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The Nice attack and the future of the jihad in Europe

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It is particularly interesting to study the attack which took place on the night of July 14 last in Nice, one of the most heinous attacks perpetrated by the jihad in Europe. A place of fun and entertainment was chosen, as in the case of the Paris Bataclan, but outdoor and without a specific indication of the religious identity of the people present there.

As you may recall, the owners of the Bataclan in Paris were of Jewish religion and the terrorist attack occurred after a series of Islamist massacres in places where there were many French and Jewish citizens.

In the case of the Nice attack, there is no difference of target between the Jews, Christians or even Muslims present in the huge crowd gathered on the Promenade des Anglais to celebrate the Bastille Bay marking the start of Republican France.

The nation, the symbol, the ordinary people – indeed everybody – are hit.

Hence, in this case, the data and aspects to be studied are different and probably more dangerous than we can imagine today: the truck was driven by a French citizen of Tunisian origin, living in Nice.

Whoever bought or stole the truck has a wide cover network probably verging on the underworld, even the non-jihadist one.

In fact, the truck driver was a jihadist with a criminal record of common offences.

Therefore the beginning of a link between the traditional “underworld” and the jihad cannot be ruled out.

Supplying arms to the jihad (although those found on the truck could not be used) and the connections with the smuggling networks – of weapons or other items – could be the new business of the traditional crime networks.

At theoretical level – namely the jihad doctrine – the attack on Europe was widely anticipated and stimulated by the ISIS and Al Qaeda proclamations.

When the Iraqi-Syrian “State” falls apart, the two rival organizations of the jihad find themselves on the same line, namely terrorist attacks among the “Crusaders and the Jews”. The indiscriminate attack which – according to some analysts , was considered “outdated” by Al Qaeda or ISIS – is now necessary for the jihad survival.

It is needed to display power, and hence win the sympathy and support of many Islamists being radicalized, as well as to show off strength to “protect” the Islamic minorities present on the “infidels’ territory”. It is also needed to scare the Western public and governments and finally to block the police and intelligence activities.

And, according to the jihadists, this happens and must happen at the very moment in which the Syrian-Iraqi “State” is collapsing.

Furthermore it seems that the quality of the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence services is a selection criterion for the jihad terrorists.

The less efficient they are, the more their countries become a target.

Belgium, at first, in which the Walloon police forces do not communicate with the Flemish ones, and the intelligence service are weak. Then France, which implemented a dysfunctional and irrational reform of the intelligence services, both those responsible for internal affairs and those in charge of external affairs.

Not to mention – for sense of patriotism – the reform implemented by Italy in 2007.

Incidentally, it seems that today European democracies do not understand anything about intelligence.

Hence the European democracies must take a decision: either they sacrifice part of the “rights” and privacy of their citizens to protect them from the jihad, or – by following the myth of mass democracy – they shall accept ever more brutal attacks.

Furthermore there is the problem of the data to work with: currently all intelligence services and police forces operate too much with an ex post approach. It is wrongly believed that the jihad generates crimes which must be punished individually, while the preaching of the “holy war” falls within the freedoms guaranteed as early as the days of the French Revolution, though with some historical exceptions.

This is false. The jihad is the specific strategy of a war which is totally different from Carl von Clausewitz’s war. The police forces must shift from the (scarce) repression of certain crimes related to, or resulting from, the jihad to the very clear and structural fight against them with the “holy war”. Somehow as the judges Falcone and Borsellino did with Mafia.

Hence a strategy against the warring Islamism need to be defined, combining very harsh pressures on the sponsoring and funding States, psychological warfare actions in Europe and in the rest of the world, as well as preventive repression of the jihad hotbeds.

We must imitate the practices of the jihad to combat it: these are the OPFOR techniques of “hybrid warfare” which are currently used by the Russian Federation in Ukraine, for example.

Hence taking actions ex post is hard, but currently inevitable for the European police forces.

We must do the opposite and on a stable and permanent basis.

And this happens for various reasons. The first is that the jihadists are quick and efficient in using the social media and the encryption needed in them.

Kik, SureSpot, Telegram, Wikr, Detect and Tor are all perfectly legal applications used to encrypt the jihadist messages or to reach the deep Internet, which does not result from the search engines.

ISIS has long been developing websites to train to encryption.

They also tend to lack operating signals, but they indicate the place and time of the attack – at the right time, and only to those who must perpetrate it.

A multiplication of sources which makes it difficult for any intelligence service to follow the jihad, which is made of hidden networks, mostly unexplored, who live according to the rule “from mouth to ear” or to the rule of immediate verbal communication which, however, overlap and control the on-line communication.

Moreover – albeit it is hard to say – the European intelligence services operate on the basis of two criteria which are difficult to be checked operationally.

Either the “grand old man” who decides everything, possibly from some cave in the Pakistani tribal territories, as was the case with Osama Bin Laden, or the free rider, namely the marginalized and radicalized young man who does everything on his own.

The jihad young men can do much by themselves, because the instructions and orders from the top leaders are always generic and it is up to those working on the field to observe, check and plan.

However, this never happens without the green light given by one of the multiple command centers, which must then justify and expand the terrorist action effects.

I believe that Europe will be the next field of action for the jihad.

For many reasons: the first is that the mass of immigrants is such that they can serve as a safety net, as well as a recruiting and funding network for many jihadists. The old leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, said so a few years ago: “We will not invade Europe with the jihad, demography will be enough”.

This is exactly what is unawarely maintained by many misguided and shallow supporters of multiculturalism.

The second reason is that – as the jihad has proclaimed recently – Europe will be rapidly Islamized and the ISIS black flag will fly at the Vatican, as shown by the cover of the theoretical review of the Syrian-Iraqi group. They do what they say, but we never know how. Hence time has come to rethink the intelligence strategies throughout Europe, without creating an unnecessary “single agency”, but rethinking the jihadist threat in a new and creative way.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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New wave of terrorism a big challenge for institutions

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After a period of silence in Balochistan, terrorists have resurfaced and for the past two months, terrorist groups have stepped up their attacks. In recent days, terrorists in Mach have brutally slaughtered 11 miners of the Hazara Shia community by tying their hands and feet at gunpoint. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the incident. Separatist organizations and sectarian groups on the territory of Balochistan have been active in spreading unrest and are being backed by India. India is also sending ISIS terrorists to Balochistan. ISIS is spreading fear among the local population. “Apart from attacking economic interests and creating the impression of the local administration’s failure, it is also trying to create the feeling that security agencies are failing to protect citizens from terrorist elements.” ISIL’sacceptance of responsibility for the latest incident is a matter of great concern, as the group has wreaked havoc in Arab countries, and its presence in Pakistan is a major threat to the country’s stability.

 There is no doubt that the peace of Balochistan has been threatened by the forces that want to destabilize Pakistan. India has long been using separatist organizations and sectarian groups to spread unrest on the territory of Balochistan. Pakistan has evidence of the arrival of ISIS terrorists from India, Indian terrorists have been trying to create chaos in Balochistan by targeting the Hazara community in the past, and the recent terrorist incident is also theirs. There were dozens of terrorist attacks against the Hazara community in the first decade of the 21st century, after which many of its families fled the province, but many people are still here, some of them mining in the coal mines discovered during the British rule in the Mach mountain range. In Quetta, their population is limited to Murreeabad and Hazara Town. The richest of them are traders; the Hazara community has a distinct identity due to its distinctive form and language and is an easy target for extremists because of its creed. They were largely protected from militant activity due to security measures taken by law enforcement agencies, but as a result of India’s aggression, a new wave of terrorism is once again rising in Balochistan, and the Hazara tribes have once again become insecure.

It is unfortunate that on the one hand, the Hazara community is suffering from insecurity and on the other hand, the killing of Hazara people has been ignored by the political parties. The political parties of Balochistan which are connected with the mainstream have not shown active strategy. Political parties and civil society have only expressed sympathy verbally, they have done nothing in practice, but most people seem to be complaining that the Hazara protests have destroyed the traffic system. The disengagement of the federal parties to the problems ofthe people of Balochistanhas only added to the difficulties of the government. The federal government has also repeatedly failed to honor the promises made by the Hazara community during the protests and sit-ins. Regrettably, for those who were killed in this terrorist incident, instead of improving security measures for the future, the identity of this community and sect is being highlighted, from these angles, the analysis of such incidents presents a confusing situation. Due to this situation, the Hazara community is once again protesting and appealing for help from the military instead of political parties, the government and local influential circles.

While it is true that the government and the military must ensure the safety of the people, it is also true that there is room for improvement in our intelligence system, the counter-terrorism system and the level of trust relations with the local population. The security agencies should take steps to protect national interests other than the CPEC. The misleading and riotous ideologies that enemy elements have started spreading are the cause of local support for terrorists. Balochistan is gaining international attention as a developing region. In these circumstances, the free movement of terrorists is a matter of concern, while the security agencies were well aware that India was openly threatening to carry out terrorism in Balochistan, the security agencies need to rethink their strategies. At the same time, it is important that the government and security agencies not only consider it enough to show sympathy for the families of the mine-workers, but also to prevent such incidents in the future, the government must also take concrete steps to ensure the safety of the Hazara community, especially those involved in industries such as mining, which are a major source of income for Balochistan. The mountains of Mach in Balochistan are rich in coal, and the existence of a subversive group here is a major challenge for law enforcement agencies.

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Pakistan Shows Improvement On GTI

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Pakistan is continuing its successful journey towards safer place in the world. As per 2020 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) latest report, Pakistan has improved its ranking more then before and stands at number 7th from 5th in the list.

According to GTI report, during the year 2019 Pakistan has recorded its lowest number of terror-related deaths since 2006.

The reduced terrorism trend in Pakistan was attributed by the counter terrorism operations undertaken by the Pakistan Army and LEAs against the terrorist groups.

On 16th of December 2014, after the army public school attack, a national consensus was evolved to come down hard on the terrorists through a concerted national effort. Whereas the National Internal Security Policy 2014 pointed out the broad policy guidelines and the long-drawn reforms in various state institutions.

A need was felt at that time to chalk out an Action Plan with specific, mostly quantifiable and ultimately and time-bound agenda to curb the scourge of terrorism.

A 20 Points National Action Plan (NAP) for countering  terrorism and extremism was chalked out by NACTA/ Ministry of Interior in consultation with the other stakeholders.

The (NAP) spelled out the specifics for the counter-terrorism drive in the country with 20 points mainly.

The 20 points agenda included implementation of death sentence of those convicted in cases of terrorism.

It was decided at that time to form special trial courts under the supervision of Army.

Similiarly it was also decided to not operate militant outfits and armed gangs in the country.

Furthermore, ban was imposed on glorification of terrorists and terrorist organizations through print and electronic media. 

The administrative and development reforms in area of FATA was planned.

 The policy of zero tolerance for militancy especially in Punjab  was formulated.

The report further reveals that out of total 37 active terrorist groups in 2015 only 10 (partial) active terror groups were left in the year 2019.

GTI report also pointed out that due to terror attacks, the economic impact in Pakistan was declined to 95% in 2014.

GTI report analyzes the impact of terrorism for 163 countries in the world.

The report also covers information on differing socio-economic conditions that drive terrorism, changes in terrorism over time, the political and ideological aims of terrorist groups, and the methods used to conduct terror attacks.

The 2020 GTI report has found that deaths from terrorism fell for the fifth consecutive year since peaking in 2014.

The GTI uses a number of factors to calculate its score, including the number of incidences, fatalities, injuries and property damage.

GTI report by the Institute for Economics & Peace provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 18 years.

In a row, for the second year, South Asia was the most impacted region by terrorism in year 2019, recorded more deaths than any other region, despite of the improvements in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said GTI 2020 report.

While terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the world, these ten countries suffer the most due to their proximity to ongoing conflicts.

The GTI report pointed out the ten countries in its list that were most affected. Five of the ten countries are classified as being in a state of war like Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

The rest five of tens countries are classified as involve in minor incidents are Pakistan Philippines, Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Yemen.

Despite of the fact that India hide its facts about terrorism, it stands in list of top ten countries by the report of GTI.

The data for the GTI report was also gathered from India’s print and electronic media.

On the other hand Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism are not limited to its own land only but with equal in strength and parallel efforts are also being made to bring peace in the world and especially for Afghanistan, the country which is most affected and stands at number one in the line and list of GTI report.

Pakistan being neighbouring country to Afghanistan has played a behind-the-scenes but crucial role first in US-Taliban deal and then in courting the Afghan Taliban for long-awaited intra-Afghan peace talks, aiming at political reconciliation and an end to decades of violence in the war-stricken country.

In December 2018, Pakistan had also arranged rare direct talks between Washington and the Taliban, paving the way for the Doha peace deal between the two sides.

Pakistan also facilitated the landmark first round of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Islamabad in July 2015.

The Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad with its delegation praised Pakistan’s role in Afghan Peace Process. He stated while in meeting with the Pakistani Army Chief General Qsmar Javeed Bajwa that “it could not have succeeded without Pakistan’s sincere and unconditional support.”

What Pakistan seeks from its involvement in negotiations is stability across the border in Afghanistan.

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Pakistan’s standing in Global Terrorism Index (2020)

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The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has been analyzing terrorism-affiliated trends and patterns, all across the globe from over last five decades. Since 1970 until 2019, it has recorded and studied 17000 terrorist incidents so far. In its most recent and 8th report, compiled and released in 2020, GTI has revealed an improved ranking of Pakistan, as compared to its previous years. From being at 5th position in 2019 to have ascended to 7th position in 2020, Pakistan has significantly curbed the menace of terrorism at home – Due to the effective counter terrorism operations undertaken by Pakistan military and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), under the aegis of 2015’s National Action Plan. For, ever since the initial terrorist attacks, beginning in 2006; last year Pakistan has recorded the least number of terrorist incidents for the first time. In fact, most of the deaths have been attributed to small-scale attacks that were not even viewed as major terrorist incidents. This sweeping 90% decrease in terrorist attacks in Pakistan, since 2007 is also such a quantum leap, because  Pakistan shares its longest border with a state like Afghanistan, where from 2014 onwards, the Khorasan chapter of Islamic State (ISIS) has only become more active and assertive. Meanwhile, Pakistan on the other hand has defied massive odds and enhanced its security apparatus. 

After the initiation of Operation enduring freedom in Afghanistan, Pakistan served as a non-NATO, front line ally of Washington in its War on Terror. Despite being aware of the spillover effect that may lead to the flow of fleeing terrorists from their strongholds in Afghanistan to Pakistan; Pakistan decided to side with American forces nonetheless. As repeatedly confirmed by international observers, after 20 years and 60,000 deaths on books, Pakistan has successfully controlled the security situation and eradicated many terror cells across the country. The counter terrorism operations spearheaded by Pakistan’s military forces not only deracinated the terrorist networks from previously ungoverned tribal areas but have also disrupted their monopolies efficiently. In addition to that, a fenced borderline between both counteries is rather proving itself utilitarian in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.

The GTI report further claimed that just like other Asian countries, Pakistan has also been a victim of religious fundamentalism, which has bled innocent lives for unnecessary endeavors undertaken by few extremist zealots, from inside and outside the border. However, the efforts conjured by the National Action Plan, which was put forward in 2015, by the government of Pakistan helped in containing religious extremism, radical fundamentalism and terrorism stimulated by religious manipulation, to a considerable length. For instance, as accentuated in the report, in 2015 around 37 terrorist networks were operating in Pakistan, whereas by the end of 2019, only ten out of them were present. The government initiated, counter terrorism operations, targeting remote and secluded areas of Waziristan and FATA have been recognized and appreciated in the report, as the paramount reason behind such a substantial decrease in terrorist activities across the country. It is also important to mention that the current government of Pakistan has also taken a constructive step in the right direction by endorsing a ‘commission for implementation of national narrative and development of structures against violent extremism and radicalization’. The commission will be instrumental in providing a comprehensive, legal infrastructure for countering violent extremism and terrorism inside Pakistan.

The Index report additionally concluded that the two provinces of Pakistan – Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) have suffered the maximum impact of terrorism. They have both endured 77% of the total attacks and around 85% of casualty rate was from these provinces, in 2019. The nature of attacks in these two provinces was rather peculiar, for it was not the usual terrorist bombings rather they included target killings of civilian population or armed assaults against police, military and security personnel. Such incidents, specifically in Balochistan have been unveiled by Pakistan’s intelligence agency as a part of Indian proxies inside the province. The eastern neighbor of Pakistan; India, has been involved in funding, assisting and training the Baloch separatist groups or organizations in Pakistan and abroad. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (I.S.I) earlier excavated a network of Indian operatives inside Balochistan back in 2016. Which to this day casts a looming shadow upon terrorist activities occurring in Balochistan and provides ample reason to understand Islamabad’s suspicions against Indian intentions.

The Global Terrorism Index ranked Islamabad at 7th position, based on 297 terrorist incidents that have jolted Pakistan in 2020. Meanwhile, it has placed New Delhi at 8th position, in spite of 558 terrorist incidents that have taken place in India. The international community, although being double from those of Pakistan, did not only dangerously ignore Indian statistics, but they also managed to slightly maintain India’s ranking stable. These concerns of authenticity of incidents recorded in Balochistan and evaluation of India’s ranking in Global Terrorism Index, even after such a staggering difference in numbers of terrorism incidents between both countries; raises crucial investigative questions that should be answered for better assessment of national and international actions of both the states.

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