NEW DELHI: The London attacks are the latest in a trend of “jihadi guerrilla warfare” carried out by self-radicalised Islamists as well as individuals and groups acting on the directions of Islamic State handlers located in remote regions controlled by the organisation.
The use of a heavy vehicle to mow into crowds and the stabbing spree in central London bear the palmprints of the extremist group’s methods.
IS propagandists have repeatedly urged adherents to attack host societies if unable to travel to Syria and Iraq to wage battle, arguing that such actions will please the group’s leaders and are a weighty blow in the cause of the alleged caliphate the movement espouses.
IS spokespersons have urged its terror footsoldiers to abandon any compunction over killing civilians, arguing that such distinctions do not apply to “impure” societies and for good measure invoke drone attacks to spur a sense of vengeance. British PM Theresa May denounced the “single evil ideology of Islamist extremism”, indicating the UK government sees the outrage as act of jihadi terrorism. The religious invocations of the attackers reported by witnesses seem to buttress this conclusion.
The urban warfare police forces are faced with is difficult to anticipate even with highly advanced technical surveillance. The dangers stem from home grown terrorists as was the case with the Westminster attacker whose family had come from Pakistan. But the threat has also originated from among refugees fleeing the middle-east whose ranks include radicals, sometimes infiltrated by the IS.
The conservative beliefs of the new populations make integration more difficult as many arriving in Europe are suffused with the conviction that host societies should change rather than them. The genuine sufferings of thousands escaping the chaos in the middle-east sharpens the dilemma for democratic nations.
The role of IS handlers has been uncovered by Indian agencies probing IS plots and has been supplemented by statements of individuals who have returned or were deported.
The IS has consistently encouraged recruits to take to arms and on occasion has even provided a support network.
Their actions have, however, unleashed the spectre of sudden guerrilla-style attacks promoted by the IS in a bid to inflict pain on its targets and increase paranoia among the general public.