Will The Terrorists Get What They Want?

December 2, 2008

The increased tensions between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks is precisely what the terrorists set out to achieve. 

India is under huge domestic pressure to provide a swift and proper response to Pakistan not least to jolt Zardari’s Government into taking action against cross border terror raids and to rein in the ISI who India accuses of supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group being blamed for the attacks.

Doing nothing would make India look weak, leave the ruling Congress Party open to the charge of being soft on terrorists denting its electoral chances next year and worse, invite further attacks.

But would any military action against Pakistan prove counter productive and actually increase militancy? Look at this potential scenario and the risks associated with an attack on Pakistan: 

  1. India increases the number of its troops on the border with Pakistan or launches a pre-emptive strike against specified targets in Pakistan.  
  2. Pakistan retaliates and moves its troops to the border with India and there is a tense stand off at best, or worse, a full scale battle.
  3. As a result Pakistan reduces troops from its border with Afghanistan giving greater freedom of movement to various militant groups to launch attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.
  4. Militant groups increase their activities and are able to recruit more people to their cause especially against the ‘Hindu enemy.’
  5. Even a minor skirmish gives oxygen to militants everywhere and increases the risks of further terror attacks in India not least from home grown terrorists. The Kashmir situation is exacerbated by militant activity.
  6. The freedom of movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan gives groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda a chance to re-group and launch more audacious attacks in Afghanistan destabilising the country further.
  7. The US responds to the increased attacks with raids into Pakistan with fighting on two fronts of Pakistan which leads to the fall of the civilian Government with either the military or Islamist backed rulers coming to power. 
  8. The confrontation between India and Pakistan ends with no discernible outcome except the strengthening of militant groups in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan and further destabilising of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  9. Militant groups are strengthened and are in a stronger position to launch attacks not only in Asia but the Middle East and the West.

India will take action, its people will demand it but will it show restraint and avoid steps leading to the above scenario or punish Pakistan and take a risk? India is standing between a very hard rock and a rock hard place.

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Mumbai Attacks and the Islamist Ideology

November 29, 2008

Interesting to note that the Mumbai terrorists did not make any formal demands or request any ransom despite holding foreign hostages and having the world’s attention focused on their actions. With the exception of one offer to release hostages in return for the release of ‘mujahideen’ held in India’s jails made to an Indian TV station, no specific demand or coordinated request appears to have been made. Here was an opportunity for the terrorists to list their grievances possibly live on air to an international TV Channel and highlight their concerns which was not taken up. There was no mention of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or the suffering of Muslims in India. Instead they held some hostages preferring UK, US and Israeli nationals and continued battling against the Indian Forces.

Do the terrorists have any demands or is what they desire non-negotiable and only satisfied once their power hungry and murderous ideology is in power?  The goal of the Mumbai terrorists was to simply kill as many people as possible, fight until their ‘martyrdom’ and gain as much publicity and political capital among other Islamists around the world as possible. They had no wish to negotiate, or desire to live. Their aim was to send a message of fear, whether that was economic, social or religious to India and the rest of the world – do as the Islamists demand or else. And it matters not whether you are a Muslim and hold similar religious beliefs, they will kill indiscriminately to get their political message across.

The Islamist ideology’s oxygen is its terror and hatred. It seeks to attract sufficient Muslims to its cause to enable it to strike anywhere in the world.  It seeks for its young and often vulnerable recruits newer and more rewarding and satisfying methods of battle. Trivial demands and ransoms are irrelevant when compared to martyrdom and the desire of Islamist global domination. The Islamists seek a total surrender to their political beliefs and nothing else will suffice and that is why anyone who thinks that negotiations with these people will lead to peace is deluded.

The warped notion of the terrorists that they are soldiers of a religious army battling against soldiers of a non-Islamic force and engaged in Jihad is satisfied by engaging in the Mumbai type of attack especially when compared to suicide missions. This is more honourable and overcomes the prohibition against committing suicide in Islam and undoubtedly gives the Islamists a larger base of potential recruits – what more could Islamists use as recruitment propaganda than death at the hands of a ‘Kuffar’ soldier?

The Mumbai attack could easily be replicated elsewhere by terrorists living locally who would know their area well. All Intelligence Agencies need to improve their intelligence gathering and learn how to prevent such an attack; and all Governments need to combat the global Islamist ideology whose goal is to kill as many people as possible in the hope that democratically elected Governments lose the will to fight and hand over failed states such as Afghanistan and Somalia to Islamists who rule according to their own rules and who export terror and hatred to all corners of the world.  The stakes have most definitely been raised.


Pakistan’s Economic Woes

November 17, 2008

Confirmation here that the IMF has agreed to loan Pakistan a sum worth £5.1 billion. Its economy is in a perilous condition and as I have previously mentioned the collapse of Pakistan’s economy would lead to disastrous consequences – and not only for Asia. Pakistan is a nuclear power and with the growing number of militants and Islamists actively undermining the rule of law and democracy, a further weakening of the economy could lead to more violence and further destabilisation of the country. Do read this weeks article in the spectator by Elliot Wilson who concludes that:

‘Fading hopes of a fiscal rescue rest on a financial injection from the IMF and World Bank in Washington — assuming, that is, that the US-centric institution feels like bailing out a country now cozying up with Beijing. The bleak situation is summed up by Farrukh Sabzwari, the head of Pakistan’s largest stock trading house, KASB Securities. ‘Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong, from currency reserves to skyrocketing energy prices to terrorism and the rising threat from the Taleban,’ he says. ‘There is a crisis of confidence in every part of the country.’


Extremists Numbers Increasing?

November 10, 2008

A leaked government intelligence report notes that there are ‘thousands’ of extremists active in the UK ‘principally engaged in spreading their extremist message, training, fund raising and procuring non-lethal military equipment to support the Jihads in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, and sending recruits to the conflicts.’

This document re-confirms the fact that the ideological message of Islamist groups such as Al Qaeda is having an effect on young men living in this country to such an extent that they are prepared to indiscriminately kill as many people as possible. Often Muslims cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the main reasons why they think some Muslim men are attracted to extremism. While these reasons may be contributing factors, Muslims need to accept that there is an overriding ideological reason as espoused by Al Qaeda and its like whose followers believe in the indiscriminate killing of people as a way of furthering their cause. This ideology whose supporters we have recently seen in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and other African and Middle Eastern states has no qualms about killing Muslims if they are seen to support the West let alone non-Muslims. This extremist ideology is spread using the Internet, university campuses, small study circles and other similar methods to brainwash young men into believing this ideology is the only way forward and must be followed.

Muslims in this country need to be vigilant especially parents of teenagers to ensure young men who may be angry at world events do not allow this anger to be channeled towards a path of destruction by extremists who are extremely professional and dedicated to their cause. Blaming foreign policy is not an answer, the Islamist ideology must be tackled head on.