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HomeColumnFollowing fall in Syria, ISIS heading towards South Asia — Part II

Following fall in Syria, ISIS heading towards South Asia — Part II

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Kashmiri Muslim protesters hold Isis and Pakistani flags as they shout anti-India slogans during clashes in downtown Srinagar on 8 April, 2016 ( TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images )

Countering militancy is no kinder-game:

Strategies of countering militancy are not only a complicated issue but it also is one of the most sensitive matters, especially in Muslim nations. Slightest mistake in adopting any policy in countering militancy or creating public awareness against militancy and religious extremism would not only blow-back, but it would even open opportunity to Islamic militancy groups in dramatically getting support and sympathy from the masses and spread the seeds of radical Islam even at much faster pace than imagined.

Most importantly, counter-militancy organisations in the Muslim nations need to realize, jihadist notions are not only spreading on the ground, but it also is spreading through the internet. In this case, greater vigilance against the threat of ISIS in cyberspace is crucial. It is important to note, ISIS keeps the virtual form of caliphate alive through the diabolical language of hatred. We need to remember, the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq was not the end of its terror threat and cyberspace was now a new battle ground.

Cyber-attacks can be very complicated to deal with and requires totally new doctrine for us to counter it effectively. Cyber defence is not about physical strength, but wit and sharpness. We need new types of soldiers, one with sound knowledge in information technology. Threats posed by ISIS are now greater due to the advancement of technology. Combating terrorism requires better cooperative security strategies in various forms, be it hard or soft approaches.

It is also important to note, there is no ‘one size fits all’ in terms of violent extremist or terrorist profile, set of motivations, level of radicalization and extremism, and their trajectories. Similarly, counter terrorism responses and solutions. It is fundamental that we be united to fight against terrorism effectively.

Don’t trust the ISIS brides:

I am surprised seeing few reports in the international media saying, the women [ISIS brides] say it was misguided religious faith, naiveté, a search for something to believe in or youthful rebellion. Whatever it was, it led them to travel across the world to join the Islamic State group. Now after the fall of the last stronghold of the group’s “caliphate,” they say they regret it and want to come home.

Here is the blunder those news outlets are making, which might even mislead the people and finally help those ISIS brides return to their home countries and melt in the societies and of course, continue their notoriety as they are taught by the jihadist masters. These brides are ruthless, ferocious, and cunning and nothing can liberate them from the brainwash they have received during the stay with the ISIS men and women. Each of them is returning with a similar agenda – killing the non-Muslims, more precisely, Jews and Christians, for the “cause of Allah”. Such mindset has transformed them into predators, which only looks for the blood of the ‘enemies of Allah’.

What is next for South Asia?

In my personal opinion, counter-terrorism or counter-militancy strategies of the South Asian nations, particularly of Bangladesh and India are grossly wrong or misdirected. Just recently, India’s intelligence Bureau or IB has exposed its naivety by copying a report about ISIS attacks on the Buddhist temples 10 days after the report was published. Meaning, they were sitting tight for over a week and the entire intelligence establishment of the country were also not even aware of the matter. This particular case has clearly proved the very ability and capacity of the Indian counter-militancy or counter-terrorism forces as well as its intelligence establishments. Most definitely, India’s only hope is the cooperation and intelligence alerts it has been receiving from its key ally – the State of Israel, which helps India in saving the people from jihadist attacks.

Indian intelligence agencies are spending significantly in mass awareness against militancy and thanks to the contributions of the Bollywood film industry, which also has been playing crucial role in creating mass opinion against militancy and religious extremism.

Bangladesh, although is facing challenges posed by Islamic State especially because of Rohingyas and ARSA joining hands with ISIS is still either legging much behind in its efforts in creating mass awareness and public opinion against militancy and religious extremism or are simply putting such responsibility of creating mass awareness into wrong hands, which ultimately would generate catastrophe for the country and give further boost to the jihadist forces.

While Bangladesh has always been denying existence of ISIS or Al Qaeda in the county, it needs to note, despite not having an organizational foothold in Sri Lanka, the attacks conducted by National Thowheed Jamath on behalf of or by pure allegiance toward the Islamic State highlight a franchised form of terrorism that is going to offer a fresh set of challenges for counterterrorism policies. The Islamic State functions as a brand name nowadays, with those adopting its image creating instant narratives, gaining immediate attention, and reaching the front pages around the world. A lax approach after the territorial defeat of the Islamic State is no longer an option — instead nations worldwide have to adapt to battle a hydra-headed insurgency.

Are we really capable of doing that?

(The author of the article is the editor of Blitz.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AFTERNOON VOICE and AFTERNOON VOICE does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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