Homeland Security

Attack on Paris: Some thoughts
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 18 Nov , 2015

Serial blasts in Paris killing more than 120 people recently is a clear indication that post modern societies are likely to face more such terrorist attacks based on religious fundamentalists. As it appears it was a reaction to France’s use of air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The present refugee crisis and issue of migration has added new dimension to the already vulnerable situation in entire Europe in general and France in particular.

Ever since Charlie Hebdo attack onwards France has been repeatedly targeted by fundamentalists. The war torn Syria and the chaotic scene around refugee camps near Hungary border have created fresh quagmire in the entire Europe. The rising tide of immigration and human smuggling across the borders in Europe has posed serious logistical and security challenges to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameroon and severely jolted the ongoing strategy of President Francois Hollande who wanted to come down hard on Islamic militants in Europe.

The present refugee crisis and issue of migration has added new dimension to the already vulnerable situation in entire Europe in general and France in particular. Undoubtedly, these are defining moments for the leaders of Europe. Due to desperate need for survival in the competitive world order particularly the new economic challenges posed by globalization thousands of people from underdeveloped countries have moved to European countries to greener pastures mainly through illegal transit. The influx of migrants towards Austria along Slovakia and Hungarian border and clashes between security personnel and rioters has brought forward the issue of migration and related crimes as well.

It is high time that European countries developed sophisticated mechanism to handle the problem head on as it has already caused severe tension between various countries. The issue of migration has also caused the problem of human trafficking and refugees across the globe. In certain pockets the problem of migration and refugees have created quagmire and terrorism. The problem of Refugees who have fled due to disturbances in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has added a new dimension to the existing problem of violence and crime in Central Asian Republics .In an era of globalization world is becoming small and integrated but due to its inner paradoxes it is getting fragmented and turning out to be a highly sectarian and intolerant place. The recent incidents cannot be viewed in isolation.

Experience has taught that complacency and lack of immediate reaction to terrorist threat has paralysed the security systems of the various affected countries on the face of trouble.

History bears testimony to various such tragic events. Few years ago the gruesome bombing against innocent civilians in Oklahoma City (which left more that 200 people dead or missing) sent shock waves around the world. In a mysterious gas attack at the main train station in Yokohama, Tokyo Subway that killed 12 people and left nearly 5,000 hospitalised also sent dangerous signals. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s terrorist activities had caused Sri Lankan Government huge loss of life and property. All such acts are violent culmination of terrorist plans that were carefully executed. Similarly, most countries of the world including Russia , Spain, U.K. Italy, Israel, and China are suffering due to terrorist activities in one way or another. Experience has taught that complacency and lack of immediate reaction to terrorist threat has paralysed the security systems of the various affected countries on the face of trouble.

Although violence in itself is condemnable, very rarely, terrorist violence is a nihilistic act bereft of any deeper undercurrents. And the structure of violence is more often than not, located in society and social conditions which not only create them but also nourish and reinforce them. Recurrence of violence is symptomatic of a society’s body politic, torn asunder by varied threats and tensions. Very often, the social conditions that generate conflict (and the cause for violence) have external coordinates.

In a globalised world, the matrices of power turn on the highly visible, in-egalitarian structure of international economy and as such inter-relations between socio-economic conditions in different parts of the world are becoming more and more obvious day by day. At another level the post-Cold War international politico-economic order is still a victim of the power game that was thrust on the world by the then Big Powers.

The power-network woven by the US and its allies in the entire West Asian region has provoked the ire of the opposition forces in almost every state where US has had an interest-based relation-ship. Thus, as the societies globalise and the curtains of opacity are raised through increased inter-societal inter-action at the international level, people in the underdeveloped countries are holding the Big Powers responsible for their inferior socio-economic positions.

Unless we attack the roots of terrorism, only superficial relief could be seen but terrorism would increase in the total quantum of its impact.

The rapid international transportation and use of sophisticated weapons like AK 47 assault rifles and plastic explosives (RDX) have helped to facilitate the expansion of terrorist networks around the world. Besides, the new suicide squads of terrorist have left the entire security apparatus of the affected states in a state of shock. The concept that one man’s terrorist can be another man’s freedom fighter must be done away with; local populace should cooperate with law enforcement machinery even at the cost of personal misery; prompt and strict decisions should be undertaken by various nations for controlling terrorist psychologically.

In changing environment the security apparatus and police need to diversify its activities by bringing together technical and professional expertise based on many decades of experience in maintaining internal security. In this regard the most crucial thing is to develop capability to anticipate security needs. This is possible by conducting specialized courses for monitoring security situations. Unless we attack the roots of terrorism, only superficial relief could be seen but terrorism would increase in the total quantum of its impact. Creation of general awareness and organisation of public support against terrorist acts could be of immense use. Since time is changing fast and terrorists have modernized both in strategies and outlook, following suggestions may be worth considering:

  • Carefully examining important incidents and preparing detailed action oriented reports on insurgency and terrorist affected areas.
  • Building a sophisticated communication network as part of a wider modernization drive which gives access to the latest technology to intercept any communication between terrorists.
Measures alone cannot become effective unless prompt and effective amendments are introduced in criminal judiciary system. Some of these reforms were made earlier too but were not properly implemented.
  • Better management of local contacts and sources of assistance to generate sufficient inputs for intelligence.
  • Developing new techniques of security and maintenance of secrecy.
  • Talent transfer: the need for specialists trained in countering terrorism .
  • Need to develop a think tank specialized in encountering tactics.
  • The better management of security development programmes for different levels of police and intelligence .
  • Security officials can coordinate with intelligence agencies and can be trained to take the initiative in implementing strategic development plans in consultation with experts from various branches.
  • Developing capability to anticipate security needs particularly in terrorist affected areas. This is possible by conducting specialized courses for monitoring security situations.

Measures alone cannot become effective unless prompt and effective amendments are introduced in criminal judiciary system. Some of these reforms were made earlier too but were not properly implemented. The panel should be able to take the initiative in implementing development plans in consultation with experts from different branches of government. Coordination between the panel and various security agencies could be of immense use in this regard. What is needed is the political will and courage to implement these suggestions effectively and promptly.

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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

Dr Sudhir Hindwan

Author is Chandigarh based professor of Political Science and an expert on strategic affairs.

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