It is often said that Terrorism has nothing to do with religion. That is patently not true at least to the extent that a cult can be termed a religion. Certainly without fail, all terrorists acknowledge a religious motivation for their acts whether it’s blowing up their underwear or shoes in planes over the US or hacking to death infidels on the streets of our homelands.
What the authorities mean to say (laudably) is that Terrorism does not equate with Islam for fear of tarring the whole Islamic community with the same brush. I have written an interesting article on the need to be accurate in describing the terrorist threat: https://www.moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=134:islam-the-religion-vs-the-wahhabi-salafi-takfiri-cult&Itemid=487
Not all Muslims are terrorists but some of them clearly are. What’s more worryingly is that many millions (not just hundreds) are potentially terrorists with very little radicalizing and indeed some have become terrorists very soon after ‘conversion’ to ‘Islam’.
Look to any Islamist street demonstration or riots against the West over the past 14 years (see picture as example of protests over the Danish cartoon incident) and you see similar hatred of the West based on the fingers pointed to Allah and the slight against their religion as a justification for their outrage. A convert after saying that there is only one God, Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet must then try and be a good Muslim. However how Muslim ought to live his life (especially in the West) is where the problem of identity, self-esteem and civic responsibility to adhere to the laws of the land arise. That’s where the extremist Salafi cult comes in and creates a tear in the social fabric and poisons the mind of some Muslims and where counter terrorism and anti-radicalization measures must interdict future terrorism mindsets.
The extremists Muslims (those that want to follow a literal and strict adherence to the warrior ways of the first Muslim caliphs) give the young Muslim men the ideological blueprint on how to be a good Muslim. These extreme fundamentalists are called Salafis/Whabbi’s (or in Indian sub-continent Deobandi/Taliban). Whilst there is a quietest branch of these religious Islamic fundamentalists, at the extreme end of the spectrum are the ‘Takfiri’ (those who see any deviation from their ideology as apostasy and all who practice falsity deserve death. Therefore the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi glories in terrorism (especially if by Allah’s providence they can be also martyred at the same time) and the barbaric acts we have all witnessed in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and on the streets of New York, Boston, Toulouse and Woolwich, Train stations in London and Madrid, bars in Bali, the primary schools of Beslan or the concert halls of Moscow.
ISIS like the Woolwich slayer, Michael Adebolajo is just following the Salafi Takfiri script as written by its ideologues like The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, Anwar al-Awlaki, Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza (al-Masri) , Anjem Choudary, Trewvor Brooks (Abu Izzadeen), Mizanur Rahman, Mohammed Achamlane, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, and Abu Musab Al Suri, al-Bagdadi etc .
It is good and admirable that leaders make a distinction between mainstream Islam and the Islamists but it is wrong to say terrorism of the Jihadist kind has “nothing to do with religion” or religious ideology. The population will switch off this narrative as it’s obvious that Jihadist terrorism is inspired by something in Islam. What the people do not understand however is that it’s an extreme sect within Islam. When the next horrific Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri terrorist attack happens, like the planned random beheading of person on the Streets of Australia, there will be a backlash against the Muslim community as a whole, especially those that are ostensibly fundamentalist (such as men with beards and long white robes and women in black burqas).Also there will be little hope in tacking the extremist pro-terrorism ideology of the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri’s if security agencies monitor potential terrorists too broadly which will only tend to alienate the Muslim community who will feel under siege.
World leaders have finally come to the conclusion that civilization must not only attack ISIS on the ground but also its ideology. President Obama, Australian PM Abbott and UK PM Cameron have come to call ISIS a ‘death cult’. This too whilst an accurate descriptor is not helpful in the degradation of their ideology and ability to radicalize homegrown terrorists or fighters for their land wars in the Middle East. Now how does one attack a ghost death cult that has nothing to do with Islam? It is not possible. There is no ‘Death Cult’ website, bookshop or headquarters. The leader of ISIS al-Bagdadi, has a PHD in Islamic studies and would but for his barbaric methods in Syria and Iraq be considered as an ‘Islamic Scholar’. So it’s not about Islamists having a shallow understanding of Islam. It’s about a sect within Islam itself.
Al Qaeda too, once a formal and structured terrorist group has become after years of degradation, more of an ideal and an enabler than a formal group. Again you won’t find an Al Qaeda bookshop or HQ. However you find the same ideology behind their motivation and justification for terrorism against the West.
The ideology of all the terrorist organizations or lone wolves that have or want to commit terrorist acts against the West whatever they call themselves is a cult of Islam that can be correctly and accurately described and called the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi. That is the one ideology that is behind all the fronts and brand names like: Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and ISIS ‘al Muhajiroun’, ‘Islam4UK’, ‘Sharia4Belguim’, Forsane Alizza, ’Force de Défense Musulmane sur Internet’, ‘Sharia4France’, Al-Haramain , Benevolence International Foundation, Wafa al Igatha al Islamia , Hizb ut-Tahrir, al-Gheraba, Muslims Against Crusades, et al.
Underscoring this point is the life sentence for terrorism this week handed down by a New York court of Osama bin Laden’s son in law, Sulaiman Abu Ghayth (pictured far left next to OBL).
Abu Ghayth was jailed for life September 2014 for conspiring on a planned second wave of 9/11 attacks. What was his previous occupation and driving motivation when planning more 9/11 attacks on the West? He was a religious instruction teacher at school and an imam at a Kuwaiti Mosque. He was a ’religious’ man but of a fanatical Salafi sect of Islam, the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri sect. In court Abu Ghayth denied he was an al-Qaida recruiter and claimed his ‘role was a religious one aimed at encouraging all Muslims to rise up against their oppressors’. Speaking in Arabic through a translator, Abu Ghayth also told the New York court, “today when you are shackling my hands, and intend to bury me alive, you are unleashing the hands of thousands of Muslims and they will join the rally of free men.” In his March 2014 trial prosecutors showed jurors a 50-second clip of a five-minute videotape of Abu Ghaith from October 9, 2001, in which he threatens that “America must know that the storm of airplanes will not abate, with God’s permission.” Alluding to martyrdom, he said there were “youths who are yearning to death just as Americans yearn to live…. “We strongly advise Muslims in America and the Britain, the children and those who reject unjust American policies, not to board aircraft and we advise them not to live in high-rises and tall buildings.”
When you see pictures of ISIS fighters what are they gesturing with their hands? They are pointing with a finger toward heaven/Allah, in whose name they slaughter the innocents. In fact they are brainwashing their children from a very young age to equate submission to God with terrorism as the picture of ISIS children shows.
What is on their black flag but religious symbolism that all Muslims would easily recognize?
What is the essential message of ISIS and all such Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri groups and individual fanatics? That Islam is ISIS, God inspired, God sanctioned and God predestined to rule over all with their version of Sharia law. What did Mohamed Merah say just before he gunned down little Jewish children in Toulouse France: “This will bring France to its knees before Allah”:
What do they do before they blow themselves up, execute someone or fire a weapon but a religious salutation Allahu Akbar (Arabic: الله أكبر meaning “God is greater” and in context of the salutation before committing violence…’ (their ideology, their God, their faith’ is greater than the infidel non-believer/apostates or their errant religion or man-made democracies).
The Islamists whether they are ISIS fighters or lone wolf be-headers on the Streets of our homelands are brainwashed by the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Jihadi cult to believe their barbarous acts are sanctioned by the Quran and the example of their Prophet, Mohammed in the way in which he went about securing temporal power in the Middle East and North Africa in the seventh century creating the First Islamic Caliphate. To deal with the terrorist threat humanity has to deal with their ideology. The people best placed to do that are the vast majority of Muslims. To engage with that community, we should not speak for them when terrorism happens. We should give the Muslim majority a voice.
George Bush or President Obama saying Islam is a religion of peace is not the best way to go about the PR war on ISIS Al Qaeda or other Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri terrorists. They must call the terrorists by name of their ideology. Islamism is not accurate appropriate or helpful. It is the Wets lazy shorthand. When Western leaders refer to them they should use their correct descriptor Wahhabi Salafi Takfir Jihadi or WSTJ…that will cover the fighters and supports of ISIS, Al Qaeda ,Boko Haram, etc. and also the hate preachers, supporters and potential fifth column terrorists in our homelands. Our leaders and media should also let the voice of moderate (and majority) Islam be heard immediately after the terrorist attacks occur as we need to empower the Muslim community to inoculate their people from the WSTJ Ebola type contagion and be seen to condemn these attacks and also be seen by the non-Muslim fellow citizens as not condoning terrorism against their fellow citizens by apparent silence.
Until the Western leaders and media appreciate that one cannot understand (let alone defeat) ISIS or Al Qaeda without defeating their ideology, there is little hope. Their implacable hatred of the West is based on their genuinely and fanatically held religious views. There will be no end to terrorism of the Jihadist/Islamist kind, in fact it will only get worse,(especially in our homelands) even if ISIS is bombed back to the stone age unless the West recognizes the terrorist problem as associated with the extreme Salafi sect of Islam and their ambition to hijack that religion for the imposition of Sharia and world domination by WSTJ Muslims as the vanguard of an Islamic ‘Third Reich’ type Caliphate.
Wahhbai Salafi preachers like The Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman have been at the forefront of radicalization and terrorist plots in the Middle East and the West for decades.
The arrests this week of Choudary and his ilk are long overdue and should be repeated around the world against all radicalizers and advocates and supporters of terrorist ideology irrespective of their protests that they are ‘religious men’. What is needed now is a microphone and camera in front of Muslim leaders welcoming the arrests of these evil men who threaten their communities as well as the countries within which they live. The Islamic leaders will speak the truth and say these men are from a minority sect Islam which they and most Muslims find abhorrent and against their principles and beliefs as ‘good Muslims’. Unless this happens neither we nor the Muslim youth can recognize what being a good Muslim is or is not and our security in the West will remain precarious. Counter rsadicalization in civil society is therefore more important than Counter Terrorism laws in defeating ISIS and Al Qaeda. Choudray’s 2IC, Abu Izzadeen told then UK home secretary John Reid he was an ‘enemy of Islam’ after the minister asked Muslims to step in if they thought children were being radicalised.
This is where the real war on terrorism needs to focus. Had the UK and other Western nations acted earlier to clean out the vipers den of al Muhajiroun’, ‘Islam4UK’ etc, ISIS may never have had the support of foreign fighters recruited from the West. Ideology is important. Politicians and the media must act responsibly and honestly in reporting the religious sect ideology behind terrorism so that it can be interdicted and the fabric of our multi0cultural societies not be rent by a backlash of the community who no longer listen to their leaders rhetoric.
Balancing Counter-Terrorism Measures with International Human Rights
In his statement at a special meeting of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee on 6 March 2003, the Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan has noted:
“….Our responses to terrorism, as well as our efforts to thwart it and prevent it, should uphold the human rights that terrorists aim to destroy. Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law are essential tools in the effort to combat terrorism – not privileges to be sacrificed at a time of tension.”
Acts of terrorism are one of the gravest forms of human rights violations that can potentially shake up the spirit of society. People acquire a hateful approach towards the terrorists and those involved in terrorist activities. Moreover, governments do not hesitate to take all possible hardest actions against terrorism to secure their citizens and nation. It can be understood that any counter-terrorist measure taken to satisfy this sentiment of society will more likely be appreciated rather than being criticized. In the wake of this situation, it becomes crucial for the state and its agencies to observe the human rights laws while enacting and exercising the anti-terrorist measures (OHCHR 2008). It has been found that there exists a continuous struggle between national security interests and the protection of the human rights of individuals. In numerous cases, European and American Courts have preferred human rights over the draconian legislative provisions to curb terrorism. When one is dealing with terrorism, measures taken for counter-terrorism shall give high regard to human rights. If States fail to achieve this balance, they will ultimately defeat the success of their counter-actions. Thus, it is to be remembered that one should not become a demon that they are fighting.
Understanding International Human Rights
Human rights are the core universal values available to every individual and group being a human. It provides fundamental freedoms to individuals and protects them from the arbitrary use of power by the state (OHCHR 2008). International human rights are the rights reflected under various core international human rights treaties and customary international law. It includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and others. Moreover, the prohibition of genocide, torture, and slavery is widely recognized as peremptory norms from which no derogation is possible. All the concerned state parties are under an obligation to protect human rights enshrined under these instruments. They shall not take any action in the breach of their commitments.
The immense importance of human rights raises a few considerations before the state. Whether human rights can be compromised in the name of national security? How should states deal with a situation where human rights fall between their national security or other interests? This short note will try to reflect on these essential issues.
What Is Terrorism?
There exists no universal definition of the term ‘terrorism’ (Acharya 2009); however, General Assembly has tried to define it as “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them” (UNGA 1995). This term finds its mention under International Humanitarian Law that prohibits ‘terrorism’ and ‘acts of terrorism’ committed during an armed attack (Kaponyi 2007). During peacetime, such acts are dealt with under national laws, international criminal law, and human rights laws. Terrorism has been observed as a criminal act rather than an act of war (Acharya 2009); however, this definition is still evolving.
Terrorism is a controversial term, and its meaning differs from context to context and time to time. A person or group who acts as a terrorist for some might be a hero for others. However, it should be presumed that all such violence and destruction that constitutes terrorism and terrorist activities are done in the breach of human rights. These activities cause severe injury to the life and liberty of the individuals and the unity and integrity of the nation (Kaponyi 2007). In the interest of humanity, the state needs to adopt counter-terrorism measures in its legislation and enforcement actions to prevent and suppress terrorist activities while observing the rule of law.
Interaction Between Counter-Terrorism Measures And International Human Rights
There exists an unavoidable link between counter-terrorism measures and international human rights (Kielsgard 2013). Acts of terrorism provide legal justification to the threatened state to take actions that can cause severe human rights abuses. The interplay between these two concepts aims to address three dimensions of human rights: concerning the victims of the terrorist attacks, concerning the suspected terrorists, and concerning the people subjected to terrorism (Kaponyi 2007). The first category requires the right to life and dignity and the right to justice. The second category talks about the right to life, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the right to a fair trial, freedom from arbitrary detention, torture and degrading treatment, and the right to asylum. The third category talks about the right to life, right to information, freedom of association, strike, and expression. It is to be noted that the list of these rights are not exclusive and may include other related rights. Therefore, the state’s actions must not defy its international human rights commitments in the guise of national security. There have been instances when courts have curtailed unnecessary and vague security measures found in infringement of human rights.
In Hamdan v Rumsfeld US Supreme Court held that the structure and procedures of the Military Commissions been set up to try detainees of Guantanamo Bay violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Common Article 3 of Four Geneva Conventions, 1949. It was a landmark case that restrained the Presidential power vis-à-vis the treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners (Philips 2006). In Hamdi v Rumsfeld Supreme Court rules, US citizens detained as enemy combatants have the right to due process and the ability to challenge their enemy combatant status. However, in Rasul v Bush Supreme Court provided that it has jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions foreign nationals detained at Guantanamo Bay. This case attracted several petitions from foreign citizens challenging the basis of their detention. To prevent a large number of petitions from detainees, the US government came up with Military Commission Act in 2006 that bars foreign nationals from challenging their detention that was ultimately held unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in the case of Boumediene v Bush. It can be observed that the Supreme Court has generally prioritized human rights over its national security issues (Wald 2010).
Similarly, the Court of Appeal in Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department found arbitrary ‘stop powers used against journalistic information’ contained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, 2000 of the UK to violate freedom of expression provided under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In another case of Gillan and Quinton v United Kingdom European Court of Human Rights held blanket power to stop and search under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, 2000 to violate the right to respect for private life that later got repealed and replaced by the legislature.
Counter-terrorism measures provide incentives to the government authorities to reinterpret their law justifying interrogation, detention, and ‘targeted killing’ (Sanders 2017). It provides immunity and legitimacy to their acts of human rights abuses with the least accountability. Under its ‘War on Terror’ against the Taliban Government in Afghanistan, the US has denied applying human rights and humanitarian law to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and termed them as “enemy combatant” (Duffy 2005). However, from the International Humanitarian Law perspective, it can be counter-argued that the US is detaining combatants by creating a category based on a weak claim supported by reliable facts. They are arrested for an indefinite period without providing them the rights of prisoners. From the International Human Rights approach, a State is obliged to fulfill its international commitments over the persons who are present under its authority and control. This global outreach of the subject founds its applicability even in the areas beyond national jurisdiction, thus holding the US responsible for Guantanamo Bay that lies outside US territory.
Counter-terrorism measures are abused on the pretext of discrimination (Kaponyi 2007). General Assembly Resolution and UN Council on Human Rights Resolution prohibit discrimination that treats people from one ethnic or racial origin, religion or belief, disability different from the others. The creation of plausible legality of human rights violations by the state establishes a requirement to promote human rights (Sanders 2017). Where the UN General Assembly and Security Council have taken several counter-terrorism measures to combat terrorism, UN bodies also aim to respect human rights even in emergency cases. Law is undoubtedly evident that counter-terrorism measures cannot be fulfilled without considering human rights (Kielsgard 2013). States should respect human rights along with its counter-terrorism and security measures.
The real issue lies in determining the legality of counter-terrorist measures that occasionally fall short of the state’s international commitments under its human rights regime. It has been observed that the absence of any definition of terrorism provides ample scope for the state to interpret the term ‘terrorism’ with a political bias favoring its interest (Kaponyi 2007). Further, a State can easily justify its actions in the name of national security that denies human rights to the individual and ultimately raises questions on the rule of law (Duffy 2005). Under the case laws, judges have shown an inclination to respect the international commitments on human rights regime. However, this cannot be said affirmatively for the legislature and enforcing authorities. It is not the counter-terrorism measures, but their abuse is problematic. Arbitrary and poorly-implemented counter-terrorism measures have their consequences. Co-lateral damage must be proportional. Since both counter-terrorism measures and human rights are important issues for a country; thus, it is essential that a balance be struck between them. It should be noted that fight against terror and the observance of human rights must go hand in hand. The State’s responsibility is to respect human rights and not use counter-terrorism measures as a justification for their violation.
- Acharya, Upendra D. (2009): “War on Terror or Terror Wars: The Problem in Defining Terrorism,” Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol 37, pp 653.
- Boumediene v Bush (2008): 553 U.S. 723
- Duffy, Helen (2005): The “War on Terror” and the Framework of International Law, Cambridge University Press
- General Assembly, Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, A/RES/58/187 (2003)
- General Assembly Resolution, U.N. Doc. A/RES/49/60 (Feb. 17, 1995)
- Gillan and Quinton v United Kingdom (2010): ECHR 28 (2010)
- Hamdan v Rumsfeld (2006): 548 U.S. 557 (2006)
- Hamdi v Rumsfeld (2004): 542 U.S. 507
- Kaponyi, Elisabeth K. (2007): “Upholding Human Rights in the fight against terrorism,” Society and Economy, Vol 29, pp 1.
- Kielsgard, Mark D. (2013): “Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: Uneasy Marriage, Uncertain Future,”Journal Jurisprudence, Vol 19, pp 163.
- Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2014): EWHC 255 (2014);
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008): “Human Rights, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism” <https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Factsheet32EN.pdf>
- Philips, Dennis (2006): “Hamdan v Rumsfeld: The Bush Administration and ‘The Rule of Law’,” Australian Journal of American Studies Vol 25, pp 40.
- Rasul v Bush (2004): 542 U.S. 466
- Sanders, Rebecca (2017): “Human rights abuses at the limits of the law: Legal instabilities and vulnerabilities in the ‘Global War on Terror’,” Review of International Studies Vol 44, pp 2.
- UN Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2003/68: Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, E/CN.4/RES/2003/68 (2003)
- Wald, Patricia (2010): “National Security versus Human Rights: An uneven playing field,” American Society of International Law, Vol 104, pp 458.
Pakistan’s fight against terrorism inside its borders
When Pakistan first appeared on the map, it had little to no idea how its neighbors would harness its land. It came quite clear after the separation of East Pakistan that the land of the pure would require more foresight in dealing with those around it. They might even need to fight to maintain peace on its soil.
Since the birth of Pakistan, it has been subjected to different fights to maintain its status. With all its struggles, finding peace for the valley, and balancing its economy, the country has faced many turbulences. It has proven itself against all sorts of malicious endeavors. Some that had the potential to harm its name in the international society.
It was 9/11 that not only shook the whole world but this nook of the Asian continent as it plunged into instability. It seems like someone was busy hiding a terrorist network in Pakistan. From terrorism attacks on the APS school to the attack on the five-star PC in Gwadar. The country has been struggling to keep its face clear even though it has suffered from Islamophobia in the international community.
Pakistan and its army have been heading strong and determined to keep the citizens of Pakistan safe along with protecting the people on the globe who accept the hostility of the country to open its land for tourism. Since 2010 the country has been busy weeding out terrorist organizations. Many casualties have been taken as the roots of terrorism were attacked. The blood of martyrs has colored the land, but success has come in bits and pieces. The country was not facing armed militia but organized troops funded by the neighbors.
The terrorist funding trail reveals India’s involvement. These are no more allegations, and evidence of 22 billion PKR expenditure for the nourishment of such networks in Pakistan are available. This is quite a question, especially when keeping in mind the economy of the country. Besides, Narendra Modi’s support for extremism is simply a dot that needs to be connected.
The attack on APS was the boiling point for the whole nation. When every eye cried. Investigations were made to let the world know that Pakistan will not tolerate terrorism of any sort. Peace will be kept, and any intention against it will be answered with unpleasant outcomes. It has been, and the number of terrorism incidents has remarkably gone down.
As per the UN charter, the intrusive involvement by patronizing any country’s domestic issues is a clear violation. With ISIS contributing their share to terrorism in further Asia, it has been investigated that Indian intelligence agencies are trying to knit a scarf of deception by linking ISIS by creating “Daesh-e-Pakistan.”Adding firmness to their plan, they have already admitted 30 Indian militants in this organization and relocated them to camps along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Two Indian agency representatives were responsible for handing over these militants to Daesh commander Sheikh Abdul Rahim.
The geographical advantage that Pakistan holds brought a ray of sunshine with the CPEC project. But as the country started working on its economy’s progress, the state has witnessed countable heart-wrenching fights against terrorist groups. While Pakistan struggles to keep global security and safety and fights against incendiary of this terrorism, Indian state policy has internalized terrorism as an instrument. With Modi’s incumbency, the Kashmir valley has burned, but Muslims in Delhi face their wrath.
Hence, the policy was not a joke, it was a serious mission, and satisfactory amounts were sent to sub-nationals through humanitarian assistance to cause unrest in Balochistan. With Peshawar police attack on 11 May 2020 to target killing and eventually linking with a suicide attack on Mardan Judicial Complex in 2016. Pakistan has been highly receptive to all intelligence gathered to averting a colossal attack on 14 August 2020. Maj Fermin Das, an official from Indian intelligence, was found to be the mastermind behind the planning of this attack. This person was operating from Afghanistan, which failed obviously!
It’s been no secret to everyone with Indian involvement in creating instability in Jammu Kashmir. Gilgit Baltistan is not far from it, sharing the same boundaries. Out of 60 implanted IEDs, 22 were successfully diffused, but 38 exploded and took 13 civilian lives and 48 military personnel. The explosives used in those IEDs have been traced back to, you guessed it, India.
No matter how many times Pakistan will try to keep out the pest from its soil, they seem to be crawling back inside. Safety is not just the issue of Pakistan but is the issue of the whole world. Countries funding their neighbors to keep unrest in the continent requires global attention, and determined action should be taken.
Jihadist terrorism in the EU since 2015
Europe has experienced a series of terror attacks since 2015. Who are the terrorists? Why and how do they act?
Jihadist terrorism is not new in the EU, but there has been a new wave of islamist attacks since 2015. What do jihadist terrorists want? Who are they? How do they attack?
What is jihadist terrorism?
The goal of jihadist groups is to create an Islamic state governed only by Islamic law – Sharia. They reject democracy and elected parliaments because in their opinion God is the sole lawgiver.
Europol defines Jihadism as “a violent ideology exploiting traditional Islamic concepts. Jihadists legitimise the use of violence with a reference to the classical Islamic doctrine on jihad, a term which literally means ‘striving’ or ‘exertion’, but in Islamic law is treated as religiously sanctioned warfare”.
The al-Qaeda network and the so-called Islamic state are major representatives of jihadist groups. Jihadism is a sub-set of Salafism, a revivalist Sunni movement.
Who are the jihadi terrorists?
According to Europol, jihadist attacks in 2018 were carried out primarily by terrorists who grew up and were radicalised in their home country, not by so-called foreign fighters (individuals that travelled abroad to join a terrorist group).
In 2019, nearly 60% of jihadi attackers had the citizenship of the country in which the attack or plot took place.
Radicalisation of home-grown terrorists has speeded up as lone wolves are radicalised by online propaganda, while their attacks are inspired rather than ordered by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda or IS.
Europol explains that these terrorists may not necessarily be very religious: they may not read the Quran or regularly attend mosque and they often have a rudimentary and fragmented knowledge of Islam.
In 2016, a significant number of the individuals reported to Europol for terrorism were low-level criminals, suggesting people with a criminal history or socialised in a criminal environment may be more susceptible to radicalisation and recruitment.
Europol draws the conclusion that “religion may thus not be the initial or primary driver of the radicalisation process, but merely offer a ‘window of opportunity’ to overcome personal issues. They may perceive that a decision to commit an attack in their own country may transform them from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’.”
The 2020 Europol report shows that most jihadi terrorists were young adults. Almost 70% of them were aged 20 to 28 years old and 85% were male.
How do jihadi terrorists attack?
Since 2015, jihadist attacks have been committed by lone actors and groups. Lone wolves use mainly knives, vans and guns. Their attacks are simpler and rather unstructured. Groups use automatic rifles and explosives in complex and well-coordinated attacks.
In 2019, almost all completed or failed attacks were by lone actors, while most foiled plots involved multiple suspects.
There has been a tendency for jihadist terrorists to favour attacks against people, rather than buildings or institutional targets, in order to trigger an emotional response from the public.
Terrorists do not discriminate between Muslim and non-Muslim and attacks have aimed for the maximum of casualties, such as in London, Paris, Nice, Stockholm, Manchester, Barcelona and Cambrils.
The EU’s fight against terrorism
EU measures to prevent new attacks are wide-ranging and thorough. They span from cutting the financing of terrorism, tackling organised crime, and strengthening border controls to addressing radicalisation and improving police and judicial cooperation on tracing suspects and pursuing perpetrators.
For example, MEPs adopted new rules to make the use of guns and the creation of home-made bombs more difficult for terrorists.
Europol, the EU’s police agency, has been given additional powers. It can set up specialised units more easily, such as the European Counter Terrorism Centre created in January 2016. It can also exchange information with private companies in some cases and ask social media to remove pages runs by IS.
In July 2017, the European Parliament created a special committee on terrorism to evaluate how to better fight terrorism at EU level. MEPs produced a report with concrete measures they want the European Commission to include in new legislation.
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