LAST Saturday in London, seven people were killed and more than 45 injured in two incidents that occurred on London Bridge and in Borough Market.
According to security forces, three suspected terrorists were shot dead. These attacks are very much similar to the attack that happened in London last March. They used a van and knives as weapons for the attacks.
The paradigm of such attacks is worrying because it has become difficult for intelligence and security forces to prevent them. Therefore, the world becomes more dangerous to live in. A terrorist can launch an attack anywhere and whenever he wishes to. The timing and target of the London attack is similar to the Paris attacks last year.
Last month in Manchester, lone suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed more than 20 people, including children, and injured 110 others. The British-born terrorist, whose parents are from Libya, had reportedly returned from Libya. Countries like Libya, Somalia, Syria and Iraq are considered incubators or hotspots for terrorist recruitment. Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Philippines are also used by terrorists as training grounds.
Interestingly, Abedi did not raise any alarm or come within the radar of the intelligence and security forces in the United Kingdom. His profile did fit the characteristics of terrorists globally. He was young, son of immigrants parents, a school dropout, involved in crimes and associated with extremist groups.
Furthermore, he was from Manchester and well-versed with the area. The Islamic State (IS) hailed him the solider of the caliphate after the attack. This was the most recent deadliest attack on UK soil after the London bombings in 2005.
Terrorist patterns are changing drastically. It is no longer a group of people with weapons or bombs pulling off a terrorist attack like the Sept 11 atrocity. Nowadays, an attack can be launched at any time and anywhere with minimum financial assistance and it can have a devastating effect on the security and peace of a nation, like in the UK and France.
With intelligence networks and the latest technology to track down and eliminate terrorists, they are still elusive. How is this possible? What motivates these terrorists to conduct attacks even though their companions are constantly killed by security forces?
The IS propaganda tools are effective. With Hollywood-style videos, they are able to recruit potential terrorists with ease. The footages that glorify their cause make these videos attractive. The visual effects, like the beheadings of captives and burning alive of prisoners, stimulate the young minds who want to be part of this group.
Unfortunately, at this point of time, the authorities do not possess the right tools to counter these videos. These videos are like “factories” that manufacture potential terrorists. This needs to be stopped at all costs.
After the London attacks, British Prime Minister Theresa May blamed the inability of high-tech companies to prevent these terrorists from using their platforms for terrorist activities. The high-tech firms must play their role by eliminating or blocking these videos from their platforms for the sake of global peace and security. If they fail to comply, international organisations like the United Nations must step in.
The intelligence approach in countering IS needs to be revised. The current attacks show that the present strategies are not effective. Even though technology plays a significant role, the effectiveness is only evident after attacks have been carried out.
It’s time for the intelligence and security agencies to draw up a new comprehensive approach to counter this lethal threat.
R. Paneir Selvam, Chairman, Association of Legal and Policy Researcher, Kuala Lumpur