An enduring threat

Intelligence is often referred to as the ‘missing dimension’ when there is a failure to anticipate critical developments of a political and strategic nature. History is replete with many such instances. In recent times, renowned historians like Christopher Andrew have also talked of a lack of ‘theologians’ compounding this situation. Combined, these are seen as reasons for failing to anticipate many of the serious developments that took place during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. To this day, for instance, many still wonder how the West and its intelligence agencies failed to realise the dimensions of Iran’s religious revolution, leading to the establishment of a theocratic state under Ayatollah Khomeini. In retrospect, the Iranian Revolution was much larger than most previous secular uprisings, including the French Revolution. The generally accepted view, hence, is that intelligence agencies and policy-makers are usually unable to recognise the potential of movements about which they know little or understand even less. India is currently preoccupied with terror attacks from Pakistan, and the role of organisations such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in sponsoring terror attacks from across the border. Notwithstanding this, India must not be oblivious to attacks from other radical Islamist sources. According to reports, both the IS and al-Qaeda are engaged in a fierce competition to enlarge their activities in India. There are also attempts being made to secure more recruits from India. The territorial demise of the IS in Syria and Iraq is likely to exacerbate insurgencies elsewhere, as was witnessed after the ‘Afghan Jihad’ in the 1980s and 1990s. Militants fleeing the ‘Caliphate’ could enlarge the ranks of those already present. As it is, there are reports from many nations in the West of stray attacks by returning IS recruits from the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields — in cities as far apart as London, Toronto and Paris. It is important to appreciate the fact that the strength of Islamist terror groups, and especially that of the IS, lies not only in their military capabilities but more in their ideology and propaganda. Jihad and martyrdom continue to influence young Muslims to join their fold. So-called polarisation and the plight of religious minorities present them opportunities as well as soft targets.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/an-enduring-threat/article24740709.ece

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