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  • Writer's pictureMike Lyons

TERROR

Terrorist Attacks


The 2024 Global Terrorism Index (GTI)[i] reports that the largest single terrorist attack in 2023 was the 7 October 2023 attack by Hamas-led militants in Israel which killed 1,200 people. It was the largest single terrorist attack since 9/11 (22 years earlier) and was one of the largest terrorist attacks in history.


A total of 23 attacks were recorded in the West in 2023, sixteen in the United States. Although there were fewer attacks during the last 12 months, those attacks caused a greater number of fatalities, indicating an intensification of terrorism with the number of deaths rising to 8,352, a 22% increase over the prior year.


GTI also measures the impact of terrorism perpetrated in various countries. Attacks in Israel ranked second only to Burkina Faso in north-west Africa. Other rankings of interest include the USA ranked at 30, France at 38 and the UK at 41.


The deadliest terrorist groups in the world in 2022 were Islamic States (IS) and its affiliates, followed by Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Hamas, and al-Shabaab.


The Caliphate


A “Caliphate” is an Islamic form of government in which political and religious leadership is united in the head of state (the Caliph) who is regarded as a successor to the Prophet Mohammed. The first caliphate was established in 632 A.D. after the death of the Prophet.


The most recent traditional caliphate was the Ottoman Empire which began in 1453 and lasted nearly 500 years until 1924 when it was abolished by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. After that, no one claimed the position of Caliph until 2014 when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) declared the creation of a new caliphate, the “Islamic State” (ISIS) with a vision for the future governance of Syria and Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became the first Caliph in 90 years. Not everyone is enamoured by the caliphate. Saudi King Abdullah has called ISIL “Nothing more than a handful of terrorists whose aim was to sow discord among Muslims.” 


Becoming Caliph appears to be a life shortening experience! Baghdadi was killed in a US raid in October 2019 (only five years after becoming Caliph). The following month his successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was announced, but he was killed in February 2022. Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was named as the third leader on 10 March 2022 but he died on 15 October 2022. Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi became the fourth caliph in November 2022. He was killed on 3 August 2023. Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi is the fifth and current Caliph having been appointed in early August 2023.


Islamic State


At its peak in January 2015, ISIL occupied an area across Syria and Iraq roughly equal to the size of the UK. ISIL has caused global revulsion with beheadings in various countries including the United States, Britain, and Japan.


ISIL has claimed responsibility for attacks in dozens of cities including Paris, Nice, Orlando, Manchester, London, and Berlin as well as Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in January 2015 was especially bloody. Millions took to the streets and the French Prime Minister declared that France was at war with radical Islam.


In Heretic (published in 2015), Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns of the Koranic texts which urge believers to kill infidels; behead them, smite their necks, stone them to death. These injunctions were carried out to the letter in Israel on 7 October 2023 when 1,200 civilians were violently murdered and brutalised. Even children are inculcated with a death wish and fathers recruit their children to become suicide bombers. Martyrdom welcomes death because it elevates the status of the martyr.


Most Muslims are peace loving. It is important to distinguish between the Muslim religious faith of Islam and the Islamist political ideology which underpins radicalisation and Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks. However, in Hirsi Ali’s book she noted that if only 3% of the world’s Muslim population was militant that would represent 48 million militants. That was in 2015. Today, with population increases, the number would be closer to 57 million militants.


No Room for Complacency


A deadly attack at the Crocus City Hall entertainment venue on the outskirts of Moscow in March 2023 left at least 133 dead. It was the work of Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), a branch of Islamic State. Only days later, a suicide bombing in northern Pakistan left five Chinese nationals dead. During the evacuation of Kabul in August 2021 ISIS-K launched a bombing attack resulting in the killing of 170 civilians and 13 US military personnel. The same group bombed the Russian Embassy in Kabul in September 2022 killing at least six. In January 2024, ISIS-K carried out a suicide bomb attack in Iran killing nearly 100 people.


In March 2019, five years before the Moscow concert attack, a white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant carried out attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty one Muslims were killed. It took only weeks for other violent extremists to emulate Tarrant’s attack. John Earnest, also a white supremacist launched an attack in a California Mosque and shortly after that he opened fire in a nearby synagogue. Patrick Crusius, another white supremacist killed 23 Latinos in August 2019 at an El Paso Walmart. Payton Gendron killed 10 black Americans in Buffalo in May 2022.


These are only a selection of some of the most violent recent attacks.


Shortly after Christchurch, a suite of gun-control measures were introduced in the New Zealand Parliament and approved by a vote of 119-1. The lack of gun-control in the US significantly increases the danger of terrorist threats.


Infiltration


Muslim migration to Europe and North America will increase tensions between the West and Muslim populations, even though there are many Muslims, indeed most who are horrified by the Islamist death cult. The United Arab Emirates has called the threat of Islamic extremism a “transnational cancer”, calling for a coordinated and sustained international effort to confront it.


Recently The Arab-American News referred to the growing Islamic influence in the United States, declaring “We are on the road to the White House”. It was a reference to the Arab-American community’s unstoppable assent to political dominance in America. There has been a significant shift in the political landscape of Islamised American cities which have seen a substantial influx of Arab and Muslim immigrants. The RAIR Foundation (USA)[ii] recently reported that the purpose of Islamic migration, known as “Hijrah”, is to expand Islam through emigration.


Islamists who have settled in Europe are said to have a clear objective – to uphold loyalty to Sharia law and advocate for the courts in Europe to apply Sharia law. A former Libyan president remarked, “We Muslims don’t need to use force against Europe because our immigration and high birth rates will accomplish our objectives.” The ultimate goal is for Islam to rule the world.


In the UK, each of London, Birmingham, Leeds, Blackburn, Sheffield, Oxford, Luton, and Rochdale have, or have had Muslim mayors[iii]. On 17 May 2024, the BBC reported that Brighton and Hove had elected its first Muslim mayor. There is no official tally of the number of mosques in the UK but in 2020, the Muslim Council in Britain said that there were about 1,200 mosques in Britain. Other figures are closer to 2,000. Today, there are areas in the UK which are unofficial “no-go zones” for non-Muslims.


Countering Terrorism


What can be done? A report published by Foreign Policy (FP) magazine in April 2024 suggested the building of an international coalition, “especially among those democracies most often targeted” to ensure a united front. As the article suggests, a working group might emerge from pre-existing alliances such as the Five Eyes partnership which links intelligence sharing between the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK so that “like-minded countries with shared values can cooperate in undermining the pervasive threat which threatens security across the Western world”. The perception that these steps should be taken only amongst Western democracies is a serious shortcoming in the FP report which ignores the vast extent of terrorism in other parts of the world including Russia and China.


There are suggestions that authoritarian regimes tend to respond to terrorist attacks with brutal reprisals which are likely to lead to cycles of violence with less accountability than counterterrorism operations in so-called “open societies”, that is, the West. That is plainly false and ignores, for example the launch in 2023 of the USA “War on Terror” leading to many thousands of unnecessary deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a huge increase in the spread of global terrorism.


In late May 2024, China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi urged the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to step up coordination of security efforts after the attacks in Moscow and Pakistan. He called on the SCO to maintain continuous engagement with Afghanistan saying that recent attacks on member states “Have shown that there is still a long way to go in the fight against terrorism”. 


Finally


All of humanity, not only Western democracies spill red blood when attacked, unaffected by race, skin colour or ideology. All nations of the world from West to East and from North to South are threatened by terrorism. Irrespective of their ideological differences, it is imperative that they join together in a real effort to defeat the threat of global terror.

 

“AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM” – HEAR THE OTHER SIDE!

_______________________________

[i] Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)

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