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The Diabolique

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The Italians gave the world the word ‘terroreo’ meaning ‘I make afraid’ many centuries ago to articulate the concept of fear as a tool and methodology. In modern times no member-state within the United Nations Organisation has been able to come up with a universal definition of terrorism because of the inclination among nations to make a distinction between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. Retribution for terrorism is largely governed by individual statal legislations that are intended to deal with their self-centric cases of terrorism.

In the thick almanacs on terrorism and its practitioners there is a convergence of views on the ‘types’ of terrorism extant in the world. In the current context much of global terrorism is an admixture of religious terrorism and state-sponsored terrorist acts of large-scale destruction and human carnage executed by ‘non-state actors’ under the patronage of states or their intelligence agencies. Ever since the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre twin-towers and the Pentagon in Washington DC in the US in 2001, time and again the name of Pakistan has cropped up in investigators’ dossiers for aiding and abetting terrorists and terrorism from 9/11 to the Mumbai attack on 26/11/2008; from the Chechnya terrorist attack on a school to the Bali bombings there is a thread of connectivity be it Osama bin Laden and his United Jihad Council operating out of Afghanistan and Pakistan or the various offshoots that have been created to further obfuscate the fountainhead.

In spite of all the evidence provided by participants like David Coleman Headley and hardcore terrorists housed in the US-run Guantanamo Bay detention centre, not once has Pakistan been designated as a state that sponsors terrorism because of a technicality that there are other laws like the Hague Conventions on War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity with jurisdiction over states’ behaviour in conflict situations. The US has not moved against Pakistan even after it killed Osama bin Laden who had been hidden away in the high-security Abbottabad cantonment. Instead it has pumped in billions of dollars into the country in return for the assurance that it will not interfere with the drone strikes.

Terrorism has morphed from Corporate Style projection of the spear of fear in the past 20 years to autonomous splinters in ‘sleeper mode’ that have been assigned to strike at specified targets on command to the most recent phenomenon of terrorist attacks by ‘Lone Wolves’ as in the Boston Marathon bombing, Charlie Hebdo, the Sydney café, the German Bakery (India) attacks. Simultaneously, the American tendency towards regime change operations has left political vacuums that are swiftly filled by Islamic fundamentalists of the most rabid type. The growth and rapid spread of the Islamic State in the Iraq / Syria salient is an illustration of this phenomenon. I hae been trying to unravel the strange symbolism in the manner in which the ISIS has been clothing persons destined for execution in saffron robes. Is it a veiled warning to India which has the second largest population of Muslims and to Indonesia that has the largest that they are the next targets after the Levant is incorporated in the new Caliphate?

This edition of DSA highlights the causes of the spread of Global Terrorism and how the emergence of IS is going to affect the national security of India. Our eminent experts on global terrorism have shared their analyses in this edition. It should help you to understand and deal with the unfolding scourge.

Jai Hind!

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