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By Syed Nazakat in Delhi

January 2020. The US soldiers are still there in the war ravaged Afghanistan and their biggest enemy–Osama bin Laden is still absconding. The US intelligence agencies suspect that he may have died in one of those bombs dropped on Tora Bora mountains or drone attacks in the Pakistan’s tribal wilds. But his body was never found. The followers of this Frankenstein monster, bin Laden, who was once allegedly funded and helped by the US intelligence agency CIA to fight Russia in Afghanistan are now operating from more countries and are planing and carrying out far-reaching global attacks.

Behind this grim picture is a sordid tale of post 9/11 days which changed the world in many important ways. The loss of life in the 9/11 attack (3,056 innocent souls) went far beyond the death toll. The attacks changed our sense of security, safety and even our attitude towards each other and towards the world. Post 9/11, we saw the world filled with suspicion and poison of racial hatred. CCTV cameras, ID cards, new immigration rules, body frisking and security checks at the airport and truckload of new anti-terror laws smuggled into life and we willing embarrassed every new restriction on our freedom to be safe.

“That single act of terrorist led the world to two wars and brought the whole change in the international alliances,” said Ajai Sahni, an executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management, a New Delhi based think-tank. He says post 9/11 an epidemic of terrorism spread to new areas as terrorists carried out deadly attacks in London, Madrid, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and in India. “Today looking at the different trends of terrorism we are seeing more grim picture for the days ahead. The only way to deal with it [terrorism] is that we must brace-up to counter it in its any manifestation”.

Terrorism expert and former intelligence officer M K Dhar says that terrorism has become more lethal and global in its reach. “9/11 encouraged comparatively small terrorist groups to think big. They got this sense that if Al-Qaeda can attack the most powerful country on the earth why cannot we,” said M K Dhar. “For example, LeT which has now developed close connections with Al-Qaeda was once a pan India terrorist group. Today its men have turned up in Iraq, Sudan and the Headley case in Chicago shows the group also has now continental Europe in its sights,” he said.

Today the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and its aftermath refuse to go away. The estimates of casualties are of more than 4000 soldiers of the US led coalition forces and anything from 41,000 to 100,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians. In Afghanistan according to a conservative estimate over 60,000 thousand people, mostly Afghan civilian died after the US invasion. The friends and relatives of victims are potential future recruits for terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.

Professor Radha Kumar, director of the Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, was among those who argued against the Iraq invasion but she supports the US invasion in Afghanistan. “The war in Afghanistan has uncovered the grave problem of extremism in Pakistan, which is now being tackled by the US and Pakistan,” said Prof. Radha Kumar. She argues that the policy of restrain after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai has not helped us to deal with terrorism. “But yes it has helped to build confidence amongst Indian Muslims that they will not be unfairly targeted at home.”

But of all the blows inflicted by this war on terror, one of the most damaging has been on sensibilities across much of the Muslim world. Member of Parliament and noted Muslim leader, Maulana Mehmood Madni who has mobilized the Muslim masses and Ulema in India against terrorism say the US’s response to 9/11 created more problems in the world than solving any. “Nobody can justify the terrorist act of 9/11 but nobody can also justify what the US did in Afghanistan and Iraq. They bombed innocent people. It is a genocide of innocent people,” said Maulana Mehmood Madni. He fears that radicalization among Muslim will increase because of insensitivity and aggressiveness of the West. “The West has oppressed Muslims [in Afghanistan & Iraq]. The terrorists [mostly Muslims] have oppressed their own faith, Islam [by killing innocent people on the name of Islam),” said Maulana Madni. “And our problem is that we have to fight both.”

As the fear of terrorism gripped the world, a perpetual aftermath is that the word terrorism has become a fashionable term to deal with many problems even those which ostensibly have no connection to terrorism. China justified its force against Tibetans as it called their movement nothing by an act of terrorism. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe cited his crackdown on his democratic opposition as part of a fight against terrorism. Egypt’s prime minister Ahmed Nazif justified his government’s torture because the US President Bush did it. And our own General in the troubled state of J&K (GOC-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt-Gen BS Jaswal) coined a new term for street protests – “agitational terrorism”. “At times fear of terrorism has turned a useful tool to the modern state to deal with many issues which have nothing to do with terrorism” says senior supreme court lawyer B S Bilowria.

The big question remains what can be done to defeat, or at least to defuse, the danger of terrorism in the future? Many argue there can be no final victory in the war on terror, which, in one form or another, will continue as long as there are breading grounds – the conflicts – around. “Terrorism as a phenomenon has existed for hundreds of years, as such there is no one war against terrorism,” said Prof. Radha Kumar. “[There are] many conflicts in which terrorism has been used as a tool [and] no doubt that will continue.”

Between 2010 to 2020

The Worrying Trends.

Poor governance and ethnic tensions will remain breeding grounds for terrorism

Religion will serve as the prime motivation for terrorist acts

Terrorism will become more diverse, free-wheeling

Weak states could drift towards cooperation with terrorists

Tactics designed to achieve mass casualties will assume priority

Terrorists will become more formidable and innovative

Bomb explosions may increase compare to combat attacks

Cyber attacks may become big worry

Terrorists will try to seek biological and nuclear weapons

(THE WEEK, January 3, 2010)

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