Periphery attackers pose different kind of terror threat for Europe

Anthony Glees
Updated 15 October 2017
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Periphery attackers pose different kind of terror threat for Europe

LONDON: Terror experts have highlighted the mounting threat posed by low-profile Islamic extremists following a series of attacks across Europe.
Policy makers are increasingly focused on identifying the danger from periphery plotters in an effort to detect hitherto off-the-radar radicals at risk of being drawn deeper into the terrorist activity.
“As Daesh is being slowly taken apart, it will be vital to ensure that those who may previously have kept away from the fray will not now be drawn into it,” said Professor Anthony Glees, director of the Center for Security and Intelligence Studies (BUCSIS) at The University of Buckingham.
With the disintegration of Daesh’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq, commentators have warned of an evolving threat across Europe as individuals, who might previously have tried to travel to Syria, look to carry out attacks at home.
“The threat picture has moved in such a way that people considered to be peripheral before are becoming center of the plot,” said Rafaello Pantucci, the director for International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies.
“If you look at the plotting we’ve seen across Europe, there have been far fewer large-scale actors planning complicated operations and much more of these low-level attacks.”
Policy makers, he said, are adapting their response to match the shifting threat from “these random isolated individuals launching this sort of lower-level attack across the continent.”
“Everybody is facing a similar problem,” he continued, pointing to discussions in Germany around changing the laws on how authorities listen in on people, France’s plans to centralize and share intelligence and a spate of deportations in Italy as authorities expel more individuals suspected of having having terrorist ties.
In the UK, new sentencing guidelines have been drawn up to impose tougher punishment on terrorist plotters, targeting those with lower levels of involvement in response to the growing trend toward less sophisticated methods of attack.
Speaking to Arab News in the wake of a recent attack at London’s Parsons Green station, where a home-made bucket bomb was detonated on a District Line tube injuring 30 people, Dr. Abdullah Khaled Al-Saud, a Visiting Fellow at ICSR, King’s College London said: “It has become increasingly difficult for security forces to defend against every possible terrorist attack, especially given the fact that the pattern and nature of terrorist attacks have changed in recent years.”
“Groups have been encouraging their followers to avoid complex and highly coordinated operations, and focus instead on attacks that are very simple to carry out, the ones that would only require a kitchen knife or a rented car or truck.”
In a draft version of the guidelines, the Sentencing Council for England and Wales emphasised the danger of the current climate, “Where a terrorist act could be planned in a very short time using readily available items as weapons” and where “acts of terrorism can be committed by many rather than a few highly-organized individuals.”
Describing the move as a “proportionate response,” Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, an organization supporting community integration in the UK, pointed to the “sheer number of plots that are taking place and people ending up supporting the cause.”
“The Daesh ideology has created quite a fanbase and the problem is going to be with us for at least a couple of years.”
“It is important to review the legislation regularly in response to rapidly changing political scenarios,” he said.
Pantucci described the difficulty of responding to a much more diffuse pattern and methodology of terrorism. “Legislation hasn’t kept up with the reality of the threat,” he said, adding that it’s increasingly hard to tell where this is coming from.
“Periphery players keep turning out to be the ones trying to launch an attack so it’s becoming very difficult to calibrate.”


Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India

Updated 24 October 2018
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Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India

  • India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries
  • 500,000 Delhi soldiers are positioned in the portion of Kashmir India controls

RIYADH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighboring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”

Khan made the announcement during a speech at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh. The leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payments crisis.

“When I won the elections and came to power, the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the audience, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.

“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.

In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and its Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.

Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Khan also told the FII event that his country looks forward to a strong investment partnership with Saudi Arabia, including on energy projects.

Pakistan needs two oil refineries to meet demand, Khan said, and talks are underway with Saudi investors about the projects.

During the panel discussion Khan discussed investment, a corrupt-free Pakistan and “Naya Pakistan.” Naya Pakistan refers to a return to the principles of the country’s founding fathers: Truth, justice, meritocracy, the welfare state and, above all, the education of its people. He said it was particularly important to raise female literacy in Pakistan. 

Khan has been in power for 60 days but has inherited a massive debt. “We need to increase our exports because we have a shortage of foreign reserves,” he said.

Khan is looking for mix of loans from the International Monetary Fund IMF and “friendly governments” to address the shortfall. 

Key priorities were fighting corruption and creating jobs, Khan added, saying clamping down on money laundering was a major priority for the government. 

“Corruption is what makes a country poor,” he said. “It’s the difference between the developing world and an underdeveloped country. Corruption does two things; it destroys institution and diverts money from human development.”

With 100 million people below the age of 35, Khan said unemployment and housing were big pressures on the government but that Pakistan has embarked on an ambitious program to build five million homes in the next five years. He said the information technology sector could be an area where Pakistan could improve its exports and provide new jobs. 

“Pakistan is a country with potential. We have lost our way since the 60s but now Pakistan is ready and our biggest resource is the youth. And today is the best time to invest,” he said. 

Minerals, gold, copper reserves, zinc, gas, unexplored gas and tourism were areas that investors would be interested in, Khan said. 

“There is a vast amount of mineral wealth in Pakistan. We have some of the largest gold reserves in the world, as well as reserves of copper and zinc. Tourism is also a vital sector and has flourished in recent years.”

Khan said that Pakistan had now “controlled terrorism.”

“We need peace and stability and when Afghanistan’s situation settles, terrorism will end and the investments will grow to the central Asia region.” 

Khan said he admired China for tackling two problems that were the main issues facing Pakistan — poverty and corruption. 

In the past China had a large population that was on the brink of starvation but it had now brought 7 million people out of poverty and clamped down on corruption. Khan said that he was traveling to China next month for help in these two areas.