Modern terrorism dates from mid 1960s. There were two causes:
- Failure of the European and North American New Left i.e. the student movement. It led to the creation of Japanese Red Army, German/ Italian Red Army/ Brigades, Weather Underground (USA).
- Emergence of nationalist/separatist move-ments in several parts of the world.
The wars of liberation may have ended but not insurgencies, which often style themselves as war of liberations. The threat of terrorism is, thus, not on the decline. It may in fact be increasing.
Following categorisation is possible.
- Nationalist separatist – Irish, Kurdish, Moro, PLO, Hamas, LTTE
- Anarcho Communist – Residual Red Brigades whose objective was to build up a communist society through urban guerrilla movement.
- Traditional guerrilla gps – Latin American Cops, ANC, Nicaraguan guerrillas
- Right wing extremism – Death squads of El Salvadore, Turkish Grey Wolves, Ku Klux Klan
- Islamic Fundamentalist Extremists like Hizbollah, Dawa, Islamic Jehad, M. Brother- hood
Increasing role of State distinguishes modern terrorism. Many States pursue national interests through this, low cost route. Syria (PFlp), Lybia (Abu Nidal), Iran (Hezbollah) Pakistan (JEM, LET and a host of others) are foremost example of this phenomenon.
State terrorism is to be differentiated from state sponsored terrorism. Former is practised against own citizens. In recent years, however, the boundary between state terrorism and that of small groups has been increasingly blurred. The groups take the shape of non-state actors and the state goes as state non-actor to escape accusations of direct involvement.
The wars of liberation may have ended but not insurgencies, which often style themselves as war of liberations. The threat of terrorism is, thus, not on the decline. It may in fact be increasing. Progressive miniaturisation and, therefore, portability of the rocket launchers, explosive devices, system of communications and remote control devices have potentially made terrorists more dangerous. Access to funds and sources of supply, the sheer complexity and density of modern industrial society, democratic or not; and the means for rapid and anonymous travel have spawned what is known as international terrorism. Instant publicity over print and electronic media acts as the oxygen of this terrorism.
Nuclear terrorism can take the shape of: exploding a device in a densely populated area, sabotaging a nuclear reactor from within, terrorist attack (truck bomb/suicide) on nuclear establishment and use of nuclear substance with radiological material in a conventional bomb i.e. the dirty bomb.
Dedicated terrorists do not lose no matter what is the counteraction against them because they do not operate on the basis of rationality. Fanatical dedication converts them into suicide bombers.
Briefly there are four kinds of potential terrorist scenarios which the world faces or can face:-
- International Terrorist League. In the past, the Muslim Brotherhood was a prime example. Today the International Islamic Front, led by Bin Laden, qualifies for such a description. Such a league keeps evolving new mutations, maritime terrorism, WMD terrorism, terrorism directed at economic targets or energy infrastructure, cyber terrorism etc. Currently the most destructive activity of such a group is worldwide Jehadi terrorism. This form of terrorism specialises in suicide or fidayeen attacks. Furthermore it has spawned what can be easily designated International Islamism.
- Terrorist Groups As Mercenaries. Two epicentres of such terrorism function from India’s neighbourhood and they are Pakistan and Bangladesh. The epicentre in Pakistan is located in the Waziristan area from where Al Qaeda, Taliban, Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, Jundullah (Army of Allah) and other component of International Islamic Front are making a determined bid to stage a comeback in Afghanistan.
- BW Terrorism. Confluence of biological weapons and terrorism can be catastrophic. Weight by weight biological weapons are the most lethal products of human enterprise. The quantity of botulinium in the dot of “i” is enough to kill ten persons. 100 gms of anthrax spore are adequate to decimate a medium size city. 500 gms can cause more destruction to human life than a medium sized hydrogen bomb. Most bio weapon grade microbes are easy and in expensive to grow. Large quantities can be produced in a few days or weeks. Antigenic and pathogenic properties can be added to tailor it to stealth characteristics. In bio-terrorism non-state actors with support from state non-actors may strike population centres, water reservoirs, industrial centres, livestock or crops. A society, immunised against pathogens like smallpox, is very vulnerable to such pathogens, launched by a state or non-state actor.
- Nuclear Terrorism. It constitutes the most spine-chilling scenario because lakhs can die immediately and many more, including future generations, crippled or doomed to early death. Nuclear terrorism can take the shape of: exploding a device in a densely populated area, sabotaging a nuclear reactor from within, terrorist attack (truck bomb/suicide) on nuclear establishment and use of nuclear substance with radiological material in a conventional bomb i.e. the dirty bomb.