CHARLIE HEBDO ATTACK AFTERMATH: THE PICTURE AHEAD LOOKS DARK

World was still reeling in the aftermath of the Paris terror attack when Europe saw incidents where potential terror threats were contained and terrorists were captured or killed.

On Thursday, Belgium thwarted a terrorist attack that it said could have been another ‘January 7 Paris attack’. Two terrorists were killed in the operation.

Interpol is after an ISIS terror cell that may target Spain and Germany. Reports say terror cells are active in France.

France saw another hostage situation today in a Paris suburb that ended with the gunman surrendering. Though there are no certain reports on the gunman’s link to the last week’s Paris attack or to some other terror cell, he was heavily armed, with Kalashnikov and grenades, and that scales up the disturbing feeling.

Terror warning and alerts have continued with increased frequency midst the calls and acts of defiance and solidarity.

January 11 saw some four million people and 40 heads of states descending on Paris in solidarity with the victims of the January 7 attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and in defiance of the designs of the terror warlords.

On January 13, France voted to extend its airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq.

On January 14, the next Wednesday of the January 7 attack when the terrorists had barged in and had opened fire on Charlie Hebdo staffers when they were holding their weekly meeting killing its four cartoonists, the magazine came out with cartoon of the Prophet, in protest and in defiance. The terror attack on Charlie Hebdo had its origin in the Prophet cartoons published by it in previous years. In five languages and in 20 countries, it was sold out immediately with five million print run. The regular circulation figure for the magazine has been in 50,000-60,000 range. Even during its previous issues with the Prophet cartoons, it was just a fraction (some 150,000 copies)¬ of what happened with this Wednesday issue.

And terrorists have been on the job as well, keeping everyone on the toe. Europe remains on high alert. Al Qaeda in Yemen took responsibility of the Charlie Hebdo strike though doubts remain. ISIS praised the attackers. Many other Islamic terror outfits came out saying so. ISIS has asked its ‘lone wolfs’ to target Europe and ‘kill all the infidels’.

And with it, the elements working to incite the anti-Islam sentiments in Europe found an accessible playing field. Thousands gathered in anti-Islam rally in Germany. Prague had another such rally. France has seen anti-Islam protests with grenade attacks on mosques in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

And the atmosphere is expected to get vitiated more with developments like anti Charlie-Hobdo protests today in Karachi (Pakistan) that took a violent turn with protesters clashing with the police. Protesters were trying to target the French consulate in Karachi. The injured include an AFP photographer who was shot in the back. Pakistan and some other Muslim countries have seen events to honour the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

The way events have evolved since January 7, the picture looks dark with increasing tension. And unfortunately, as the terror warlords would want, it is taking a religious hue, pitting Christians and Muslims against each other.

Still a handful of them, the situation may get alarming if not checked soon.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

13TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11: TERRORISM IS NOW MORE ORGANIZED, SPONSORED AND BLOODTHIRSTY

It is the 13th anniversary of 9/11, a terror attack 13 years ago that still symbolizes how audacious and incisively painful terrorism can be.

And after 13 years of the attack, a series of multiples assaults on the concept of ‘America’, the only superpower of the world in 2001, on September 11, the threat of terrorism has grown more organized, sponsored and bloodthirsty.

The war theaters were not so many in the world back in 2001. The global geopolitical theaters were acting and moving in the routine of a post Cold War world.

It was more or less in routine, except the elements propagated by the two superpowers to further their interests in different parts of the worlds – in different regimes – the so-called fighters against intruders, the Mujahidin, the rebels, and the dictators – all trained, armed and propped up by these two superpowers and their allies – in the post Cold War world, many of these elements were left aimless – when they were still armed and were looking for the next target to hit.

It was more or less in routine, except the ‘now free’ elements were seeing more and more of their upcoming action-zones from a religious spectacle.

It was more or less in routine, except the many so-called allies of both the sides were without the ‘active’ patronage now and the dictators in many of them started taking decisions independently, something that they had never done when they were allied either to this or that camp of the Cold War world.

It was more or less in routine, except that the only superpower of the world then, the US, had no challenging threat, and thus had the greater ease to reread and reinterpret its bilateral, multilateral and geopolitical concerns and it did err in reading and rewriting some of the equations.

All these not-so-routine events after the Cold War were the shaping elements of what we know today as Islamic Terrorism. A religion never teaches to fight; still religions were used as the organizational principles.

And all these not-so-routine events after the Cold War culminated in 9/11.

But, as we see today, that culmination was just the beginning. Yes, being the only true superpower, the US has been successful in averting any other big terror attack on its soil, but the world has grown more terror-prone, more insecure, with many more civil wars, with many more war-theaters now.

Afghanistan is still unstable with the Taliban threatening a comeback as the international forces are pulling out. For records, the Taliban were forced out in 2001 but they were never out. Together with Pakistan, the region is one of the most fertile grounds for terrorism.

Iraq could never recover from the 2003 invasion and in spite of the international forces and a government supported with it, the effort was never sufficient to give Iraq what was promised when Saddam Hussain was declared a demon.

Libya is the similar sorry story. Sad to say, but it looked more peaceful and organized under a dictator than now. No global power looks concerned about Yemen and Bahrain. After experiments supported by the international pressure, Egypt is again back to the military rule effectively. Then there are spreading wings of Islamic Terror in countries like Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia.

And the list is not exhaustive. Terrorism today or more aptly to say terrorism in the name of religion, with organized groups, has a far greater reach today and unstable governments and ethnic wars in many of these war-theater countries have allowed the terror groups to grow stronger than or parallel to many of the governments, like in Nigeria, like in Somalia, like in Libya, like in Syria and like in Iraq.

And with the mess in Syria and Iraq now, again a situational outcome of the selfish geopolitical concerns and some pathetically indecisive moments of the global powers that opposed a dictator but didn’t do anything to support the rebels except showing them mirage and thus pushing them to the warzone, the terror threat is reaching above the warning levels with emergence of probably the deadliest and most powerful of the organized terror groups yet, the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

US President Barack Obama has vowed today to destroy the ISIS and extend the theaters of operations beyond Iraq, to Syria, after ISIS openly challenged the US might by killing two of the captive US citizens.

But even Obama knows it is not going to be that easy. ISIS may be much stronger but we need to remember it is still an Al Qaeda offshoot. And Al Qaeda didn’t die with Osama bin Laden in 2011. Laden had died much earlier, when he chose to live a solitary, hidden life. But the ideology lived and grew to engulf more regions of the Muslim world. Almost of the major terror groups today have their origins in Al Qaeda. Many others have affiliations and collaborations with it. And the vast swaths of the unstable Muslim world are fast becoming their sanctuary.

Terrorism is more organized, sponsored and bloodthirsty now, more than ever.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/