The Road to the Trans-Atlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Jihadi-Terrorism
The formation of the Trans-Atlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Jihadi Terrorism (TAG) is a bench mark achievement by a number of pioneering legislators from Europe and the United States. Since the rise of terror campaigns worldwide against democracies on 9/11 in America, 3/11 in Madrid, 7/7 in London, as well as in Beslan, Russia on 9/1 and in Mumbai on 11/26; and as these campaigns have also targeted Muslim and Middle Eastern civil societies as in Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and other countries; a group of members of the US Congress and the European Parliament became conscious of the global dimension of this threat and of the ideological roots behind it. These elected leaders decided to launch a Trans Atlantic initiative for education and mobilization specifically focusing on this worldwide menace.
Among these legislators were Rep Sue Myrick, co-chair of the US House Caucus on Counter Terrorism and her colleagues and MEP Jaime Major-Oreja, Vice Chairman of the EPP-ED Group and responsible for Political Strategy and his colleagues. After months of preparation, the founding members of TAG met at the US Congress and launched their group. Following is a summary delivered by TAG’s Secretary General Professor Walid Phares at the onset of the historic meeting.
(The text below was adapted from a speech given by Dr. Walid Phares on April 30, 2008)
This meeting is the result of a number of concerns regarding the rise of a terrorist threat inspired by a radical global ideology and of two initiatives which were developed concurrently and equally advancing.
- The concerns on both sides of the Atlantic, were and are about the rise, spread and advance of a global Jihadist movement – in its two forms: Salafist and Khomeinist within the West, in general and in the United States and Europe, in particular. The attacks of 9/11, the Madrid and London strikes, the Jihadi inspired violence against citizens, society and government in Europe and the many foiled Jihadi inspired terror plots on both sides of the Atlantic, have constituted a strategic indicator as to the current and future goals of these international terrorists.
- But these concerns have increased with the findings about the growth of a militant radical movement within our democracies aimed at destabilizing and eventually breaking down economic and national security. The most important finding of all is the fact that what lies behind this terror campaign is the spread of an ideology which legitimizes and a movement which mobilizes this violence.
- These findings also apply in the Greater Middle East and the Arab Islamic world where the Jihadi ideologies have been expanding and suppressing civil societies in quest of freedom and pluralism. Hence, out of the United States and of Europe, a number of public figures and intellectuals decided to organize groups to reflect on the issue and propose appropriate action.
In the US House of Representatives, a group of representatives including Rep. Sue Myrick formed a Caucus on Counter Terrorism in 2007 whose main priority is to investigate the mounting threat of Jihadism domestically and internationally. In the European Parliament, a group of members, including MEP Jaime Mayor Oreja, came to a similar conclusion and also initiated activities in the same direction during 2007.
During my briefings to both groups, I as well as my colleagues realized that both Americans and Europeans must address the global threat together. We understand that the same ideology was behind the terror campaigns on both sides of the Atlantic, and that similar strategies in the War of Ideas waged by the Jihadists are applied within our respective democracies. Hence we suggested the idea that an initial contact would take place in the fall of 2007 between the two groups. MEP Mayor Oreja visited Washington and met with the co-chairs of the Caucus. It was decided that a meeting would follow up to launch a joint initiative.
Ladies and gentlemen, today in the US Congress and thanks to both sides, a historic initiative is being launched. The mere meeting and discussions of a joint agenda to confront this threat is a victory by itself. For the Jihadists, main success has been to single out their foes and wage a global campaign against it. Now it is time that democracies come together and form a joint front against terrorism and address the challenge of this menacing ideology.
More information on The Trans-Atlantic Parliamentary Group Meeting.