Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Complexities of war against terrorism

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Complexities of war against terrorism

The terrorists of today have a global network and little firm information is available about the type of data used by network analysts. The experts in general mostly rely on newspaper and other media reports, but it is certain that they maintain a high degree of connectivity and considerable redundancy. The dynamic units are probably small, with high personnel turn over and considerable structural equivalence. The network is not managed in the strict hierarchical sense, but a central leadership appears to plan major moves, to provide training, finance and logistical support but to permit considerable autonomy at the local level. Such structures contrasts markedly with typical governmental hierarchies.  In fact, to understand networks, one has to interview people; learn about their friends, relations and contacts; describe the relationships; reduplicate so that everyone is represented only once in the network, albeit in multiple roles; describe their movements; determine the processes of fission and fusion that create their particular dynamics; and connect the dots.  For the terrorists even, nationality matters less than the commitment. The force is composed of a variety of ethnic and national groups, whose belief presumably binds them to the cause, and not necessarily to a given organisation or leader. The breakdown of such a network, whether on the local or global scale, depends obviously on two factors: money and trust.
Relationships of terror group
In combating terrorism three distinct functions are involved. They relate to pre–empting and preventing; containing and managing; and investigating and prosecuting. The fight against terror is larger and more complex than the challenge of dealing with terrorists. The former requires more of statesmanship and good governance. The latter demands legislative and administrative reforms to plug loopholes in criminal law and the criminal justice administration.  In addition, timely, accurate intelligence and up-to-date databases on terrorist elements are essential to evolve strategies to counter terrorist activities. This requires multi–agency coordination and time–bound action which only an empowered central body with regional and local field officers with instant connectivity can accomplish. Similarly, a dedicated team of highly motivated, well–trained and fully professionalised officers supported by adequate resources, equipment and authority alone can take timely action to combat terror.  In most of the cases of terrorism, regional cooperation can be an effective instrument for the suppression of terrorism. The external support is often found in every operation of terrorist act in any part of the world whether in the context of interconnection between a group and its rival group, a group and its enemy state, or a state and its unfriendly state.
In the age of global terror nations targeted by terrorist campaigns find themselves in a difficult situation: they feel tremendous pressure to respond in some way to respond terror attacks, but there is no obvious correct response. Passively absorbing continued attacks on civilian targets is not an attractive policy option, particularly in democracies where public dissatisfaction is a major input into government decision–making; but the alternatives to passive victimhood are often controversial, expensive, and inconvenient and sometimes ineffective as well. Governments in democracies have constantly to balance the citizens’ right to live their lives in freedom, with minimum interference with their privacy from the security agencies, against their responsibility to protect their citizens from harm.  In the fight against terrorism the strengths of a free society are also its weaknesses. Terrorists use the rights and liberties inherent in a democratic society to operate with comparative freedom and then use the democratic laws to circumvent or evade the consequences.
Status of terrorism in South Asia               
The countries of South Asia in general are facing the problem of terrorism and insurgency and the both required a different approach in handling. Terrorism needs a top–down approach while insurgency required a bottom-top approach. For an insurgent movement to flourish, it must have support of a segment of the population whereas terrorism can be effective with just a few sympathisers and supporters amongst the population. In tackling an insurgency, it is a fight for the hearts and minds of the people and the people have to be addressed and won over.
With terrorism, the leadership or perpetrators of terrorism need to be targeted. Insurgency usually has rural roots while terrorism has an urban bias.  The most valuable sources against terrorism are human beings, long–term penetration agents, who will stay in place for a long period and work their way into positions where they can provide key intelligence. Thus, human and technical intelligence taken together must be backed up by long–term investigation and assessment, to understand the terrorist organisation, its people, its plans and its methods.
In nutshell, the present thinking on terrorism can be divided into two schools of thought. One school of thought places the terrorist beyond the pale of civilized society and considers him anathema to civilisation and stigmatises him as a plain murderer who needs to be eliminated. The second school of thought encourages an in-depth study of, and a systematic approach to understand and eradicate, the reasons that bring about such upheavals. The rational political, social and economic aspirations of peoples which when frustrated continuously give rise to full blown terrorism of modern day, must be sifted out of the process of terroristic actions and looked at separately. Those political aspirations must be addressed honestly and seriously.
Role of nations in terror combating
A State sponsoring terrorism or instigating violence in another country has long term strategic or political agendas and state–sponsored terrorism when used as a foreign policy tool translates into an unconventional war. Generally, no-solid evidence can be mustered against a state that is sponsoring terrorism as they use proxies and mercenaries instead of employing its own army or Special Forces.
Determining the threat posed by international terrorism whether state-sponsored or otherwise is a difficult and complex task. This kind of terrorism has attained dangerous dimensions both in South and Central Asia. It constitutes a serious threat to regional and international stability. Therefore, terrorism is a phenomenon which must be condemned, fought, resisted, controlled and, eventually, eliminated at all levels–national regional and international.
Conditions necessary for wiping out terrorism must, accordingly, be cultivated and strengthened nationally, regionally and internationally, and unilaterally, bilaterally or multilaterally. Terrorist acts confronted by a state cannot be eliminated by the affected states alone because of the international linkages of the terrorist groups. It is, therefore, clear that all the nations must form a common front to fight terrorism.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is Professor and Head University Department of Political Science B. N. Mandal University, Madhepura Madhepura-852113. Bihar, India. Email-rajkumarsinghpg@gmail.com

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