The recent “Lone Wolf” mass attacks in Las Vegas and Manhattan breached the safety measures of the most powerful country in the world. States can control tangible threats to an extent by neutralizing them here and there, but how do you control the worsening mindsets of these ‘chosen soldiers’ of Allah?
The problem is not just that the innocents were murdered, with the terrorists willing to die with them. The problem is deep-rooted. Thousands of minds are being infected with the faulty, reframed ideology of Islam by leaders of groups like the ISIS and Al-Qaida. One death brings forward hundreds more prepared to die. And kill. Their philosophy to terrorize for the purpose of imposing their political ideals on others is already a grave concern for India.
Ideologically driven terrorism, based on the flawed religious superiority beliefs spread by the ISIS and the likes, has become an epidemic that is infecting people irrespective of their background, religion and ethnicity. They are using ideology as a tool of warfare, targeting the weak links.
IS has attempted to take credit for the Las Vegas attack, claiming that Stephen Paddock was a “caliphate soldier”, who killed people “in response to calls to target coalition countries.” Although there is no evidence to suggest that Paddock was an IS operative, the group’s initiative to claim responsibility reflects its mindset, that they are sending genuine ones if the world thinks this one was not theirs.
According to his relatives, Paddock was just a normal guy who retired to Nevada and wanted to enjoy Las Vegas casinos.
Unlike Paddock, the 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, SayfulloSaipov, confessed his allegiance to IS.
Such fatal Ideologically driven terrorism or influence on young people like Saipovis the real challenge. We should pay attention to exterminating existing terrorists, but more importantly, we should develop our own influencers with the right ideological message to convey to the next generation. We are losing that war, which is not really a war of religious rights, but a war based on forced ideologies.
India has been vulnerable for long. Provocative speeches reverberating from across the border and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir have been quite successful in alienating the youth in the Kashmir Valley. People like Burhan Wani have been victims of brainwashing. Syed Salahuddin, chief of the Kashmiri separatist organisation, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, and other leaders like him, have been playing a huge role in converting the principles of men in their early 20s. They are dismantling their trust in India, filling their minds with hatred for their own country.
Taking advantage of the fissures in the Valley and elsewhere, ISIS has been playing an increasing role in radicalising the Indian youth for its terrorist operations. In June, although the Kerala police saved 350 young men through Operation Pigeon, they did testify that some 30 Malayali youths were firmly committed and were hard to de-radicalise. In October again, three suspects promoting IS ideology were arrested from Kannur, Kerala.
UP Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) recently arrested Abu Zaid, who is believed to be an Islamic State Ideologue. Anand Kumar, UP Additional Director General of Police, told the media that Abu Zaid had been residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and had formed a social media group to radicalise and lure susceptible people to join the ISIS.
Giving further details, Mr. Kumar said that the four suspected Islamic State terrorists, Umar, alias Nazim, Ghazi Baba, alias Muzammil, Mufti, alias Faizan and Jakawan, alias Eihtesham, who were arrested in April this year, “used to talk via an application on the Internet and Zaid was their ideologue.”
We can only address this growing menace through positive counter-measures. We must reach out to the hundreds of thousands of people who may be prone to negative influence. Let it not come to a point where it becomes hard to de-radicalise. At the same time, we also need to expand our vigilance to checkmate any move that these bad boys will continue to attempt.