Homeland Security

A Future View of Terrorism
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Issue Courtesy: Aakrosh | Date : 21 Nov , 2011

Terrorists are often integral players in local and, sometimes, global politics. Hence, when the local, regional and international contexts change, so does terrorism.

As a conflict method that has survived and evolved through several millennia to flourish in the modern information age, terrorism continues to adapt itself to meet the challenges of emerging forms of conflict and exploit developments in technology and society. Terrorist groups have shown significant progress in outgrowing subordinate roles in nation-state conflicts and becoming global threats in their own right. They are becoming more integrated with other substate entities, such as criminal organisations and legitimately chartered corporations, and are gradually assuming a measure of control and identity with national governments. To counter antiterrorist operations, terrorists are well advanced in their preparation with sophisticated weapons and are in control of modern technologies. This is facilitated by the heavy funding by kindred groups. Future will see them more capable of combating any strategy formulated by a government.

Understanding Terrorism

Terrorism is a big business today. Huge money is involved in recruiting young boys, training them to operate modern weapons and motivating them to risk their lives. This is all done with expert planning and foresight. A small mistake will damage or destroy the whole operation. However, while predicting terrorism as a highly speculative business, there are ways of identifying certain long-term causes and driving forces and their links with society. Terrorism is a product of hate, and the hatred is usually so ingrained that people who feel they are wronged lose their tolerance and get obsessed with the idea of taking revenge. Lately, another dimension that has added to the cause of terrorism is money. People, particularly the young generation of lower economic strata, get induced by money to join the terrorist organisations. They are willing to adopt any step to become instantly rich.

Editor’s Pick

Terrorists are often integral players in local and, sometimes, global politics. Hence, when the local, regional and international contexts change, so does terrorism. This is what Brynjar Lia3 thinks. The dilemma for the international community lies firstly in assessing whether a cause is “just” and, therefore, capable of being remedied by political negotiation and secondly in identifying which “terrorist” organisations can be trusted to participate in the legitimate political process. After all, an ordinary person deserves to remain free from the fear and threat of terrorism.

The recent and most popular event that has taken the whole world instantly by alternate exhilaration and resentment is the death of Osama bin Laden, the most wanted terrorist, in a haven. This leads us to provoking questions that relate to the future prospects of global terrorism.

The media’s role must not be ignored or underestimated. It enables the terrorists to know their strengths, at the same time motivating them to exercise their activities more fiercely. The stage is set for the drama, and the actors of violence perform their acts fearlessly and dangerously, attracting more attention. Players in the media, thereafter, compete among themselves with their information. The ratings and the subsequent revenue realised by them from increases in their audience size, in turn, produce pressures on terrorists to increase the impact of their actions and take advantage of the sensation they create in society.

It has been common knowledge that governmental machinery and the media will always see terrorist events from differing and opposing perspectives. Such contradictory perceptions result in tactical and strategic gains, or losses, to the terrorist operation and the overall terrorist cause. The challenge to the governmental and press community is, therefore, to understand the dynamics of the terrorist enterprise and to develop policy options to serve governments in their campaign against terrorism and to serve social interests. In the recent past, a series of incidents have thrown new challenges for the media. The media becomes all the more free to exercise its thoughts when no terrorist organisation comes forward to claim responsibility for a heinous act. The media’s speculations sends wrong signals to the society, thereby removing the bases of charges and reducing the responsibility of a terrorist outfit, making it all the more courageous and dangerous.

Raphael4 explains that three new trends are emerging in the future that are likely to influence the relationship between the media, the terrorist, and the government: anonymous terrorism, more violent terrorist incidents, and terrorist attacks on media personnel and institutions. So, the healthy strategy of the government should be to prevent the media from furthering terrorist goals as a by-product of vigorous and free reporting.

Today, experts5 believe that certain parts of the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan are turning out to be the main power centres for terrorism. Decades of lawlessness and corruption have seen Islamist terrorist groups fill the power vacuum in this region and continue to turn out an alarming number of religiously motivated terrorists.

The recent and most popular event that has taken the whole world instantly by alternate exhilaration and resentment is the death of Osama bin Laden, the most wanted terrorist, in a haven. This leads us to provoking questions that relate to the future prospects of global terrorism. The imminent questions disturbing everyone’s mind are: What next? Who will succeed Osama? What would be the reaction of the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups to this incident? The answers to these questions are anyone’s guess, but in the meantime, every country is mobilising its strength to defend itself from haunting fear and threats to its security. The one picture that emerges is that a powerful country can use its intelligence setup to extricate terrorists from their havens with or without the consent of the government concerned.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

S. Sanyal

 S.SANYAL, former Reader NICFS (MHA) consultant UVCT & research fellow of Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.

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