At first glance, this looks like a list of popular tourist destinations. Unfortunately, these places have something less flattering in common. They share the misfortune of being major terrorist targets as well and most have suffered horrific terror strikes in the last few months.
There have been on average 150 incidents of terror per month in 2016. From 1980 to 2015, the total number of people killed per year has gone from 5000 to 45,000, while the primary targets have remained the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia according to Data Graver.
Currently, the most active terror organization responsible for savage attacks worldwide is the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). Originally intended to bamboozle Iraq and Syria, the ISIS has now redirected its agenda towards the whole world. An offshoot of the Al-Qaeda, the ISIS’s goal is to destroy democracy and conquer the entire world by “ethnic cleansing” and killing those who don’t believe in their interpretation of the Quran.
Terror in the Indian subcontinent
India finds herself in the epicenter of terrorism. After the Bombay blasts of 1993, life has not been the same. Neighbouring Pakistan is allegedly both a victim and a perpetrator. There are accusations of state-sponsored terrorism, responsibility for attacks in India, and aiding the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. When Bin Laden was found in Abbottabad, it became the last straw to break India’s back. Of course, the Pak government denied that they knew he was hiding there.
Bangladesh is the latest target of the IS. The worst attack in Bangladesh’s history took place in July 2016 when a mass shooting suspected to be IS-led, killed 30 civilians. The IS’s magazine Dabiq dedicated an entire chapter to the revival of Jihad in Bengal. The ISIS is recruiting in a frenzy in Bangladesh, but the government remains in denial.
ISIS’s global agenda
These attacks lend credence to the suspicion that the terror outfit is shifting its focus beyond the Middle East. ISIS claims that it possesses a worldwide network to propagate its ideology and accelerate strikes. According to the Hindu, intelligence agencies believe that IS sleeper cells now exist all over the world.
In 2015, the new face of terror carried out two attacks in France, one on the Charlie Hebdo offices and later across Paris, killing civilians in the bargain. The downing of a Russian plane and the suicide bombings in Turkey were placed squarely at the feet of the ISIS.
America has not had any major terror strikes since 9/11. True there have been stray incidents, but casualties have been minimal. Of the 28 attacks in America post 9/11, 80 per cent of the terrorists were American citizens, and 20 per cent were Jihadists. Post 9/11, security has been beefed up, and Jihadi plots are discovered and disrupted fast. Terrorism kills a minuscule number of Americans; far more die from gun violence annually, but that debate is another can of worms.
India has to be wary. Efforts towards the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN need to be fast-tracked. The government’s anti-terror plan for the Indian subcontinent should aim at withholding supply of ammunition and blocking off the terrorists’ sources of finance, in addition to sharing real-time intelligence. Equally crucial is a social movement against extremism – the most dangerous and disturbing aspect in the war against terror is the appeal of the IS to Muslim youth and their ability to brainwash even those from educated and elite backgrounds.
Science has its answers for combating terror. Scientists believe that one way to create a terror-free world is by abolishing religion, the cause of countless wars and acts of violence. Neuroscience researcher Sam Harris claims: “only when religion is eradicated will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.” Evolutionist Richard Dawkins declared: “Religion is an outdated and dangerous leftover that a mature society would do well to eradicate.”
With rising religious intolerance in India, it is safe to assume that we are probably moving further away from the solution. While the government claims that the IS “has attracted very few youth in India,” the truth remains that security systems are inadequate and political parties interfere in the work of intelligence agencies. India’s capacity to fight terror is questionable, but the threat to the country is imminent and very real.