Terrorism is a preconceived, brutal and ferocious act for creating fear and terror for achieving a religious, political or ideological objective which intentionally targets non-combatants like neutral military personnel and civilians and soft places.
Today, terrorism has taken a new dimension where the terrorist outfits and groups are not only equipped with modern weapons but they are also making use of the latest in today’s information and communication technology. Though new technologies have revolutionised the way we think and live our lives, the very same advancements are posing real threat to even the existence of man on earth.
Mumbai attack and after
Consider, for instance, the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008. The terrorists not only used their conventional lethal weapons like hand-grenades and explosives but they also used information and communication technology like in mobile phones, satellite phones, Google earth, Net, imagery as well as night vision goggles to identify, locate their targets and scan their pathways, apart from enabling them to organise vital, real-time support.
The Mumbai attack was, in fact, successful in achieving their mission of striking terror into the minds of the masses, a step in the ultimate objective of making a people submissive to a regime of their diktats.
Wait for a moment! That was about six years ago. Today the technology has totally changed. You need not worry about terrorists sneaking into crowded places – your bylanes, markets and public transport. Maybe, they won’t come anymore! Instead, they have taken a leaf out of the story of Mahabharata where there were weapons and gadgets of various types like arrows that find their way, and of planes that were commanded by mantras (voice) from the ground. We are almost there today. We have speech recognition softwares Dragon and voice search on the Net and flying objects remote-controlled. We have Google self-driving cars. So they can find you out wherever you are, or they can destroy your towns and cities, they can conquer by striking terror to bring back the Dhimmis’ times.
There is no way stopping the terrorists from using the latest technological contrivances to trace you out using your image or voice or even by your scent! And strike at will by remote control!
The drones are here
Now these are the days of the drones which are robots that can fly remote-controlled from the ground or through computer programmes. They used to be the unique domain of the military – it has been widely used, for example, in Pakistan by the Americans against Islamic terror groups. Closer home, it has been tried by restaurants for home delivery in Mumbai recently; it has also been used by the police to monitor movements in a cluster of houses in a locality of a resettlement colony in Delhi in view of a fear of communal violence! What was the real purpose of our police department here is another story, another article.
Around the world, these new technologies too have become weapons in the hands of the terrorists. A drone which was launched by the terrorist group Hamas entered Israel airspace and was seen to be speeding towards the coastal city of Ashdod. It was a small airplane which rose over the Gaza strip last year in the month of July and was blown up by a Patriot missile. Drones are controlled from far away distances which are hard to detect that can fly into crowded or any remote places which are unmanned and can be loaded with explosives or chemical agents.
A Massachusetts graduate who planned to strap plastic explosives to small drones and fly them into the Pentagon and the US Capitol, was arrested and imprisoned in 2012. According to a presentation at a DHS summit, German law enforcement personnel raided Islamic militants and right-wing extremists who were suspected to be framing drone attacks in 2013. According to the presentation, drone and some bomb making materials were recovered from the right-wing extremists. The would-be terrorists were planning to carry out a drone attack on a German summer camp.
Cyberspace for motivation, recruitment, training, fund collection
Another instrument in the terrorist weaponry is the tools of cyberspace. This is being effectively used for large-scale motivation by whipping up a hysterical upsurge of crusade, global recruitment, training and for mobilisation of terror funds.
The internet and social networking platforms are being used as primary vehicle for distance learning and training for terrorist recruits across the world without any hindrance of geographical limitations. Most of the educational contents which are available on the internet are not regulated or censored. These unrestricted and free channels of communication facilitate the circulation of uncensored information through low cost, instant and multimedia facilities which combine graphics, audio, video and text. By utilizing these things they can educate the vulnerable sections of the people about their ideology, and recruit new members into their groups, trigger fear, collect finances and above all it can reach out to large masses of people with no geographical boundaries and barriers.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2012), Internet technology was used by almost all the prosecuted cases which are related to terrorism. Since 2010 Al-Qaeda outfit in Yemen started an online magazine called Inspire to provide primary tools for the other terrorists as also help to new recruits to get trained at home. The Tsarnaev brothers who are accused in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings learnt about making pressure cooker bombs by reading articles published in Inspire. Al-Qaeda and other terrorist outfits are offering their own format of distance learning through their decentralized set of online universities.
Gone are the days when the terrorists used to travel far off camps to learn how to build bombs. Social media like Facebook, Twitter and other forums have a readymade treasure of sources where you have to only dig further online, get permission to private chat room and finally one can get bomb making instructions. It becomes very easy for the budding terrorists to establish their own global contacts. According to Jean Paul Rouiller from the Geneva Centre for the Training and Analysis of Terrorism, for the modern terrorist outfits social media is very vital. He said, “They would not have been able to survive, they would not be able to recruit people. The human touch always needed, but social media is their shop window.”
Coming to the ISIS, the extremist group is luring unsuspecting Indian Muslim youths also by the help of the social networking sites and the internet who are leaving their families, friends and country to set off for Iraq and Syria to follow the path of Islamic extremism. Most of the youths are often getting attracted by the instigating You Tube videos. The ISIS has circulated its information exclusively through Twitter. Its information and views can be shared very easily and quickly all over the world.
Not only this, to popularize ‘brand ISIS’ they started off the T-shirt campaign on an online store which are operated out of Indonesia. Even a store on Facebook which was closed down after numerous complaints was started by a group of people who support the views of the ISIS.
Glorification of a crusade has a whipping effect on the young minds and that can catch upon the fancy of the youth to trigger a movement. This technique is exactly what the ISIS is resorting to in India to mobilise recruits on a large scale and create an upheaval. And that has been clearly noticed and underscored by Indian security agencies of late. According to reports, the security agencies are tracking the Indian youths who have travelled to Iraq and Syria recently.
The cyber world, especially the social media, is also being increasingly used to raise funds from across the globe by coercion or collaboration for terrorist activities without which there is no terrorism is possible.
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