Defense Ministers from 41 Muslim countries have met in Riyadh for the inaugural meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), marking the official launch of a pan-Islamic, unified front to support the global struggle against terrorism and violent extremism.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened the inaugural IMCTC meeting of on Sunday. In his speech, he reaffirmed the 41-country coalition’s firm commitment to battle terrorism.
“We will not allow them (terrorists) to distort our peaceful religion. Today we are sending a strong message that we are working together to fight terrorism,” he said.
The meeting was held under the slogan “Allied Against Terrorism.” It’s the first time the coalition meets in Riyadh which established the coalition two years ago.
“Today we affirm that we will pursue terrorism until it is eradicated completely,” Prince Mohammed added.
The meeting was attended by the coalition’s Ministers of Defense, envoys and delegations from supporting countries and experts in the field of the coalition’s work, and discussed means to combat the financing of terrorism and specify future frameworks to unify efforts to eliminate terrorism and maintain international peace and security.
Dr. Mohammad al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, introduced the domain of Ideology, and the necessity of promoting a message that counters the narrative of violent extremist ideology and reaffirms the Islamic principles of tolerance and compassion, through presenting the true nature of Islam and supporting ideological, psychological, and social reforms.
“Terrorism is an ideological problem, not just a security issue. Contemporary extremism is becoming widespread because of the absence of informed confrontation,” Issa said.
He added that terrorists from more than 100 countries joined ISIS, explaining, “the Europeans in ISIS make up 50% of the elements of the organization.”
The coalition’s military Commander Raheel Sharif discussed military-related affairs, such as securing resources, exchanging military information and encouraging member states to build strengthen military capabilities to combat terrorism and deter violence.
The IMCTC meeting shed light on the importance of media in fighting terrorism and extremist thoughts.
The alliance introduced an extended and in-depth vision on ways and mechanisms to combat terrorism which surpass the military coordination between these countries.
The vision puts intellectual and media fields at the center of the alliance’s joint missions.
According to the alliance, international efforts to fight terrorism include combating terrorist organizations’ media discourse and their attempts to lure the minds of youth.
Other international efforts include developing content which fights extremist thought through media platforms such as social media, television and radio channels.
Tools that measure the impact of this strategy on mentalities and behaviors will be activated, the alliance added.
The alliance states are trying to redraw and reformulate false impressions produced by extremist ideology and terrorist organizations about Arabic and Islamic countries to the world.