Milipol Paris demonstration - Fight against terrorism

Anti-terrorism – Special Forces

The fight against terrorism has become such important since 2001 that all the business sector covered at Milipol Paris and all technologies displayed at the event could definitely be related to it. In 2021, 229 exhibitors and 1,100 visitors were involved in the sector.

Fight against terrorism - Special forces at Milipol Paris

  • 229 exhibitors in 2021
  • Almost 1,100 visitors in 2021 (9% of the attendance)
  • 40% of the exhibitors have selected "fight against terrorism - Special forces" as a targeted business sectors for visitors
  • Thematic conferences on the large events security management, on the fight against terrorism financing, on the use of social media in the terrorism propaganda, etc.
  • A secteur represented in all categories of the Milipol Innovation Awards
  • Many products:
    • Transmissions, communication and positioning solutions (audio surveillance / counter surveillance, jammers, antennas,...)
    • Technologies for observation and surveillance (biometrics, facial recognition, scanners, counterfeit detection, perimeter protection, optics, cameras,...)
    • Cybersecurity
    • Specific equipments (fabrics, camouflage, personal protective equipment, weapons,...)
    • Vehicles, armours, drones and robotics
    • First aid and medical support solutions
    • etc.

They were there in 2021

  • AREA

Article - Fighting terrorism: a long-term battle

Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, which marked the beginning of the "war on terrorism", the whole planet has been affected by this mode of action designed to “create a climate of insecurity, blackmail a government or satisfy hatred towards a community, a country or a system"[1]. So how can we win this asymmetrical war, which has been disrupting the international community for so many years?

A pervasive threat

The threat of terrorism is more or less present, depending on the country. The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, the violent acts of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the presence of other armed terrorist groups put the Middle East in an uncomfortable position. 
In the African continent, the number of terrorist groups continues to grow. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Muslim Support Group, the Islamic State in West Africa, Boko Haram and Katibat Macina are just a few examples. In the period from 1 April to 30 June 2022 alone, 317 civilians were killed, 73 abducted/disappeared and 77 injured in Mali.[2] Since 2017, northern Mozambique has also been the setting for a deadly Islamist insurgency that has caused the deaths of at least 3,000 people and the displacement of over 800,000 others.[3]
In Europe, the threat is diminishing, but should not be ignored. According to Europol's latest report, in 2021, the Old Continent was the target of 15 foiled or successful attacks, compared with 57 the previous year. France remains the most targeted country with four thwarted attacks and one that led to the death of a police officer in Rambouillet. Tactics are diversifying in France and Europe, ranging  from large-scale attacks planned abroad, like the 13 November attacks, to those perpetrated by isolated individuals (often radicalised online) requiring few logistics, like the murder of Samuel Paty in 2020. While the jihadist threat remains the primary focus of intelligence services, the threat of far-right terrorism is emerging in Europe. According to Jean-Yves Camus, political scientist and co-director of the Observatoire des Radicalités Politiques with the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, about 3,000 people are currently involved with ultra-right movements in France; in Germany, this figure is 12,000.[4] Their plans for attacks are still at an embryonic stage, but this threat should not be overlooked.

The use of new technologies: a miracle solution?

Various new technologies have been developed to combat international crime and terrorism. For several years now, increasingly innovative industrialists have been developing a drone called the "Black Hornet", which is 10 cm long, weighs 20 g, has an autonomy of 25 minutes and can travel at up to 18 kph. Used by around 30 states, this drone carries out reconnaissance missions to save the law enforcement agencies on site from taking additional risks. France has invested €77 million in this technology.
Big data can also be part of the solution to rapidly exploit all the traces left by a particular person on the Internet: an impossible task for a human. Algorithms are then used to cross-reference thousands and even millions of pieces of information to detect potentially suspicious online activity.
MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed "software that uses variations in a wi-fi signal to recognise human silhouettes through a wall",[5] thus avoiding potential collateral casualties during an intervention. NATO has recently developed an innovative device, DEXTER, designed to detect explosives and firearms in crowded venues like train or subway stations and airports. The three technologies used in DEXTER will be able to "remotely and instantly pinpoint people carrying firearms or explosives in crowdsThe device will go further than existing systems and identify these threats unobtrusively, without the need for random passenger checks or checkpoints.”[6]  With this system, NATO has made use of cutting-edge innovations in sensors, artificial intelligence and detection technologies.
A prototype was successfully tested for a month in a subway station in Rome. 

The countries least equipped to combat terrorism in terms of new technologies have also been seeking solutions. For example, Burkina Faso, Togo and Niger have ordered inexpensive Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones. However, according to Akram Karief, a journalist specialising in defence issues, their acquisition cannot "be decisive" in countering terrorism because of the nature of the groups and their adaptability.[7]

New technologies can be part of the answer to combating terrorism, but they cannot win this long-term war on their own.

The need to train security forces

The human factor inevitably remains central in the war on terrorism. And international institutions have been studying the question in order to train security officers for this fight in the most effective way possible. In this respect, NATO's Defence Against Terrorism work programme is proactive. For the member countries of the Alliance, it proposes not only "exercises, [...] the provision of equipment, training, feedback processes and interoperability demonstrations"[8] but also CBRN risk training.

The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and Training in Rabat began training 24 participants from six African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal) last September. The students represent law enforcement institutions in their countries. The goal is to build capacity and develop "counter-terrorism skills, including security, investigation and prosecution, prison and border management, disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration." [9] Without these programmes, security forces will not be able to fight on equal terms against a stealthy and highly adaptive enemy.

[1] Larousse
[2] Note trimestrielle des tendances des violations et atteintes aux droits de l’homme au Mali, MINUSMA, August 2022
[3] Chris Huby, "Mozambique : et les islamistes s’installèrent !", Le Point, 2 June 2022
[4] “Violences d'ultra-droite: la nouvelle menace?” France Culture, 16 August 2022
[5] Big data, drones, reconnaissance faciale : les nouvelles technologies face au terrorisme, Ca m'intéresse, 18 February 2022
[6] Demonstration of new technology tocounter terrorism in crowded venues, NATO, 27 May 2022
[7] L’Afrique de l’Ouest utilise de plus en plus de drones contre les groupes terroristes, RFI, 21 September 2022
[8] The fight against terrorism, NATO, 16 Aug 2022
[9] Mohamed El Hamraoui, "UNOCT. Rabat abrite une formation sur les techniques d’investigations antiterrorisme", Le Courrier de l'Atlas, 6 September 2022