‘Extremist groups promoting terror beliefs must face law’

With the current developments in the Middle East and Afghanistan, press coverage of terrorism suggests that the term refers to the actions of large groups such as al-Qaida, Army of Islam and Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan.

However, there is a broader definition. It is crucial to understand how Kuwaiti law defines and deals with such groups and how criminal sanctions can be brought against people who promote the ideas of terrorist organisations or individuals, particularly after the recent promotion of Taliban ideologies by certain antagonistic Islamists in Kuwait.

There are many international classifications for terrorist organizations. One of the main ones is issued by the US Secretary of State in Section 219 of the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The classification plays a critical role in combating terrorism. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)countries have also issued a list of terrorist organizations.

However, Kuwaiti criminal law does not use a specific list of terrorist organizations to make decisions on criminal acts, using instead a broader definition of any terrorist group that conducts terrorist acts.

The law explains that promoting the ideas of any terrorist organization would lead to a prison sentence of up to 10 years, as per article 10 of Law No. 63 of 2015 regarding information technology crimes. Financing terrorist organizations carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years, according to Article 3 and Article 29 of Law No. 106 of 2013 regarding the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Law. Under these laws, merely promoting the ideas of a terrorist organization leads to a severe penalty.

The definition of a terrorist organization is a group that kills or attempts to kill civilians or to inflict severe injuries on them to intimidate a population or force a government or organization to do or refrain from doing any action as per article 1 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Law.

Supporting the ideas of any group that kills or seriously harms civilians is a felony. The proposal of some of the Parliament members of issuing a list of terrorist organizations by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a step in the right direction. However, the Parliament must bear in mind that such a list would be illustrative rather than comprehensive so that the act of promoting the ideas of terrorist groups can be interpreted in a broader sense to avoid offenders escaping conviction on a technicality.
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