Islamic anti-terror coalition is not against any country, sect or religion, says commander

Saudi Lt. Gen. Abdullah Al-Saleh (right) and Gen. Raheel Sharif, the military commander of the IMCTC, attend a press conference during the first meeting of the defense ministers of the 41-member coalition in Riyadh on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2017
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Islamic anti-terror coalition is not against any country, sect or religion, says commander

RIYADH: Gen. Raheel Sharif, the military commander of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), said on Sunday the coalition’s sole objective is to fight against terrorism and it is not against any country, sect or religion.
At the IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council in Riyadh, Gen. Sharif said: “A number of our member countries are under tremendous pressure while fighting well established terrorist organizations due to capacity shortages of their armed forces and law enforcement agencies.”
The coalition will act as a platform to assist member countries in their counterterrorism operations through intelligence sharing and capacity building, he said.
“The vision of IMCTC is to have a collective response against terrorism capable of leading and coordinating the efforts of member countries with high efficiency and effectiveness,” said Pakistan’s former military chief.
Explaining the mechanism of the coalition, he said it is divided into four main domains.
The first domain, Gen. Sharif said, will focus on countering terrorist Ideology. “Effort will be made to preserve and promote Islam’s universal message of moderation, tolerance and compassion, by creating intellectual, psychological and social impact to counter the perverted radical views.”
He said the IMCTC will also develop, produce and publish factual media content for dialogue to correct perceptions and discredit radical and extremist narratives.
“Next is terrorist financing. IMCTC will endeavor to dry up all types of financial support to terrorist organizations,” the retired Pakistani general said.
Responding to a query by Arab News about the likelihood of the coalition brokering a deal with social media companies in order to remove terrorist and extremist content, the IMCTC military commander said: “The collaboration is currently taking place. Besides fighting ideology, and denouncing the terrorist spirit, a lot of collaborations is going on.” 
The IMCTC military commander said to improve coordination, joint exercise will be conducted based on near real-time scenarios demanding quick response and promoting a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility to fight terrorism.
In addition, IMCTC will create a state-of-the-art intelligence and information-sharing platform to counter terrorist networks their facilitators, abettors, sympathizers and financiers. After correlating and incisive analysis of critical information, actionable intelligence will be put in place, he said.
Responding to a query by Arab News about the likelihood of the coalition brokering a deal with social media companies in order to remove terrorist and extremist content, the IMCTC military commander said: “The collaboration is currently taking place. Besides fighting ideology, and denouncing the terrorist spirit, a lot of collaborations is going on.”


Interior Ministry is a pioneer in smart services: Saudi minister

More than 350 experts attended the cybersecutiry meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 22 November 2018
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Interior Ministry is a pioneer in smart services: Saudi minister

  • The ministry “is part of the country’s work system of cybersecurity”

Millions of local internet users are making the most of the Ministry of Interior’s smart service portal every day. Its digital transformation program experience will be a global example to follow.

This was stressed by Assistant Minister of Interior for Technology Affairs Prince Dr. Bandar bin Abdullah Al-Mishari Al-Saud, the chief guest at a cybersecurity meeting organized by the Jeddah branch of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS International) at the Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Higher Commission for Industrial Security.

The ministry “is part of the country’s work system of cybersecurity, which has recently become an independent government entity. It is responsible for planning and supervising cybersecurity. Therefore, we fully cooperate with it. Thus, the ministry is keen to support all national platforms, particularly the national cybersecurity authority,” the minister said in the meeting, in which specialists from the National Cyber Security Center and the Communications and Information Technology Commission participated.

In a 30-minute speech, the prince addressed an audience of more than 350, stressing that the Ministry of Interior has been digitized from the start.

“The National Information Center (NIC) was established 40 years ago as the first information center in the Middle East. Digitization in the Ministry of Interior started at that time. The founding of the NIC synchronized with the establishment of King Saud University’s College of Computer and Information Sciences, as the first college of its kind in the region, as far as I know,” he said. The college was one of the few institutions in the world at that time, he said. The ministry and King Saud University collaborated to establish the College of Computer and Information Sciences.

Prince Bandar pointed out that data have become “a commodity, an industry, wealth. All forms of data, in fact, have become an integrated industry and a national treasure on all levels.” Data and information, if used properly, can make a big leap in our life. If neglected, he said, they will be a burden on societies.

He noted that the portal of the Saudi Ministry of Interior is a pioneer in the region in smart services and solutions, pointing out that the ministry’s platforms and initiatives are used by millions of users every day. “It has made outstanding achievements at all levels, including passports, traffic and other services,” he said. The prince stressed in his lecture that the Interior Ministry is a leader in adopting technology in nearly all the services it provides.

“The ministry started issuing entry/exit visas electronically in 2009. It also introduced the fingerprint system and the smart national ID cards in the same year. A year later, it introduced the Absher platform,” he said.

“Absher will soon launch a new service called ‘Absher Government’ which will provide governmental entities with the services they need. We will also add more services and technologies to the Absher platform to meet people’s needs and ease their lives,” the assistant minister said. They were thinking of making Absher a giant platform like Google, he said.

The use of electronic services and smart solutions is the backbone for future government, he said. “Any economic, developmental and social success will be through depending mainly on these elements. We, in Saudi Arabia, have made great advances in this regard, in a way that complies with the country’s Vision 2030. Our achievements in this field harmonize with the rapid increase in deploying technology and knowledge.” 

The leadership has a clear vision and ambitious goals that will put Saudi Arabia among the developed countries in the world.

Replying to an Arab News question about how we can successfully manage the unstoppable flow of applications that may damage our cultural identity or do harm to our social fabric, the assistant minister said clear legislation can help control information and preserve the right of information owners, and this what will soon happen after the national privacy system is issued.

The minister said the total population of Saudi Arabia exceeded 33.2 million. “More than 30.2 million use the internet and 25 million are active internet users, and 18 million of Saudis are active mobile users.”