Facing imminent defeat in Syria and Iraq, ISIS shifts its attention to South Asia

Written By: Pushpesh Pant
Gurugram, Haryana, India Published: Apr 30, 2019, 11:47 AM(IST)

Islamic State militant group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photograph:( Reuters )

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What is  most alarming is that ‘links’ that are emerging connecting perpetrators of the barbaric acts in Sri Lanka with like minded coreligionists in Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

More than 250 innocent victims lost their lives in the carnage on the Easter day and hundreds more were maimed in Colombo recently in synchronised terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. The horrible incident has once again exposed the vulnerability of a democratic society to fanatics ‘motivated’ by distorted interpretation of religion and ‘inspired’ by nightmarish vision of hatred against the ‘enemy’- the ‘other’ who must be eliminated. 

Every time such shocking events occur senseless violence is condemned and questions are legitimately raised about failure  of intelligence. In the moment of national grief and human suffering the priority is providing relief to the victims and to ensure that the spiral of violence doesn’t spin out of control triggering a communal backlash of revenge and retribution.

Sri Lankan government has responded swiftly and most sensibly. While the officers at the helm responsible for defence and policing  have resigned the campaign to trace and eliminate moles in their burrows continues silently. 

The country has suffered for decades from acts of terrorism during the long drawn civil war. LTTE that had started as an organisation leading a separatist movement for the establishment of  Eelam (an independent Tamil state) carved out of northern provinces soon uncared its claws and fangs as a brutal terrorist organisation led by a ruthless megalomaniac. Prabhakaran self proclaimed protector of oppressed minority turned in to a sadistic bloodthirsty predator. LTTE had established links with terrorists of different hues all over the world. The Tamil insurgency was put down only after brutal use of force that at times didn’t spare innocent civilians. Old wounds take time to heal have suddenly been reopened painfully. 

What is  most alarming is that ‘links’ that are emerging connecting perpetrators of the barbaric acts in Sri Lanka with like minded coreligionists in Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Much before the tragedy in Colombo irrefutable evidence had surfaced about growing menace of proselytising Islamic zealots in these southern states. Unfortunately, no one had the courage to expose the nexus between corrupt police officers, opportunist politicians and anti social criminals who abused religion as a protective shield. In a secular democratic state it becomes almost impossible to identify a member of the minority community as a prime ‘suspect’ involved in terrorist activities. Intelligence gathered or received fro friends and allies is of little use unless its actionable.  

India can not remain a silent spectator to terrorist threats in its neighbourhood as they impinge directly on its own security. Strategic analysts have been warning us that faced with imminent defeat in battlefields of West Asia the dreaded ISIS is likely to shift its attention to South and South East Asia. 

The USA and China blinkered by their own strategic interests have let Pakistan transform itself into a sanctuary for terrorists belonging to the aggressive and intolerant Wahabi sect of Islam. Over the years, the home grown Taliban have been outnumbered by mujahideen and fedayeen. Flush with funds provided by the Saudis forces of fundamentalist dogmatic Islam have struck deep roots in Pakistan from where they have spread their tentacles to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives. With both the brainwashed cadres of the ISIS and the Wahabi proteges of Saudi Arab waging a war for the hearts and minds of young Muslims right here where we live is confronting us with complex challenges- both in diplomatic arena and in domestic politics.  

It is almost impossible to ensure 100 per cent protection against attacks launched  by a suicidal lone wolf or a pack of rabid canines. Not even the all powerful USA and Israel always on combat ready retaliatory alert have been able to do so. Nor can one prescribe that to reduce the chances of a terrors strike we covert an open society to a police state. Viewing all members of a minority (or for that the some among the dominant matter majority) with suspicion can only be counter productive. 

Some analysts are suggesting that rich and well educated terrorists who appear to have replaced the cannon fodder recruited from hopeless slums may well be suffering from serious psychiatric disorders- suicidal tendencies and one shouldn’t hasten to draw wrong conclusions about their religious identities. The attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand  was the work of a white, Christian racist and the bloody assault on a Synagogue in New York can’t be blamed on the ‘Jehadis’. We feel that empathy and compassion should be saved for the victims.

Humane criminology can only cloud our vision distract us from the task of killing cancerous cell before they spread to vital organs and disease becomes incurable. There is no time to be lost. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.) 

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