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Al Shabaab : Imitating Boko Haram’s Scenario in Kenya

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Recently Kenya has Unexpectedly seen a various wave of Jihadist Group attacks from what so-called the Somalian Jihadist of Al Shabaab. Which endangered and killed more than14 people were in a luxury hotel complex. This incident surprised and frightened the Kenyan people as well as the government. This extremist attacks led to rising so many questions among Kenyan public opinion about targeting Kenya’s security and national surveillance which opens the door for Kenyan national security challenge to prevent this terrorist armed groups or to failed as Nigerian government did to end Boko Haram’s movement in Northern Nigeria.

Yet, this area where took place of Bombing and attacking was in the west of Nairobi, the direction to many banks, embassies, and governmental offices zones, with the Australian high commission, placed just down the road. Also, a University of Nairobi dormitory is nearby; several students were displaced and evacuated as security officials set foot in the scene. As fear and panic spread throughout Kenya, entire national Media started questioning what, how and why happened this incident which took place in well secured and more controlled area? Basically, at the first observation, there was vast disorientation in whether the outbreak was an armed attack or a suspected terrorist attack. So far Kenya has already been the target of various deadly attacks carried out by the Somali extremist’s group al-Shabaab. The group is considered one of the most dreadful terrorist group in Africa.

The Origin of Al Shabaab Group and Its Functionalism Role

With the original creation of the Islamist group Al Shabaab in 2006 by Young men up to now still located and controlled Southern Somalia. This Jihadist group became the most dreadful terrorist group in Africa. According to Al Shabaab, the group’s key mission is to fight against the ‘West’ and they stand against anything that is affiliated with the western civilization or western ideology hence its name Al Shabaab, which literally means “The Youth” or “Mujahedeen Youth Movement” that Western civilization and education is fully in a sin. The Islamist group also opposed the creation of schools and seeks to enforce Sharia law over entire Somalia territory. Al Shabaab has not taken too long to attack openly the West especially the Americans. In several audio messages, the leader of the group frightened to attack the interests of the Americans by destroying the oil and military facilities in the south of the country. Additionally, this Jihadist group has engaged in a longstanding uprising to enforce its strict and radical version of Islamic law on Somalia and, though it has been forced out of main cities, controls much of the chaotic failed state’s southern and central provincial areas. In October 2017, an al-Shabaab Group truck explosive killed more than 500 people in Mogadishu, the capital. So far the group has been associated with al-Qaeda since 2012 when its last leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, promised “obedience” to his fellow Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2012. Gobdane was afterward murdered in a US drone strike and al-Shabaab is now guided and functioned by Ahmad Umar, also named as Abu Ubaidah. He got between 7,000 and 9,000 boots among them children at his power. The Islamist group is also estimated to have connects to al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram in Nigeria and Algeria accordingly.

The Al Shabaab Group and Kenya’s Scenario Attacks

In the last year, which took place in a town around 100 kilometers far from the frontier with Somalia, in which shooter crashed down into a university in the early morning and murdered more than140 students and several security guards, has completely shacked Kenya. Across the country, families, and relatives started the bleak task of identifying the corpse of the innocent victims and burying their dead. It was a dreadful incident has been happening across Kenya.

Indeed, Al-Shabaab Group has been the goal of an extreme attack of American airstrikes. These have exposed important victims and massacred many governmental leaders. This current Nairobi attack is only a sign first and last to the airstrikes. They are dispatching a message that the US strikes have not deprived them as the US military and several media have claimed. But some observers and experts have raised the question of the full influence of the unexpected attack and its indications for the upcoming of Kenya. The fundamental panic and terror is that the Extremist al-Shabaab Groups could increasingly open up the religious divisions within this East African state that was once seen as an control of stability and process development in a unstable and rebellious region, with the final aim of imitating the victory of the Nigerian terrorist Group Boko Haram , which has controlled over Northern territory in Nigeria and forced the set of Sharia law.

Due to this, another point regarding Al Shabaab militia issue is the impact of public opinion in Kenya. The Kenyan boots are deployed in Somalia as an element of multinational cooperation to combat al-Shabaab group. Basically, The Nairobi attack took place on the third anniversary of a vast strike on a Kenyan base in Somalia by militants in which several Kenyan soldiers may have died. According to Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based expert on al-Shabaab with the NGO International Crisis Group, point out: ” the terror group’s propaganda frequently highlighted the Kenyan presence in Somalia, but pointed out that international links meant there was a wider agenda driving the extremists too “.Hence, If the Kenyans boots withdrew it would cut out a big [ why] why an al-Shabaab group like to attack Kenya but if you have a group like al-Shabaab which is the element of a universal jihad activity then they would still come up with another reason. They notice Kenya with its large western existence and omnipresence as a stronghold of West Africa, The Jihadist group got few contacts and personal links in Kenya itself, In general managing logistic tools and advocating recruits management process. Yet Militia members are frequently trained and brought in from Somalia.

Al Shabaab Against US Foreign Policy involvement in Somalia

As internationally labeled Somalia “Failed State” could bring into account some questions about the benefits and outcomes achieved from the anarchical state under the doctrine of so-called the US National Interests in Africa. Washington’s main interest in Somalia is to put an end to the country from becoming a source for terrorist groups to plan attacks on the United States ground and undermine the Horn of Africa, where long-term conflicts among Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia issue. In current years, The U.S. representatives have been very cautious on going into cooperation and collusion between militant Islamist groups in the region, including Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and al-Qaeda in the Middle East. The American government also stay concerned about the Extremist group’s capabilities to recruit new members of the Somali Diaspora existing in the United States soil. Al-Shabaab organization has influenced and invited several American members to engage fighting in Somalia.

The American policy has fully depended on intermediary agent forces in Somalia to combat Al-Shabaab group and has hired proxy special contractors to assist some of them, according to the American Newsmedia. By 2007, Washington has financed and equipped hundreds of millions of dollars to prepare and supply AMISOM and recognized Somali security forces, but it issued in late 2017 it was stopping financial aid to most Somali units over corruption issues. In April of that year, President Donald J. Trump gave orders the first deployment of regular U.S. boots to the country since 1994, participating in a small unit of counterterrorism advisors already there. Defense agents’ mention some five hundred U.S. personnel are now located in Somalian area. At the same time, the United Nations Security Council called the African Union to take command a peacekeeping force in Somalia borders as well as the capital Mogadishu, which is known by its abbreviation, AMISOM, in early 2007. Its main task was to promote stability among civilians and safeguard the country’s transitional government, which was established in 2004 but had just regained to power in Mogadishu. Uganda was the prior African country to deploy soldiers into Somalia under AMISOM, and it sustains the vast unconditional in the regional force, at more than six thousand troops. Other military boots come from Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. In number, AMISOM covers approximately twenty thousand troops.

To conclude, Al-Shabaab Islamist Group has been in difficult dilemma internally so far, facing a big loss in term of recruiting new volunteers to join the group, a lack of financial support, and overseas funds. The organization is ongoing by divergent disagreement and suffers tremendous competition from the Islamic State (ISIS). Though, Al Shabaab is becoming one of the dreadful regional armed groups in the African continent.

Jamal Ait Laadam, Specialist in and North African Studies and Western Sahara Issue, a Ph.D. fellow in Jilin University School of Public Affairs

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Terrorism

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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