This article examines the concept of terrorism and state sponsored terrorism. How they contradict each other and share common grounds. It basically targets the security of state which creates instability and horrifies masses. It generally affects the locals that have no concern with their activities and pursued ideology. It aimed at conceptualizing it in theoretical and practical bases. It focuses on how the role of terror group is misinterpreted and how other groups are coming under this domain. The scholarly works of different scholars have been cited and compared in order to create an understanding of the concept mostly by considering data obtained using secondary sources. The findings show that the concept has evolved and modified after 9/11 incidents giving it a new status. Further, as per the practicality state sponsored terrorism greatly differs from main terrorism. State sponsored terrorism has been misused by state and non state actors.
Terrorism is a vast and varied phenomenon. We cannot define it in one dimension. Its application varies with situation. Harming of population in any way is termed as an act of terrorism. It is confusing if acts are committed by legitimate or illegitimate actors. Therefore, it is important to distinguish different violent means from the wider umbrella of terrorism. So, the interests that are achieved using this mode can be cited differently and misuse of the concept will be avoided.
An old concept with a modern definition is what we call as terrorism. Since, it has evolved over time and because of globalization it is attaching multiple themes to it. According to CDI research analyst (Mark Burgess, 2003) the concepts root is some 2000 years ago. It is used to be one dimensional but now the leaves and branches giving it a multidimensional look. Some used to legitimize it even being an illegal act. It is against humanitarian law. Therefore, there is a need to understand the proper concept of terrorism. It has no link with individual crimes if not targeted the large audience. Further, how massacre, genocide can come in this broad term. A clarification on conceptual ground is needed to form a foundational basis for understanding. It is mainly associated with far-right extremism.
Terrorism a phenomenon commonly known as violent form of violence inflicted upon masses by a group for their means and gains. It is associated with the psychological aspects as this school of thought would in general or in specific defines the approaches employed and deployed. However, it can be termed differently as desired by the one who is describing that violence as how it has been perceived. Moreover, referring to this and based on interest approach there is no single definition of this concept, and no specific consensus can be drawn. It is directly linked to the measurement of terror-by-terror group and its analysis of the suffering on the victims. Even, after decades question still arises whether terrorism is legitimised in law or in legal terms or not? Who initiates this and what contributes to it? Do its practitioners are part of the organisation solely or any normal person can become its prey. Terrorism has multiple dimension and ideologies attached to it. This is the reason that it remains the central theme in different types of terrorism based on subjectivity. Further, the factorial representation or agents to promote terrorism are very much active since the end of bipolar world. The term terror is general and was coined during French revolution against the act being committed. Now, as the world progress it begins to see a new shift and modified this broader concept. As noted, terrorism can be done by any group, state or non-state actors and can be legitimised or legalised in the name of law. When this sort of analysis starts by a state, and it perceived any threat and tries to respond it through its means and favourable interests and conditions against any other state is termed as state sponsored terrorism. One could argue that a state sponsor terrorism is solely a strategy that exists independent of any other violence and states are not accountable for their actions. It can be done by the state or may be used against any state based on the perpetrator. Now as it seems clear how state promotes or flourished the use of competent non state actors to fight back states enemy. So, ultimately it initiates a debate that whether we consider or take state sponsored terrorism as a new phenomenon or sub type of terrorism. It is indeed a modification of terrorism. The case of Kashmir is an evident case that while encountering violence from the parties like India and Pakistan the notion of terrorism acquires the shape of a new phenomenon and particularly during Modi regime it has depicted and displayed a new character of terrorism while legalising it through policies. One state freedom fighter becomes a terrorist for others and vice versa. So, it points out stark difference that leads to a revival of other phenomena boost and backed by the term terrorism. General terrorism and state sponsored terrorism are two different things in practical while theory may define it in the same perspective. As words and actions don’t support each other.
The phenomenon of terrorism is used by both leftist and rightist organization within and outside state. It is shaped and triggered by an ideology which later became the cause to harm people. The essential of terrorism includes violence, killing and massacre at large level. The ones who are utilizing this source are also normal people. So, the point that sympathy should be forwarded to them is a falsified notion. Proper functioning state of mind is ensured which is different from brain washing techniques. Based on the existing mindset of terrorist works which requires money for the operations will not be accomplished without financial support (Michael Freeman, 2011). This can be considered as one aspect of sponsorship either from a legitimate or an illegitimate body, including states and non-state actors in the existing domain. It in turn is used to harm civilian population. So, looking at this because one may find out as per the official record that how this sponsorship is important and how money and financial activities can assist terrorist in achieving the said target. The series of 9/11 attacks which horrifies the entire world forced us to think of its accomplishment in terms of financing. For instance, the estimated costs of attacks on world trade Centre was about $19,000 which makes up a huge amount that can be given for a specific task if sponsored or contributed. Putting aside the notion of financing, the other activities in accomplishing a terrorist attack includes that the terrorist require and acquire modern technology with updated software and a proper channel for communication. So, a generalized view of terrorist is not simple, and it is manifolded. This is the reason their tracing and affiliation cannot be easily identified. Another very core element includes the legitimate cause which drives whole of this terrorists’ activities. When you are selling a branded thing free it will invite people. As they want to enjoy the perks and privileges. This ideology can in turn attract public and increase recruitment. It is a fancy business term but follows the same suit ideally. It ultimately leads to gain public support which is very important. Due to negative connotations one reason why, terrorist seek compliance from getting state sponsorship is because of funds a proper channel and support and in return state fulfills its own interests and have a control on their activity. From taking hold of resources like ISIS to global affiliation with networks like AL QAEDA they had had a purpose indeed. In this way state sponsored terrorism comes under terrorism.
Why terrorism emerges or flourished is one of the unaddressed questions that needs a logical answer and interpretation from the situation (Tore Bjorgo, 2005). It is like a disease that develops from time to time in mustering courage. It does indicate the problems, symptoms and out of that you must propose a solution but if not, timely action has been taken it will take the shape of violent episodes of violence. Further, as it attaches psychological and behavioral adaptation, so it is based on how one perceived and react to it. Moving further to define it in a more specified way it needs to identify its association with different phenomena’s that are dealing with violence. Terrorists as an ideal picture state them in any way will eventually turned down the effect. (Jitka Maleckova, 2005)
It is not just the economic dimension but the political sentiments or any other ideology driving factor can be a triggering mechanism for such acts. However, such activities and activists greatly vary in developed and developing states. (Sageman, 2004). The gap between first world countries and third world countries sparks a debate that is linked to revival of terrorism being originated from a particular society. The conditions may deteriorate in states that is facing humanitarian crisis. But the deprivation in terms of economy cannot be a single source for terrorist as their origin. (Kreuger and Maleckova, 2003). Like, a fine example of Osama bin laden. He has pursued an ideology that is not money driven. Further, a typology has been given by Schmid’s to make an outcome of different approaches to define terrorism. It is very important to know the starting point of a ladder that gives rise to a broader concept of worldwide terrorism. It is involved in political domain associating it with that of politicization of religion. It must be separated from criminal approach that also harms local bodies. The international law which is described as the command of a sovereign also pointed the difference in individual liability for criminal acts and atrocities for spreading terrorism. It also includes socio cultural dynamics of a particular society. The religious perspective is most of the time is being misquoted that promote violence in any group then reaching a level of terrorism by killing and justifying it too with that statement. One of such assumptions is that of suicide bombing sin which they are trained in a such a way that this illegal act becomes a source for divine satisfaction extracting source from religion (Stein, 2003). Sometimes, a state can compelled a group to become terrorist by formulating such policies (Sarraj, 2003). For instance, the role of Modi regime and the dictation of RSS in case of Kashmir can be easily seen as the practical application. As Durkheim school on sociology describes different phenomena one of such is linked to terrorism and defines altruistic suicide. Terrorism directly affects humanity as elaborated by Kofi Annan and is described as a process to spread your agenda by winning hearts and minds of people. It is giving rise to a dispute among masses, civilizations, and states. Not state sponsorship is the only cause of terrorism across the globe. The use of coercive measures is not the only way to harm people within and outside territorial jurisdiction. A concept that is not considered by the terrorists. When we study the psychological parameters of a terrorist why cannot we analyze victims from this point. Civilian casualties are a matter of grave concern for authorities in power. Terrorism basically is the slow destruction of the might of the country if it is state sponsored then ultimately it weakens the opponent state (S.K Shiva, 2001) it challenges the national security mainly as global concerns are expanding. The idea of terrorism is a planned task not an unintended one because of calculated data and visible outcomes (Walter,1990) (Shiva 2001) (Reich 1990)
Terrorism can be studied through the lens of realism. Realism has been accountable while studying states which are considered as the primary actors. Yes, states are the primary subjects, but it is having such essentials which make it the one. The population or in short, the individuals the local masses and their worth has been ignored. Looking for national interests only the corporate elites are benefitted. The state centric approach should be replaced with population centric one. Further, within a state there is lack of uniformity. It can be controlled with coercive measures just like it exists in anarchic international system. Not everyone in the state shows compliance with state policies so a deviation can be seen. What if any group challenges the sovereignty of state internally? It tries to de stabilize a state. Power maximization has always been perceived as a negative step against minorities. The alliance formation within realist society against threats can be seen and analyzed with the perspective of globalization. But the reemergence of other actors which are not considered as legitimate bodies known as non-state actors is affecting the realism’s essence as the only competitor in international world. The way it has failed to address the phenomenon of terrorism and other varying aspects. The point that only globalist tend to seek power is no more the reality. Other groups are now included in this domain. And the claim of innocence self-help is being rejected with the deployment of mercenary armies.
Further, terrorists and mercenaries have common ground to perform. Being a paid person, they accomplished foreign task pursuing their ideology. They work for money and are illegitimate bodies. Under the same concept, comes the practitioners of violence and perpetrators that have no faith and morality for humanity. They are referred as guerrillas, armed groups, freedom fighters, militias, rebels and non-state groups. All are accused of committing violence. Some set their targets, and some violates the laws for public. All these terms are contrasting and are misused. The reason is because of inter changeably used to refer to violence. All these phenomena have contributed to threaten the state peace and stability leading to security dilemma situation which state must face, therefore. Among this category, a widely used term is that of terror group which horrifies general public at large because of its disapproval at state official level. This group works and operate selectively this is the reason why every act is not terrorism.
Liberation and freedom of Kashmir is more a matter of ideology involving politics and religion and so it is a task that must be accomplished by state (Yossef Bodansky). Both the parties to a conflict are accused of state sponsored terrorism using different terminologies like jihadis, freedom fighters etc. even, the role of mercenaries cannot be ignored. These all are being used by state as tactics and strategies to adopt in order to achieve selective interests. The diverse culture in the region is somehow depended on and extracted from religious practices. Different scholars have contributed to study dimensions of terrorism involving multiple cause. It is same as if one element is missing the other causes attach to it drives it in the society. Therefore, different types of terrorism have been discussed earlier in the historical perspective. It also includes state sponsored terrorism as one of its types which is making use of the word as per your demands and interests. However, looking at the interpretation of state sponsored terrorism it is interest-based action policy which can be used within as well as outside the premises of state. It can be carried out using weapons or playing cards with policy makers. Any action and effort by state that is affecting state masses at large level in any way which may include physical, mental, or psychological harm in the form of violence. Different areas of Kashmir are facing militancy and state sponsored terrorism. It occurred in form of waves and this wave is still on going in Kashmir. As per the report from official sources concluded that almost 1807 freedom fighters have been sanctioned in Kashmir with their ultimate dependency. This figure shows that it may act as in favor or against each party. The 9/11 events have brought negative fame to Pakistan as the role of jihadis have been misinterpreted and misused at the same time (Murphy,2013) it further spread this notion at large. It highlighted political instability and socio-cultural dynamics which is to some extent is correct but not entirely the reasons that will be discussed. Moreover, the enemies tried to link it with civil military relations following coup. The same was responded in an official manner in the United Nations measures to eliminate international terrorism while listing state sponsored terrorist activities of India. There is direct clear demonstration of state sponsored terrorism that has increased since Modi regime came in power. The role of BJP government in traumatizing Muslims is visible to all. Sometimes, it is through direct military action and intervention and sometimes through coercive measures and policies like the abrogation of articles giving it a last try to the problem. Nonetheless it has also funded such groups that are anti Muslims and targets Pakistani. Along with that its effort to destabilize neighboring state Pakistan has been reported with proofs. For instances the case of Kul Bhushan Jadhav can be highlighted as a proxy and a way of promoting state sponsored terrorism. The major role is that of RSS. RSS is a militant organization which has radical approach towards minorities. It is dictating Modi majoritarian government and as a result increased violence can be seen.
As it is more related to society and people and so their opinion matters a lot. The time frame is being analyzed since when Modi regime came in power (2014-2019) as specifically during this time period Kashmir conflict went through major policy shifts that were considered as an act of state sponsored terrorism.
Terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but contemporary terrorism is a modified one with multiple dimensions. The 9/11 events have given it a new status. The state which is a main harm can vary from simple to complex methods. The policy harming initiative is the latest addition in the domain of terrorism. Many phenomena related to violence has been there since decades, but none was used to define terror of terrorists.
Modi regime is being dictated by RSS for the cause of akhund Bharat. They have introduced new measures of harm as being inspired from Hitler’s ideology.
State sponsored terrorism perpetrators and paid mercenaries are working in similar way. A contrast can be seen in practical application and theory. Terrorists’ accountability is worldwide, and state sponsored terrorists are charged as per rule of law. Modes of harming is not restricted to just weapons policies can targets them too.
Terrorism is now an element of our society. It needs a solution. It can only be done if one would have enough knowledge to identify its roots and analyses it in proper direction. Sometimes, lack of direction can be a tool for directing its shift to state sponsored terrorism. State is now very much involved in promoting violence through state sponsored terrorists which is a different phenomenon. Though associated with the killings of people and can operate as an independent entity but are fully supported by state. One would argue that terrorists are also owned by their respective organizations, but they are banned, unofficial entities that are not the sovereign representative. When an official claim is being made it can drive an outcome which is more vulnerable. Looking at current dynamics of state sponsored terrorism operating in Indian soil it can be visualize from a separate angle thus giving it a status of new aspect and a tool in assisting government to achieve its targets ultimately making a rigid society.
 Terrorism is basically an act of violence with wide scale demonstration of terror. For details see, Walter Reich, ’Origins of terrorism psychologies, ideologies, theologies, state of mind’1990
 For details see, ’overview of state sponsored terrorism’’
 Globalization is a phenomenon where we are interacting with people and as a result, we see increased interconnectedness between and among states in form of trade, cultural exchange, investment etc. for details see, Ihekwoaba D. Onwudiwe, ’The globalization of terrorism’’ 2001
 Humanitarian law is a branch and subset of wider international law. It is aimed at protecting humans under the articles of UDHR. Humans are the primary subject of this law.
 It is also defined as revolution of 1789 that was seen as an era of unrest in France. For details see, French revolution 1787-1799
 Sponsorship refers to a sum of amount that is provided to any person or organization by a company for specific person. Sometimes, any individual can also sponsor such groups for interests.
 Also known as September 11 attacks. These attacks were carried by Islamic radicals and extremists as per the claim against united states. It caused heavily casualties of masses and injured in huge numbers.
 Here the term implies that how money helps terrorist in fulfilling the requirements of spreading terrorism across the globe.
 A plaza or a multipurpose building situated in New York city. This building was targeted during September 11 attacks. It casts a deadliest impact on American soil. It is involved in regulating trade.
 It is important in terms of practicality of operations. Well, equipped not only enhanced your skills but increases chances of execution of your interest in a better way.
 An offshoot of current AL QAEDA but now working independently in Syria and Iraq. The efforts were made by united states to counter its activities as a terrorist organization.
 A militant organization founded by Osama bin laden. They intervened in Afghanistan to counter soviet invasion.
 By this terminology it is making use of religion and misinterpretation in politics for personal gains.
 It is a group known as Sangh Parivar that is flourishing Hindutva ideology in India. They are against minorities particularly towards Muslims. They want to make a greater India as inspired from Hitler’s ideology. The concept is that of Akhund Bharat.
 Emile Durkheim is a French social scientist that is excelled in sociology. His methods revolve around sociological theories explanation.
 It is one type of suicide that is defined by Emile Durkheim. As the concept explains this in terms of group. It is scarifying your life for your associated group as positive gesture.
Jihadists target Africa and Afghanistan, but also eye China and Russia
All Mr. Mohamed wanted was a job and a marriage.
A 22-year-old Somali farmhand, Mr. Mohamed, skeptically retorted, “is that right?” when Al Shabab recruiters sought to convince him that the defence of Islam needed him.
“What I really need is a job and a wife,’ Mr. Mohamed added.
The farmworker was persuaded when the recruiters for one of Africa’s oldest jihadist movements promised to find him a wife.
The jihadists never did. Instead, when Mr. Mohamed’s battle injuries disabled him, Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda affiliate, pressured him to sacrifice himself as a suicide bomber.
Mr. Mohamed fits the profile of an average African rank-and-file militant recruit who sees jihadism as an opportunity to escape poverty rather than the fulfillment of a religious command.
The recruits’ lack of religious education works in the militants’ favour. Recruits are in no position to challenge their militant interpretation of Islam.
A 128-page United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) survey of 500 former militants showed that 57 per cent knew little or nothing about Islamic religious texts.
Challenging notions that Muslim religious education creates a breeding ground for militancy, the study showed that it reduced the likelihood of radicalisation by 32 per cent.
Islamic State recruitment in Afghanistan has proven to be a different beast.
It benefitted from outflanking Al Qaeda as the primary transnational jihadist group in the region, independent of and opposed to Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers.
In contrast to Africa, the Islamic State had a more ready-made pipeline of battle-hardened militants and auxiliaries with its cooptation of groups like Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
The cooptation brought in militants with superior knowledge of the local and regional landscape. Some were scions of influential political and warlord families who provided logistical support by helping the Islamic State gain access to official documentation and plan attacks.
In addition, Afghanistan’s Salafi communities’ relations with the Taliban are strained and former Afghan security force personnel at risk of persecution by the Taliban after their takeover in the wake of the US withdrawal in August 2021 turned out to be equally rich hunting grounds.
Finally, the Islamic State benefitted from its questioning of the Taliban’s Islamic credentials in contrast to Al Qaeda which supports the Afghan movement.
In defending the Taliban, Al Qaeda has projected the group’s declaration of an Islamic Emirate, which the Afghans have not characterized as a caliphate, as an alternative to the Islamic State’s notion of a caliphate as declared in 2014 when it controlled swathes of Syrian and Iraq.
“Skepticism of the Taliban has long characterized a certain segment of the jihadi movement that is more puritanical or doctrinaire in orientation… The Islamic State provided a home for the more radical strain of jihadi thought… The group’s rise to prominence has meant that more and more jihadis have come to view the Taliban as an apostate movement,” said scholar Cole Bunzel in a recent study of jihadist attitudes towards the Afghan group.
The distinct profiles of militants in Africa and Afghanistan suggest different trajectories with divergent geopolitical impacts, at least for now.
As a result, in Africa, counterterrorism efforts emphasizing political, social, and economic reform on par with security and law enforcement in a bid to reduce militants’ recruitment pool and deprive them of a conducive environment, is in the short-and middle-term a more feasible approach than in Afghanistan, where they rely on ideology and religious fervour to a greater degree.
That is not to say that reform is unimportant in Central Asian nations like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, targeted by the Islamic State.
Even so, cross-border jihadist operations in Afghanistan and Africa pose different challenges and create diverging opportunities for external powers like China, Russia, the United States, and Europe.
For Russia, Africa generates a significant opportunity to expand its global reach and influence. Russia capitalised on the tightrope that the United States and Europe walk as they balance the need for reform with inevitable support for autocratic partners in the fight against militancy.
The management of that balance by France, long the major external power in the fight alongside the United States, has ultimately disadvantaged it and opened doors for Russia.
Countries like Mali and Burkina Faso are cases in point.
Mali highlighted the importance of strengthening good governance. In 2020, a weak government produced a military coup that ruptured relations with France and paved the way for the replacement of French troops by the Wagner Group, Russia’s shadowy mercenary force.
France’s departure from Mali signalled an end to its decade-long fight against Islamic insurgents in the Sahel.
Instead, French President Emmanuel Macron increasingly focused on reversing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and declared as much by halving the number of French forces in Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania to 2,200 and limiting their mission.
Mali withdrew six months earlier from the G5 Sahel multi-national military force, composed of troops from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania, in a further blow to Western counterterrorism efforts.
The drawdown of French troops spotlighted the inability of the US-sponsored Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), founded in 2005, to effectively assist West and North Africa in the fight against militancy.
The partnership was designed to adopt a holistic approach to address the region’s political, development, socio-economic, and governance challenges.
In practice, it was a mismanaged policy tool focused almost exclusively on security assistance and strengthening local military and security institutions. As a result, it spent US$1 billion for over a decade and a half with little to show for itself.
In a bid to bolster US support for the Sahel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during a visit to Niger in March, the first ever by a Secretary of State, $150 million in new humanitarian aid. Mr. Blinken’s message was echoed by Vice President Kamala Harris during visit this week to three African states, Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Nonetheless, despite more than a decade of US and French-led counterterrorism efforts, militancy is spreading, most recently to the West African coastal states of Benin and Togo.
In testimony last year to the Senate Armed Forces Committee before he stepped down as head of the US Africa Command, Gen. Stephen J Townsend, warned that “seven of the 10 countries with the largest increase in terrorism in 2020 were in sub-Saharan Africa, with Burkina Faso suffering a 590 per cent increase.”
Desperate to end the violence, many in West Africa welcome Russia and the Wagner Group, hoping they may succeed where France and the United States and corrupt regional governments have failed.
In Mali and elsewhere in the region, Russian psychological warfare helped pave the way for the Wagner Group.
So did Russia’s willingness, in contrast to France and the United States, despite the high cost to civilian life of their actions, to conduct and allow local governments to wage counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations unconstrained by human rights concerns.
Yet, the combination of brutality with no political, social, or economic component of any significance, and lack of differentiation between transnational militants in Africa, such as Al Qaeda affiliate Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (IS-GS) and various regional self-autonomy movements, promises to produce short-term results, at best, rather than structural solutions.
The failure to distinguish between different types of militants precludes the design of tailor-made approaches that address specific grievances and reduce the risk of driving non-jihadist tribal and ethnic movements into the arms of religious militants.
Moreover, by paying Russia and the Wagner Group for their services in concessions for natural resources, commercial contracts, and/or access to critical infrastructure, such as airbases and ports, African governments enable Russia to embed itself in their economies and social fabric.
In Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation of 20 million, protesters waving Russian flags attacked the French embassy and a cultural institute in Ouagadougou, the capital, after a military takeover in September 2022, the second in a year.
The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was among the first to congratulate the new junta, praising it for doing what “was necessary.”
Russia was a factor in the coup, even if Russia may not have instigated it, and despite assurances by Burkina Faso’s new president, Captain Ibrahim Traore, that his country would not follow in Mali’s footsteps.
West African sources close to Mr. Traore said he had toppled the leader of Burkina Faso’s first coup, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, because he was dragging his feet on turning to Russia after France refused to sell him military equipment, including helicopters.
The US, France, and Russia’s focus on counterterrorism in West Africa ignores the north of the continent at their peril.
Officials, strategists, and analysts believe that North Africa’s experience dating to Algeria’s bloody war in the 1990s against Islamist militants and militancy in Libya and Tunisia in the wake of the 2011 popular Arab revolts, as well as Egypt’s brutal crackdown on Islamists in 2013, has, at least for now, firewalled the region against militancy.
The opposite could be true. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown regional economies into chaos. Many perform worse than they were on the eve of the 20l11 uprisings. Socio-economic disparities, corruption, and unemployment have increased. Significant segments of the population are angry, frustrated, and hopeless.
A report in 2021 by the US Institute for Peace and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace warned that “frustration with the inability of regional governments to address these problems boiled over in 2011, leading to popular revolutions that toppled three of the five regimes in power in North Africa. Yet, despite these highly visible and destabilising popular uprisings, reform has been slow. As a result, the social and economic factors that have made the region so fertile for terrorist recruitment and incitement remain unaddressed.”
If Europe may be the external power most affected by increasing instability and political violence on its periphery, China could become the major power most targeted in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
China has moved more firmly into the Islamic State’s crosshairs in the past year.
At the same time, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), long a transnational jihadist group aligned with Al Qaeda, has increasingly shifted from pursuing global jihad to wanting to liberate the north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang.
The party’s deputy emir, Abdusalam al-Turkistani, signalled the shift in a seven-page statement on Telegram.
Speaking in Dari, one of Afghanistan’s official languages, rather than Uyghur or Arabic, Mr. Al-Turkistani, asserted that “we are not from China, our homeland is East Turkistan… We are your Muslim brothers from East Turkistan of Central Asia… We are not terrorists; we are fighters for the freedom of the oppressed Uyghurs in East Turkistan.”
Mr. Al-Turkistani’s assertion that his group, formerly known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), was not a terrorist organisation was undergirded by a decision in 2020 by the US State Department to take the movement off its terrorism list.
China got a taste of what the Islamic State and TIP shifts could entail when three men stormed a Chinese-owned hotel in the centre of Kabul, the Afghan capital, in December 2022. The attackers were killed, and five of the approximately 30 Chinese nationals in the hotel were wounded.
It was the first attack on a Chinese target since the Taliban came to power in August 2021. The Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility.
A day earlier, Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu expressed “dissatisfaction” about security and urged the Taliban to improve its protection of the People’s Republic’s diplomatic mission.
The attack followed a series of anti-Chinese statements and publications by the Islamic State in which the group denounced Chinese “imperialism.” The renewed focus broke the Islamic State’s five-year silence about China.
It also raised the spectre of the group attacking Chinese targets in Pakistan as it did in 2017 when it kidnapped and executed two Chinese nationals in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, a key node in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Similarly, the TIP vowed revenge for China’s repression of Turkic Muslims in a statement released a week before the attack on the hotel.
Western governments, Uyghurs, and human rights activists have accused China of imprisoning more than one million Turkic Muslims to reshape their religious and ethnic identity in the mould of the country’s rulers.
The brutal repression of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and the effort to Sinicise Islam in China is one major reason why the People’s Republic is in jihadist crosshairs.
Another is China’s largely unnoticed growing commercial interests in Afghanistan.
China is one of only a handful of countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul, and trade with Afghanistan, even if it, like the rest of the world, refuses to recognize the Taliban regime.
Nevertheless, China advised its citizens in Afghanistan, Kabul’s largest ex-pat community, to leave the country “as soon as possible” in the wake of the hotel attack.
Meanwhile, arrivals at Kabul’s airport are greeted by a billboard beckoning them to Chinatown, a collection of drab 10-storey buildings in the northwest of the city populated by shops selling Chinese products ranging from office furniture to appliances, solar panels, toiletries, and clothing.
In addition, China’s first infrastructural project in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is a 57-hectar, $216-million industrial park that sprawls across the northeastern edge of Kabul. China picked the project up after the United States abandoned it with US forces’ withdrawal and President Ashraf Ghani’s fall.
China has since removed tariffs on 98 per cent of Afghan goods and revived an air transport service to import US$800 million a year worth of pine nuts.
Africa and Afghanistan may be jihadists’ current centres of gravity, but militants’ ambitions go far beyond.
Islamic State attacks on Afghan mosques near the border with Central Asia and a purported cross-border missile attack on Uzbekistan have dashed Central Asian hopes that the Taliban would be able to control the frontier region and shield former Soviet republics from the jihadists.
Like China, Russia’s involvement in the African fight against extremism will, sooner rather than later, make Russia a jihadist target.
An Islamic State suicide bombing in September 2022 near the Russian embassy in Kabul in which two Russian embassy staff were among six people killed may have been a shot across Moscow’s bow.
Offering alternatives across Africa to men like Mr. Mohamed, the former Somali militant in search of a job and a wife, would enhance counterterrorism efforts in Africa and Central Asia, provided the United States, Europe, and local governments have the political will to implement necessary reforms.
That will be far more difficult in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is internationally isolated, desperate to hold on to power, and unwilling to meet minimal conditions of the international community that wants to see more inclusive policies.
The 2022 attacks on the hotel and the Russian embassy in Kabul suggest that Russia and China are increasingly in jihadist crosshairs in ways that could see militants expand their theatre of operations, and, in the case of Afghanistan, target others like the United Arab Emirates, that do business with the Taliban.
Author’s note: An earlier version of this article was first published by Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses
The Afghan Foreign Minister Is Wrong About ISIS: It Threatens Regional Security
Recent claims made by the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Amir Muttaqi, that there is no Daesh or ISKP presence in Afghanistan are not only unsubstantiated but also refuted by recent developments on the ground. The US Intelligence reports on terrorism have claimed that IS and other regionally focused terror groups maintain an active presence in Afghanistan and are conducting terrorist activities. Furthermore, ongoing military operations by the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) against ISKP in Afghanistan repudiate claims made by FM Amir Muttaqi about the absence of ISKP.
Recent weeks have seen a number of ISKP militants being arrested and key commanders being killed by Afghan Special Forces during raids in Kabul and various cities of Balkh, Nangarhar, Panjshir, Jawzjan, and Faryab provinces. These military operations are a clear indication of the active presence of ISKP in Afghanistan and its operational capabilities. Such activities pose a significant regional threat to not only Afghanistan but also its neighboring countries.
In addition to military operations, Afghan Taliban sources have claimed that they have found millions of USD at an alleged ISKP hideout in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Province. The discovery of such hideouts, coupled with the arrest of militants and the killing of key commanders, is a clear indication of the operational bases of these terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The discovery of significant amounts of money also indicates that these groups are well-funded and pose a severe threat to regional security.
Furthermore, the killings of ISKP/Daesh commanders, including Qari Fateh and Ijaz Amin Ahangar, inside Afghanistan, are undeniable proof of the presence of terrorist groups and their operational bases in the country. The presence of such groups and their activities pose a significant regional threat and endanger the stability and security of the entire region.
The claims made by FM Amir Muttaqi that there is no presence of Daesh or ISKP in Afghanistan are not only unfounded but also dangerous. These claims are likely to lull regional actors into a false sense of security, which can have disastrous consequences for the entire region. The threat posed by these terrorist groups is real, and it is imperative that regional actors work together to counter this threat effectively.
It is also essential to note that the US country reports on terrorism are based on factual evidence and are compiled after extensive research and analysis. The reports are not biased or politically motivated, as is being suggested by some Afghan officials. These reports are an important source of information for policymakers and regional actors, and it is crucial that they are taken seriously.
The recent actions taken by the International Assistance Group (IAG) against ISKP/Daesh are indeed a welcoming development, and it is expected that the same level of commitment will be shown in dealing with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) threat as well. IAG is bound to fulfill its commitment under the Doha deal that Afghanistan’s soil will not be allowed to be used for violence and terrorism against any country.
The Doha deal is a crucial agreement between the United States and the Taliban that was signed in February 2020. It aims to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and ensure that the country does not become a breeding ground for terrorist activities. Under the agreement, the Taliban committed to preventing terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Daesh from using Afghan soil to launch attacks against other countries.
The TTP is a significant threat to regional security, and it is imperative that steps are taken to counter this threat effectively. The group has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Pakistan, and its activities pose a significant threat to the stability and security of the entire region.
It is essential that IAG works closely with the Afghan government to address this threat effectively. Kabul’s cooperation with bordering states in counter-terrorism efforts is in mutual interest as Afghanistan itself is becoming a hotbed of terrorism.
IAG’s actions against ISKP/Daesh are a welcoming development, and it is expected that the same level of commitment will be shown in dealing with the TTP threat as well. Kabul’s cooperation with bordering states in counter-terrorism efforts is in mutual interest, and it is crucial that regional actors work together to ensure peace and stability in the region.
The Role of Technology and Innovation in Countering Extremism and Terrorism
Extremism and terrorism are on the rise at a never-before-seen rate in the entire world. These two global threats have been seriously harming social cohesion, economic development, and human life all over the world. Governments, civil society, and private organizations have all struggled to find viable solutions to these threats. Since the development of modern technology, terrorist groups have used it more frequently to carry out their attacks. Due to the spread of these violent and radical ideologies, many people have died, the property has been destroyed, and nations and regions have become unstable. Military action, law enforcement, and intelligence gathering are just a few of the strategies that have been used in response to counter these threats. The use of innovation and technology, however, is one strategy that is gaining popularity.
Somehow, it has been determined that the internet, social media, and other digital communication channels play a significant role in the spread of extremist ideologies, recruitment, and attack planning. In order to stop this activity, efforts have been made to monitor and thwart extremist content online using technology. Tech firms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, for instance, have created algorithms to recognize and delete extremist content from their platforms. In order to find and remove extremist content, Facebook uses machine learning algorithms. Similarly, YouTube has created a system that combines human review with machine learning in order to remove content that violates its policies. However, extremist groups are increasingly making use of these channels to spread propaganda and find new members. Governments have also passed laws governing online content and pressed businesses to take action against extremist content.
Due to advancements in surveillance technology like drones, facial recognition software, and biometric scanners, it is now possible to monitor and track potential threats more effectively. Terrorist plots have been detected and stopped in their tracks using these technologies. For instance, the installation of biometric scanners at border and airport checkpoints has boosted security and reduced the risk of terrorist attacks. Similarly, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics are two additional ways that technology is being used to combat extremism. It is possible to find patterns in online behavior that may be signs of extremist activity using AI and data analytics. AI algorithms, for instance, are capable of analyzing online conversations and social media posts to find words and phrases that extremist groups frequently use. Then, this data can be used to spot people who might be at risk of radicalization or to keep tabs on the actions of recognized extremist organizations.
In addition to these measures, counterarguments to extremist ideologies have also been disseminated using technology and innovation. Social media and other platforms can be used to disseminate messages of acceptance, comprehension, and unity that can work as a counterweight to the messages of hatred and division advanced by extremist groups. The “Think Again, Turn Away” campaign, which aims to counter ISIS propaganda by offering alternative viewpoints, is one example of an initiative that has shown promise in this area.
Over time, technology has played a bigger role in counterterrorism operations. To find and stop terrorist activity, governments all over the world have made significant investments in technologies for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and data analysis. Drones and other unmanned vehicles have completely changed how counterterrorism operations are carried out. These technologies have improved the effectiveness and efficiency of counterterrorism efforts by lowering the number of human casualties and collateral damage.
Law enforcement agencies around the world have faced a significant challenge as a result of extremist groups’ use of social media to disseminate their propaganda, find new members, and organize attacks. However, technology has also provided opportunities to counter this threat. Social media data has been analyzed to find extremist content using cutting-edge techniques like machine learning, natural language processing, and AI-powered algorithms. Another instance of how technology can be used to combat terrorism and extremism is the development of block chain-based solutions. By tracking and tracing extremist groups’ financial transactions, block chain technology can stop them from gaining access to money and resources. These technologies can aid in the swift identification and removal of extremist content, the prevention of its dissemination, and the blocking of access to the websites and social media accounts of extremist groups.
Furthermore, a key tactic that can help stop the spread of extremist ideology and radicalization is empowering communities through technology to prevent extremism. Technology has the potential to promote understanding, communication, and community building—all of which are essential for creating robust and resilient communities. We can contribute to preventing the conditions that breed extremism and radicalization by utilizing technology to empower communities.
Providing communities with information and resources is one way to give them more power. Online platforms, for instance, can be used to distribute educational content on the perils of extremism and the value of tolerance and inclusivity. By making these tools available, we can lower the risk of radicalization and assist people in making thoughtful decisions about their beliefs and behavior. We can aid in creating solid and resilient communities that are less vulnerable to extremist ideologies by facilitating access to information and resources, encouraging communication and dialogue, and fostering social and economic development. To effectively prevent extremism, technology must be used responsibly and ethically, in addition to other strategies.
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