The Islamic militants are more dangerous than ever before because they have found new sanctuaries in the Middle East and Africa. In 2011 the killing of Osama Bin Laden was heralded by a majority of counter insurgency experts as the death of Islamic militancy. In reality it is the reverse. As of December 2013 Islamic militants (Al-Qaeda, Taliban and affiliated outfits) are stronger than ever.
The Islamic militants on the run in Afghanistan and the tribal Pakistani-belt, have established themselves in the Middle East. The civil war in Syria has provided a safe haven and recruitment ground for Islamic militants. The three-year old civil war in Syria has given Al Qaeda a much-needed lease of life. The rebels fighters who were initially native liberation fighters are now being infiltrated by Islamic militants from all over the world. In a majority of cases these rebel forces are now being commanded by the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda related militants; a major reason why the West has stopped its aid to the liberation fighters in Syria. Similarly, America and its allies are fighting a losing battle against these Islamic terrorists , especially the Al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. The suicide attack on the offices of the defense ministry in Sanaa and the daily worsening law and order situation in Iraq are glaring examples of the power and reach of these Islamic militants.
There is no doubt that the African continent is the new haven for Islamic militants. The recent massacre at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya; the attack on the American consulate in Tripoli, Libya; Al-Shabab gaining a strong foothold in Somalia and the recent attacks in Sinai, Egypt, prove that Africa is now the new battleground for America and its allies against its war on terror. It is solely due to the rise in terrorist activities on part of these Islamic militants that Angola has banned Islam. All these above cited examples prove that Islamic militants are dangerous than ever.
At the annual Jamestown Foundation conference at Washington, James Mattis said,”Al-Qaeda is resilient, they adapted. We have to think strategically before we act.” Mattis is a former U.S. Central Command counterinsurgency officer in charge in the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. According to Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Peace and Security at Jamestown University, “The success of the attack in Nairobi and earlier in Mumbai suggests that this group (Islamic militants) have now within their capacity the ability to fulfill one of Bin Laden’s last commands or operational desires, which was to stage Mumbai-style attacks in Europe.”
Most of the participants at the Jamestown Foundation annual conference were of the view that the Islamic militants have been, to an extent, thwarted in Afghanistan and Pakistan but the ground reality is that these militants are biding their time. They are waiting for the withdrawal of the NATO and ISAF troops. Once these forces leave Afghanistan the militants are going to regain the territory they have lost to the American. All these ground realities reinforce the fact that the Islamic militants are stronger and more dangerous than ever.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada