Counterterrorism Solutions in Poland: A Need or Political Calculation

Prof. Aleksandra Gasztold

 After WTC attacks Poland established organizational structures to coordinate and implement anti-terrorism policy (e.g. CAT), introduced new legal instruments in domestic law, strengthened law enforcement capabilities. In 2016 it adopted complex Anti-terrorist Act.The dominant paradigm in combating terrorism treats terrorism as a crime, although in last years it is close to treating political violence in terms of war. Changes in the approach to terrorism and broadening the competences of counterintelligence services, especially towards foreigners, go beyond the solutions adopted in other countries of the region where the threat of terrorism is negligible. The thesis assumes the Anti-Terror Act was deliberately introduced by Law and Justice (PiS) government to include foreigners in operational control without the court's consent and to limit civil rights and freedoms, e.g. freedom of expression. Anti-terrorist regulations, as well as category of terrorism itself, are "a lockpick" enabling the secret services to operate on the border of democratic standards. The basic problem faced by the Polish anti-terrorist system is the lack of effective democratic control over the secret services and its politicization. Transparency is obscured by secrecy and a lack of public discussion. In 2018 the Terrorist Prevention Center for Excellence (TPCoE) in frames of Internal Security Agency was established. Its objectives are: proper diagnosis of factors influencing dangerous radicalization and shaping the Counter-Terrorism awareness in society. TPCoE cooperates with the scientific community and NGO's experts, who are dealing with deprograming. However, it is subordinated to the contemporary political narrative, which promotes the perception of terrorism in external terms. It is  mistakenly assumed that terrorism comes from outside as the phenomenon related to jihadism. Polish authorities underline the risk of migrants and returns of foreign fighters apart from the glaring increase in committing hate crimes by far-right extremists in recent years. Polish suborganizations and individuals has started to be very active in recent years. Nevertheless, they have long-lasting tradition of activity (Falanga, ONR) . Far-right extremists not only from Poland have been using the conflict in the Ukraine as the training ground. Collectively these trends threaten social cohesion within nation state, and  in broaden perspective the existence of the EU.