Reshaping the world’s responses to the terror matrix

Source– The post is based on the article “Reshaping the world’s responses to the terror matrix” published in The Hindu on 23rd December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- International relations

Relevance– Issues related to global terrorism

News– The article explains the changing form of terrorism across the world. It explains the response of world leaders to this threat and the need to change the strategy for fighting against terrorism.

How has the concept of terrorism changed in recent times?

It was as at the beginning of this century that the world witnessed several landmark terror attacks. Two that stood out were the September 11, 2001 terror attack in New York, and the November 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai.

Both in their own way reflected the kind of paradigmatic changes that were taking place in the practice of violence. The 9/11 attack heralded what came to be regarded as ‘new age terrorism’. Mumbai underscored the dangers of state-sponsored terrorism. The cognitive map of terrorism had changed with these attacks.

Some major terror attacks took place in 2015-16. The attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, Bardo Museum attack in Tunis, Istanbul attack. They signalled the rise of new terrorist entities such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

During 2016, the IS launched several more spectacular attacks across Asia, Europe and North Africa. The intensity has since declined to an extent. But, these are indications of new complicated patterns of relationships among various terrorist entities.

Terrorism remains the omnipresent threat that it has always been. Africa and northwest Asia appear to have become the main hunting ground of the al-Qaeda and IS terrorists.

Linkages among terrorist groups have strengthened. It was evident when al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri was identified as living in Kabul in a ‘safe house’ maintained by the Haqqani Network.

Al-Qaeda’s activities in particular are becoming more decentralised. It is finding fertile grounds in the Sahel region of Africa and in Eastern Africa, apart from its salience in Afghanistan. Taliban is among al-Qaeda’s firmest allies today.

How is the world responding to threats of terrorism?

The world has been witnessing a lot of meetings and conferences on the issue of countering terrorism worldwide. The list includes meetings of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, the No Money for Terror Conference, and an Interpol Conference.

India and Pakistan have continued to hurl invectives at each other instead of finding ways to cooperate to deal with the terrorism menace.

What can be the implications of this cold response?

The declining level of serious terrorist incidents do not translate into a decline in terrorism. It is the small incidents that portray what could happen in the near future.

It would be unfortunate if counter-terrorism experts across India don’t pay attention to many recent terror attacks, such as the one in Coimbatore and Mangalore attacks.

The incidents may appear relatively insignificant, but are symptomatic of growing radicalisation. These indicate that a sizable base is being built in the southern region, which could lead to the creation of organisations on the model of the Indian Mujahideen.

What is the way forward to tackle the threat of terrorism?

Most needed by world leaders is not to accept all declarations of a decline in levels of terrorism at face value. They should not treat some terrorists as good and others as bad.

There is a need to reactivate the proposal for the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that has been languishing in the offices of the UN and finalise the list of items needed to check terrorism globally. Once the CCIT is accepted by the UN, the war on terror would gain a new salience.

Counter-terrorism agencies the world over need to hone their skills and capabilities on how best to counter ‘new age terrorism’.

There is also a clear need for counter-terrorism agencies across the world to function in a more coordinated manner, exchanging both intelligence and tactics.

Agencies need to take stock of the newer patterns of terror such as ‘enabled terrorism’ and ‘remote control terrorism’.

Counter-terrorism experts will again need to enlarge their expertise to accommodate multi-domain operations, and undertake terror ‘gaming’.

Print Friendly and PDF