The trend will spill over to other countries
There is no denying the fact that the recent terror incident in Dhaka clearly indicates that local- or home-grown terrorists will not hesitate from carrying out major terror strikes to grab the attention of the world. According to intelligence estimates, as many as three per cent of the youth from a particular community are getting radicalised by terror outfits like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which uses the Internet and social networking websites to great effect to influence the youth.
While the terror attack in Dhaka was carried out by a local group called the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the members of the group were largely influenced by ISIS. If not controlled, this trend will continue not just in Bangladesh but spill over to other countries in the region as well. If this trend is to be checked, the governments of South Asian countries must take a major policy initiative to carry out de-radicalisation programmes for the youth who are extremely vulnerable to getting influenced by terrorist organisations like ISIS.
This work cannot be done only by the security and intelligence agencies; they can only help prevent or investigate such incidents. But if you look at the big picture then it is the governments in the region that need to take action at a policy level to ensure that ISIS or Al Qaeda are unable to make inroads into their respective country, specially by using the Internet.
It is suspected that the group of young men who carried out the dastardly attack at a café in Dhaka also came in contact with the ISIS through the Internet.
As far as India is concerned, our agencies are aware of this problem and are taking steps to control the menace. This was seen in the busting of an ISIS terror module in Hyderabad recently. However, I strongly feel that the role of such agencies is very limited in controlling radicalisation and a major initiative needs to be taken at the level of the government.
One can imagine if three per cent of youth from a particular community are getting radicalised by groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS what impact it will have on the security scenario of the entire region. Also, these terror groups are very keen to expand their operations not just in the subcontinent but elsewhere in Asia that will eventually lead to incidents of home-grown terror.
Countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India are already witnessing this trend, whereas in the Maldives, the ISIS is beginning to spread its network as there are reports in section of the media that some of their youth have joined the outfit in Syria and Iraq. It is time for these countries to unite and take action against terrorism.
A.K. Verma is a former chief of R&AW
Laws have to change, don’t ignore the attacks
The despicable terror attack that occurred in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone and ended on the morning of July 2 left at least 28 dead. The ISIS has claimed responsibility. As usual, the Bangladesh government denied the presence of an extremist group in its territory. The suicide bombing outside the sprawling mosque grounds where the Prophet Muhammad is buried in the western city of Medina killed four Saudi security troops and wounded five.
The Dhaka attack is not a wake-up call for home-grown terror in South Asia. Terror has no language and it affects each and every country. India has also been a victim of terrorists trained in like Pakistan. The attack on the Pathankot airbase is a case in point.
We do not create terrorism by fighting terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, at gunpoint. To win the war on terror, we must know who our friends are and where our enemies are hiding.
The crucial point is that we cannot continue our fight against terrorism with out-of-date laws and tools. Fighting terrorism is similar to fighting cancer. It cannot be treated just where it is visible — every diseased cell in the body must be destroyed.
The Indian government, irrespective of the party in power, has only been reacting, and not acting. With the change in government in 2004, anti-terrorism laws were deleted on the ground that these laws affected only one community. A terrorist is a terrorist, and religion or community should not weigh with any government.
All governments have been pretending to tackle terrorism. There is no fear of punishment for the terrorists for the simple reason that the laws framed by the British in 1861 have outlived their utility and cannot deal with the problem. In fact, the same laws apply to terrorists as to Indian citizens. The outmoded laws say that a man is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and no confession made before the police is accepted as evidence.
To my mind, it does not make sense that we have to discover witnesses against the person who indulges in killing. In other words, it means that a witness, not one but at least two, who would be hiding either behind a tree or some other place, should depose in a court of law, at the trial, which may take years.
There has been a lot of talk, but only talk, of a Witness Protection Act, which remains a chimera. Since 1996, only three persons have been hanged, two terrorists and one murderer, though hundreds of thousands have been sentenced to the death penalty.
Will the government wake up? I don’t think incidents like Dhaka could serve as a “wake-up call”. The day that Indian laws are changed to tackle terrorism effectively, that will be the day when our country will wake up.
Joginder Singh is a former director of the CBI...