Daesh terrorism ... revenge and random violence

Hassan Abou Taleb
Wednesday 6 Sep 2017

It seems that the world, especially the West, must adapt to non-traditional terrorist operations that can be difficult to detect beforehand and that aim at killing civilians in apparently random ways

The terrorism that involves running people over and stabbing them is not just a fantastical idea. It has become a reality, in several locationsand  in several countres at the same time. There is no difference between a Middle Eastern, African or Arab country, a European country, Russia or the United States of America.

Everybody has become a target and everyone is sunk in the heart of suffering.

Previously held notions, such as the absence of democracy leading necessarily to the spread of terrorism and its organisations, once seemed logical to Europeans and Americans.

They used such notions to understand the spread of terrorism in Middle Eastern countries, especially Arab nations. However, this interpretation can no longer be considered as valid or of value.

It also does not present a logical explanation for the terrorist operations witnessed by large European cities in the last few months, executed by youths holding European citizenships and supposedly absorbed into European culture with its democratic flavour. Instead, they preferred to go against that culture and fight it.

The West is now paying the price for its stubborn contention, obstinacy and refusal to understand the terrorist phenomenon over the past three decades. The West has operated under the illusion that the terrorist groups that use overt and bloody violence against the governments of their own countries are struggling political groups and that they deserve the West's attention and care -- even its assistance to seize power in their countries.

This was in spite of the fact that Daesh and Al-Qaeda, which are currently the biggest terrorist organisations, are based on the key idea of viewing the West as infidels and a historical enemy. Such groups see co-existing with the West as impossible, while fighting it in the name of jihad is considered a religious duty that requires followers to participate in this Jihad in any way, with the aim of toppling the West and establishing the Universal Islamic State in the name of the Caliphate.

The West was not particularly interested in understanding the intellectual doctrines of these terrorist organisations, which employ religious slogans that help to penetrate their local societies on the one hand, while attracting Muslim elements living in the West on the other hand.

The West has even imagined that this doctrine is only directed towards the Arab and Islamic countries and is limited to black propaganda that cannot be transformed into reality.

For a long time, the presidents and monarchs of Arab and Islamic countries have issued warnings and appeals to the West, asking it to reconsider its sluggish stance and be increasingly aware of the danger such organisations pose and the big threat that their doctrine represents.

Despite all this, the West has not even taken suitable measures to protect itself. Meanwhile, many Arab and Islamic countries – with Egypt at the forefront – focused on fighting terrorist organisations with every means possible, in the intellectual, security, developmental and intelligence fields.

Those Arab and Islamic countries that are most engaged and most responsive to the terrorist phenomenon, which has undergone the most dangerous transformations in its history, find it hard to get real, effective assistance from Western countries.

In its most simple definition, terrorism is the use of violence to achieve political objectives, and this applies to all terrorist actions without exception, wherever they take place.

Here, it seems that the important question is this: What are the political gains of terrorist actions such as running over innocent people as they go about their ordinary lives, or stabbing pedestrians who happen to be the closest to the terrorist at the moment he commits his heinous crime?

First, it is noticeable that these kinds of operations are executed by what's known as "lone wolves", who are individuals executing terrorist acts while embracing the terrorist organisation’s doctrine, but without being active members of that group.

Second, they are using ordinary, simple tools used in our daily lives, so as to facilitate their operations, such as airplanes, trucks and sharp cutting tools. The terrorists have transformed those everyday objects into tools for killing and destruction.

Third, the operations do not require special fighting skills or previous training; all they require is people with a one-track mind, a car, a knife or an airplane ticket – and a will to execute the terrorist act without hesitation.

Fourth, such attacks target residential areas and outdoor spaces, or hunt ordinary persons walking the street, attacking them in order to wound or kill them. In the terminology of terrorism, they are classified as "easy targets".

Fifth, the most powerful motive is the tendency to seek revenge. While this does not add to the terrorist organisation's capabilities, it does have the effect of scaring the largest number of people.

Sixth, it is impossible to prevent these terrorist acts, regardless of the security measures taken and the information exchanged with friendly or allied nations. There will remain the chance that an unknown terrorist will run someone over or stab someone.

These six characteristics of the current terrorist phenomenon, including violent acts that cannot be discovered and prevented, constitute the future of the terrorist organisations in the coming period, driven by a raging desire to take revenge on everyone who contributed to aborting the abominable Daesh in both Iraq and Syria.

It is likely that these kinds of operations will focus, to a greater extent, on European societies, Russia and the USA. The aim is to remind everybody that the terrorist organisation, in spite of the recent defeats it suffered, is still capable of launching painful strikes and that the organisation still exists and its influence on its followers has not ended.

The horizontal spread of terrorist operations worldwide demands new analysis and international cooperation on the highest levels. Although several large European cities – including London, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and others – have been subjected to this terrorism, discussion in Europe is confined to discovering the security shortcomings that led to the success of individual terrorists in launching painful strikes against innocent people and the country’s own prestige.

It is a position that reveals the West’s inability to grasp the meaning of these attacks and its consequent inability to develop a new international strategy aimed at effective cooperation with the biggest possible number of countries and institutions, combining intellectual, security and political efforts.

Phenomenon such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh persist, despite the hard and painful blows they received over the past two decades, and they are even operating within Europe itself.

Thus, the confrontation will take a long time and many victims will fall before the West wakes up from its state of carelessness.

The writer is a political commentator.

Short link: