Terrorism is a Continuous International Threat

  • 15 September 2008

On this seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, there is a raging debate about the outcome of the war on terror and whether terrorist groups, especially Al-Qaeda, are still able to wage their international campaign despite pursuit of their members, funding, bases, and ideas. The noticeable increase in simultaneous terrorist operations in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Iraq indicates that the threat of international terrorism is still present, that it can still cause instability, chaos, and strife in many areas, and that terrorist groups still defy the world. These groups have been able over the last few years to adapt to the pressure placed upon them, to develop their styles and tactics, and to benefit from the latest technology in their operations. Their danger will thus continue so long as they are able to maneuver and use effective tactics from time to time.

This does not of course mean that the war against terrorism has not scored noticeable successes on many fronts, but that it is not over. The fight against terrorism is a special kind of war. It is long and prolonged, and it cannot be concluded in a few years because of its multifaceted security, economic, cultural, and political aspects. In addition, terrorism over the last few years has become an idea more than it is an organization, structure, or groups. Fighting this idea and killing it need a large effort on more than one level over an extended period of time.

The worst that could happen to the world today is a lessening of the enthusiasm for the war on terror under the guise of its supposed defeat. This is precisely what terrorist groups want because they bet on the element of time to shake the international resolve against them. They also thrive on regional and international disputes and crises that provide them with the fodder to continue to live and prosper.

The noticeable increase in terrorist activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India at the seventh anniversary of the September attacks sends an important message to the world that it needs to re-organize itself and re-double its efforts in the face of the common danger. It also represents a call for a re-evaluation of the international war on terrorism and its different strategies and tactics after years of its launch so that it could get the new shot in the arm it deserves.