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London attacks: Why terror can't be stopped, quicker response only option

4 June, 2017 8:46 AM
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London attacks: Why terror can't be stopped, quicker response only option

London Bridge and Borough Market attacks are another incident to show that terror acts may not be stopped completely.

This was the third incident of terror that the UK faced in less than three months. In what could be called as an improved version of Lone Wolf terror attack, three to four militants driving a white car killed at least seven people on London Bridge and Borough Market.

London has maintained strict security vigil since July 2005 attack in the London Underground rail network. More than 50 people were killed in that incident.

With ICC Champions Trophy underway in the UK, security apparatus was extra vigilant. Still, terrorists succeeded in their motive. However, the Metropolitan Police of London responded fast and a BBC report says that three attackers were killed within eight minutes of officers receiving first report of attack on London Bridge.

This incident is another statement that with changing nature of terrorism across the globe, it is not possible to completely stop acts of terror from occurring. Such acts can only be responded by the authorities with urgency and alacrity to contain the damage.

According to the Global Terrorism Database , a project of the University of Maryland, terrorism is a crime or incident of rare occurrence. More people die of other unnatural reasons than terrorism.

The Global Terrorism Database shows that traffic accidents kill about 10 times more people every year than those killed in terror attacks around the world.

In India, 181 civilians and 155 security personnel were killed in terror attacks in 2015 while 386 terrorists were neutralised. The same year, 32,127 people were murdered.

More than 46,000 cases of attempt to murder were registered, more than 34,000 rape cases were lodged and over 55,000 cases of riots were filed in police stations across the country.

In United States less than 25 terror incidents have been reported since 9/11 while the country's crime records show that about 13,000 cases of murder are registered and over 3.5 lakh robberies are reported every year.

Even the well organised terror outfits do not carry out so many terror attacks. The Global Terrorism Database shows that the al-Qaida carried out only 59 terror attacks since it came into existence. The outfit claimed responsibility for only five terror attacks since 2008.

Contrary to popular perception, there is no uniformity in terrorist outfits. Various terror groups have different objectives yet operate over the same geographical territory.

Some terror groups are highly organised like al-Qaida or the Islamic State. But, there are a vast majority of others, which don't have an established structure and are usually personality-oriented.

Recently, the lone wolf trend has gained popularity among the terror groups. Lone wolves spend their time like any other citizen until they decide or instructed to act on their own with the mission to kill with whatever tools they may use.

According to the Global Terrorism Database, majority of terror groups don't survive one year of their inception. Its analysis of terror groups since 1970 shows that about 70 per cent of the terror outfits had a lifespan of less than one year. An effective counter-terror mechanism against these groups can't be put in place by the security establishment.

Fixing accountability for terror acts is easier said than done. Terror plots of organised groups are easier to pick. Identifiable leader and known objective make it easier for the security forces to frame strategy and act on the same to neutralise terror plots.

But, security forces find it difficult to respond to the plots by floating terror groups. In several cases, more than one smaller group claim responsibility for the same terror attacks. This leads to confusion in investigation against such groups.

The Global Terrorism Database shows that in 60 per cent of the terror acts, committed since 1970, responsibility could not be fixed on any terror group. These cases have remained open ended. Culprits remain unknown. Hence, action is not taken.

Advancement of technology has made solving complex crimes easier but terror outfits have, in many cases, have proved to be smarter. The US could not locate al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden for nearly 10 years with all the might of surveillance technology.

While the security agencies use modern communication and interception technology to keep a tab on terror groups, terrorists escaped the vigil by shunning modern equipment to send their messages across.

Many terror groups have been reported to communicate through human couriers, who live with the normal civilian population and are extremely difficult to identify.

In the age of jihadi terrorism, every act of terror seems to carry some kind of stereotype. The responses from the common populace and in many cases of the government reflect the stereotyping of terrorism.

In March this year, President of the United States Donald Trump signed the orders to impose travel ban on people from six Muslim countries. These countries are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. However, there is no empirical evidence to show that people from these six countries were involved in any terror attack after 9/11.

Such stereotyping instills a sense of insecurity among the commoners from the 'vulnerable community', which in turn stops easy flow of information to the security establishment regarding possible terror plots.

Also read: Kingpin in Gorakhpur terror funding case arrested


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