THE GLOBAL NETWORK OF TERRORISM
The First and Second World Wars saw groups of nations collaborating against one another till the bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki clinched the bloodiest wars in history. But in the Third World War, we might never know who could be our enemy, but one could dare say that sixty years after the Second World War, the Third World War is already being fought in country after country against an elusive enemy that has packed into its punch a kind of invincibility arising from the element of surprise. And this enemy chooses its own time and place, using weapons that even the most powerful nation cannot ever contemplate. It is the World versus the Band of Terrorists operating from any part of the world that has kept every nation on tenterhooks. That the ranks of this enemy can recruit suicide squads for the bloody deed makes them more powerful than the atom bomb! How can you threaten to kill someone who is already prepared to die for a cause? Who doesn’t want to save his life? But here are diehards who are eager to become martyrs in the very act of mindless terrorism Their methodology could be different and the areas of operations might vary from time to time, but their ideology pf hatred is too lethal to be counteracted by the war machinery or by the law and order enforcement agencies of various states. Blind with fury, they use the most vulnerable as the fodder for their cannon-women, children and the unwary anywhere in the world.
Among the victims of terrorism, India tops the list-for over fifteen years the militants trained in the camps in different parts of Pakistan and the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have been killing and maiming the innocent citizens and the security personnel in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The terrorists have their hideouts elsewhere too in the country and in the past few years they have struck in the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat within the Red Fort in Delhi, near the Gateway of India in Mumbai, in the precincts of Indian Parliament and right now in the busy shopping areas in the Capital during the festivities of Diwali. Twice we almost came to the brink of a war with Pakistan, the fountainhead of terrorism during the Vajpayee regime, but somehow nothing happened.
That Pakistan has been the breeding centre of India-specific, the US-specific or Britain-specific militancy is known to all-the Indian establishment the Bush administration and the Tony Blair Government. One of the greatest dangers of the Second World War was the policy appeasement that Neville Chamberlain, the then British Prime Minister, adopted at the beginning of the Second World War. For the sake of peace, and with the country unprepared for war, he chose initially to follow a policy of appeasement towards Italy and Germany and signed the Munich Agreement. The US took the same stand of appeasing Pakistani military leadership at a time when the latter was stoking the embers of transborder terrorism in India, Chechnya and even within the US. Why on earth did the US go for a policy where it chose to rub shoulders with an abettor instead of exposing the nefarious designs of Pakistan? Nobody can unravel a policy that is a “riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma”, to use the phraseology of Winston Churchill. Both the US and Pakistan worked together to fight enemies which they themselves created-the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. You never know that the Frankenstein you crate would one day rum against you. The godfather of Osama never dreamt that one day the Saudi billionaire-turned-terrorist would successfully reduce to debris the twin towers of Manhattan. Gen. Pervez Musharraf too is learning the lessons of his life. Pakistan and the rest of the world stood as mute lookers-on while India was compelled to set free the hijackers of the Indian Airlines flight from Kathrnandu and release three terrorists in jail in India in lieu of the lives of the passengers abroad the hijacked aircraft in 1999. The fundamentalists that grew to the proportions of a monstrous Frankenstein are now a great source of danger to the life of Pakistani President himself. Attempts on the military strongman of Pakistan were made twice and Gen. Musharraf himself has been fighting the internal enemy. According to the Pakistani Ministry of the Interior, 30 militant outfits are operating from Karachi alone.
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2004 that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia helped set the stage for the September 11 attacks on the US by cutting deals with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden that allowed Al –Qaeda network to flourish. According to the report, the financial aid to the Taiban and other assistance to two of the most important allies in its war on terror date at least to 1996, and appear to have shielded them from Al-Qaeda attacks within their own boundaries until long after the 2001 strikes on the US. Both these countries gave the Saudi exile the sanctuary he needed to train tens of thousands of soldiers. The funding by two governments enabled Osama and his ilk to expand their operations into a global network. Pakistan went several steps further by allowing its military and intelligence agencies to coordinate their plans with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Several times before the September 11 attacks, India bilaterally and multilaterally made it known to the rest of the world that Pakistan remained the epicenter of Islamic fundamentalism exported to different parts of the world.
At the United Nations (UN) and other world forums leaders was eloquent about global action against terrorism, but do nothing to tackle it globally. And every nation is now paying an exorbitant price-Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Indonesia, the Philippines, Britain, Spain and soon.
The global ambitions of the US to invade Iraq just for the heck of it and subdue Saddam Hussein-in the name of fighting international terrorism and finding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that were not there, only tended to provide the fertile grounds for more jehadis to emerge. The war was unjustified and was illegal, said every the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan. Spain that toed the American line over the Iraqi war became wiser after a devastating blast in Madrid on March 11, 2004 that left 210 dead and 1,600 injured. The shreds of evidence pointed to Islamic extremists who wanted to avenge Spain for blindly siding with the US and UK ignoring the massive public opinion which was against the war. The serial explosions in three railway stations in Madrid were triggered by a cell phone. The Socialists that came to power in March 2004 withdrew the Spanish troops from Iraq. Madrid blasts emboldened the A1 -Qaeda that warned that its next targets could be Japan, Italy, Britain or Australia.
No nation ever takes seriously the writings on the wall and so Britain was caught napping when terrorists blew up a bus and exploded a bomb in the tube railway in July 2005, killing more than forty and injuring a hundred innocent citizens, shaking the country out of its complacency. Australia seemed lucky as it acted in the nick of time; a week just before the foiled attempt Prime Minister Mr. John Howard had said that he had credible information that a terrorist attack was being planned. Australian law-enforcers said on November 8,2005 that they foiled a “catastrophic act of terrorism” inspired by a radical Islamic cleric More than 450 heavily armed officers backed by helicopters swooped on Melbourne and Sydney and they hit upon chemicals similar to those used in July’s London bombings. The police said that the suspects were committed to holy war and prepared to kill Australians and had even planned suicide bombings. Police arrested seven persons in Sydney and nine in Melbourne as a 16-month investigation culminated in raids on more than 20 homes.
Terrorism is one phenomenon that is being planned indifferent parts of the world every moment and accordingly every government needs to be alert all the while. No doubt in India too there has been instances where our security forces, the paramilitary forces and even the police have acted swiftly to forestall disasters. India is a vast country of more than a billion, professing different religious and speaking different languages and it might be difficult to mount such vigilance as is possible for the Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the US. All the same we cannot take chances as there are insurgents fighting for a square deal in areas such as Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and elsewhere. Naxalites active in more than nine States have already struck a deal with the Maoists in Nepal.
The most unpredictable thing about terrorism is the uncertainty as to when and where the terrorists will strike. Terrorism is a daily affair in Jammu and Kashmir, but the criminals out to destabilize the country may choose any soft target anywhere to attract greater publicity. Their vicious plans include insidious designs to stoke communal fires too. India needs to be vigilant all the 24 hours and 365 days. The police in every State, together with the paramilitary forces, need to be given special training to tackle all facets of terrorism. After all, we have to fight the battle all alone as we could not get extradited any of these outlaws including Dawood Ibrahim for a fair trial in India. Amass media campaign has to be mounted to elicit people’s cooperation to report on suspects or suspicious activities in the neighbourhood.
The global network of terrorism could trigger disasters of unpredictable magnitude if any of their outfits secure access to the material for making nuclear bombs. One shudders on trucking about the consequences. But there are countries that pass on such information to such groups. Nations are worried about such possibilities. All this pinpoints the necessity of forging a global front against the terrorist networks. The desperados might do anything. This is why all stand to lose if we fail to work concertedly to deal with a common enemy.