Raheel Sharif says Islamic Military Alliance to assist member countries in anti-terrorism operations
RIYADH: Military Commander of The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) Raheel Sharif on Sunday said the IMCTC will assist member countries in their counter terrorism operations through intelligence sharing and capacity building, ARY News reported.
“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,” he said during the first meeting of the defence ministers of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim counter-terrorism alliance in Riyadh.
This is the first official meeting of the 41-member Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, formed in 2015 under the auspices of Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“This alliance is not against any country, sect or religion. The basic aim of this alliance is to take measures against terrorism,” said former Pakistan Army chief.
Saudi Arabia vows new Islamic alliance ‘will wipe terrorists from the earth’
Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince vowed to “pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth” as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance.
“In past years, terrorism has been functioning in all of our countries… with no coordination” among national authorities, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Saudi defence minister, said in his keynote speech at the gathering in Riyadh.
“This ends today, with this alliance.”
The alliance meeting in Riyadh brings together Muslim or Muslim-majority nations including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Turkey.
Retired Pakistani general Raheel Sharif has been appointed commander-in-chief.
‘Distorted image of Islam’
The alliance aims to “mobilise and coordinate the use of resources, facilitate the exchange of information and help member countries build their own counter-terrorism capacity,” Sharif said.
While the alliance officially includes Qatar, which is the target of a six-month boycott led by Saudi Arabia, organisers in Riyadh said no Qatari officials were present at the meeting.
Qatar’s flag was also absent.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain abruptly cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing the emirate of being too close to Iran and supporting Islamist extremism.
Qatar denies the allegations.
Egypt, which sent a military official and not its defence minister to the Sunday meeting, is reeling from a Friday attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people during prayer time.
While IS has not claimed responsibility, Egyptian authorities say the organisation is the main suspect as the mosque is associated with followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam, whom IS has branded heretics.
Prince Mohammed said Friday’s “painful event” was a reminder of the “danger of terrorism and extremism”.
“Beyond the killing of innocent people and the spread of hatred, terrorism and extremism distort the image of our religion,” he said.
Since his sudden appointment as crown prince, Prince Mohammed has moved to consolidate power, announcing crackdowns on both terrorism and corruption.
A corruption purge saw around 200 Saudi elites including princes, ministers and business tycoons arrested or sacked earlier this month.
— IMCTC English (@imctc_en) November 26, 2017