Marshall Center Participants Learn ‘Talking to Terrorists’

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Marshall Center Participants Learn ‘Talking to Terrorists’

By Christine June
Public Affairs Office
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (March 18, 2016) – James Wither, professor of National Security Studies and director Senior Fellowship Programs at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies talks about the Talking to Terrorist March 18 to 76 participants from 46 countries attending the Program in Terrorism and Security Studies.

“The long-established assumption is that legitimate governments do not talk to terrorists, but in fact, governments do frequently talk to terrorists,” Wither said.

He added that government officials, intelligence officers and members of the security forces commonly maintain channels of communication with terrorist groups even while actively seeking to eradicate them.

“Normally, these contacts are exploratory and secret, but such engagement can sometimes create the conditions for a formal peace process that—as in South Africa, Northern Ireland and, hopefully, in Colombia—can bring about the resolution of a long-standing internal conflict,” Wither said.

On completion of this unit, participants learned:

  • Identify circumstances when governments might decide to establish a dialogue with a terrorist group and the potential advantages and risks of doing so.
  • Explain the opportunities and limitations of negotiated approaches to resolving hostage incidents.

PTSS 16-06 started Feb. 24 and will end March 23.

PTSS 16-06 will mark more than 1,500 graduates from PTSS, which began at the Marshall Center in 2004.

Held twice a year, PTSS is a functionally focused program that draws in civilian, law enforcement, and military counterterrorism professionals from around the world and improves their capacity to counter terrorism's regional and transnational implications.

It aims to combat terrorism in all of its manifestations: nationally, regionally and globally.

The four-week course is designed for government officials, military officers and police administrators currently working in mid- and upper- level management positions of counterterrorism organizations throughout the world.

The curriculum consists of lectures, seminars, Munich Field Study Trip and case studies.

It is designed to highlight four objectives: Understand the Threat; Build Capacity; Build Network; and, Enable Transnational Cooperation.