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Lok Sabha Insights – Trail of Terror

  LSTV – Trail of terror

30/12/2014

Year 2014 has been horrible year from this point of view, both for India and the world. It was only few years back that President Obama expressed confidence that they are one verge of winning war against terrorism. But developments of this year belied such expectations.

ISIS raised its head and unleashed most barbaric terror of modern time. It is comparable only to medieval and even dark ages. Worse is that all nations don’t know how exactly to deal with this crisis. Unhindered use of web space has made things very easy for terrorists. Even in this scenario, it is being used by some countries to meet their ends.

In India too at the end of the year there is sudden spurt of violence, Just now there is low intensity bomb blast in Bengaluru, few days back nearly 80 people got killed in Assam at hands of NDFA(S). There was couple of Maoist incidents too.

In case of Assam, it has been grievance based terrorism. There are longstanding developmental issues pending unaddressed by successive central governments. Main problem is continuous immigration in Assam which is changing their demography and results in exclusion of local people, this culminates into ethnic violence. Further, steps so far towards political arrangements such as ‘Autonomous Councils’ has yielded little results. But it is also said that recent attack was just simple act of violence with no sensible aim.

In Kashmir, situation is different and there violence is more ideology or religious based (and not grievance driven) and also it is actively backed by Pakistani state actors. Last 2/3 years have seen some surge in in terrorist activities.

Attack in Peshawar appeared to be motivated by ISIS. In fact, there are apparent similarities in violence in Africa by Boko Haram, ISIS and to some extent in Pakistan.

ISIS is behaving like a quasi-state. It has its army (though now at back foot), it is raising money, trying to legitimize itself by claiming caliphate or revival of medieval Islam. They seem to have sophisticated technical manpower in which relevant work is divided. Further, they have well thought out strategy. They attack those areas where state is already weak.

Propaganda by ISIS has gained sympathizers all over the world, who are mostly disgruntled youth. These people are attracted to thought of being a Jihadi hero. In short, they are hungry for name and fame. Propaganda makes them believe that whatever they will do, will be in legitimate under Islam. Further, violence is being promoted by electronic media such as Video games (like GTA vice city) or violent movies. In these games player goes on to rampage in the virtual city killing people indiscriminately. Organizations like ISIS provides them opportunity do it actually.

India is too vulnerable too this propaganda as recent arrest of a ISIS sympathizer suggest. ISIS includes India in their future plans. Further, recently Al-Qaeda declared its war on India. They may have some long-term strategy. Much depends upon role of Pakistan for India.

Pakistan is aftermath of Peshawar attack has taken some steps against terrorists. But it is not clear how far it will go. Will it still discriminate between good or bad Taliban and continue to provide international terrorists like Hafiz Saeed, lakhvi, Dawood Ibrahim etc. Its obsession to bring down India needs to go away for this.

Latest and biggest challenge before all the governments is electronic media. Our constitution doesn’t allow control over media. Social Media has some unique feature, exclusive clubs can be made, identity can be hidden, servers can be frequently changed etc. So a person with malicious agenda can maintain complete anonymity and yet can establish links with likeminded people.

Further, web provides infinite knowledge and latest software projects. Even research studies and paper reaches these organizations through which they update themselves. They employ many expert techies, who encrypt online information efficiently which is hard to decode.

So here government has challenge to balance internet regulation with freedom of expression. There have been many other incidents such as Hoax calls for terror messages, Exodus of NE people from Bengaluru, and riots in muzaffarnagar which were due to unhindered freedom of expression. Fact is that governments all over the world have lost their capacity to regulate online content. In fact all this happens quite under nose of authorities, but they are bound by rules and laws, while terrorists aren’t.

Cybercrime is of three types – one done by Governments of other country, second by non-state actors and third by Individual criminals. Year 2014 saw significant increase in cybercrime incidents. Governments need to employ experts and build capacity in regulation of cyber space. This year Mumbai Police won award for online capacity building.

This problem has ideological roots. Islam needs to construct a strong counter narrative to this ideology, which appeals to youth. Abu Bakar al Baghdadi, leader of ISIS is PhD. In Islamic studies. They claim legitimacy from Koran in whatever they do. Same was done by Taliban and Al Qaeda. Physical destruction of terrorism must accompany by ideological destruction, only then irreversible gains will be achieved.