ALTHOUGH the world has been traumatised in the aftermath of the Sept 11 attacks, Afghanistan has to bear the brunt.

‘Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims’, is one of the cruelest catch phrases which became popular in the West after 9/11 attacks. This is not only wrong but also insulting to Muslims.

In 2007, five British men were arrested as part of Operation Crevice and later convicted after the longest criminal trial in Britain’s legal history. This gang had a large amount of fertilizer-based explosives and was planning to attack public places, including shopping malls, nightclubs, and infrastructure sites. The attack plans of the group were designed to cause maximum number of casualties and destruction. The group was interdicted after lengthy police and intelligence investigations, details of which revealed that the group was in contact with two men Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. Likewise, a Hindu convert to Islam, Dhiren Barot, who was also living in the UK, was convicted and sentenced to 40 years for planning to kill ‘thousands’ in terrorist attacks in the UK and the US, through a range of conventional and radiological devices.

A noteworthy trend is that terrorist attacks in the West have gradually decreased since 2008. While the number of arrested suspects has also decreased, it does not mean that the threat emanating from terrorist groups has receded or ended. While Nato is actively involved in war of terror and is killing innocent people in Afghanistan, Islamist militant groups will continue to find opportunities to take revenge.

However, terrorist activities are now mostly being perpetrated by radical individuals, unconnected with any of the known terrorist groups and are acting alone. Weak states, which are vulnerable in the economic, political and geopolitical realms and which have ungoverned spaces and large Muslim populations with social grievances, can become breeding grounds for terrorists.

Terrorist and extremist organisations make use of all available new technologies, communications, and propaganda. They also use all sorts of legal and illegal channels for money transfers for funding their activities. However, crudely made explosives are the most widely used to carry out attacks. In the European Union, terrorist activities by the left-wing and anarchists, right-wing and single issue extremist organisations have not been taken as the activities of the Islamist and separatist terrorist groups.

This is owing to the security situation in the European Union’s neighbourhood, particularly the Middle East and North Africa, and Nato’s continuing involvement in Afghanistan.Unless the Middle East issue is resolved and Afghanistan is stabilised, the spectre of terrorism will not vanish. In this regard, the Europeans must play a more sincere, independent and proactive role.

AMARA SIDDIQ Karachi

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