On the evening of 13 November 2015, Paris, the city of light known to be sprightly and with a never dying spirit of hope, was shadowed by the agony of bloodshed and death. Paris was the victim of seven coordinated terror attacks at various locations killing at least 130 people and injuring hundreds of others. Gunmen opened fire, calmly and methodically, at various restaurants, bars and the most deadly one at the Bataclan concert venue leaving around 90 people dead. A series of explosions also took place near the State de France (football stadium) where an international friendly was underway. Many of the attackers detonated their suicide vest when they were attacked by policemen and swat teams. The deadly carnage, which left not only France but the whole world in a state of shock, was claimed by the Islamic State Jihadists to be their operation.
After weeks of investigations and raids throughout France and in some places in Belgium, a series of facts which pointed at the certainty of the attack being a planned one, and the connections with the Islamic State emerged. While these horrifying attacks were a short siege in Paris, the underlying realities of the situation in Europe is far more troubling and the situation can soon become worse for Europe, and soon for the world.
The analysis of the attacks and other related reports has led to the following conclusions.
- The attacks are a part of a direct global Jihadist movement
Most of the western world is being confronted by the radical extremists who justify their actions based on their own interpretations of Muslim texts and doctrines. Their aim is not to harm the people of a specific country, or faith but everyone who they believe opposes their idea of the establishment an Islamic Caliphate. These attacks may have taken place in Paris, but the source of planning, resources, and monitoring at the time of execution can be, in all probability, traced back to the conflicted areas in the Middle East. The movement might be considered decentralized and atomized, but the rage that drives its growth around the world will make it a big threat.
6. The rebel base might be limited to Syria and Iraq, but its reach and influence is not
Many governments have claimed that the Islamic State has been contained to Syria and Iraq, and military efforts are underway to debilitate and gradually destroy the heart of their movement. What governments have failed to realize is that IS has loyal followers and affiliates around the world. Their propaganda has inspired individuals from all continents thousands join the movement every day. Many reports show that the previous terrorist attackers have pledged their allegiance to IS. The Islamic State has an ample pool of radicals and fighters ready to put the group’s plan into action around the world.
- The situation is a product of the wars and dysfunctional governments in the Middle East
Years of war and conflict has left many countries in the Middle East broken and has added fuel to the fire between the Sunni and Shia sects. The common people, who have faced the devastating effects of war, are easily swayed by the influence of the rebel groups who promise them a better future under the Caliphate. Governments have been overthrown, infrastructure has been destroyed, and economies have been reduced to nothing. Air strikes and raids have become a part and parcel of many commoners’ lives. The anger in the minds of the people encourages them to join the rebel groups and be a part of the movement which will get them their identity back. A majority of recruits are a direct result of dire consequences and conditions. They have been pushed to the point of desperation and utter misery.
- Countering the happenings is impossible without a global alliance dedicated to contain and weaken the movement
The frequency of incidents of extremism is increasing exponentially and a global coordinated effort is the need of the hour. The attacks in Turkey, Paris, and the bombing of a Russian jet are just a few incidents that have been grabbing headlines. Many attacks and incidents which happen in lesser known or inaccessible areas near the conflict zone are left ignored by the agencies tackling the situation. There is an urgent need to enhance the intelligence sharing processes and border control mechanisms. Followers influenced by the Islamic State are travelling in huge numbers to reach the Caliphate’s strongholds and join the movement for their faith and identity. Many fighters also return to their homelands for planning, recruitment, or other purposes which are a part of their fight. Borders need to tighten their control and with the help of improved intelligence be updated with all potential suspects and plans. Nations need to come together to give birth to an effective counterterrorism effort with the strength to control the rising wave of extremism throughout the world.
- A well planned and massive military response in the conflicted regions is necessary
With the Islamic State accumulating large amount of funds on a regular basis from illegal trade, loots, and donations from their supporters, their army is well prepared for combat and immediate action. As long as they are in possession of resources and arms, the rate of their expansion will tend to be higher than the rate of control. Thus, it is extremely important to attack the roots of their ever expanding tree of terror. The superpowers need to come together and analyse the whole situation and then prepare a plan of attack to gradually eradicate the roots of Jihadist terrorism in the Middle East. They also need to provide support to the displaced local governments and forces and equip them to take over the country from the radicals over time.
- Replenishment of their resources is necessary
When the forces are able to curb the effect of the caliphate’s movement and are in a position to restore peace and order in the conflict affected zones, a large amount of finances and resources will be required to re construct the socio economic systems, basic infrastructure, and the foundations of future development. Leaving countries previously affected by civil war and radical extremism to eliminate the effects of the conflict on their own is not only dangerous but also morally wrong. The common people were a target of the situation and consequences, and cannot be held responsible for the acts of terror by a few radical groups. Resources and support will ensure that the newly formed government is capable of handling any future conflicts on its own and is also able to take the required steps to prevent any conflict in the future.
- The Muslims who are not associated with IS need to be protected from racial attacks and discrimination
Muslims around the world have faced the anger of the people from other faiths after every single event of terror carried out by the IS and its associates. Whether they are affiliated with IS or not, they have been the target of shootings, attacks, vandalism, and ostracized from social groups. A sense of insecurity and anger is gradually developing in their minds and if their vilification continues, they might be forced to leave the countries and go back to the conflict zones and neighboring areas where they might be unwillingly forced by consequences to join the Jihadist movement.
The need to tackle the global radical movement in a planned and coordinated manner is the need of the hour and we must all come together to improve the situation and help establish peace and order in the world.