Terrorism: Emerging Patterns And Tentacles
What has raised its ugly head is the unfortunate occurance of well co-ordinated and simultaneous strikes by the determined, indoctrinated ‘soldiers’ turned suicide bombers. If one has to draw a line of comparison with serial Mumbai blasts of 1993, the goal appears identical to scare and terrorise. The modus operandi, however, has certainly undergone a change
The recent attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia and France leading to senseless killing of fifty four innocent human beings, does not exactly indicate that the curse of terrorism has made a comeback. It was close on the heels of the Taliban strike on the Afghan Parliament on June 22, which saw death of two civilians, including a child and seven assailants, including a suicide car bomber. In this age of ‘live shows’, terror assaults have been always there amidst us, in some form or the other ever since the Palestine-Israel conflict took birth in the late Sixties of last Century. What has raised its ugly head is the unfortunate occurance of well co-ordinated and simultaneous strikes by the determined, indoctrinated ‘soldiers’ turned suicide bombers. If one has to draw a line of comparison with serial Mumbai blasts of 1993, the goal appears identical-to scare and terrorise. The modus operandi, however, has certainly undergone a change. No longer, paid ‘agents’ are to be looked for and guided. Emotionally charged or brain-washed unemployed volunteers are perhaps available without much persuasion or difficulty to blow themselves up. Probably same is due to rapid advancement in social networking activity, also facilitated by the general neglect of school going children in villages and semi- urban centres by the parents. The mentors, per se, are perhaps religiously and meticulously pursuing what they consider-JEHAD. Another characteristic feature is –by one command, three blasts can be effected in three different Continents.
Casualties Vis-A-Vis Attackers
If we leave aside the now frequent terror attacks in Afghanistan for the reasons well known, maximum casualties vis-à-vis attackers were noticed in a Shiite Mosque in Kuwait, when a single suicide bomber caused the carnage of 25 persons, engrossed in the holy act of prayer in a peaceful City State. Maximum deaths-28, however, of innocent persons took place in Tunisia in a mass, reckless shooting at a beach resort full of holiday makers. It was, reportedly, the worst tragedy of this nature in this North African country. On the contrary, if one looks at the daylight raid on a Gas factory near Lyon in France, fortunately only one person died, while two were injured. But again what was exceptionally inhuman was pinning a severed head to a gate. Such a gruesome ‘display’, lately has become very common in the strife-torn Iraq and Syria. ‘Replication’ of same in France or repetition of a terror attack within six months of the last attack pertaining to the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, raises more pertinent questions than giving answers or solutions. Perhaps no civilised set-up or country can afford to have a viable & effective safety device when faced with once unthinkable but spirited human bombs or suicide squads.
In all four attacks one factor is common-indiscriminate use of soft target to convey message-Go Away, Get Away, Do not return etc. Whether it is the emergence or the rise and fall of J.S.Bhinderwale in Punjab or the Talibans in Afghanistan or Osama-Bin-Laden spreading his tentacles from Africa to the Middle East to Afghanistan or the ‘work’ of ISI of Pakistan for over 67 years or now fast emerging ISIS, all could be considered ‘the educated Frankensteins’. For, all have been tutored, trained, supplied arms & ammunitions, drugs & psychotropic substances, cash and what not in a regular and sustained manner to work ‘hard’ for a common goal. When the intended targets come in conflict with “going out of boot” tendency, when “voice of freedom” is raised to ensure a ‘freedom’ once considered common goal, dissent and disagreement is bound to surface. The splinter groups emerge to give credence and strength, if not to ensure legitimacy. Help of religion is invariably also resorted to. Attack on 155 persons (mostly school children) in Peshawar in Pakistan on 17 /12/2014 and the reign of terror let loose by the Sea Hawks off the coast of Somalia would be burning examples of once comrades turned enemies’ phenomenon. As regards the latter, even the
UN is neither interested in restoration of a proper government in the country nor it has taken steps to combat the nefarious activities of the sea bandits, determined to disturb the users of much shorter Suez Canal sea route to and fro Europe.
Need To Be Human
Any terror attack perpetrated either by small arms proliferation or reckless shootings in a public place or conventional explosions or RDX generated or by taking recourse to upgraded arms and ammunitions (say A.K.47) anywhere, must be condemned by all humanist minded individuals. Why one is using the expression ’humanist’, is owing to the fact that “it is easy to be a man or woman but not everyone is humane”. So why shouldn’t we try to inculcate the spirit of humanity even among those who seem to have deviated, if not alienated from the mainstream of society.
Big Brother Approach Has To Go
One more valid issue that should be stressed upon at this crucial juncture of the World history is that why should’nt we give up a ‘Big Brother’ attitude or a tendency to keep one’s interest alive in a zone or the region ,far away from one’s own country. There should be no need and justification to poke nose in the internal affairs of a relatively small country either in the Middle East, Asia or Africa. Will it not be proper and human if the bonafide citizens of the country concerned are left to decide their own fate even if Monarchy is imposed in the name of Democracy or Dictatorship or Army Rule comes following a Coup-de-tat?. The countries of the World are no longer compartmentalised or isolated as they were at one point of time. They are no longer under the influence of a single religion or faith. The phenomenon of Global Village is fast taking shape thanks to the spread of literacy and proliferation of social networking habit. The spread of education, mass media, judicial activism, right to information, awareness towards better health & nutrition, upgraded benefits to the destitute & elderly, all are making a difference everywhere. Right to food, education and basic health facilities have come up and making a certain statement, as never before.
Under the changed circumstances, it would be advisable to mind one’s own business. Then only senseless assaults, murders, explosions, suicide attacks etc. may be minimised or reduced, if not eliminated altogether. However, another factor that needs to be kept in mind is that to perpetuate terror will be always the business of a miniscule minority. It may be advisable, therefore, to ignore or undermine such elements but at the same time, suitably tackle them, as well, on a ‘as and when basis’.
Learning From Painful Experience Of India
If we look at the example of our own country, we seem to have lost more than a lakh of people in the terrorist attacks in J&K, Punjab, Maharastra, UP, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and many other states since 1982. While Mumbai faced more than 300 deaths in two spells in 1993-94, the country’s capital had to bear the brunt in form of as many as 13 blasts in 1997 alone. When the undesirable ‘movement’ peaked in Punjab, it was lying low in J&K. When Punjab, somehow became normal after years of efforts as also supreme sacrifices by the security forces, the ugly head of terror resurfaced in J&K in 1989.Same has been kept alive by the forces and ideologues from across the border in some form or the other even till date despite a long period of Cease-fire between the two countries in between.
No Specific Anti-Terror Law, A Risky Proposition
In addition, India has survived and is expected to do well even while being deprived of an earmarked Central law to take care of the terrorist and disruptive activities. TADA, enacted in 1985 and extended on a yearly basis, was finally allowed to lapse due to severe criticism in the wake of its use against non-terrorists in a few states. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 1995, expected to replace TADA by getting rid of the controversial clauses, however, could not see the light of the day for want of ‘political consensuses. After a gap of few years when terrorist attacks increased manifold, POTA was enacted by further improving and fine-tuning the Criminal Law Amendment Bill. But the Central Government of the day soon did away with this hard work of dedicated officers to allow it to cause its own premature demise. In the present scenario, therefore, with some amendments in the three major Central criminal acts, pertaining to terrorist and disruptive activities and Presidential assent to some State Anti-terror laws (prominent one being of Maharastra), situation is being’ managed’. Also the saving clause of TADA is invoked at some intervals in respect of capture or extradition of erstwhile Punjab, J&K or Mumbai blast connected accused, mostly from abroad. Extradition of Abu Salem and Monica Bedi from Portugal and of a few BKI and KZF aligned Punjab terrorists from Canada, European countries and Nepal are cases in point.
Use Of Bilateral & Multi- Lateral Fora
Whether the current approach is right or wrong or will it work or fail, only time will tell. But learning from the experiences of each other for the sake of regular intelligence sharing and taking the desired follow up actions (bereft of vested interests), should work, if not succeed. Signing of extradition, mutual legal assistance, friendship and police co-operation treaties together with the use of available and accessible Interpol channels should and must also come to rescue as long as intentions are valid and noble. The role of UNO in the circumstances also has to be decisive, crucial and pro-active. One is constrained to state that presumably, due to nations having the VETO power in the Security Council , the widely represented world body is not performing in the manner, it is expected to. Also the tendency by some of the super powers to persuade small or vulnerable nations to sign or ratify a treaty or a convention without committing to signing by them will have to go forthwith. One cannot afford to have double standards any longer.
(The author is a senior IAS Officer. His views are personal )
By A K Shrivastava