Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Al-Badri, or more recently named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the leader of the most notorious terrorist organization in the world, the so-called Islamic State (IS). Much of the man is shrouded in mystery; however, more credible intelligence acquisitions and first-hand reports have recently come to paint a clearer picture of the man.
These sources reveal a knowledgeable, experienced, diplomatic, connected and fortunate leader with important religious credentials and strategic personal connections his organization relies upon. This article will argue that his removal from power, whether through capture or death, will be an important step in dissolving the terrorist organization by calling into question the organization’s religious legitimacy and strategic network.
What, to begin, is the Islamic State? IS is a self-proclaimed caliphate born in 2006 as an offshoot of al-Qaeda. In 2013, it was expelled from al-Qaeda for being too extreme (the leadership, hitherto, thinks controlling territory is a step too far for its organization). We can best understand the Islamic State through two lenses: religious and political.
First, IS resembles many characteristics of a religious entity. In its territory, Islamic prayer and other religious practices are routinely held. IS also justifies and legitimizes its actions, such as beheading apostates and Christians, through Islamic teaching . And, certainly by namesake, the Islamic State claims to be a religious entity. On the other hand, IS resembles a political entity. The presence of political institutions, and interests in upholding (Islamic) rule of law, conducting trade, managing taxes and fighting jihad, among other things, show the political dimension of the organization. So, too, does the existence of territory administered by the organization.
In this way the Islamic State differs from other terrorist organizations. Of course, all terrorist organizations have some sort of political apparatus, however, the degree of development in its political elements, such as a sophisticated police force, show just how much the Islamic State can be seen as a political entity. And, it is because of this fact that IS is unique among its contemporaries and, consequently, in a position to weaken from the diminishment of these political elements. Al-Baghdadi is at the center of the Islamic State and the head of this political dimension. Of course, it should be noted that a proper definition of the Islamic State requires extensive exploration in its own right, something outside the scope of this article. Nevertheless, a basic understanding of the organization’s political dimension helps to show how al-Baghdadi’s removal from power will help dissolve the terrorist organization.
First, al-Baghdadi’s religious credentials bolster IS’s religious legitimacy and is relied upon for recruitment purposes and the morale of soldiers and citizens. Al-Baghdadi, throughout his life, has been involved in Islamic theology. He has lead local prayers in Tobchi, a neighborhood of Baghdad, and graduated from Saddam University with a doctorate in Qur’anic Studies. These religious credentials remain unrivalled by many within the Islamic State. They also demonstrate al-Baghdadi’s knowledge of Islam, which, within a religious organization like IS, qualify him for top political leadership and, by extension, also bolster IS’s religious credibility among potential recruits and soldiers across the globe. Al-Baghdadi’s family lineage similarly qualifies him for political leadership and bolsters IS’s religious credibility: His family is said to directly descend from the prophet Muhammad. Of course, the Islamic State’s religious credibility does not rest solely on al-Baghdadi personally, however, his knowledge helps guide IS religious thought and its translation into politics and recruitment. If al-Baghdadi is removed from power, an important source of religious knowledge and Islamic prestige will be lost. This, in turn, may call into question the organization’s religious credentials and potentially damage recruitment efforts and morale.
Second, the Islamic State’s strategic connections, networks and support among local populations are vital to maintaining control over Iraq and Syria. Aside from major regional centers such as Raqqa and Mosul, much of IS ‘territory’ is not administered directly. A large part is administered by local actors connected to IS. In other words, IS relies on external actors and indirectly controls parts of its territory. These actors cooperate with the Islamic State for many reasons, notably, disenfranchisement with governments, discriminatory treatment and poor governance. These connections, furthermore, were also developed by al-Baghdadi himself during his time in Camp Bucca and through contacts allied with his family. Many strategic connections IS relies on are thus not related to the organization directly, but to al-Baghdadi personally and for reasons other an adherence to ultra-conservative Islam. In al-Baghdadi’s absence, the durability of these vital connections is uncertain, especially if al-Baghdadi’s successor is unable to maintain IS’s networks (as we see in al-Qaeda with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s lackluster successor). This is especially true among IS’s more secular actors who ally with the organization for reasons other than religion.
Pundits, however, argue that al-Baghdadi’s role within the Islamic State is exaggerated. The organization’s leadership has been decentralized precisely to minimize the impact one person’s death would have on the organization. However, this thinking underestimates al-Baghdadi’s role within the Islamic State. It would be difficult to find a replacement who lends the organization the same religious credentials, family lineage and expertise. Additionally, political decentralization within IS overlooks the fact that many IS strategic connections are allied to al-Baghdadi personally and not directly with the organization. With al-Baghdadi gone, cooperation with these partners may not last, especially among their more secular allies. Political decentralization within IS leadership may lessen the impact the death one member has on the organization, however, al-Baghdadi’s religious credentials and personal connections would nonetheless be quite difficult to replace.
Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Al-Badri rose from local soccer stardom in Badri to world’s most notorious international terrorist. Changing his name to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and leading the Islamic State, al-Baghdadi’s religious credentials and strategic connections continue to play a vital role in IS’s continued existence. His absence will be an important step in dissolving the organization.
Indian Chronicle: Exposing the Indian Hybrid warfare against Pakistan
In recent years Indian hybrid warfare against Pakistan has intensified manifold to malign Pakistan Internationally through disinformation and propaganda tactics. Hybrid warfare has mainly been described as achieving war-like objectives with the help of fake news, disinformation, and propaganda. The Objectives of Hybrid warfare are mostly to secure long term victory against the opponent. Similarly, India has launched massive hybrid warfare against Pakistan, which was uncovered by EU DisinfoLab in its report called “Indian Chronicle”.
EU DisinfoLab is an independent organization working to expose and tackle disinformation campaigns targeting the European Union and its member states. The organization has claimed that the disinformation campaign against Pakistan has been active since 2005, “a massive online and offline 15-year ongoing influence operation supporting Indian interests and discrediting Pakistan internationally”.
In a recent investigation EU DisinfoLab has exposed a malicious Indian campaign against Pakistan. In the report, “Indian Chronicle” EU DisinfoLab has exposed the dubious use of media outlets, NGOs, and fake personnel by India to malign Pakistan. The disinformation campaign mainly targeted the United Nations and the European Union through more than 750 fake media outlets and 10 fake NGOs. According to the report, “uncovered an entire network of coordinated UN-accredited NGOs promoting Indian interests and criticizing Pakistan repeatedly. We could tie at least 10 of them directly to the Srivastava family, with several other dubious NGOs pushing the same messages.”
According to the report the disinformation campaign is supported by the Srivastava group. The Srivastava group has helped in “resurrected dead NGOs” to spread fake news. The report says that “Our investigation led to the finding of 10 UN-accredited NGOs directly controlled by the Srivastava Group, which our full report introduces at length. Their common trait? The fact that they all rose from the ashes of real NGOs. Indian Chronicles effectively benefited from the track record of these organizations while pursuing their agenda: discrediting Pakistan and promoting Indian interests at UN conferences and hearings,”.
Moreover, Asian News International (ANI), a major news agency in India has provided a platform for suck fake news campaigns. The aim of the Srivastava group and ANI media outlet is “to reinforce pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan (and anti-Chinese) feelings” in India, and “internationally, to consolidate the power and improve the perception of India, to damage the reputation of other countries and ultimately benefit from more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN”.
The report claim that the organizations funded by the Srivastava group-sponsored trips for European Parliament members to Kashmir. “The organizations created by the Srivastava Group in Brussels organized trips for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Kashmir, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. Some of these trips led to much institutional controversy, as the delegations of MEPs were often presented as official EU delegations when they were in fact not traveling on behalf of the Parliament,”. Such sponsored trips aimed to build a positive image of India, while spreading disinformation about the alleged claims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.
Moreover, India has been actively involved in portraying Pakistan as a terrorist-sponsored state through its disinformation and fake news technique. For instance, India is lobbying strongly at FATF to put Pakistan on the blacklist.
India has also supported and sponsored Baloch separatist leaders and spread disinformation through their fake media outlets as mentioned in the EU DisinfoLab report.“These UN-accredited NGOs work in coordination with non-accredited think-tanks and minority-rights NGOs in Brussels and Geneva. Several of them – like the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), Baluchistan House, and the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) – were directly but opaquely created by the Srivastava group,”one of the examples is Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy who was captured in Pakistan.
The Indian Chronicle report has exposed the dubious face of India and the administrative structure of the United Nations and the European Union. Indian involvement in the spread of disinformation and resurrection of dead people and NGOs has exposed its long-standing for Human rights and democracy. Meanwhile, the reports have also exposed the administrative structure of the UN and EU, as they failed to notice the activities of fake UN-accredited NGOs and spread of disinformation through their affiliated NGOs.
Hybrid Warfare: Threats to Pakistani Security
‘Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war’-Giulio Douhet
Hybrid threats are becoming a norm in Pakistan and if we want to move forward in this age of technological advancements, cybercrimes, and the use of social media, we must have a wholesome response mechanism.
Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs not only conventional forms of warfare but irregular with it as well. It involves propaganda, cyber-attacks, state-sponsored terrorism, electoral intervention, and many more means of multi-dimensional approaches towards war which are used by militarized non-state actors. The term ‘Hybrid’ came into use around 2005-2006 due to the Israel-Hezbollah war (“Lessons from Lebanon: Hezbollah and Hybrid Wars – Foreign Policy Research Institute” 2016) and became a hot-topic in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. Using non-confrontational means can lead to internal struggles and crumbling of the target. What direct force won’t get you can be easily achieved by infiltration and multi-faceted resources. It’s neither character of war nor its outcome that defines it as a hybrid war, but the changing tactics (“State and Non-State Hybrid Warfare” 2018). In a world where everyone, from wealthy states to those caught in throes of hunger, is armed to the teeth, there are ways to achieve socio-political objectives through the use of violent and non-violent non-state actors.
Pakistan – A Target
Pakistan has risen to incredible heights despite it being a relatively young nation and this is only proved further by the interest international players have in its internal workings. Several factors contribute to the important stature Pakistan holds in the international community such as the Pak-China alliance, its geostrategic location, military aptitude, Russian interests in the Indian Ocean, Deep Sea Gwadar Port (One Belt One Road Project), neighbor to Afghanistan (a country existing as a battleground for proxies), etc. All these reasons make sure to keep Pakistan on the radar.
Though it may be secure militarily, Pakistan is still vulnerable to hybrid threats due to internal dynamics, numerous conflicting interests of nations in state-affairs, and increasing non-state actors. South Asian nuclearization has all but guaranteed that a full-fledged war between Pakistan and India is unlikely therefore the latter uses hybrid warfare to weaken Pakistan from within.
Evolutionary Nature of War
There was truth to Heraclites’s words when he claimed that change is the only constant in our world. The social theory of evolutionary change tells us that individuals, communities, societies, and states are always in a state of motion, continuously evolving according to the era. War is born from man, it is only fair that if a man changes, so shall war. It has become more complex; the stakes have raised from territorial boundaries to the maintenance of world order and preservation of state sovereignty. Wars are no longer fought on the borders, skirmishes aside, the real destruction takes place within. Due to the paradigm shift after the Cold War (Ball 2018), there rose a need for legal, economical, socio-political, and informational means of warfare. It is used as a way to undermine other nation-states in pursuit of national power; the international system is not only a race but also a way to tear others down.
Threats to Pakistani Security
To secure Pakistan from all sides, we must first analyze the threats it faces from all sides. Conventional Warfare used to be seen as one dimensional and it only perceived assault to be done through the land, air, or sea channels. However, now it is fought in various intangible zones.
India is a budding regional hegemon due to its political and economic growth including hidden agendas. Pakistan is perceived to be a direct threat to India especially after the launch of the CPEC project, perceived to be undermining its hold over the region, which is why it is employing stratagems of hybrid warfare to internally weaken Pakistan. Till now India has used State-Sponsored terrorism, funded insurgencies, operated terror cells, and even sent fighter jets into Pakistani Airspace as an attempt to ruin its reputation in the international community.
There has been growing instability in Afghanistan which has led to mass migrations across the porous border into Pakistan, with around 1.4 million registered Afghans (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2018) and 1 million unregistered (“Amnesty International” 2019). India has its claws in Afghan matters as well and will use it to exploit Pakistan’s weaknesses even after US forces leave the arena. Afghan Government’s poor administrative capability especially after the return of DAESH (Tribune 2020) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Afghanistan are threats to Pakistan as well as regional peace and are a major cause of lawlessness in the country and has a spillover effect for its neighbors.
Ideologically speaking, Iran is a sectarian threat to Pakistan and its Port Chahbahar stands to lose active traffic once CPEC is fully functional which means it stands as an instigator of hybrid warfare and it would be a risk to overlook it based on past good relations.
Even after the Cold War, strategic rivalry and animosity between the powers including Russia, America, and China still exist. The emergence of China as an economic superpower is perceived as a threat to the US due to which there is a major shift in its defensive posture towards the region.
The US has shown significant interest in Pakistan due to its geo-strategic location but not all interest has yielded positive results. They carried out a surgical strike for the capture and assassination of Osama-Bin-Laden. Such a breach of sovereignty and security is a hybrid threat.
There are several lobbies in Pakistan all vying for their own cause. The Iranian lobby has sectarian undercurrents. Sectarianism has always been one of the leading factors of the divide in the Muslim civilization and is the rising trend of terrorism.Such conflict itself is volatile and is deepening the rift between different sects(Shia-Sunni) of Pakistan, causing unrest.
Rising prices of commodities such as flour and sugar can lead to social unrest and discord. Such industries and their stocks are under the thumb of a select few, the elites. With the right bribes and conditions, even they would agree to sell out society.
Non-state actors are groups or organizations that have influence in the state but work independently and have their socio-political agendas (“Towards a Typology of Non-State Actors in ‘Hybrid Warfare’: Proxy, Auxiliary, Surrogate and Affiliated Forces” 2019). They work on political opportunities and mobilized grievances. Groups like BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army), TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are some of the major actors. Pakistan needs to focus on curbing Jihadist Terrorism as it is keeping it from leaving the grey list of FATF.
It refers to the spread of miscommunication. Propaganda and circulation of false news through social media are a relatively common way to cause turmoil in a community. Once a rumor is circling, there is no way to erase it. India claims that Pakistan is spreading the false narrative of ‘Islam being in danger’ to justify its actions, although untrue, is something that the Indians fully believe now. That Pakistani Intelligentsia is made solely to create narratives under which to attack India. Such beliefs further antagonize the states against each other.
Indian Chronicles are a prime example of information warfare being waged against Pakistan.
Channels such as Cyber-Jihad and Dark Web come under the purview of cyber warfare and are a threat to the fabric of society and its security in Pakistan.
Given the above discussed bleak prevailing internal security situation, Pakistan needs to formulate a short to mid and long-term response that curbs all external and internal parties alongside proxies from infiltrating and influencing the working of the state and affecting the masses.
For a full-spectrum approach, all domains should be covered such as diplomacy, defense, internal and external security, economic, informational, cyber, and media security.
There are steps to be followed through for active and effective quelling of hybrid threats. First, a strategy must be put for, then tactical action should be taken and lastly, the implementation process should be supervised and fully followed through.
The main focus of the state should be on deterrence towards, protection from, and prevention of hybrid threats to the state.
One must not forget that Hybrid war is a mix of both unconventional and conventional warfare, therefore a nation-wide response should include the intertwined operational capabilities of armed forces alongside political actors. Pakistan sees its security being threatened both by internal factors and external hostile/proxy elements. This is hampering state development. State-building and nation-building must go hand in hand if counter and deter such threats effectively.
The Impact of Management in Information Security
Authors: Sajad Abedi and Mahdi Mohammadi
Due to the increasing role of information security in the management of any society, public and private organizations and institutions are inevitably required to provide the necessary infrastructure to achieve this. In addition to material resources, management techniques also have a great impact on the optimal and successful implementation of information security management systems. The recording of management standards in the field of ICT information security can be designed in a planned way to change the security situation of organizations according to the needs of the organization and ensure security in terms of business continuity and to some extent at other levels (crisis management and soft war). Despite extensive research in this area, unfortunately for various reasons, including the level of security of the issue for governmental and non-governmental institutions or the direct relationship of the field with their interests, clear and useful information on how to implement and prioritize the implementation of a system over the years. The past has not happened until today.
The protection of the organization’s information resources is essential to ensure the successful continuation of business activities. The fact that information and information assets play a key role in the success of organizations has necessitated a new approach to protecting them. Until now, risk analysis and management has been used to identify the information security needs of the organization. After analyzing the risks, security controls were identified and implemented to bring the risks to an acceptable level. But it seems that risk analysis is not enough to identify the information security needs of the organization. Evidence of this claim is that risk analysis does not take into account legal requirements, regulations and other factors that are not considered as risk, but are mandatory for the organization.
Identifying, assessing and managing information security risks is one of the key steps in reducing cyber threats to organizations and also preventing the unfortunate consequences of security incidents that make organizations more prepared to face cyber risks. The risk assessment process, which is the first phase of a set of risk management activities, provides significant assistance to organizations in making the right decision to select security solutions. Risk assessment is actually done to answer the following questions: * If a particular hazard occurs in the organization, how much damage will it cause? * What is the probability of any risk occurring? * Controlling how much each risk costs. Is it affordable or not? The results of risk assessment can help in the correct orientation in choosing solutions (which is to eliminate the main threats) and can also be used in formulating and modifying the security policies of the organization. Risk management is a comprehensive process used to determine, identify, control, and minimize the effects and consequences of potential events. This process allows managers to strike the right balance between operating costs and financial costs, and to achieve relevant benefits by protecting business processes that support the organization’s goals. The risk management process can greatly reduce the number and severity of security incidents that occur in the organization. Risk management has 5 steps, which are: 1. Planning: At this stage, how to manage potential risks in the organization is determined and completed by developing a risk management plan. This plan defines the risk management team, defines the roles and responsibilities of individuals and the criteria for assessing identified risks. Documented. 2. Identification: At this stage, team members gather around each other, identify potential hazards, and record them in the organization’s risk list. Arranging group brainstorming sessions is a good way to identify hazards 3. Assessment: In this step, the assessment of identified risks is performed using the criteria defined in the risk management plan. Risks are assessed based on their probability of occurrence and possible consequences.
Hidden History – 1977 Terrorist Attacks in Moscow
On January 8, 1977,a series of terrorist attacks struck Moscow city, the capital of the Soviet Union. Three explosions occurred...
UN agencies supporting mammoth India COVID-19 vaccine rollout
India has begun what is the world’s biggest COVID vaccination campaign so far, deploying hundreds of thousands of health workers,...
Is Erdogan’s Obsession with Demirtas a Personal Vendetta or a Calculated Strategy?
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber ruled that the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party...
Spectre of unrest, violent repression looming over Haiti
Increasing political tensions in Haiti coupled with insecurity and structural inequalities could result in protests followed by violent crackdowns by...
Russia and Belarus: An increasingly difficult alliance
Way back in 1991, while the crisis of the Soviet system was leading to the disintegration of that galaxy of...
Independent panel finds critical early failings in COVID-19 response
The global system for pandemic alert and response is “not fit for purpose”, highlighting the need for a new framework...
The World Needs to Wake Up to Long-Term Risks
For the last 15 years the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report has been warning the world about the dangers...
East Asia3 days ago
The Belligerent Chinese Diplomacy and Its Failure
Europe2 days ago
The projection of Turkish power in the Eastern Mediterranean
South Asia2 days ago
Is India fearful of internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute?
Reports3 days ago
Turkey: A full recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will take time
Americas3 days ago
A Disintegrating Trump Administration?
Tech News3 days ago
Earth Observation Data Could Represent A Billion-Dollar Opportunity For Africa
Middle East2 days ago
Morocco Increases Pressure on Hezbollah by Arresting One of its Alleged Financiers
East Asia3 days ago
Pro-Communism warping Hong Kong