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EU to remove LTTE from terrorism list

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Now is clear that colonialist and imperialist powers cause, promote and support terrorism. There are new “strategic partnerships” across the globe to deny equality, basic rights, and freedoms to people. That is the reason why Palestinians, Kashmiris, Tamils, Chechens, Muslims in Xinjiang continue to struggle for freedom.

The European Union has been mulling removing Hamas and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) from its “terror list” as its top court took a step toward confirming the removal of Hamas, as well as the Tamil Tigers, from an EU terrorism blacklist despite protestations from Israel and the Sri Lankan government – the real cause for terrorism by accelerating state terror and repressive operations against the respective minorities.

An advocate general at the European Court of Justice, whose advice is usually followed by judges, recommended that they reject an appeal by the Council of EU member states against the lower EU court’s decisions in late 2014 to remove both movements for freedom and human rights from the sanctions list due to flaw procedures.

The EU Council’s appeal also cited the lower court’s failure to accept its argument that the groups’ presence on the US terrorism list justified sanctions. Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston concluded, however, that the EU could not assume that other countries gave those it listed sufficient right of appeal. Her advice, which also said some elements of the appeal were justified, is not binding. But judges’ rulings typically follow closely the recommendations of the advocates general. The ECJ said its justices were beginning their deliberations on the case and there was no set date for a ruling. The General Court did not address whether the groups’ actions merited inclusion on the list of terrorist organisations but ruled the procedures putting them on the list were flawed.

In both cases, judges of the EU’s General Court ruled that EU leaders relied too heavily on media reports rather than their own investigations when they imposed asset freezes and travel bans dating back 15 years on members of Hamas and the LTTE. Both organisations argued that they were engaged in legal wars against Israel and the Sri Lankan government respectively.

Israel offered no immediate comment on the court officer’s advice on Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip and has fought Israeli occupational attacks for three decades.

The Sri Lankan government had said in 2014 that it would provide the evidence which the court found lacking to support sanctions against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Israel gets all benefits from European nations and USA by calling the Hamas as terrorists. At the time, Israel, which apparently sells terror goods manufactured in USA and EU, has had fraught relations with the EU in recent years, “rekindled” the old trick of Europeans’ treatment of Jews in the Holocaust and denounced the bloc’s “staggering hypocrisy”.

However, the United States, opposing freedom movement in Palestine and supporting the Israeli fascism and fanaticism with its UN veto, has urged the maintenance of sanctions on Hamas. The assets have since remained frozen pending the appeal.

Hamas was founded in 1987, soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which in its Gaza branch had been non-confrontational towards Israel, refrained from resistance, and was hostile to the PLO. Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987 and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from “Israeli occupation” and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The group has stated that it may accept a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows Palestinian refugees from 1948, as well as their descendants, to return to what is now Israel although clarifying that this does not mean recognition of Israel or the end of the conflict Hamas’s military wing has objected to the truce offer Analysts have said that it seems clear that Hamas knows that many of its conditions for the truce could never be met.

The military wing of Hamas has launched attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, often justifying them as retaliatory, in particular for assassinations of the upper echelon of their leadership. Tactics have included suicide bombings, a tactic which was largely, but not totally abandoned after 2005, —and since 2001, rocket attacks. Hamas’s rocket arsenal, though mainly consisting of short-range homemade Qassam rockets, also includes long-range weapons that have reached major Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Haifa. The attacks on civilians have been condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a plurality in the Palestinian Parliament, defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations, and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza   after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank. Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there. In 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government. Progress stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014

In 2006, Hamas used an underground cross-border tunnel to capture the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Since then, Hamas has continued building a network of internal and cross-border tunnels, which are used to store and deploy weapons, shield militants, and facilitate cross-border attacks. Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.

Hamas, its military wing, together with several charities it runs, has been designated by several governments as a terrorist organization. Others regard this designation as problematic. Israel outlawed Hamas in 1989, in 1996 the United States followed suit, as did Canada in 2002. The European Union defined the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades as terrorist in 2001, and put Hamas in its list of terrorist organizations in 2003 but such designation was successfully challenged by Hamas in the courts in 2014 on technical grounds. The judgment was appealed, but in 2016 a EU legal advisor recommended that Hamas be removed from the list due to procedural errors. The final decision is not thought likely to effect individual government lists

LTTE – a terrorist organization or defender of Tamils?

Any reaction to state crimes, violence or attacks is called terrorism while all terror operations by the states are glorified as heroism. LTTE as an umbrella organization was formed as a shield to protect from “enemy” attacks the lives and interests of Tamils living in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan regime used the Tamils in tea plantations and elsewhere to increase economic inputs but denied even basic requirements of the Tamil populations. Disparities between Tamils and Singhalese grew wider and conflict became strong. Lately, Tamils were attacked by Singhalese mobs with state backing, leaving conflict in Lankan society. State suppression methods were harsh which led to the demand by Tamils for separate Tamil state in the island. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is the only terrorist group which once possessed its own ‘Military’ – Tigers (infantry), Sea Tigers (sea wing) and Air Tigers (Air Wing), in the world, began its armed campaign in Sri Lanka for a separate Tamil homeland in 1983. Founded in May 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a secessionist nationalist insurgency to create an independent state of Tamil Eelam in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil people. This campaign led to the Sri Lankan Civil War, which ran from 1983 until 2009, when the LTTE was defeated by the Sri Lankan military during the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The LTTE was a self-styled national liberation organization with the primary goal of establishing an independent Tamil state. Although it had dabbled with Marxism, Tamil nationalism was the primary focus of its ideology. LTTE was influenced by Indian freedom fighters such as Subhas Chandra Bose.LTTE denied being a separatist movement and saw itself as fighting for self-determination and restoration of sovereignty in what they called their homeland. Despite most Tigers being Hindus, the LTTE was an avowedly secular organization hence religion did not play any significant part in their ideology. The Tiger leader criticized what he saw as the oppressive features of traditional Hindu Tamil society such as the caste system and gender inequality. The LTTE presented itself as a revolutionary movement seeking widespread change within Tamil society rather than only independence from the Sri Lankan state; therefore its ideology included removal of caste discrimination and support for women’s liberation. The Tiger leader also expressed his political philosophy as being “revolutionary socialism” which constituted the creation of an “egalitarian society”

Since people of Tamil Nadu, government and politicians cutting across their political brands supported the cause of LTTE, Indian government also supported and promoted growth and operations.

Due to its military victories, policies, call for national self-determination and constructive Tamil nationalist platform the LTTE was supported by major sections of the Tamil community. Narrow nationalist ideology the LTTE succeeded in atomizing the community. It took away not only the right to oppose but even the right to evaluate, as a community, the course they were taking. This gives a semblance of illusion that the whole society is behind the LTTE. At the height of its power, the LTTE possessed a well-developed militia and carried out many high-profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians. The LTTE was supposedly behind the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Gandhi in 1991 and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993. One is not sure if the organization was used y some world powers to remove these leaders

Historical inter-ethnic imbalances between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil populations are alleged to have created the background for the origin of the LTTE. Post independent Sri Lankan governments attempted to rectify the disproportionate favoring and empowerment of Tamil minority by the colonial rulers, which led to exclusivist ethnic policies including the Sinhala Only Act and gave rise to separatist ideologies among many Tamil leaders. By the 1970s, initial non violent political struggle for an independent mono-ethnic Tamil state was used as justification for a violent secessionist insurgency led by the LTTE. Over the course of the conflict, the Tamil Tigers frequently exchanged control of territory in north-east Sri Lanka with the Sri Lankan military, with the two sides engaging in intense military confrontations. It was involved in four unsuccessful rounds of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government over the course of the conflict. At its peak in 2000, the LTTE was in control of 76% of the landmass in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.

At the start of the final round of peace talks in 2002, the Tamil Tigers controlled a 15,000 km2 area. After the breakdown of the peace process in 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the Tigers, defeating the LTTE militarily and bringing the entire country under its control. Victory over the Tigers was declared by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 16 May 2009, and the LTTE admitted defeat on 17 May 2009.Prabhakaran was killed by government forces on 19 May 2009. Selvarasa Pathmanathan succeeded Prabhakaran as leader of the LTTE, but he was later arrested in Malaysia and handed over to the Sri Lankan government in August 2009.

Meanwhile, former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are increasingly taking to writing to articulate their reflections on the civil war, which came to an end in May 2009. In recent months, books of three ex-combatants of the LTTE have been brought out and by a coincidence, all are women. A few days ago, the 24-year-old Rathika Pathmanathan launched her book, which contains a set of poems and a narrative account, at an event here in the presence of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and leader of the Democratic Front Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Besides the original Tamil work, the Sinhala and English versions were also released. Six months ago, an autobiographical sketch of Subramaniam Sivagami alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini, (who died of cancer 10 months ago) was released. It has been rendered into Sinhala and its English version is expected soon. Last month, the work of another ex-combatant was launched in Colombo.

The present political climate has been cited by many as the main reason for this “ literary” trend. ‘Perhaps, critics of the LTTE are encouraging people to come out with their accounts,” says a Tamil writer, who wishes to remain anonymous. V. Thanabalasingham, veteran journalist, says the trend has to be viewed as a reflection of self-criticism. The works also demonstrate that there were members of the LTTE who held views contrary to the position of the LTTE leadership on various issues at different points of time but these persons, bound by discipline of their organisation, had adhered to what the leadership had decided.

S. Sivagurunathan, who did the translation of Rathika’s work, says the regime change, which took place in January 2015, has paved the way for an atmosphere of freedom for people to express contrary views. Pointing out that the Sinhala version of Thamilini’s work has seen seven prints, he says this shows that many sections of the Sinhalese society are keen on knowing what had happened during the civil war. However, he feels that still, there is a substantial number of Sri Lankan Tamils who do not relish criticism of the LTTE or its chief V. Prabhakaran.

Rathika, who was in the LTTE barely for nine months during 2008-2009 after having been forcibly recruited, says she chose to write her experiences while she was undergoing treatment at a Colombo hospital during 2009-2010 for injury in the leg. “I did it as a way of overcoming my pain.” Conceding that her stint with the LTTE was short, she points out that there are many young former combatants who require proper guidance from society and the government. “Otherwise, there is every chance that these youngsters choose the wrong track,” she cautions.

Observation

It is indeed a historic decision by the EU to write off both Hamas and LTTE from its terrorist list.

UN has a positive role in this regard. It must ensure that the conditions that led the Hamas and LTTE to choose a path of war with the state terror techniques do not resurface in order to showcase it military prowess against the weak minorities and races.

While Hamas faction of the Palestinians are being terrorized by occupying Israel, the Tamil population in Sri Lanka is being ill treated by majority Singhalese community for which the regime and military-police systems provide full support and Lankan government now led by President Sirisena does not seem to take firm decision to support the needs of Tamils against the will and wish of his own Singhalese community.

It is global shame that colonialist trends still play their devastating role as regional big brother India continues to terrorize Kashmiris after enslaving them on a fake agreement with the former Hindu ruler of a soverign Jammu Kashmir . Indian media deliberately hides the truth about the Jammu Kashmir saying it was a part of India where as the truth is Jammu Kashmir was an independent nation and not an Indian princely state at all and India annexed Jammu Kashmir by fooling the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah with an offer of Premiership of new Kashmir under Indian Constitution. Once the deal is safely through, India- Nehru- withdrew the Premiership from Abdullah saying India cannot have tow Premiers.

That was a betrayal of Kashmiris by all concerned and unconcerned. Now whenever India loses cricket match, it quickly attack Pakistan in order to terrorize Kashmiris. Yesterday, India , by chance, lost the fourth ODI to visiting New Zealand though they are playing as per a game plan and package deal, India ahs arrested a few Pakistani officials in New Delhi on “espionage” charges. Indians –Hindus, who are terribly disillusioned by the unexpected defeat of Indian only “Bharatratna” team, are expected to forget the cricket loss and enjoy as Indian TVs show the Pakistani officals are paraded into North Block. India cannot tolerate if foreign teams defeat India in India and there takes all precautionary steps to see a package deal is struck before the tournament by the Boards and foreign teams do not bring best bowlers to “OUT” Indian batboys.

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Terrorism

The Autopsy of Jihadism in the United States

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The American counter-terrorism establishment is shocked to know that its current terrorist threat, contrary to conventional wisdom, is not foreign but “a large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents”.

A terror threat assessment by NewAmerica, a think tank comprehensive, up-to-date source of online information about terrorist activity in the United States and by Americans overseas since 9/11, 20 years after 9/11 reported: “…while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident except one who was in the United States as part of the U.S.-Saudi military training partnership”.

The ultimate irony is NewAmerica quoting a terrorist to underline the seriousness of the threat: “Yet today, as Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who became a leader in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, put it in a 2010 post, ‘Jihad is becoming as American as apple pie’.”

Since 9/11 and today, the United States faced just “one case of a jihadist foreign terrorist organization directing a deadly attack inside the United States since 9/11, or of a deadly jihadist attacker receiving training or support from groups abroad”. The report recalls: “That case is the attack at the Naval Air Station Pensacola on December 6, 2019, when Mohammed Al-Shamrani shot and killed three people. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed the attack and according to the FBI, evidence from Al-Shamrani’s phone  he was in contact with an AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula) militant and AQAP prior to his entry to the United States…”

In the last two decades, “jihadists” have killed 107 people inside the United States. Compare this with deaths occurring due to major crimes: 114 people were killed by far-right terrorism (consisting of anti-government, militia, white supremacist, and anti-abortion violence), 12 and nine people, respectively, killed in attacks “inspired by black separatist/nationalist ideology and ideological misogyny”. Attacks by people with Far-Left views have killed one person. It just goes to show that terrorism inside the United States is no longer the handiwork of foreign or “jihadi” ideologies, but is “homegrown”, the report points out.

The report points out a poor understanding of the terror threat and its roots by the Trump administration. A week into his presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order banning entry of citizens of seven Muslim countries into the United States. The countries were: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. Th order cited “national security” as the reason, but gave no real justification.

Trump’s aides tried to find some justification for the order claiming that in the administration’s assessment the United States was and will be the prime target of terrorist organisations from these countries. The same report clarifies how wrong this assessment was: “None of the deadly attackers since 9/11 emigrated or came from a family that emigrated from one of these countries nor were any of the 9/11 attackers from the listed countries. Nine of the lethal attackers were born American citizens. One of the attackers was in the United States on a non-immigrant visa as part of the U.S.-Saudi military training partnership.”

President Trump had to swallow his pride and gradually revoke his order. In early March of 2017, he revised the order excluding Iraq from the ban list. That September, he dropped Sudan too, but added North Korea, Venezuela and Chad.

In the last two decades since 9/11, there have been 16 “lethal jihadist terrorists in the United States”. Of them, “three are African-Americans, three are from families that hailed originally from Pakistan, one was born in Virginia to Palestinian immigrant parents, one was born in Kuwait to Palestinian-Jordanian parents, one was born in New York to a family from Afghanistan, two are white converts – one born in Texas, another in Florida, two came from Russia as youth, one emigrated from Egypt and conducted his attack a decade after coming to the United States, one emigrated from Uzbekistan and one was a Saudi Air Force officer in the United States for military training”. Nobody from the banned countries, nobody foreign citizens; all were American citizens.

What is more embarrassing for the Trump administration is the report saying: “When the data is extended to include individuals who conducted attacks inside the United States that were foiled or otherwise failed to kill anyone, there are only four cases that the travel ban could have applied to. However, in at least two of those cases, the individual entered the United States as a child. In a third case the individual had a history of mental illness and assault not related to jihadist terrorism. In a fifth, non-lethal attack Adam al-Sahli, who conducted a shooting at a military base in Corpus Christi on May 21, 2020, was born in Syria but was a citizen because his father was an American citizen and thus would not have been subject to the travel ban.”

The NewAmerica assessment, in contrast to the executive order, finds concrete evidence to suggest that the terror threat is “homegrown”. It gives the example of Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, “a naturalised citizen from Iran”, who on March 3, 2006 drove a car into a group of students at the University of North Carolina, injuring nine people. “Taheri-Azar, though born in Iran, came to the United States at the age of two” and “his radicalization was homegrown inside the United States”. On September 17, 2016 Dahir Adan, a naturalized citizen from Somalia, injured 10 people while wielding a knife at a mall in Minnesota. He too had come to the United States as a young child.

There are more such instances: “On November 28, 2016 Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an 18-year-old legal permanent resident who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia in 2014 — having left Somalia for Pakistan in 2007 — injured eleven people when he rammed a car into his fellow students on the campus of Ohio State University…However, it is not clear that the attack provides support for Trump’s travel ban.

In Artan’s case, he left Somalia as a pre-teen, and “if he was radicalized abroad, it most likely occurred while in Pakistan”, which is not included on the travel ban. The report says the chances of him being radicalised inside the United States are more. This is based on the fact that “in a Facebook posting prior to his attack, he cited Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric born in the United States, whose work — which draws largely upon American culture and history — has helped radicalize a wide range of extremists in the United States including those born in the United States”.

There are several other pointers to the “homegrown” theory. For one, a “large proportion of jihadists in the United States since 9/11 have been converts”. There are “jihadists” who are non-Muslims. These facts “challenge visions of counterterrorism policy that rely on immigration restrictions or focus almost entirely on second generation immigrant populations”, the report says, debunking the Trump executive order.

The NewAmerica report debunks the assumption that only “hot headed” people are attracted to jihadist extremism. It finds that “participation in jihadist terrorism has appealed to individuals ranging from young teenagers to those in their advanced years (and) many of those involved have been married and even had kids – far from the stereotype of the lone, angry youngster”.

Women have broken the glass ceiling of jihadist terrorism as “more women have been accused of jihadist terrorism crimes in recent years” inside the United States.

The expansion of the social media world has played a singular role in radicalising American youth. “Many extremists today either maintain public social media profiles displaying jihadist rhetoric or imagery or have communicated online using encrypted messaging apps. The percentage of cases involving such online activity has increased over time.” Al Qaeda terrorists became key figures in this proliferation. They “fine-tuned the message and the distribution apparatus” and “put out extremist propaganda via websites and YouTube videos”.

America’s jihadists were never an immigration problem, the biggest jihadist terror threat U.S faces today is “homegrown”.

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Terrorism

March Towards Mosul: Beckoning the End of ISIS

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The tenor of ISIS is laced with terror and brutality ever since the militia began rattling Iraq in 2013. While the Civil War already wreaked havoc in the desolate country long before, the advancement of ISIS resonated the country beyond repair. The spread of ISIS quickly transitioned into an endemic as a succession to government failure and withdrawal of the United States military from Iraq in 2011. The group quickly took hold of the key cities of Raqqa, Tikrit, and Ramadi: inching closer to the capital city of Baghdad. However, the strategic win came in 2014 when ISIS struck victory and subsequently toppled the city of Mosul: the core cultural and economic haven of Iraq, only second to Baghdad. The fall of Mosul not only alarmed the Iraqi regime regarding the surging threat of ISIS but also pushed the US to advance airstrikes to displace the gripping offensive in northern Iraq.

While ISIS flourished on the sectarian divide rooted in the Iraqi society post the execution of Saddam Hussein, the US invasion and subsequent withdrawal was cited as the main reason for the passage of ISIS into Iraq. The 2003 invasion left the Iraqi society weakened and desperate for constant US regulation. While the Shia-Sunni divide broadened gradually over the decade, the Arab spring added oil to fire as animosity against the shite-regime expanded in the region. Syria served as the death grip of chaos as rebellious militants surged to dethrone the adamant Bashar al-Assad. With loose Syrian borders, compromised governments on either side of the border, and immediate exit of the US military, ISIS got a convenient passage of expansion from Syria to Iraq.

Amidst the sinister possibilities of the springing rebels in the Middle-East, ISIS declared the split from Al-Qaeda in January 2014. However, what some touted as the fragmentation of the Afghani militant group was only to surf into dangerous territory. A nightmarish humanitarian crisis followed suit as ISIS ransacked city after city while Iraq dwindled and perished piece after piece to the swelling violence of the militants. The US airstrikes targeting the militants did little to deter the group as it verged towards the city of Erbil, spewing chaos as they gripped the northern periphery of Iraq.

The fall of Ramadi, however, quickly incited the retaliation of the regional Kurdish forces. The regional forces were notoriously accused of fighting the government in the civil war and were the main targets of the US forces before their withdrawal in 2011. With the combined effort of the Iraqi army, the Kurdish Democratic Forces (KDF), and the sporadic US airstrikes, ISIS was pushed to a defensive stance as key cities of Falluja, Ramadi, and Tikrit were snatched back from the tight hold of the militant group. The city of Mosul, however, has been much of an unprecedented challenge to rope back as ISIS has cliched onto their ‘Caliphate Capital’ as a power statement to prove their subdued yet eminent presence in Iraq.

ISIS holds onto as many as 2.5 million people in the city of Mosul ever since the reign of brutality sprawled over the city in June 2014. Public beheading, lynching, and incineration are the common tactics inflicted by the group that has led to a mass exodus of millions of victims from the city over the course of the decade. With Mosul’s strategic proximity to Syria and Turkey, ISIS has commanded the region ever since the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, declared the city as their ‘Cultural Capital’. The reality, however, is not as simply put as the context of historic or cultural significance of the city. Mosul is the prime location of some of Iraq’s most lucrative oil fields and thus a notorious means of revenue to the group. Confirmed reports suggest illegal oil dealings between ISIS and both regional and international smugglers. The heavy compensation has granted ISIS enough means to acquire advanced artillery to continue its combat against the coalition forces of the country.

The command of combat against ISIS in 2016 were to mark the end of ISIS as the group perished its conquests. Despite that, the Iraqi coalition amounting to 94000 members all but failed to oust the group estimated to be only about 5000 to 7000 in number. The coalition faced a decimating response of round-the-clock attacks ranging from suicide bombings and car bombs to heavy firing while the forces breached the 200 km radius leading to Mosul. The coalition managed to free the Erbil-Mosul road which was a strategic mark to sever any connection of ISIS from the rest of Iraq. While the coalition cornered ISIS only to Mosul and its outskirts, the urban center of Mosul resisted the breach attempt even with the heavy backing of a coalition with up to 90 fighter planes. The labyrinth of villages in the Mosul metropolis deterred the coalition to advance further and to this day, Mosul remains the last remaining straw in the violent streak of ISIS in Iraq.

The fall of Mosul could end the blood-ridden hold of ISIS in Iraq since it has all but fallen in shambles throughout the Middle-East. However, the victory over Mosul is only the beginning of the end of ISIS; the key lies in the execution of the strategy. The fall of ISIS may crush the backbone of extremism yet the Shia-Sunni divide still exists as it did long before ISIS raised its head in 2014. The same divide could fester again after the common enemy is eliminated from the picture. Moreover, the fall of Mosul could disperse ISIS over Europe in the form of ethnic-diaspora recruited by the militant group over the years. This could well spread the militants over Europe and Africa: reigniting the offshoots in failed states like Libya, Syria, and Nigeria. Without a doubt, the fall of Mosul could bring liberation and economic flourish to Iraq. However, precise execution and reform of the war-torn country is the answer for a sustained and progressive reality in Iraq.

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Every Pakistani is a soldier of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad

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Citizens have the right to participate in politics and to be aware of the political situation. However, in our country, it is becoming common to make unwarranted comments and speculations on non-political, national issues. All institutions in the country have their own mechanisms and among them, the Pakistan Army is the most committed to its rules and regulations. However, the attitude adopted by some people towards the security agencies of the country and the nation in the recent past does not fall under the category of patriotism in any way. This is the same institution whose soldiers and officers have not only extinguished the flames of the beloved homeland with their blood but also restored peace by eradicating terrorism from the country. DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar briefing on the completion of four years of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad said that the forces with the help of the people have defeated terrorism and eliminated major terrorist networks. Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad covers the entire country and every Pakistani is a soldier of this operation.

There is no denying the fact that Pakistan has suffered the consequences of being a frontline ally in the US war, launched in Afghanistan in the name of eradicating terrorism, in the form of the worst terrorism on its soil. The Pakistan Army launched Operation Rah-e-Rastin 2008 to eradicate the scourge of terrorism, which entered the phase of Operation Rah-e-Nijat. These operations took place mostly in North, South Waziristan and Northern areas, followed by Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad were launched, the domain of which was extended to the whole country and combing operation and Operation Khyber-4 were also launched under it. Our security forces made great sacrifices in these operations for the protection of civilians and a peaceful Pakistan and remained committed to continuing the operation till the last terrorist is killed. It is the result of the unparalleled sacrifices and determination of the security forces that the terrorists have been completely wiped out from the land of Pakistan. Although some miscreants fled across the border during the counter-terrorism operation which is a constant threat to Pakistan butto secure the borders, Pakistan is erecting fences not only on the border of Afghanistan but also on the border of Iran so that the movement of terrorists can be stopped.

After four years of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, the country is peaceful, playgrounds are inhabited, foreign teams are coming to the country for sports, Pakistan’s war on terror is being praised around the world, world leaders and Institutions are also acknowledging the peace efforts of our security forces. According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Pakistan’s journey towards peace is excellent while British General Sir Nicholas Carter is calling the clearing of South Waziristan from terrorists a great achievement of the Pakistan Army. Pakistan army has not only accepted the challenge of terrorists and their sponsors and facilitators but has also left no stone unturned in measuring their necks. DG ISPR has rightly termed it as a journey from terrorism to tourism. However, all this has been made possible by the sacrifices made in Radd-ul-Fasaad.

There is no doubt that the Pakistan Army has not only successfully met every trial yetis working day and night to protect the country’s internal and external borders but the question is, are we doing our job? Even now, some political and non-political people are hurling insults against the institutions in public meetings and also on social media; those who slander the country’s sensitive institutions should be ashamed. It is the duty of every patriotic Pakistani along with the spokesperson of the institution to respond to them with arguments and facts and also to take a hard line to discourage them. The rioters who speak out against these institutions and sitting on social media are even more dangerous than ISIS. If every Pakistani is a soldier of the Radd-ul-Fasaad operation then we all have to work for our country. The anti-national agenda must be thwarted together but we must not forget the heroes who made Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad a success by shedding their blood and the people are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief in an atmosphere of peace.

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Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) recently published its annual Religious Freedom in the World 2021 Report (RFR) that...

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