“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world” – Albert Camus
Following the Charlie Hebdo in January killing 17 people,it was the second terror attack for this year in Paris. This time losing 129 innocent civilians on the evening of the 13th of November. This was a carefully planned and coordinated multiple attack on six different locations by eight gunmen. Out of the eight killers, seven committed suicide. The worst attack taking most lives was at a live concert at Bataclan Theater killing more than 80. It was a painful day which will be remembered by the entire world – a particular hit to human values. ISIS who claim responsibility have declared a war beyond their geographical area to the entire world.
Few weeks ago, the Russian flight carrying passengers from Shyam el Shek were bombed according to the western intelligence agency reports. On Thursday another suicide attack in Beirut killed 40 innocent civilians. These cowardly acts by the ISIS militant group is a clear message sent to the western world. One may wonder if the clash of the civilizations from Samuel P. Huntington is unfolding between the West and ISIS. We live at a point in history that we have witnessed serious height of terrorism from 9/11 to Mumbai attack and to many other attacks in our own nation Sri Lanka. According to the French philosopher André Glucksmann who passed away last week clearly states the characteristic form of modern terrorism is nihilism. “What do extremist ideologies like the communism or Nazism of yesteryear and the Islamism of today have in common? After all, they support ostensibly very different ideals – the superior race, mankind united in socialism, the community of Muslim believers (the Umma). Tomorrow, it could be altogether different ideals: some theological, some scientific, others racist. But the common characteristic is nihilism.” Whatever the cause, ISIS killing innocent people is most certainly not Islam.
World leaders meeting at the G20 conference in Antalya could be an opportunity to retool the strategy against ISIS. With coordinated effort from the global powers ISIS could be defeated. There should be space given to any nation who is ready to support and fight ISIS. Eastern powers; particularly Chinese and Indian among other nations should support this cause. There is no time to waste on political games as the threat from ISIS is serious and daily spreading. A political and military solution to ISIS terror should be ranked top priority on the global agenda.
The ISIS usage of social media for propaganda and the radicalization program using new methods is more evident than any other terrorist group in history. It appears ISIS is hiding operatives among the tide of legitimate refugees now entering Europe as one gunman was identified as a refugee who entered using this path.
You could hear of the large number of US and Europeans who are receiving training, motivation and skills in Syria to perpetrate attacks in the western soil. Multiple threat groups in Asia have either pledged support to IS or taken an oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. In Asia, two dozen groups support IS. Over 1000 recruits from Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Australia and New Zealand have travelled to Syria and Iraq.
There are few important areas that the security agencies can work on. Several months ago on “Counter-radicalism policies and strategies: lessons learned and future steps” at the annual Strategic Studies Summit held in Antalya I mentioned clearly the importance of focusing on de-radicalization and counter-radicalization programs. Those subject to radicalization should engage in rehabilitation programs with the assistance from the civil society. The role of civil society in counter-radicalization and de-radicalization is essential. Civil society and Governments can work in partnership to prevent radicalization by tackling economic, social and political drivers. When Governments set policy framework, providing funding, and addressing structural issues. However, communities also need to play their part for the overall approach to be successful. Civil society has a role to play to counter messages of radicalization and often it will be more effective when they come from communities rather than governments.
Another focus area is the enhancement of intelligence apparatus as Paris and few other attacks demonstrated a failure in the intelligence services by the state. A nation like Sri Lanka that battled terrorism for nearly three decades could provide expertise to fight terrorism. Our military and intelligence services have shown that any terrorist outfit could be destroyed with the right strategy and skill. All nations including Sri Lanka should invest in national security an important area underinvested by many nations especially on strategic defence studies.
As President Obama rightly sais at the G20 meeting “The killing of innocent people based on a twisted ideology is an attack not just on France, not just on Turkey, it is an attack on the civilized world,” .The world needs secure order and we should not underestimate the threat from the terrorist and invest for a better intelligence to fight global terrorism. Today a nation is mourning and the world remains in shock at the brutality of the disgraceful act which could be entering another nation tomorrow.
At the darkest moment in the city of lights, together we all should stand to defeat terrorism.