Changing terrorist trend: Global to Local

Pramod Raj Sedhain.

Despite close-tracking of terrorist groups’ activities, assassination of leaders, drone strikes, military and technical superiority and other strategic pressures, several terrorist groups are on a rise. Effective counter terrorism efforts and growing intelligence surveillance have helped in reducing global terrorist groups’ high profile attack capacity in western homeland. What is worrying is the growing links between local militia group and global terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. Collaboration of local militants with global terrorist network is a potential long-term threat. Terror groups have now shifted their traditional tactics by adopting the ideology of gaining a foothold in local insurgency and indiscriminately waging violence.

Western intelligence and counter terrorism officials have been busy these days to assess the barbaric terror group – the Islamic State and preparing the list of targets. They are currently involved in assessing IS strength, structure, strategy, command and control, connection with foreign terror groups, finance, ideology, recruitment, possible plotting as well as the emerging terror threat in their own soil. They have drawn a combat blue line to tackle terror groups, create potential targets to air strike as well as tracking the leadership. They already started credible encounter strategy to reduce the Islamic militant posse’s potential threat.

Alliance of local militia groups’ with global militants has posed rapid threat worldwide. This has boosted the morale of the local terror groups carry out suicide bombing and even improving their weapons, kidnapping, and bloody approach against civilians. Islamist groups of different countries share their bloody tactics, inspired terror ideology, sharing radicalization method and recruitment, criminal ideas and approach. This trend is common in Africa and Middle East, which is gradually penetrating in Asian countries.


War on Terror: Far from Over

Aftermath the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, President George W. Bush declared “war on terror” on September 20, 2001. The entire world extended unconditional support in the beginning, which would eventually lead to wider campaign worldwide to lead the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The campaign successfully foiled different terror attempts. However, despite the war against terror and high security, there were some major terrorist attacks including in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005.

U.S prime target al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2011. An American-born dangerous terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. The notorious al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September 2014. However, neither the Islamic extremism has been defeated nor the al-Qaeda fighters are eliminated.

It has been more than 13 years that the global war against terror has been declared. However, before declaring final victory against terrorism, new terrorist group called Islamic State emerged with a new threat. On September 10, 2014 President Barack Obama declared new war against Islamic State ”wherever they exist.” Al Qaeda’s competitor, new global terror group Islamic State is now the new enemy of U.S. President Obama authorized military operations against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq as well as deployment of additional U.S. forces in Iraq. The U.S. has not shown interest in ground intervention to avoid the bigger risk. As an identity of extreme brutality, Islamic State captured the eastern Syria as well as Iraq’s northern and western regions and proclaimed the establishment of caliphate.

International terrorist groups have changed their strategy pattern. Likewise, the U.S. too has changed its tactics against extremists. CIA has begun to conduct drone strikes while the US military has focused on aerial strikes. According to New American Foundation data, 58 al-Qaeda and Taliban-affiliated senior leaders have been killed in the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan. The ‘Hunt Down Terrorist’ mission through drone in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan to other nations has still continued.

Emerging global jihad and youth motivation is a serious ideological threat. Without controlling violence and extremist ideology, terrorist threat cannot be minimized. Mesmerizing youths (by terror groups) of their violent ideology through digital Jihad recruitment is a serious problem. Grooming and radicalization of well-educated young people is a long-term threat. IS has enough money and ground. However, al-Qaeda is running out of funds and foreign fighters.

Different extremist militant groups train youths in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen or elsewhere. Several western youths have joined the global jihad to gain fighting experience and training to carryout attacks. Collective monitoring mechanism and collective intelligence-sharing are not practiced globally. Cutoff terrorist alliances, strengthening local security, common counter terrorism strategic policy, collective data system, and high-tech investigation can minimize terrorist threats. Terror mission is inspired by different components. Ideological battle against terrorism is the foremost thing to avoid youths from involved in terrorism.


Battles within global terror groups

Terrorist activities have dominated international headlines in recent times. Currently, factions between al-Qaeda and its splinter Islamic State are engaged in a tug of war and even clashes to control global terror leadership. Both groups are trying to strengthen their position. After the rise of Islamic State in Middle East, global ‘terrorist’ network al-Qaida’s legitimacy has come under serious threat. Two groups are struggling to win the race – to establish themselves as the global leader of global jihad? Their bloody conflict started in Syria and now has reached in the global level.

Under the brutal leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic state (former al-Qaida Iraq branch, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) declared caliphate on 29 June 2014 and Baghdadi was named as its caliph. Baghdadi wanted the leadership role of global jihadist movement but IS emergence proved to be a new threat for Zawahiri. IS formally closed links with al-Qaeda in February 2014.

Al Qaeda opened the Syrian branch Jabhat al Nusra to fight against Syrian government, which was the most powerful opposition force in Syria by the end of 2012. Organization chief Zawahiri explicitly told their Iraqi branch chief Baghdadi that his group was to operate only in Iraq but they did not care and fight broke out between two groups in 2013.

Al Qaeda has an upper hand in Yemen conflict. It expanded its network to Algeria, Libya, Syria, Egypt and Iraq. Al-Qaeda is now under the threat from IS rising worldwide. Al Qaeda’s ideology is to use Asian, Arabian and African local militant groups to gain the ground against the respective governments. Different local terror groups use Al-Qaeda terror umbrella to use cross-border phenomenon for local existence but now some of terror groups are seeking similar alliance with Islamic State, which is a direct threat to Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda umbrella linked terror group has continuously carried out attacks by using racketeers and sectarian outfits in the local level. However, intelligence agencies have enhanced counter-terrorism efforts in western countries to stop or foil any terrorist plots. Al-Qaeda has changed their tactics and is currently limited to regional conflicts for survival. Western intelligence has continued surveillance against al-Qaeda’s strategy after the outfit lost their prominent figure. Currently, majority of the members in the terror network are from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After losing the central command and suffering from effective western intelligence, they focused on local-level conflict. They have even started to attract western Muslim youths and after radicalizing them they send these youths back to their origin country to carry out attacks. Many local al-Qaeda branches are not directly under the central command control. Al-Qaeda’s other branches in North Africa, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Yemen have been facing multiple challenges.

The terrorist organization Al-Qaeda has announced the establishment of a new branch in the Indian subcontinent. Terrorist organization chief Ayman al-Zawahir declared that the group aims at creating a Muslim caliphate in Burma, Bangladesh and some parts of India. This tactic could be a mere propaganda to show their existence.

Pakistani terror group Tehreek-e-Khilafat and Jihad swearing allegiance to Islamic state is another serious challenge for Al-Qaeda. Pakistan and Afghanistan is home to dozens of small terror groups having close ties with al-Qaeda and Taliban. Such spread of Islamic State outside the Middle East is an emerging threat within the terror groups.

Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has been on the headlines once again with its pledged allegiance to Islamic State terrorist group, which exist in parts of Syria and Iraq. They said to set up an Islamic state in the towns and villages it has seized in north-eastern Nigeria. Their direct operational links is still in doubt but such decision is a challenge for Al-Qaeda existence. Boko Haram killed thousands of people, and launched series of attacks, bombing, sectarian violence. The terrorist outfit gained higher international attention in April 2014, after they abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in northeastern town of Chibok.

Boko Haram extremist position is not only Nigeria’s serious security threat but also in neighboring nations. It is also an emerging global threat. Failing to control this group will have negative impact on Chad, Niger and Cameroon and long-term threat to the western world. Most of the African local Islamist militant groups have ties with international jihadist.

After announcing alliance with al Qaeda in February 2012, the Somali terror group Al-Shabaab has been able to carry out ‘cross-border attack’ in the neighboring nations. They carried out Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. This group is a potential threat to Uganda and Tanzania. North African and West African terrorist cells have already proven their dangerous ability in Libya, Algeria, and Mali. But the recent new global terror legitimacy struggle and race is another threat for global security since both groups might carry out deadly attacks to prove their strength.


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