Thanks to all of you for your presentations and for the important and illuminating discussions we’ve had today. As we’ve heard today, REMVE is an increasing global threat and one that we must take seriously. There is a growing and perhaps widespread view that the terrorist threat is behind us, and the international community can now focus on other issues and other priorities. But as today’s discussion made clear, this is far from true.
REMVE actors continue to connect – both online and offline – to spread their propaganda and advance their violent cause. We must be vigilant to uncover and disrupt plots, monitor their travel, track their financing, prevent them from recruiting new adherents, and counter their disinformation.
By no means is this an easy task. As we heard in today’s presentations, attacks are often carried out by lone actors without formal ties to larger groups, and without a central command. REMVE actors are also adept at exploiting social media platforms, online gaming platforms, smaller websites with targeted audiences, and encrypted chat applications to recruit new followers, plan and rally ideological support, and disseminate materials that contribute to radicalization and mobilization to violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the misinformation and disinformation online and allowed REMVE actors to increase their efforts to gain new adherents on the internet.
It is clear, as I said at the outset, that no country or multilateral entity can take on this threat on its own. We must work together, deliberately in concert. We’ve heard throughout the day today that enhanced cooperation and information sharing is more important than ever before to counter REMVE globally, and there is a need for great collaboration amongst all of our governments, since the REMVE threat respects no international boundaries. The establishment of this forum comes at an opportune time, and we’re pleased that so many countries and entities are eager to be a part of it.
Additionally, today’s presentations effectively highlighted how criminal justice tools are so critical to addressing the REMVE threat. Unlike with ISIS and al-Qa’ida, our militaries are not out front, battling these groups in conflict zones or in ungoverned spaces. Instead, the civilian agencies – from Ministries of Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs, among others – are leading this effort. And multilateral entities, such as INTERPOL, Europol, UNODC, and the IIJ, have an equally valuable role to play. We certainly have the right diverse group of colleagues in the room to advance our efforts in this area.
It’s also important, as we develop our REMVE strategies and initiatives, that we continue to learn and adapt along the way. We need to ensure that we are staying abreast of the threat as it evolves, and also carefully assessing what is working and what isn’t. The panel discussion today on lessons learned was particularly informative in that regard, and we appreciate these governments’ candor on how they dealt with the aftermath of REMVE attacks in recent years.
We look forward to continuing this discussion tomorrow, where we will hear more from different governments on their prosecutions of REMVE-linked entities and individuals, and the existing challenges, and the role that multilateral organizations play in countering REMVE actors. We will also spend time discussing in smaller groups the next steps and where we go from here. Finally, we will hear from U.S. Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann on the Biden-Harris Administration’s prioritization of countering REMVE.
Thank you to the German government for hosting tonight’s dinner. I look forward to seeing many of you there.