Terrorism in 21st Century: Are we Ready?

Terrorism: Past and Present

India faced terrorist attacks during the 90s and asked the world to take effective steps to tackle this menace. However, the incident of 9/11 shook the so-called superpower United States of America 20 years ago. It was only after this incident that the world started acknowledging the issue of terrorism. As a result, the United States decided to send troops to Afghanistan to wipe out terrorist organizations from the world.

Terrorism: Past And Present

Let’s come to the present. It has been more than two decades in this global war against terrorism. The time has now changed, and it is again Taliban in power in Afghanistan just like in 20 years ago.

Now the question arises of whether 9/11 attacks have been able to gain the world’s attention against terrorism or not. The answer truly is positive. However, at the same time, it has also shown the world the systematic and structural shortcomings that we still have. One can understand how much progress we have made because we still do not have a universally agreed notion of terrorism. It is because for one side of the border, the person may be a terrorist, while the state on the other side believes the same person to be a freedom fighter or a rebellion.

Nowadays, the form of terrorism has also changed. There is now fragmented division among various terrorist organizations as different sects have their own religious and geopolitical interests. Organizational fracture of these groups can be seen as the weakness of terrorism.

Moreover, the myth of American invincibility has also been busted. Apart from the Gulf War at Kuwait, the US forces have hardly seen any conclusive victory in any wars post World War II, be it the Vietnam or Korean war.

When the US Seal Commandos hunted Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attack of 9/11, it has also acted as a blow to these terrorist organizations as there has been a lack of centrality of vision since then.

In contemporary times, these terrorist organizations have resorted to different methods to pursue their ideology apart from their conventional way. They have now adopted a more sophisticated and mass casualty attack like what we saw in Paris in 2015 to Christchurch in 2019.

Is it because we have lost our zeal and appetite to fight terrorism? It is essential to accept that terrorist organizations are not the ones they used to be before the 21st century to tackle this issue. For example – the recent political change in Afghanistan has caused the access of modern-day weapons to the Taliban, ranging from HUMVEE to advanced Black Hawk helicopters given to the state forces of Afghanistan by the United States for effectively dealing with these groups. However, today, we see neither the objective nor the US forces ever imagined when these modern warfare were delivered to Afghanistan.

Challenges Ahead

Under the new regime, since there has been a shift in the method or modus operandi of these groups, there has been the creation of a new remote control center where the operator is sitting miles away from the target to execute the operation. This new technological era has eliminated the requirement of being physically present at the target and ultimately added to the never-ending debate of whether technology is a boon or a bane?  This has further caused the diversification of modus operandi as there is now internet-enabled terrorism that can sabotage the target digitally.

Therefore, it is the need of the hour to be prepared against these emerging threats to humankind. While human imagination has no limits, one has to see the person’s intention who is using such imagination. Also, it is crucial for all the states to equivocally stand against this issue before it is too late.