Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 164, 23 September 2020

India: NIA arrests al-Qaeda operatives from West Bengal and Kerala
Bibhu Prasad Routray

In the news
On 19 September 2020, simultaneous raids carried out in several locations in Ernakulum (Kerala), and Murshidabad (West Bengal) by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) led to the arrests of nine members of an al Qaeda module. 

The NIA said that the arrested men had been radicalized by Pakistan-based al-Qaeda terrorists on social media platforms and had been motivated to carry out attacks at multiple locations, including in the National Capital Region (NCR). Finances had been raised, and some members of the module were planning to travel to New Delhi to procure arms and ammunition. Ongoing investigations may unravel additional details on the planning and mobilization aspects.   

Issues at large
First, the lingering impact of jihadist messaging. Regular appeals by global jihadist outfits seem to be having an impact on the Muslim population in the country. Despite the reversals faced by these outfits in the past years, reach of these appeals, issued through recent Jihadist publications, especially to exploit the chaos brought about the Covid-19 pandemic, is receiving sympathetic ears. The quantitative impact of these appeals could still be low, but its subjective reverberations are significant enough to be dismissed or underplayed.   

Second, thinning divide between radicalization and violence: The recent arrests further point at the growing ability of radicalized individuals to establish cross-regional networks, which is possible only through the internet. While online radicalization and mobilization for terrorist violence have been a source of a major threat to national security for the past several years, their various manifestations—lone wolves as well as organized self-sufficient modules— are an indication of a gradual step forward towards overcoming the limitations that novice terrorists encounter, of not being able to perpetrate actual violence. 

Third, the danger of falling between the cracks: Ability of the security and intelligence agencies to track the jihadist activity on the web has perceptibly increased. Regular arrests of (potential) terrorists, in various stages of inflicting violence across the country, have been reported. The counter-terrorism (CT) cooperation with the major countries, including the US resulting in the sharing of intelligence has further enhanced the capacities of Indian agencies. This possibly could have led to a Jihadist strategy to exploit the cracks that exists in between the centre and the states, by establishing multi-state networks.   

Fourth, the Pakistan plus factor. The recent arrests have further vindicated India's position that Pakistan is indeed the epicentre of global terrorism. Using the web, non-state actors with varying degrees of nexus with state agencies, have been attempting to expand Jihad, beyond the known theatres such as Kashmir. However, given the fact that such mobilizations mostly take place on the web—on social media platforms or in the dark web, the CT efforts have to remain broad-ranging, multi-dimensional, and not necessarily focused on a single country.          

In perspective
Search for an enduring solution to the challenge of terrorism is oxymoronic. This has been the trend across the world where the Jihadists are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the CT agencies. Hence, these arrests are important in unravelling some of the intricacies of terrorist mobilization and psychology of the radicals, even while providing only transitory setbacks to jihadist aspirations. 

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal

January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings

December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019
November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar