invest more on prevention. As I said, the Commission is on board. They issued a communication last week, or two weeks ago, which is excellent. It is the first time that the European Commission has come with ideas and concrete proposals. We now have to act and really concretise these good ideas. They mentioned 10 different ideas and we support member states’ efforts.
The good news is that the Commission restated that it was available to mobilise EU money in support of member states’ concrete projects. The idea to have a discussion with the big IT companies like Google and Facebook is something that, at the level of a member state, is nearly impossible to achieve. An EU forum with these companies, and possibly an EU-US discussion with these companies, will have much more weight and impact. It is about pooling resources together and sharing best practice that we will achieve.
On prevent, another initiative of the Commission that I support is the setting up of what is called the Radicalisation Awareness Network. It is a network of 700 practitioners that is excellent at sharing the successes and the failures. For instance, your Channel mechanism, which tries to help radicals get out of radical extremism, is something that is very useful to share with other member states. Of course, if the UK can keep the same commitments and help the Commission keep this issue high on the agenda, even better, but I do not have any specific weakness or failure to mention.
Michael Ellis: Thank you, that has been very helpful.
Q521 Yasmin Qureshi: I want to explore three different, albeit linked areas with you. Firstly, as you may be aware from reading some of the British newspapers some years ago, when we have had some very high-profile terrorist cases, with people being tried in the United Kingdom and in the USA, the intelligence or police officers investigating these crimes have said that most of these young men-and it was mostly young men-have said that their motive for getting involved in these things was not because they want to attack the Western way of life, which is what our media normally portrays as their reason, but because they believe that the Western countries have been interfering with and invading a lot of Muslim countries over the last 20 to 30 years, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and others, where a lot of Muslims have died. That is their thinking or rationale for doing this. In light of that, has any attempt ever been made by various counter-terrorism units or the police to look at those issues, such as what could be a motive, and whether, despite the media narrative in our country-that it is all about the Western way of life-it actually seems to be about a very different reason?
Gilles de Kerchove: It is not for the police itself to assess whether the invasion of Iraq is a legitimate reason for violating the law. The police are there to apply the law, to investigate the crime. It is more for policymakers to understand the process that leads people to violence and design the right response. What we discussed about the counter narrative requires that we understand the main rhetoric in the ideology better. I would say that al-Qaeda is pretty good at exploiting all arguments. What we have to do is develop our own narrative and explain why it is not acceptable to use violence. This is something I tried, but there is room for serious improvement in the communication of the European Union with some member states.
If I take the issue of Syria, one of the difficulties we have is that we want Assad to be removed. By having this goal, we suggest to the would-be jihadists that it is a good idea that he be removed and some of them might think that it is a green light to go to Syria and fight. It is one of the weaknesses, I acknowledge that. The way we communicate and the way we have to develop this-calling it a narrative is not a good way to put it, because in a way we know that we have to challenge the narrative, but we have to develop our own narrative. On this we need to improve. I mentioned RICU in the past. Yours is probably one of the few Ministries of the Interior-if not the only one-that has a dedicated unit to work on communication, to get a sense of who the audience is, the way we have to address the audience and what the message is that we have to convey. I hope we can improve on this in the coming months, because this is indeed a very important challenge.
Q522 Yasmin Qureshi: Coming on from there-I was going to ask about Syria in my second question-would it be fair to say that Syria’s situation is perhaps different from the other conflicts and the other people who have been charged with terrorist offences, because their motivation seems to be very different? The suggestion is that a lot of people going to Syria are going for humanitarian purposes-that is, to help and assist people who are injured. Most of those, of course, going to Syria are hopefully not going to be any danger to anyone. Would you accept the fact that a lot of people going to Syria are not going there to fight, but are going for humanitarian purposes, because that is what some of the people tell me? They say they are getting very upset that when they travel to Syria, wanting to go to Syria, everyone assumes that they are going to become terrorists or jihadists or that they are going for a battle. From your knowledge, is there any truth in that? Are they right or wrong?
Gilles de Kerchove: I am afraid I do not have precise figures. I cannot split between those who are going there for humanitarian reasons and those who are among the fighters, or those who are fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army and those who are joining the more extremist groups. The information I get from most of the member states concerned in the security services are that the bulk are still joining the extremist groups. There are, of course, people who are going there for humanitarian reasons. One of the projects we should design-I think this is something they tried in the UK, as well-is to offer an alternative project to redirect the energy of those who want to be helpful and help Syria to do that through an humanitarian process, instead of fighting and using a Kalashnikov.
Q523 Chair: Sorry to interrupt you for one second, Monsieur Kerchove-it is difficult to have a dialogue in this way-but could say, in response to Miss Qureshi’s question about on humanitarian support, whether it would help if individual EU countries took in more Syrian refugees on a humanitarian basis? Would this decrease the number of people wanting to go for jihad in Syria? Just a quick answer: yes or no?
Gilles de Kerchove: Could you repeat that? I do not completely understand. Could you could speak a bit louder?
Chair: Following on from what Miss Qureshi said, if the EU countries took in more Syrian refugees, would that decrease the number of Syrians going to fight jihad in Syria?
Gilles de Kerchove: No, I don’t think so.
Chair: You don’t think so. That is perfectly fine; thank you.
Yasmin Qureshi: I think you said in answer to one of my colleagues’ previous questions about the internet and social media that there was a respected imam or somebody who had said that it was right to go off and fight. Not wanting to get into debate about this-if we are making declarations, I suppose I should declare: I am Muslim-I have to say that there are what I call tin-pot imams, or self-proclaimed ones, who say various types of things that are completely against Islam. Yet the really respected scholars, from the Imam of Mecca, or Medina, or the heads of scholars of the Egyptian schools and Turkish-the respected imams-all condemn this kind of behaviour and this kind of activity. Do you think that maybe their word, which is must more respected, should be the one that is out there in the media, so these young men and a few women who may be being radicalised by what I call the tin-pot ones, hear a counter-narrative from the proper ones, who say that this is completely wrong?
Chair: Thank you, Miss Qureshi. Sorry, Monsieur Kerchove, we are running out of time because we have a slot to talk to you in Brussels. Perhaps you could give a quick answer to Yasmin Qureshi and then we can have two more very quick questions.
Gilles de Kerchove: The answer is: the more we can encourage scholars to ask Muslims not to go to Syria, the better. I can share with the Committee if you want the declaration I mentioned earlier coming from Cairo, where well known scholars have had an impact. The more we can have alternatives to that goal, the better.
Chair: Excellent. We have two quick end questions from Paul Flynn and David Winnick.
Q524 Paul Flynn: Is the co-operation and cohesion that we have now between the EEAS, the Commission and the Council likely to be in danger of divisions resulting from the revelations by Edward Snowden that some of our allies are spying on some of our other allies?
Gilles de Kerchove: The main impact that I see from the revelations of Snowden is in the European Parliament. The competent committee of European Parliament dealing with justice and home affairs is now a bit reluctant to adopt an instrument that is very important for counter-terrorism, which is called the PNR-the passenger name record. The feeling is that we are building, step-by-step, a Big Brother society and therefore PNR adds another layer of collecting more data. I think what was revealed from the NSA has direct impact on this.
I do not see a problem between the external intelligence services and the Council. We have been working together very closely to define the EU response to the NSA leaks.
Q525 Mr Winnick: I agree with the reply you gave the Chair regarding Syrian refugees, but is it your view that EU countries should be taking in more refugees arising from the terrible circumstances-war and terror-in Syria?
Gilles de Kerchove: I do not know if I have the question right, but I think taking more refugees should be a decision on its own merit and not connected to counter-terrorism or the prevention of terrorism. It is a humanitarian question. It is up to the member states to decide to what extent they are ready to do so, but there is a lot that we are currently doing in the region, in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Turkey. The EU had already spent more than €2 billion in humanitarian assistance, but I think, just on a personal basis, that the more we can help, the better, indeed.
Q526 Chair: We are very near completion; we will have just two or three quick answers to these quick questions. The EU regulation 2580/2001 allows the freezing of assets of those who are involved in terrorism. I was very surprised to see that no accounts of anybody were frozen by the EU in the third quarter of 2013. Would you have some up-to-date figures as to how many people’s bank accounts have been frozen? If you do not have them today, could you let us have these figures or tell us where to find them? If we know they are going off to perform jihad in Syria, presumably we would want to freeze their bank accounts. Would you be able to get us those figures, Monsieur?
Gilles de Kerchove: I will do my best, but I think the money in respect to Syria is not a real issue because it is very cheap to fly to Istanbul and go to the border. I don’t think it is an issue of money.
Chair: No, but their bank accounts are still here. They do not take their bank accounts with them for jihad, do they? They still remain in Barclays or wherever.
Gilles de Kerchove: Indeed. I will do my best to try to get you those figures.
Q527 Chair: Thank you. The second issue it would be very helpful if you could clear up for us and write to us about is that if somebody goes from the United Kingdom to Syria to be involved in jihad then returns to Istanbul and then goes to Paris, would we know that they had arrived in Paris?
Gilles de Kerchove: We have to distinguish whether we knew that he was in Syria and that information had been shared-so, whether he is a known traveller or an unknown traveller.
Chair: Yes, so if a British citizen travelling from Bolton-to pick a place-flying from Manchester airport, arriving in Istanbul, going to Syria, returning via Istanbul to France or Germany or Belgium, who would the British authorities need to tell that these people had travelled? Who in the EU would know?
Gilles de Kerchove: As soon as the UK uses the Schengen Information System, they can put in the SIS an alert that this person is known to be in Syria. If it is controlled at the external border of the European Union or in Paris, the UK will be informed that the person flagged in the SIS has been controlled in Paris and so we learn.
Chair: Sure, but that is only if they fly. If they travel by car from Istanbul-
Gilles de Kerchove: The same.
Chair-and they cross the border with Greece and they go from Greece to Belgium, you think you would be able to track them.
Gilles de Kerchove: This is an issue that was discussed last week in Athens and that I raised myself. There is no systematic check of EU citizens, because they enjoy the right of free movement. I think we should use this a bit more systematically-so, even by car at the external border. If the person is checked against the SIS, the UK would be informed accordingly.
Chair: That is extremely helpful. We have been very enlightened by this evidence session and we are extremely grateful. We know you must be very busy. We thank you very much for the work that you do with the British Government in Brussels in support of our agenda. We thank you for what you have done joining us this afternoon. Merci beaucoup. Au revoir, Monsieur Kerchove.
Gilles de Kerchove: It was a pleasure. Thank you very much.
Chair: Thank you. That concludes that session. I will suspend the session for just two minutes while we remove the equipment and then we will welcome Jean-Paul Laborde.
Examination of Witness
Witness: Jean-Paul Laborde, UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, gave evidence.
Q528 Chair: Mr Laborde, thank you very much for bearing with this Committee. We want to start, if we may, with a look at the issue of foreign fighters-you sat in for the last session, so you know the tenor of the Committee’s questions. We will be as succinct as we can. If you could respond accordingly, that would be very helpful.
Is there an increase in the number of people going to Syria? We have looked at the figures: 366 from the United Kingdom. Is it a European problem or-you could look at this from the UN’s point of view-is it something that is much wider? Are people from other countries in the Middle East travelling to Syria or are we just looking at it through the prism of Western Europe?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Mr Chairman, first of all, it is an honour to be with you today-all of you. I have something to say before I begin my remarks on your question. I would like to state for the record that I am here as a representative of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, in my capacity as an official of the UN. I am here to provide an informal, unsworn oral briefing on the topic of this counter-terrorism policy. The CTC has agreed to voluntarily provide this briefing, and nothing related to the provision of this information briefing shall be considered as a waiver, express or implied, of any privilege or immunity of the United Nations.
Chair: Do not worry, Mr Laborde; we will not arrest you. You will be free to go.
Jean-Paul Laborde: That would be something interesting, because as you know, I used to be a judge in the Supreme Court.
Chair: We are on tenterhooks in case a peacekeeping force from the UN arrives to take over the Home Affairs Select Committee. You are safe with us.
Jean-Paul Laborde: This is not the point.
Chair: Yes, I understand. Perhaps you could just answer the question that I put to you.
Jean-Paul Laborde: The foreign fighters problem has increased to 11,000.
Chair: There are 11,000 foreign fighters in Syria?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Yes.
Q529 Chair: Which is the biggest country that provides these foreign fighters?
Jean-Paul Laborde: We do not really have full figures, but it is coming from, let us say, everywhere. The point was also made, by the way, by one of the honourable members of this committee-I also saw this in The Times last week-about going from 26 last year to, by this time in January, already 60 foreign fighters.
Chair: Yes, we know ours is about 366. We are interested in the facts and figures. Which is the country or area of the world that is providing most?
Jean-Paul Laborde: I do not know the other countries in the West. I know very well that in France that we have 200.
Q530 Chair: All right. You mentioned the figure of 11,000. Where do we base this figure on? Who has given us this figure?
Jean-Paul Laborde: This is something that has been raised by many intelligence services in the world-that is the point-but they did not give the breakdown.
Q531 Chair: All right; so it is about 11,000, but we cannot give a breakdown, we do not know where. Now, obviously your organisation is the United Nations-we all know it well; I have been to visit it, as I am sure others have. You are part of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, so how big is your directorate and how do you fit into the architecture?
Jean-Paul Laborde: The Counter-Terrorism Committee was created after 9/11. It was chaired by Sir Jeremy Greenstock. Then in 2005 the directorate was established. We have 50 people who are experts. They are not part of the bureaucracy per se; they are prosecutors, intelligence officers, law enforcement and so on. What we do is we are the only body in the UN-and probably, in many instances, the world-with the mandate of assessing the counter-terrorism capacities of member states.
Q532 Chair: Going back to your figure of 11,000, which is of great interest to this Committee, bearing in mind that we think it is about 366 Britons, if I add up all the Western Europeans, it comes to about 1,000; therefore, 10,000 come from elsewhere. In the role that you have played over the last few years, is Syria now the theatre for jihad worldwide, whereas it used to be Somalia and perhaps to some extent Yemen? Is the focus now on Syria? Is that right or are there other areas where there are foreign fighters going in?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No, I do not think so. First off, Syria did not start with terrorism; Syria started with an insurgency. That was not, at the beginning, a terrorism place, let us say; it was a fight against the Government.
Chair: Yes, we know the history of Syria; I am just asking you a different question. I am asking you: is this now the centre?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No.
Chair: Which other countries would you identify as countries of interest to the United Nations?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Yemen.
Chair: All right; so foreign fighters are going to Yemen?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Yes.
Chair: Do we have a figure, as we do for Syria?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No, I have no figures for Yemen at the moment.
Chair: The international agencies have not made an assessment of Yemen?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No, you see the international agencies, as you say, are providing support to counter-terrorism. They are not an intelligence agency per se.
Q533 Chair: No, I understand. You very helpfully gave us facts, which the Parliament always likes. Facts: you said 11,000; so Yemen is a country of interest. Where else is a country of interest where foreign fighters from the UK and other countries might go and fight?
Jean-Paul Laborde: You have still, of course, Western Africa. You probably also have Pakistan. They are the main countries in which we have foreign fighters.
Q534 Chair: Is Syria the top of the league? If we had a champions league table of foreign fighters, is Syria at the top or another country?
Jean-Paul Laborde: I do not know.
Chair: All right.
Jean-Paul Laborde: The figures that I have got-the 11,000-I feel that we do not have the same type of figures as elsewhere.
Q535 Chair: Would you be able to help this Committee with the issue of freezing of assets by various Governments? Who would collect figures on the freezing of assets of those involved in terrorism? Would it be the UN?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No. This is an IMF problem.
Chair: Would the IMF would be able to provide this Committee with figures as to assets that have been frozen?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Yes, I think so.
Chair: Because the UN does not have them, or is it not part of your remit?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No, what we do, for example-I do not want to extend into very precise questions; what I want to say is that we are helping countries in asset freezing, that is for sure.
Q536 Chair: I just pose this question. Please do not take it personally, but there are 50 of you in the UN in this particular directorate. What exactly do you all do all day?
Jean-Paul Laborde: As I said, we assess the situation in all the countries of the world, in terms of counter-terrorism measures-that they are sufficient. Then-this is a new phase now-we are also providing support to countries in following up the reports. In terms of efficiency, I follow fully your point-"Well, what are these persons doing in the UN?" First, assessment, and then-now, because I felt it was not enough-following up on these assessments.
Q537 Chair: How would you follow up? I will give you example: two brothers, Akram and Mohamed Sehab, have been killed. British citizens were killed in Syria fighting for al-Qaeda last week-two British citizens. How would we be able to help the British Government before they went, when they were there or, indeed ,if they had not been killed, if they came back? What is the UN’s role in all this?
Jean-Paul Laborde: The UN role is, on the basis of countering violent extremism, to help the countries in the de-radicalisation. That is what we do.
Chair: All right.
Jean-Paul Laborde: Not all the programmes that Gilles de Kerchove has mentioned. This is what we have to do; this is one of the roles of this body.
Q538 Chair: As far as the United Kingdom is concerned then what is the first cardinal principle of de-radicalisation that you might tell a Minister of the British Government that we can pursue?
Jean-Paul Laborde: There are three issues. The first one in my view is education. We have done a lot of things on the military and intelligence measures, but I feel that now we are ready to insist on all the programmes related to education and also, of course, the counter- narrative. Concerning the counter-narrative, I appreciate the last question of the last session. I would like to say that to be helped by the clerics who are moderate is one of the ways through which you can help these young people in correcting what they do in terms of extremism.
Q539 Michael Ellis: Thank you for coming in, Mr Laborde. There have been accusations against the British security service regarding alleged renditions and also pertaining to the Snowden revelations. Can you make an assessment from your own expertise as to whether these revelations have had any impact or would have been likely to have any impact on the UK’s ability to assist at risk countries? For example, in building the rule of law and a human-rights compliant response to terrorist activity. In other words, do you think the Snowden leaks have been harmful to the national interests of member states of the European Union, including the United Kingdom?
Jean-Paul Laborde: I think that we are in an evolution process. We have to strike the balance between security and human rights. We have to know what we are fighting for. We are fighting for certain principles-universal principles, the universal charter and all of that. We have to strike this balance. The second point is that we have to be firm in the repudiation of terrorism. I think that we have to say, "No, we don’t accept that because it is the first violation of human rights." So the second thing is to strike the balance. Thirdly, perhaps we can find solutions to find the right way between what we need in terms of security and what we need in terms of protecting human rights. I do not think that the Snowden problem will change that too much. Perhaps what President Obama has done-this panel of experts-will help on this issue. The panel of experts will look into this matter. I am not sure that the Snowden issue will change this approach. It is a signal for us to strike the balance; I want to come back to this point.
Q540 Michael Ellis: I think we all appreciate that there is a need-and a difficult need-to have a balance between security and the right to know, if I can put it as simply as that. In this particular instance, are you prepared to go further and come down on one side or another, as far as what you think has happened in that particular case? Do you think there has been damage to national security interests or can you not say?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Well, I am not the one to evaluate the security interests of the UK. I am not in that position. You are a very old democracy; you know what to do in order to have this kind of balance.
Michael Ellis: Thank you very much; I will not press you further.
Q541 Mr Winnick: Is there any evidence whatsoever from the work that you undertake with your colleagues that terrorists have been assisted by the Snowden revelations?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No. There is no evidence of that.
Mr Winnick: There is no evidence of such a kind?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No, I do not think so-as far as I know, at least.
Q542 Mr Winnick: Well, you should know in your very senior position. Were you at all surprised by some of the revelations that the German Chancellor’s mobile phone was-what is the term?-bugged and other intrusions? Were you at all surprised by this?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Yes, I was surprised. The point I would like to make-and to come back to something on this question-is this. In 2001, it appears that a lot of the information was already in the hands of the US Government concerning the attack, before the attack occurred. What I want to say is that to have too much information, from time to time, with all the information that the international intelligence agencies have they can be submerged by the information and then there is a problem of selecting the information that you have in hand. So, to listen to every person in the world, perhaps it is not something that could lead to good counter-terrorism work. You know what I mean? Of course we are surprised to have these types of things, but in the end I feel that in counter-terrorism policy, probably at a certain point we might wish to be more selective on what we do.
Q543 Mr Winnick: Do you think that if President Obama’s suggested reforms and changes take place-there may be a question mark about-more or less along the lines that he set out very recently and if intelligence gathering is much more restricted than it has been, particularly the National Security Agency and the rest, and the relationship with GCHQ here, that would give more credibility to the intelligence agencies?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Let us see what the opinions are of the panel. I am not in the National Security Agency. The gathering of intelligence-I did not say it should be restricted; it should be more selective. Perhaps there are some restrictions that have to be absorbed, taken in place.
Q544 Paul Flynn: The head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command has said of those who go to Syria from Britain that they either get killed or they get radicalised. Would you agree with this? Are countries justified in taking measures to restrict the freedom of those who return and treat them as potential terrorists?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Well, it is a very serious issue. When they go there and when they come back, we never know what they will do, so we have to speak with them, we have to look at what they have done, and we have to probably re-educate them and, of course, monitor all of them. That is a really serious issue. The point is that when they go there, even if they are not radicalised, they go into the training and this training is a training of fighters. When they come back, let us see what they have, because probably at the very beginning they are not going there with this intention, but when they are there and they come back, they are absolutely dangerous, or can be dangerous.
Q545 Paul Flynn: Do your responsibilities and the responsibilities of the United Nations include the job of trying to build confidence and counteract this gulf of suspicion between the Western Christian world and the Eastern Muslim world, which is probably fuelled by the imbalance and the asymmetry of the weapons that they each have? Do you think that the use of drones-hugely sophisticated weapons that cannot be matched by the other side-is itself a cause of increasing terrorism, because terrorists, and those in that position, potential terrorists, feel themselves impotent to defend themselves and their communities against drones and other sophisticated equipment?
Jean-Paul Laborde: I think that the use of military means, whatever the means are, is not at all sufficient for reducing the threat of terrorism-the use of drones, the use of whatever type of means. We should know, if it were the case, that the reduction would have happened up to now, because the military and intelligence means have been used up to now, and we still have the problem of terrorism in front of us. I feel that we have a comprehensive policy-this is where the role of UN is important-of prevention of terrorism, de-radicalisation. Of course, there is also the natural means, like law enforcement and prosecution, which gives people the right to express themselves.
Q546 Paul Flynn: This is my final question. We have heard alarming stories about the increase in the number of volunteers-potential terrorists-going to Syria. Should we be very worried about it if that acceleration is going on, and what can we do to increase the confidence of young Muslims to convince them to be de-radicalised and that there is not this gulf between the two communities of west and east?
Jean-Paul Laborde: It seems that there are two issues there. There is, first, the issue of western and eastern countries. In answer to this question, the UN is a place in which we can at least have a dialogue among these countries. That is probably what we can do. Also, I can see in my committee that the dialogue is really good, on good practices-for example, what the UN has done in the past in terms of the work with the charities and all that. That is a good dialogue there. As I said, the second point is still the operation of prevention in our countries. We are also about to help them in prevention in their countries, with their own means. I feel that it is also something that we have to take into consideration. For example, the programmes of de-radicalisation are extremely huge in Pakistan. The Muslim countries have made a lot of effort in order to de-radicalise their people. I was in Islamabad in October, and the Government is ready to do this job very seriously and is doing it. We are even learning from them on this issue of what to do with the young people. I don’t say that we can succeed, but at least we have to try and then they can give some lessons to us on that.
Q547 Yasmin Qureshi: I have a couple of questions. In the organisation that you work, and as the Chair asked earlier about what work do you do, can you give us an example of a specific programme that your organisation has carried out in different countries that would try to deal with the issue of terrorism as you see it?
Jean-Paul Laborde: I will just give you an example. In South Asia we have a programme of co-operation among all the countries of SAARC, which means, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Bangladesh. We put all these countries together at the professional level, not at the policy level. We put together, for example, the prosecutors, judges, law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, and then they meet on a regular basis. They meet and they start to discuss their own issues-for example, the difficulty they have to give evidence in court, the issue of intelligence information transformed into evidence in a court, and so on. There are many programmes like that in the world. My intention is to have also a network of judges of supreme courts to see how they interpret the definition of terrorism in their own countries, and to see how they can match these definitions.
Yasmin Qureshi: Effectively you are talking about how to strengthen the law enforcement and the prosecutorial system of trying to get convictions.
Jean-Paul Laborde: Yes.
Yasmin Qureshi: What I was asking about is whether there is any sort of project on a non-legal basis.
Jean-Paul Laborde: As I said, we assess and we follow up. It means that we are using-and this is the benefit of this body-the capacities of many agencies of the UN, and not only of the UN, but also, for example in Nepal and so on, for these programmes we are using UNDP and UNESCO. UNESCO is very involved in these type of issues related to education. There is no need to duplicate the programmes that are already in place by UNESCO, but of course when we detect there is a need for that, then we ask UNESCO to increase the efforts in this area.
Q548 Yasmin Qureshi: I have a final set of questions, on the link between terrorism and drug smuggling. There is information out there-or certainly information given to us-that in parts of Northern and Western Africa there seems to be a degree of crossover between drug smuggling and terrorism. Also, we sometimes read and hear that in some countries-in Pakistan, for example, in the north-west frontier, and they have those tribal areas, or the FATA as they are called-the Pakistani Taliban, or the al-Qaeda Taliban or the Afghani Taliban, or various other terrorist groups are operating. Yet quite a lot of people say-senior people in Pakistan-that not all of those people operating are actually jihadists or al-Qaeda, but criminal gangs who are carrying out a lot of these types of things to frighten people, so that they can carry on doing all their criminal dealings of the drugs and arms trade. Then there is this suggestion in North and Western Africa that this is happening. What sort of things is the UN doing, if anything, to try to deal with these types of problems?
Jean-Paul Laborde: In terms of a link, obviously there are what I call "objective links" between the drugs and terrorism. It means, for example, that in Afghanistan in the same region in which you have a growth of the opium cultivation, you will get also the same growth of insurgency. I have some facts for you. In 2013, for example, 89% of the total opium cultivation in Afghanistan took place in the southern and western region. Then in this region you have the most important insurgency. That is what I can see. It does not mean that terrorist organisations are the same as the organised criminal groups dealing with drugs, but they combine their efforts. The same in Western Africa. Who could say, even 20 years ago when I started to work in this region, that terrorism and organised crime would happen? It starts with this route of drugs, going up from the Gulf of Guinea up to Europe. Of course, in between they match with terrorist organisations. For example, in Cameroon now, we had this kidnapping for ransom. The first group who started to kidnap for ransom was an organised criminal group and they sold the person that they kidnapped to Boko Haram. You can see there is an objective alliance, I would like to say, between them. What we do at the UN-first of all, we do the mapping. We have no pretention and we should not have any to replace member states that have the big means in terms of military and intelligence and law enforcement. We just alert, support the countries, and try to help them to prevent it.
Q549 Lorraine Fullbrook: Mr Laborde, I would like to ask you about the monitoring and assessment of counter-terrorism capabilities. Specifically, the last global survey produced by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee was published in 2011. Much of the information gathering and the assessment of that work was actually done prior to the Arab Spring. What impact has the Arab Spring had on the implementation of UN resolutions intended for counter-terrorism?
Jean-Paul Laborde: The impact is that of course we have to start again from basic needs from member states concerning, for example, the states-I was thinking of Libya-that need to be supported. That is the first one. It means support has to be given to the countries that are in need, and there is a need there. The assessment also is that, coming from Libya also, you had a lot of freedom of movement for terrorists going here and there from the beginning of the Arab Spring-from east to west and west to east of Africa. So the flow between, for example, the Central Africa and Western Africa is huge now. There is no control any more.
Lorraine Fullbrook: But how has that affected the UN’s implementations of the counter-terrorism capabilities?
Jean-Paul Laborde: We have to work more on these regions, that is for sure. This is a new area for us. Western Africa-we have always worked on that, but the point is that the increase of the demand is just immense, and it is not affecting too much our body because we are, as I say, assessing it and trying to put the other agencies together. For example, if I speak about UNDP or UNESCO, they are very much affected by that, because it is a lot of work to do in addition to what they have to do, for sure.
Q550 Lorraine Fullbrook: Just one point following Yasmin Qureshi’s question, the Committee visited Colombia on our drugs investigation, and one of the issues that came out of both Colombia and the United States was the drugs movement for narco-terrorism coming out of mainly Venezuela into West Africa, then into Portugal and then throughout the European Union. Do you see that increasing more as there is a lobby for the de-criminalisation of drugs?
Jean-Paul Laborde: I don’t see the relation there. Do you see a relation between the two?
Lorraine Fullbrook: Yes.
Jean-Paul Laborde: A call for decriminalisation, if you call it that. The trafficking of drugs have never been the subject matter. It was the conception of drugs that was the issue, I think.
Lorraine Fullbrook: I just wondered if Portugal having decriminalised class A drugs and the movement from West Africa to Portugal specifically, and then on to other EU countries, had been affected by any of the lobbies? For example, in the United States we have states now decriminalising marijuana for example.
Jean-Paul Laborde: The use or the conception?
Lorraine Fullbrook: The use of, yes.
Jean-Paul Laborde: Not the trafficking; that is the issue. The trafficking of drugs-for example, if you go back to Afghanistan-is a billion dollars. There is a lot of capacity of these criminal organisations in doing more on that. It is not only cultivation and consumption; the point is the trafficking. The trafficking-I don’t see there is a diminution of the will of member states to do that.
Q551 Chair: There is just a final question from me. In the evidence that we have taken so far from many different agencies and organisations, we have now come across a plethora of organisations, with numerous organisations and officials working all over the world on counter-terrorism. There is yourself in the UN, we have heard today from the EU, we know that Europol has a function to deal with these issues. We know that Interpol was involved in the storming of the factories in Algeria. We know the Lyons Group is in existence. Is it not time for one organisation dealing with counter-terrorism to try and come to terms with this very difficult subject? After all, the terrorists do not have five or six different bureaucratic organisations; they decide to blow something up and they set about blowing it up. We seem to have a lot of people producing a lot of papers and a lot of analysis, but no one co-ordinating body. Is it time for such a body, now that this is going to be with us for ever?
Jean-Paul Laborde: That is the best question that has probably been posed, if I may say so. The answer is what? Do you think that at the national level-since I was a judge in my country-we do not have this problem of co-ordination? I feel that probably my body is in the position of having this type of-I do not say co-ordination, but at least to put people together. That is the issue.
Chair: Somehow, they have to sit in the room, because after all you are the United Nations and therefore-
Jean-Paul Laborde: No, not only that, Mr Chairman.
Chair-you represent the good guys as well as some of the bad guys.
Jean-Paul Laborde: That is-
Chair: You have to do them all.
Jean-Paul Laborde: This is a judgment I leave to you. What I want to say is that this body of the Security Council has a capacity to gather the energies of all these agencies that you just mentioned. Interpol comes with us; Europol comes with us. Many of the-
Chair: The Lyons Group?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Whatever group; if we need to tap on one of these organisations to assess the situation and-this is my ambition-to have a real follow-up, impact and, at the end, evaluation-
Chair: So basically you think it is a good idea, but you do not know how it might be put into effect.
Jean-Paul Laborde: No, we put that in place.
Chair: You think we have it?
Jean-Paul Laborde: Yes.
Chair: With you at the Security Council?
Jean-Paul Laborde: First of all we are already doing that. For example, when there is, say, asset freezing-we have had questions about that-the IMF come with me. They come.
Q552 Chair: Can you give us the figures on asset freezing by the United Nations?
Jean-Paul Laborde: No.
Chair: Does the United Nations have figures?
Jean-Paul Laborde: This is exactly the division of labour. IMF has a role in that. This is a business, okay? So what I have to do, when I see there is a point of asset freezing that is difficult and so on, then I have to bring them with me in the assessment of the countries. I have to do the same even with the organisation that is in front of you-the IMO-which works with us.
Chair: Mr Laborde, you have been extremely helpful. If there is other information you think would be helpful to the Committee in our deliberations-we had not come across your role until our inquiry began; we are delighted to have met you and very pleased to hear your evidence-we would be very pleased to receive it. We are very grateful, thank you.
Jean-Paul Laborde: I will follow up on the 11,000 for you.
Chair: Thank you very much. Merci.