Thought of the week – Enough with the ‘war on terrorism’!
Humans have a nasty tendency to declare war on things. Drugs. Poverty. Teenage pregnancy. The list goes on and on and on…
And, lest we forget, the War on Terrorism that came into vogue after 9/11. Except that, unlike the war on poverty, say, this war actually involved lots of warlike things: soldiers, invasions, occupations, tanks, fighter jets, drones, etc. And, it must be acknowledged, a lot of terrorists were killed during this ‘war’ (alas, so were a lot of civilians).
Normally, however, wars on common nouns rarely end well, or end at all. The government of President Nayib Bukele in El Salvador, for instance, has launched a war on criminal groups since last March and to date has arrested 55,000 (alleged) gang members. It has also trampled severely on human rights in that country. Nor does it look likely that the war will achieve its goals.
Speaking of wars on common nouns, there has been talk of late of legalising cocaine, at least in the US. That nation’s ‘war on drugs’ started in the Nixon years and has not gotten nearly anywhere near its goals of eradicating a number of drugs. Again, a failure. I’m not sure whether calls to make cocaine use ok will fly, but I get the need to consider other solutions.
Which brings us to the war on terrorism. Yes, there have been successes and yes there is a role for the military in counter terrorism, but no it will never terminate terrorism. Which makes me wonder why we still refer to all this in martial terms two decades after 9/11.
Anyone else know why?
We need to see counter terrorism as primarily a law enforcement/security intelligence task at the pointy end, and a civil society duty at earlier stages (like when someone is just getting radicalised). That is what is going to make a difference, even if it is a small one.
This week by the numbers
Countries that suffered attacks; 14 (Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, India, Israel/Palestine, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Yemen)
Casualties (dead/wounded/terrorists killed): 73+/77/72
Ideology of attackers: Islamist/jihadi (95%); Jewish extremism (5%)
Right-wing attacks – 0
- Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) noted on October 13 the existence of a new Islamist organisation named Jamatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya consisting of former members of banned militant groups. Some separatist groups in the hill tracts were harbouring the new militant outfit whose members were taking combat and bomb-making training in the hills. One of the militant groups whose former members formed the new outfit is Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami or HuJI.
- Two Rohingya camp leaders were killed in a refugee camp Bangladesh on October 15:- authorities blamed members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) for the killings.
- Benin’s army claimed to have foiled a terrorist attack on October 12 in the country’s northwest, killing eight gunmen suspected of operating from neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
- Jihadists killed at least three soldiers and eight civilian auxiliaries in an attack on October 15 in Burkina Faso’s volatile north. The death could rise as two people were still unaccounted for.
- Djibouti designated the Afar rebel group Armed FRUD as a terrorist organisation on October 13.
- Unidentified terrorists killed a civilian on his way to his orchard in Kashmir on October 14.
- According to a report from October 10, the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) ‘neutralised’ a senior Kurdistann Workers’ Party (PKK) member who was responsible for the health services of the terrorist organization for a year in northern Iraq.
- Turkish security forces claimed on October 13 to have ‘neutralised’ 7 PKK terrorists in the Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Claw-Lock in northern Iraq.
- An Israeli soldier was hurt by gunfire near the settlement of Shavei Shomron in the northern West Bank on October 11: an armed Palestinian faction calling itself the ‘Lion’s Den’ claimed responsibility. The group — based in Nablus’s old city — was established in recent months by members of various terror groups. Some of its members were apparently previously affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The soldier was part of a group protecting a settlers’ march in the area.
- A two-week Shin Bet investigation of four suspects from the West Bank found that they were in contact with a Hamas operative from the Gaza Strip in order to plan and carry out shooting attacks against Israeli targets.
- A group of Jewish settlers rampaged through a Palestinian town in the northern West Bank on October 13, attacking shops and residents with stones and iron bars. 22 people were struck by stones, and 20 others were beaten up.
- Israeli forces killed three armed Palestinians in two separate incidents in the West Bank on October 14. Two of the terrorists were linked to Hamas while the third was a member of the Jenin Brigades.
- Three teachers were reported ‘missing’ following an Al Shabaab (AS) terrorist attack in Mandera County early in the morning on October 12. The terrorist group also destroyed a communication mast in the town of Libehiya with rocket-propelled grenades and other explosives.
- At least 11 people were killed and 53 injured when a bus hit an explosive device in central Mali on October 13.
- Islamist militants advanced further into eastern Mali in recent days, seizing territory, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing thousands to flee.
- The head of Mozambique’s army said on October 12 that a move by rebels from one northern province, Cabo Delgado, into another, Nampula to recruit new members had failed and that the latter province was now “free of the terrorist threat.”
- Rwandan soldiers in Mozambique unearthed a massive cache of weapons and ammunition on October 16 in a “pre-emptive action” to prevent Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) jihadis from using them in future.
- Fleeing beheadings, shootings, rapes and kidnappings, nearly 1 million people have been displaced by the Islamic extremist insurgency in northern Mozambique. The 5-year wave of jihadi violence in Cabo Delgado province has killed more than 4,000 people and scuppered international investments worth billions of dollars.
- A bomb placed on a road near Bosso on October 16 killed two women and wounded a child. Bosso, on the shores of Lake Chad, an areas subject to frequent jihadist attacks, including by notorious Boko Haram and its rival, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
- A Nigerian soldier was arrested on October 12 for stealing and selling ammunition to BH terrorists.
- Nigerian troops killed 19 terrorists in a failed Boko Haram/ISWAP ambush on October 11.
- Thousands of Pakistanis protested in the Swat Valley on October 11 after a deadly attack on Pakistan school van in which the driver was killed and a girl critically wounded. Terrorists are suspected to be behind the attack.
- A blast killed three and injured six people as a vehicle hit a landmine installed on the roadside in Balochistan on October 14- possibly planted by jihadis.
- Gunmen shot and killed a former Balochistan High Court Chief Justice outside of a mosque in the Kharan district of Balochistan on October 14.
- Pakistani Security forces killed one terrorist in Bannu, southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on October 16 and recovered weapons and ammunition.
- Two gunmen killed 11 Russian trainee soldiers in Belgorod on October 15. The attackers were from a former Soviet republic, the Russian defence ministry said, but did not give further details. They were also shot dead during the incident in the Belgorod region of Russia, which borders Ukraine. A further 15 people were wounded. A Russian military official claimed the shooters were from Tajikistan: this firms up the possible jihadi angle
- The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) opened joint operations centres to enhance coordination and planning with Somali security forces during operations against AS on October 11.
- AS attacked a pro-government militia in Hiran on October 11: there were no reports of casualties.
- The Somali National Army (SNA) claimed it had killed more than 20 AS terrorists on October 12.
- Four civilians were wounded in explosion in Mogadishu on October 12: although there was no immediate claim of responsibility it bore all the hallmarks of AS.
- The SNA says it killed 20 AS terrorists on October 12 as they tried to storm a military base.
- An electoral delegate was killed in Mogadishu on October 15: likely by AS.
- Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists are increasingly relying on money raised by extortion of local communities in eastern Syria to fund their terror activity.
- A bus bombing in Damascus on October 13 killed at least 18 soldiers and wounded more: there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
- Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) took control of a strategic town in northwest Syria on October 13 following days of clashes with several militia groups who were controlling the area.
- ISIS killed nine Syrian Arab Army soldiers and three civilians in Deir ez Zor on October 12. Three ISIS terrorists also died.
- Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) neutralised the PKK’s so-called local leader in Syria on October 15.
- Clashes between ISIS terrorists and local factions resulted in the deaths of four people in Syria on October 14: two ISIS terrorists and two militia members.
- An ISIS terrorist detonated a suicide bomb killing himself while he was being taken out of his house by local militia fighters in the city of Jasim on October 14, killing three others. The individual was inside his house with his wife and seven children at the time of the raid.
- Turkish Police busted houses which ISIS terrorists had converted into so-called “sharia education centers” in Ankara and detained 17 terrorists on October 13.
- Two pro-government soldiers were killed and another five wounded in a roadside bombing in Yemen on October 14. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility the culprits were most likely Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)