2010: A Scenario for Terror



A number of trends indicate a strong potential for a resurgence in international terror this coming year.

Don’t want to be a Gloomy Gus on New Year’s Eve, but I will speculate that Islamicist terrorism will recapture international attention, especially in the West, this coming year.

It’s not as if terrorism stopped happening in 2009. It definitely took off in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region but it was so clearly aimed at the regimes in Islamabad and Kabul that it was not seen as an international threat. The Tehreek e Taliban were dangerous, but didn’t show any interest in attacking London or Louisiana, just Lahore.

But a number of trends may come to maturity this coming year and their fallout points to a return to globe-spanning terrorism.

One is the rise, already commented on by various counterterrorism experts, of the Al Qaeda regional affiliates. After a relatively long lull, the end of the past year saw the chapter in Iraq stage a series of spectacular bomb blasts, the chapter in Somalia actually carving out its own bit of territory, and the chapter in the Arabian Peninsula try to assassinate a Saudi minister and blow up a US airliner.

Though they’ve been around for years, these regional affiliates had been either browbeaten into silence or had focussed on local targets. With the attempt over Detroit, Al Qaeda Arabia officially declared itself a global contender. Yemen only generated two international Al Qaeda attacks between 2000-2008. Now two have arisen in the last five months of 2009. I suspect it won’t take long for more such plots to surface. I’ll put a small side bet that Somalia is going to go from being a safe haven to an exporter this coming year.

The original Al Qaeda also got very hoity-toity after 9/11, declining to carry out attacks that were not spectacular. They also had to be multiple. All of that is clearly gone. It is now carry out terrorist attacks when the opportunity arises, don’t worry about bells and whistles.

Two is that home-grown terrorism has been on a steady rise in the West but even in places like Asia and Africa. A Rand Corporation study, excluding the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, has shown a steady increase in lone gunmen inspired by Al Qaeda carrying out or plotting terrorist act since 2001.

2009 was a peak year for the US. Though the shootings in Arkansas and Fort Hood were the only ones to make it to page one, it is less known that eight other such plots were nipped in the bud.

While no one is completely clear what leads a person to take the path of self-radicalisation, at least two macro causes are evident. One is a bad economy, which tends to drive marginal people over the edge. Don’t expect the West’s economy to be good news in 2010. Two is the pressure of US cum Western war efforts in Muslim dominated areas. Afghanistan is going to be an even bloodier place next year as the new NATO deployments begin to bite.

The trends aren’t too good for Europe either, especially the United Kingdom. Every counterterrorism person I speak to in the US, when asked what worries him or her the most, says, “BritPak.” In other words, radicalized British citizens of Pakistani origin. Among other things, they don’t need visas to enter the US.

Finally, there’s Pakistan. The civilian regime of Asif Ali Zardari is going to be fighting for its life in 2010 and I wouldn’t bet money on its survival beyond the summer. But this will effectively mean that there will be even less authority in Islamabad than normal.

When the Pakistani state is weak and its leadership is daggers drawn, the jihadi groups there get more leeway to do what they are best at – which is wage terror.

India has screamed and shouted, cajoled and caressed, all of 2009 in an attempt to get Pakistan – and vicariously the US – to at least get the Lashkar e Toiba to keep a low profile. It’s worked to some degree. Lashkar has done nearly nothing since the Mumbai 26/11 attacks. But it can’t continue for too long.

More importantly, as Pakistan itself is squeezed by further internal terror attacks and the expansion of the US war in Afghanistan, the more likely it is that a nexus of Islamicist military officers and terrorist groups will seek to ease the pressure by attacking something, anything, further afield. India is the obvious target. But I would argue that militant groups other than Lashkar, because of Al Qaeda’s influence (yes, all those videotapes do have an impact) are increasingly prone to seeing New York as preferable to New Delhi has a means to earn street-cred.

I could and hope that I am completely wrong. Watch and see.

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  • bobby

    Terrorists need state support to become strong enough to fight state machinery of another country. The two sources of state support were Afghanistan and Pakistan. They no longer have that support in Afghanistan and are fighting in Pakistan to retain that support. In absence of this support they are bound to become weaker over time.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.vksinghh.com/ vk

    Sir,

    An extremely terse analysis I have to say.

    Over the last couple of weeks US officials and diplomats have started to acknowledge Yemen as an active breeding ground for Al-Qaeda. They even shut the US embassy there temporarily in order to thwart any attempts to attack it.

    The bigger question now is that even if US is able to incapacitate Taliban after the troop surge and “rebuild” Afghanistan, what are they going to do if the regional affiliates of Al-Qaeda become more powerful and conduct attacks against it. US is already providing intelligence and military help to the government of Yemen against Al-Qaeda. Just how many countries can they invade and rebuild? The public opinion in US would soon start to go against these wars (if it already hasn’t) in the face of a reeling economy.

    It remains to be seen how it all turns out. Hopefully there can be a dialog between Al-Qaeda and the Western powers. Though as per Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech it is ‘not’ a possibility.

    Thanks
    vk

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  • KARNA

    The way i see it karna was the greatest warrior second only to bheeshma,the insult to draupadi is justified as she her self had insulted karna at the swayamvara,she started it.He did not ask anyone to disrobe draupadi,you can not blame a person for actions commited by someone else, the second allegation about abhimanu’s killing, here is your answer krishna manipulated many instances during the kurukshetra war and even before the war started right from the begining till the end,it was krishna who won the war for the pandavas.the rules of warfare were never followed right from the begining.Bheeshm and karna were just got caught in the middle,called upon to do their duties in the most difficult situation.Karna knew as long as he was fighting on the side of duryodhana his best friend,the fate of mankind was doomed,but he did not betray his friend though he was fighting against his brother.The only solution to this problem was to die for his friend in the battle and saving the world indirectly and the giving credit to his brothers,the ultimate sacrifice from a person who never got what he wanted from life doing full justice to his kshatriya duties,which the pandavas never achieved. All hail the Mighty Karna

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  • Kunal singh

    sahi kaha dost

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    parshant Reply:

    bil kul thik kahte ho dost

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  • Helenashearman

    Here here, don’t go to goa if you want a package holiday, goa is for the free thinking, spiritual people. Be prepared to feel the flow of the country, the love of the people, and just relax. And no, I’m not a hippy, but I like to live and let live, hopefully journalists like you will stick to Dubai and the likes – leave Goa to be what it is – Paradise!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nikhil-Malik/100003605264335 Nikhil Malik

    56 is gd

    [Reply]

  • Gorg

    I really would like to help this women to help her children to grow up healthy people in the society. this is my phone number 9711939302

    [Reply]

  • kripa Joseph

    yeh samaaj ki gandagi ko saaf kerti hai. verna aadmi itan jyada hawas ka pyaasa ho jaye ki apne ghar ki maa, bahen & aur beti k saath apni hawas mitaye. hum inko “Thanx” bolte hai jo iss samaj ko bachaye rakhti hai. lekin yeh samaaj inko ek gande nazar se dekhta hai. meri appel hai ki inko bhi samaaj m vahee jagah milni chaaheeye jo ek aam nagrik ko milti hai kyuki yeh samaj ko bachak rakhi hai.

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  • rama

    welcome to mediocrity….your article….

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  • Penny Fidler

    you should stay in Juhu my dear… sounds like your culture starts and ends there

    …..

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  • Sandeep

    Bad journalism…cheap aspirations…lack of self awareness , misnformation and disinformation…all included in this article…if Barrista is your criterion for culture…that is sad,,,Many of these backpackers are probably more educated and richer than you….

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  • Guest

    I’d advise Naomi to bath in the Ganges at Benares and dismiss once for all the idea the holy river is polluted. I bathed in it in the late 60’s and caught nothing after years in India….

    Goa? ….Got what it deserved.! Alas. I prefer the local fishing community to any trance party. And now with the Israeli soldiers and the Russian mafias expect the worst.

    A friend.

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  • someone

    leave aside the drugs and read a lil about the hippi culture. also the so called middle-class makes the beaches dirty throwing plastic all around. as some one said, get a manicure and sit home. goa aint for u

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  • Paddy

    ignorant, blinkered, biggoted – call yourself a journalist /

    [Reply]

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    how to file bankruptcy in florida…

    2010: A Scenario for Terror : Foreign Hand…

  • MaskedHeadhunter .

    Ive been to India many times but mainly to goa since the 80s and always rent the same lovely house in Anjuna near Chapora. And I feel as it is my spiritual home. I normally syay there for between 3 amd 9 months and lkike everywhere else in the world its got its pros and cons.
    Valangute and Baga have always been more ‘touristy’ where theres Jewelers and furiers and places to get a English Breakfast and guinness. Of course the 2 week holiday crowd lay their bloated white bodies on the beach then go back to their offices to tell their cronies about the ‘dope’ they bought.
    The place has changed alot with the influx of the Red Rupee coming in from Russia and the Turks. With many peeps Ive known been asked to bring in/out money/gear/diamonds. And with the large influx of police trying different methods of getting their baksheesh that gets tiresome and havehad a few tussles with them
    Ive always hear repoorts of girls being molested etc but only seen it once. At the 1999/2000 new Years eve party on the Hilltop where there was a group of 20/30 lIndian youth/men in their 20/30s who were jumping on lone drunk/spaced out girls en masse and a few of us got together to sort it out where they all denied it blaming the girls for leading them on! SHOCK!
    But Anjuna has something still for evryone and theres alot of us who meet up regularly there. We might get completely off our heads but we also have very good local friends who have grown close to over the years and watched their children grow up and been to their weddings etc.
    Yoiuve just got to keep an open mind about evrything in this world. Its not all black and white but different shades of grey. Some of us like adding a bit of colour too.

    [Reply]

  • MaskedHeadhunter .

    Ive been to India many times but mainly to goa since the 80s and always rent the same lovely house in Anjuna near Chapora. And I feel as it is my spiritual home. I normally syay there for between 3 amd 9 months and lkike everywhere else in the world its got its pros and cons.
    Valangute and Baga have always been more ‘touristy’ where theres Jewelers and furiers and places to get a English Breakfast and guinness. Of course the 2 week holiday crowd lay their bloated white bodies on the beach then go back to their offices to tell their cronies about the ‘dope’ they bought.
    The place has changed alot with the influx of the Red Rupee coming in from Russia and the Turks. With many peeps Ive known been asked to bring in/out money/gear/diamonds. And with the large influx of police trying different methods of getting their baksheesh that gets tiresome and havehad a few tussles with them
    Ive always hear repoorts of girls being molested etc but only seen it once. At the 1999/2000 new Years eve party on the Hilltop where there was a group of 20/30 lIndian youth/men in their 20/30s who were jumping on lone drunk/spaced out girls en masse and a few of us got together to sort it out where they all denied it blaming the girls for leading them on! SHOCK!
    But Anjuna has something still for evryone and theres alot of us who meet up regularly there. We might get completely off our heads but we also have very good local friends who have grown close to over the years and watched their children grow up and been to their weddings etc.
    Yoiuve just got to keep an open mind about evrything in this world. Its not all black and white but different shades of grey. Some of us like adding a bit of colour too.

    [Reply]

  • janelle

    its not OVER, they are never going to leave, and many have already integrated

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