Society Must Be Able to Defend Itself

The terrorist threat will grow and it is important that people be prepared to resist it. "With all the importance of the work of intelligence services, policemen and embedded agents (this is absolutely necessary), the most important thing is the unity of society against terrorists. The society must defend itself," Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Valdai Club, said in an interview to, commenting on the attacks that took place in Spain on August 17.

Terrorism is a systemic problem. No matter what technical measures are taken against terrorists, they will find a way to commit an attack if the entire world does not resist them. "Society must unite and treat this phenomenon with intolerance. This also applies to refugees who live in Europe. It is known that intellectual, material and technical support of terrorism often comes from these groups of people,” Bystritskiy noted.

It is important to realize that the main problem for today is not even nuclear arms control. "We are killed using kitchen knives, simple rental cars. That is, any item can turn into a weapon," he said.

The issue is the unity and vigor of the actions of people. "One can cite the example of an Israeli society where ordinary citizens are armed and can resist terrorists. Any terrorist is a man, and he cannot but fear death at least to some degree. The question here is in the balance of fear,” Bystritskiy said.

He stressed that, dealing with the terrorist threat, both society and the authorities should be as vigilant as possible. "Terrorists are inventive, dangerous, daring, and, like all sorts of partisans, like any desperate resistance, they are quite arrogant. They are hard to catch. However, in many cases, before the terrorist attacks, there was information that should have alarmed the public and the authorities, and especially the secret services, but it was not used for some reason," Bystritskiy said. “In the case of Spain, it is known that the CIA has warned that an attack is possible. The identities of terrorists in Berlin or Nice were also known before they committed the terrorist acts, but they were not monitored as closely as it would have been."

According to Bystritskiy, the citizens should not so much be prepared to repel terrorists, but rather elect the governments that would do that effectively. European legislation often limits the authority of cities in matters of security. Christian Estrozy, the Mayor of Nice, where 86 people were killed during a terrorist attack last year, using a truck, said that European cities lack the means and authority to improve the security situation in the face of the threat of terrorist attacks, Reuters reported. “We won't win the war with the rules of peace,” the mayor said.

Due to the growing threat of terrorism, it was decided to hold a meeting of mayors of several European cities with European Commissioner for Security Julian King at the end of September, to review legislation. “This is a very good initiative,” Bystritskiy said. “City governments must understand what needs to be done. Mayors of cities can play their part. Every movement, every direct discussion about how to resist terror is very important.”