Just two days ago, the world and the United States of America in particular marked the fourteenth anniversary of Ground Zero. This singular episode in downtown Manhattan, New York City signposts the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in which the US suffered an unprecedented quantity and magnitude of homeland invasion in an almost impeccably coordinated act of external aggression initiated and executed by the Al-Qaeda militants. The twin tower of the World Trade Center was leveled in a hit mission by terrorists, who ran two hijacked American planes into the twin-symbol of the nation’s commanding global economic influence. The carnage saw over 3,000 people of diverse racial backgrounds being killed.
The US was not only, for the very first time, under attack; but the world. Terrorism just demonstrated a new approach and killer instinct. The 9/11 attacks showed how old-fashioned plane hijack and capture of hostages with whom bargaining is done with the target nations by the terrorists, or bombing of places considered hubs of white fantasies had become. Crashing the planes and exploding bombs in high density targets with maximum amount of blood spilled was considered more effective and far-reaching in assured victory.
With the Ground Zero in New York City and other hard targets, including the crashing of another plane on a part of The Pentagon (US national security coordinating centre) and the attempted crashing of another plane on the White House, it was obvious how systematic and vicious Islamic terrorism had become, which necessitated not only an American war on terror, but a redefinition of national and international security. The need to secure the homeland from the external context by combing and routing the sources of the 9/11 invasion was dire and non-negotiable. Global security would guarantee US security, and thus, a sustained war in Afghanistan and other places considered to be the hub of Islamism would not be spared. Iraq came into the picture and was leveled. So was an attempt made to unseat dictators, such as Muammar Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein, suspected of funding Islamist terrorism and to crush Al-Qaeda, which was then believed to be the very coordinator of the global terror network.
International security watch and consciousness gripped the airports with major airports of big western powers overhauling the security system as well as measures and terms. Aside the intense frisking, scanning machines and shared intelligence; the major airports also set standards for all by the listing of certain items that must no longer be carried on board.
These measures have paid off in terms of prevention of a reoccurrence of the 9/11 plan-crashing suicide missions of the jihadists in the US or elsewhere. There has not been another attack on the US from the outside. The 9/11 has awakened the national security experts to secure the homeland and borders more seriously and to deal with the external platforms from which terrorist attacks are launched.
However, the American and allies’ war on terror in the Middle East has rather multiplied the terror theatres as well as hideouts and operating bases. The combing and destruction of the the terrorist strongholds in the Middle East has rather led to the latter’s flight to “soft” and vulnerable zones, particularly Africa. Some years after the “victory” over Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the poorer and more susceptible states of Africa were helpless in the face of permeation, penetration and settlement by the vicious terrorists, who even cashed in on the vulnerabilities to use African territories as recruitment and training centres, as well as fortresses as a result of the deserts and thick forests. The rise of Al-Shabbab in Somalia, AQIM in the Maghreb, Seleka in Cent-Afrique, Islamic jihadists in Mali and Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria is attributable to the relocation of dislodged terrorists from the Middle East.
In spite of -and not despite- the intensified western war against terror, the Islamists have multiplied, spread more widely, operated as coordinated cells of a huge network and connect through modern technology that the western powers are yet to crack. The collaboration among Islamists becomes more worrisome by the day as they have mutual allegiance and have evolved a collective ‘security system” that the world is yet to come to grasp with. The attacks are coordinated and with precision, as they are also unfathomably vicious and capable of literally wiping out whole communities.
Again, the global action and network against terrorism since 2001 has not been able to detect, intercept or stop the huge amounts of cash and hardware flowing into terrorists’ hands. They are said to be in jungles, forests, deserts and holes; yet they get unhindered access to plenty of cash and military hardware. They have access to the media and send video messages of their threats and actual killings through the social media. The degree of technology use has necessitated questions about whether the Big Boys fighting terror are not in actual fact the same ones fanning its embers and sponsoring it. While this thinking might be lame, the slow response or seeming inability to deploy all the sophisticated 21st century technological devices to trail terrorists’ movement and smash their camps often leaves much to imagination.
Al-Qaeda has lost out in the “fame game” to the most murderous group in human history- ISIS! The rise and notoriety of ISIS, which is busy establishing Islamic states in the Middle East and which revels as it engages in mass beheadings of Christian targets shatters the entire theory of “war on terror”. The proliferation of ISIS groups and manifestation of their obnoxious acts in the Middle East and parts of Africa show the reckless “loss to terror”. A school of thought that the Islamist rage as exemplified by ISIS is a destabilization instrument by the powers to keep the Middle East and Africa permanently crippled might sound mischievous and unquestionably malicious; but it might not be out of place to think that places the powers had stationed their military troops in the course of “intervention” eventually got torn apart by insurgency or Islamic militancy. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia. Some “lazy” theorists even posit that the US is behind Boko Haram.
While it cannot be contested that the US cannot support terror in view of its own bitter experience in 2001, it must be said that the world powers will need to do more to combat the menace and stem the tide. The manifestations of their inhuman act, such as suicide bombing of market places, churches, mosques, bus stops, shopping malls; and the raids on villages and kidnapping of soft targets such as women and children have underscored the more disturbing and ominous dimension of the whole contraption. The western world needs to share intelligence and work with the governments of the vulnerable African and Asian states to battle terrorism. The governments of these places too must be more responsible in providing good governance and social security to distract the youths from fantasizing on the idea of joining the terror movement or falling for the terror’s carrot.
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