Pool Re SOLUTIONS Annual Review 2021 - Special Edition


Pool Re SOLUTIONS Annual Review 2021 - Special Edition

Climate change
Despite climate change starting to inform the political dialogue in 2001, very few experts could have foreseen the serious consequences climate change would have on the impact of the drivers of terrorism. Clear evidence is now emerging that climate change is becoming an indirect contributor to terrorism as opposed to just a security concern (for example, inter- and intra-regional disputes over water). Climate change is viewed as a threat multiplier, exacerbating existing problems, causing massive social dislocation and migration, be it in the Sahel or Afghanistan, which provides opportunities for terrorists to coerce or recruit foot soldiers amongst disgruntled or displaced people. More often than not this has the effect of solidifying support around local issues as much as ideological ones. In some instances, climate change rhetoric may be adopted as the primary ideology of a terrorist group or the embracing of terrorist tactics by environmental extremists and Left-wing groups as societies become more vulnerable to radicalisation and extremist mobilisation.

Protect Duty: A response to new and changing threats
More recently, the findings of the 2021 Manchester Arena Enquiry have paved the way for the forthcoming Protect Duty legislation which emanated from Martyn’s Law and is expected to come into effect in the latter part of 2022. The legislation is intended to provide clear guidance on a range of requirements as well as placing legal expectation on businesses and organisations who own property or operate in publicly accessible places, such as arenas, shopping centres and the high street. Protect Duty will be the single biggest change to the UK terrorism risk landscape for a generation and is likely to affect at least 650,000 (Home Office estimate) businesses in the UK, many of which will never have considered the risk of terrorism to their people or property. This will no doubt be challenging for all but the largest and more sophisticated businesses, with business owners and operators facing the largest change to their terrorism liability cover for both Employers’ Liability and Public Liability.

What does the future hold?
Having reflected on my early days patrolling the streets of West Belfast, through to leading and conducting high intensity CT operations, then into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan, and now in the post (so-called) Caliphate era, let me share a few thoughts for the future of countering terrorism.

• In my view, we will never again fight an enemy who tries to fight against our own strengths. The last person to do this was Saddam Hussein in 1991 when he laid out the Iraqi Army in drill like formations on the desert plains. Therefore, we need to combine technological advantage, cunning, and boldness into a winning combination that can defeat an opposition who are comfortable with asymmetry and exploit the flow of technological change as opposed to being constrained by it. It is also possible that state sponsored actors
will conduct asymmetric attacks rather than a state engaging in open warfare.

• The major groups such as Daesh AQ, Al Shabaab, Hezbollah and Boko Haram are still very much alive. They have adapted their tactics and business models to changing circumstances. These actors are also having an impact in emerging and frontier markets, threatening many of the West’s global supply chains within the ‘Global Village’.

• The humiliating withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan has increased the threat of terrorism to Europe and the UK. The possibility of another 9/11 being planned and prepared from Afghanistan cannot be discounted.

• Terrorism is now moving with greater velocity and increasing volatility, exposing our vulnerabilities – be they resource, legal or policy driven. We need to adapt our CT business models in response and make them more dynamic.

• We discussed the rise of Right Wing extremism, often based on white supremacist groups. These groups are now carrying out more attacks in the United States than the jihadists and constitute 20 per cent of cases under investigation by the FBI. Recent statistics for Prevent, the UK government’s counter-extremism programme, showed that for the first time in the programme’s history, referrals made in relation to Right Wing extremism outstripped those for Islamist extremism.

• The trouble is that terrorists and extremists will continue to use tactics, techniques and procedures that exploit gaps and weaknesses in our state and corporate security architecture, as well as divisions in our communities. They will continue to move up the technology curve, and they will succeed until there is an antidote. Part of this solution, as acknowledged by the new Director of MI6, is that his Service is no longer independently capable of staying competitive at a time of rapid technological development. Consequently,
he envisages MI6 working alongside technology companies and other private sector organisations to increase the former’s capabilities presented by newly emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and advanced computing. Genuine collaboration between the public and private sector is now needed if we are to successfully contain the enduring threat posed by extremism and terrorism.

• Next is the growing number of targets of terrorist violence. It is no longer the state or its representatives in diplomacy, police or the military that are the primary target. Rather any group in society that can be stigmatised, such as Jews, Hispanics, LGBT activists or pro-EU liberals and where hatred can be whipped up by conspiracy theories in the social media, are all potential targets.

• Terrorism is linked to armed conflicts and social breakdown within countries. Domestic violence is running at four times the number of war deaths globally and 75 per cent of terrorist casualties occur in just eight countries. These are among the most violent, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Somalia. The macro drivers of climate change, migration, immigration, and population growth are all contributing to a worrying security situation.

• As the definitions of state and state sponsored terrorism, hybrid warfare and terrorism become increasingly blurred it will become progressively harder for CT agencies to counter and constrain physical and virtual attacks against our democratic values, people, and assets. The ambiguity surrounding the definition of terrorism will create further, significant challenges to Pool Re and the broader terrorism (re)insurance market, particularly with resultant protection gap issues.

• In response, we need to be threat actor and peril agnostic in devising security, risk management and resilience plans. In particular, we need to increase the resilience of our physical and virtual supply chains.

• Finally, everyone should acknowledge that there has been a paradigm shift in risk management as a result of Covid-19, and organisations will need to recognise that they have to adapt as they look at implementing new strategies and plans to protect their people, assets, reputation and share value. This includes focussing on strategic tail risk management, as well as the day-to-day risk management activities and asking the question whether they have the appropriate insurance cover in place for the full spectrum of perils out there.

To close
In conclusion, especially after recent events in Afghanistan, I would argue that the threat from global terrorism and extremism to the UK and West is now greater than it was pre 9/11. The threat is now more diverse, persistent, complex, and moves and evolves at a pace not seen before. I strongly believe that in order to prepare for, and become more resilient to terrorism, all sectors of society need to think differently, act differently, and respond differently to the threats facing us today and for the foreseeable future.

I have witnessed a real appetite in the private sector to engage with and level up to these new threats, seeking more frequent collaboration with the CT Police and Security Services. Collaboration across sectors, public and private, is crucial for our safety and security, where all of us have a ‘community responsibility’ for our individual and collective security. Government cannot contain the threat on its own. At the end of the day, this is about looking after our people, duty of care, protecting the bottom line and improving our resilience against extremism and terrorism.

I don’t believe the current situation will improve for some time; we can and should expect more attacks in the UK and further afield. We all have a duty, and I would suggest public responsibility, towards our employees, communities, families and the next generation to better understand the context of today’s uncertain, unstable and asymmetric world. Paraphrasing TE Lawrence again, we need to learn to eat more soup with knives and try and ‘synchronise this asymmetry’, using all ways and means to defeat those who are intent on doing us harm.

About the author
Ed Butler is the Chief Resilience Officer at Pool Re, the government backed terrorism reinsurance scheme as well a Senior Independent Advisor to the Board of EDF Energy Generation.


He has extensive experience spanning nearly 40 years of international relations, counter terrorism, intelligence, security and risk management much of which was gained during 24 years on front line service with the British Army.

He was privileged to command 22 SAS over 9.11 and was Commander of British Forces Afghanistan in 2006, before retiring as a Brigadier in 2008.



View the latest
digital issue