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Pete Forster

Dr. Peter Forster, associate dean of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University, was recently named the co-chair for the Partnership for Peace Consortium’s Combating Terrorism Working Group. (Courtesy photo)

By Brian Huether
Partnership for Peace Consortium

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Oct. 8, 2014) – The Partnership for Peace Consortium’s Combating Terrorism Working Group added a new co-chair to its ranks - Dr. Peter Forster, associate dean of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University. 

 Forster brings to the table seasoned counterterrorism expertise, sharing co-chairmanship with Richard Prosen from the U.S. State Department.

Speaking of his appointment, Forster said, “Becoming the co-chair of the CTWG is really a great honor and privilege.  The diverse participation including counterterrorism practitioners, non-governmental organization representatives, and academics offers a unique blend of knowledge and resources on an international scale.”

According to Prosen, one of Forster’s tasks as a co-chair is to guide the group “forward in conducting relevant counterterrorism threat and response efforts.” 

As such, Forster’s appointment comes at a pivotal moment, as the CTWG develops recommendations to support President Obama’s plan to counter Islamic State, which the President articulated during his Sept. 10 speech at the White House. 

Towards this end, the CTWG met from Sept. 24 to 26 at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here.

Recognizing IS’s creative and unprecedented use of social media-driven recruitment, Forster advocates for a strategy that counters IS’s messages to target communities, such as Somali immigrants, Islamic converts and “any disenfranchised community.” To counter such efforts and ultimately defeat IS and affiliated groups, Forster believes it is necessary that “members of the [disenfranchised] community write scripts” to provide vulnerable individuals with a more attractive alternative.  Forster, while recognizing the current context of IS, advocates a broader counterterrorism view. 

From his perspective, the CTWG also has a mission “to insure that attention is not singularly focused, but rather we continue to address other threats and provide timely, salient policy responses as we work to better understand the current and future states of the challenge.”

The CTWG was formed in November 2002 to address contemporary terrorism and countermeasures, topics with newfound meaning as the international community reacts to the acute threats posed by IS and other violent extremist groups. The CTWG comprises some 50 experts across 15 countries from the diplomatic, defense, law enforcement, academic and civil society communities. 

According to Dr. Raphael Perl, the executive director of the PfPC, co-located here at the Marshall Center, “The Combating Terrorism Working Group was formed in the wake of 9/11, anticipating the need for a body of experts to provide sound policy recommendations to leaders of the United States’ and her partners. We are proud to see the group carrying out work that is so vital for international security.”

Looking to the future, the CTWG plans to unite policy makers and practitioners to confront a problem shared by the U.S. and many partner nations - the radicalization of citizens, whose support to jihadist activities overseas poses security threats to their nation upon return to their homeland.  The group is organizing a countering violent extremism table-top training exercise to unite partner nations in addressing this problem.  The exercise is scheduled to take place in Spring 2015 in London and Forster envisions that the conduct of such exercises will become a sought after program offered by the CTWG and PfPC.

For more information on the PfPC and the CTWG, visit http://www.pfp-consortium.org/