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Terrorism: from London to Iran, getting through the crisis in Qatar

 
Thursday, 08 June 2017 08:32
 
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by Nicolamaria Coppola
EPOS Insights

 

For the third time in less than three months, UK has experienced a terrorist attack. Seven people were killed and dozens injured when three men - later shot by the police - rammed pedestrians at London Bridge and randomly knifed people at Borough Market, in the heart of the British capital. Last March, a man drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge  and a bomb at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester exploded two weeks ago. Daesh has claimed responsibility for the three deadly terrorist attacks in the Kingdom, and the jihadist group has pledged that new attacks against the so-called kafir, the infidels, will take place in the weeks to come.

The London Bridge attack can be seen as the new face of the global terrorist threat. This kind of attack does not involve a 9/11-style plan, with a detailed planning, cryptic communications, and huge transfer of money to make the attack possible. Instead, it is a small-scale attack, a “hand-made” attack, where the actors involved, the terrorists, use low-tech methods and common instruments and tools such as knives, blades, cars, vans and so on.

The basic mode of attack used in London can be easily carried out by anyone without any direction from experienced militants. One simply needs a car, a knife, and the willingness to kill - and to die, for instance - for his/her beliefs. These kind of terrorists are lone wolves, and it is very difficult to find them and to predict their movements and intentions. There is no conventional and standard profile for lone wolf terrorists: they come from all sorts of ethnic, class, and social backgrounds. Unlike most terrorists, they do not seem to have a deep and sincere belief in a radical ideology.

A crucial issue that needs to be emphasised is that all members of a terrorist organisation are not driven by ideology. There are instances in which professionals such as technicians, engineers and doctors are attracted to the organisation by the lure of money. The ordinary members of the group, even though driven by religious ideology, are, in many cases, paid monthly salaries. There are reports of lump sum being paid to the cadres for carrying out suicide attacks.

The crucial issue remains that the financers of terrorist activities need to be identified. These donors provide huge funds in the name of charity to sustain the terrorist organisations and their activities.

Recently, the name of Saudi Arabia has figured in promoting radical variety of Islam in other countries. Called Wahabbism, this extremist version of Islam has not only been embraced by Al Qaeda, the Talibans, Daesh, and the Al-Nusra Front, but by almost all radical groups across the globe. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia is rejecting any links with the terrorist networks, and it is accusing Qatar of promoting, supporting and financing jihadism, especially Daesh. Qatar has denied Saudi accusations, but six Arab states, Saudi Arabia, for instance, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and the Maldives have all severed diplomatic ties with the Gulf kingdom. The decision to cut ties probably has more to do with irritation over the rising political influence of Qatar in the Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East.

Qatar is a small country, it is extremely wealthy and is the world’s biggest producer of liquefied natural gas. It claims the highest per capita income in the world. Al Jazeera, an influential news channel that might be seen as a source of power, is based in Qatar, and that concerns the rest of the Gulf states. Qatar is actually the only other Sunni Islam dominated country, other than Saudi Arabia, to be adherents of the ultra conservative Wahhabi religious movement. Unlike Saudi Arabia, the regime is quite liberal in Qatar, and the population is benefiting from more rights and freedom as compared to its neighbouring country.

Qatar is working to make its geopolitical influence growing. In the few last decades, Qatar has supported groups that are considered “extremist” by other countries, including the United States. Doha, for example, has been financing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza since their establishment. Both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are branded as terrorist groups by most of the (Arab) countries.

Indeed, the most relevant factor contributing to the escalation of the conflict in the Gulf is the apparently friendly relationship between Qatar with Iran, which is detestable to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis see Iran as their arch rival. In addition, the United States and Israel consider the Islamic Republic of Iran as their biggest enemy, as well. The Saudis, the Americans and the Israelis demand more power in the region, and it might be convenient for them to weaken Iran. Perhaps, isolating Qatar might mean striking at Iran.

Yesterday, June 7, Tehran was rocked by two terrorist attacks, one at the Parliament and one at the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that was carried out by armed gunman and suicide bombers. Twelve were announced dead immediately and at least 42 others were wounded. Daesh quickly claimed responsibility for the attacks, but a commander in Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement that Saudi Arabia is behind the deadly attacks.

None knows what it is going to happen in the Gulf in the coming weeks. Tension is high in the region and the winds of war are blowing.

On the contrary, what is clear to all of us is that terrorism is questioning the political and social stability of our countries, of the United Kingdom and all over Europe. It is posing a number of a challenges to our democratic societies. To safe democracy, it needs to take scrupulous political, social and economic measures not only for the betterment of our generation but for the betterment of the coming generations as well.

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DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s

Last modified on Saturday, 10 June 2017 10:59
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