20-Year Anniversary of 9/11

The Tribute in Light over the location of the Twin Trade Towers in NY

20-Year Anniversary of 9/11

While 9/11 was undeniably an epoch-defining, watershed moment for the United States and the West more broadly, effectively catapulting the global countering violent extremism (CVE) sector, it does not carry the same connotations everywhere. For many, the events that have shaped counter-terrorism and security policy these last two decades are not those of 11 September 2001, but the Bataclan, Westgate Mall, Utoya Island, Peshawar’s Army Public School, Chibok, or the ongoing horrors that surround the conflict in Syria.

Across the Strong Cities Network’s (SCN) 150+ global membership, municipalities have and continue to grapple with their own conflicts, grounded in ethnic, political and religious strife, affected by regional and international politics, and exacerbated by human security, environmental and economic crises.

20 years on from 9/11 however, international engagement with counter-terrorism has too often prioritised government-driven agendas at the cost of local knowledge and expertise.Understanding, contextualising, and learning from these ongoing struggles, while engaging with actors who can understand and interpret the local while framing it against the background of the regional and global, are essential components to global P/CVE efforts.

Here, we highlight four articles written by regional SCN staff and local practitioners on the local P/CVE efforts through the lens of the 9/11 anniversary.

eric rosand

20 Years After 9/11: Why Cities Matter More Than Ever When It Comes to Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

Eric Rosand, Interim Director, Strong Cities Network

With the 20th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks upon us, there is no shortage of reflections on two decades of global counterterrorism practice. Much of the commentary is focusing on the situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power.

While understandable, there are another set of considerations when it comes to some of the important developments that have taken place during the period, including those related to our understanding of the threat and how best to counter and ideally prevent it.

Eric Rosand, Interim Director of the Strong Cities Network, argues that cities are vital components in efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism.

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Sefer Selimi
Emir Hasanovic

North Macedonia: Local Ownership of Global Challenges

Sefer Selimi, Founder and Executive Director of Democracy Lab
Emir Hasanovic, Western Balkans Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

While the media is rightly commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks this month, in North Macedonia the year is remembered for different reasons. It marks 20 years since an insurgency of Albanian guerrillas waged war against state security forces for more than six months. It was the culmination of a decade of civil unrest and division that can be traced back to the country’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

In this piece from Sefer Selimi, Founder and Executive Director of Democracy Lab, and Emir Hasanovic, Coordinator on the Strong Cities Network, they describe the steps that the country has taken to address this division, and argue for the need for local ownership and participation in North Macedonia’s prevention efforts.

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Dominic Pkalya
Akyar Maalim

How 9/11 And Its Aftermath Continues to Frustrate Local Intervention Efforts in Kenya

Dominic Pkalya, Senior Programme Manager, Strong Cities Network
Akyar Maalim, Associate, Strong Cities Network

In the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, Kenya became a key ally to US counter-terrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa region. However, it became clear that the country was using counter-terrorism as justification to clamp down on opposition, suppress freedoms of expression and exert force on ethnic and religious minorities, causing deep rifts between the population and Kenyan security forces.

Naturally, this has made many Kenyans suspicious of counter-terrorism agendas and hindered genuine efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism efforts on the ground which depend in many respects on the existence of a modicum of trust between national and local, and security and non-security actors.

Dominic Pkalya, Senior Programme Manager on the Strong Cities Network, and Akyar Maalim, an Associate on the Strong Cities Network, argue that the country’s County Action Plans need greater support and investment if they are to address these issues.

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Lama Awad
Ghida El-Assaad
Nicolas Gholam

Between Countering and Preventing: Lebanon and the Legacy of 9/11

Lama Awad, Regional Manager, Strong Cities Network
Ghida El-Assaad, Coordinator, Strong Cities Network
Nicolas Gholam, Coordinator, Strong Cities Network

The U.S. military-led response to 9/11 and the beginning of the ‘Global War on Terror’ in 2001 became a flashpoint for counter-terrorism efforts around the world, perhaps nowhere more so than in the wider Middle East. The interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq had inevitable and intractable consequences for the region and became a rallying call for Islamist jihadist movements in the 2000s whose shockwaves continue to shape the political and security landscape today.

Lebanon’s position in the region has always been precarious, and the country has frequently fallen victim to its seemingly constant political upheavals. Despite, and perhaps because of these challenges therefore, Lebanon has always remained especially sensitive to the limitations of an overly-securitized response to violence and the need for robust and sustainable initiatives that seek to address its root causes.

The SCN’s Beirut Office, Lama Awad, Ghida El-Assaad, and Nicolas Gholam, examine the country’s approach to P/CVE and the many challenges it now faces in light of recent events.

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