The expanding threat of IS

Published: July 4, 2015
Email
Anybody — or indeed any state — making the mistake of dismissing the IS as a rag-tag bunch of gun-toting zealots puts themselves and the peoples of those states at hazard.  PHOTO: AFP

Anybody — or indeed any state — making the mistake of dismissing the IS as a rag-tag bunch of gun-toting zealots puts themselves and the peoples of those states at hazard. PHOTO: AFP

Over the course of the last year, the Islamic State (IS) has moved from being a ‘terrorist group’ to being a state entity albeit without defined borders or international recognition. But the fact is that it occupies and more importantly administers large areas of Syria and Iraq, and is active across the Levant and the Maghreb. It is wealthy, very well armed and attracts volunteers from across the globe. It is a week since a lone gunman, seemingly with ties to IS and probably trained by an IS cadre in Libya, killed 38 tourists in Sousse, Tunisia, and almost certainly killed — for the time being — that country’s tourism industry. On the same day as the Sousse massacre, a mosque in Kuwait was bombed, this being claimed by IS, and there is little reason to doubt the claim. Now the IS is raiding into Egyptian territory, hitting five Egyptian checkpoints in the Sinai peninsula on July 1, killing 17 soldiers and injuring at least 30 others.

Egypt has responded by saying that it is “100 per cent” in control of the situation in northern Sinai and that 100 “terrorists” had been killed in the engagement. The IS went to social media and announced its attacks on Twitter. There is a depth of competency and diversity about IS operations that speak of a sophisticated organisational infrastructure that has both military and civilian components, and a mature and effective command structure. To mount an attack in strength on five Egyptian posts simultaneously would test the competencies of a professional army anywhere in the world. Anybody — or indeed any state — making the mistake of dismissing the IS as a rag-tag bunch of gun-toting zealots puts themselves and the peoples of those states at hazard. Egypt, riven politically and having virtually returned to its default position of military dictatorship, is a country vulnerable to the predations of the IS. It is strong militarily but internal schisms are ripe for exploitation. Our own leadership remains largely in denial of the IS threat, and it does so to the peril of all.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th,  2015.

Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (2)

  • S.R.H. Hashmih
    Jul 4, 2015 - 1:49PM

    The report rightly concludes “Our own leadership remains largely in denial of the IS threat, and it does so to the peril of all.” I remember when MQM leaders talked about Taliban moving to Karachi and establishing their strongholds here, they were subjected to mockery by the Sindh Provincial government officials as well as by the federal level, especially by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. And this was the same with the so-called Islamic State: the government being in total denial of IS presence in Pakistan despite claims from inside Lal Mosque about it. Obviously to establish their strongholds here, the IS terrorists do not have to physically travel from Middle East to Pakistan. There presence here can be established simply by local gangs of terrorists declaring their allegiance with the IS, and there are quite a few outfits including many factions of Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan who have declared their allegiance with IS. According to press reports, even the murderers involved in the recent massacre of Ismailis were trying to join IS terrorists.

    The report is also rights when it states “Anybody — or indeed any state — making the mistake of dismissing the IS as a rag-tag bunch of gun-toting zealots puts themselves and the peoples of those states at hazard”

    The IS fighters are ruthless, well-armed and well-financed and it is said that they receive salaries higher than those paid by other terrorist outfits and even some governments. Through their extreme brutality with those captured, IS terrorists have created such a scare that civilians normally vacate the areas hearing of their advance. These are only Kurds and some others who have achieved some successes against IS terrorists.

    And terrorist’s network is fast increasing around Middle East and North Africa. Many suicide attacks recently staged in various states in the Middle East and North Africa are attributed to IS, and they also managed to attack five Egyptian army posts at the same time, causing many fatalities.

    It is quite obvious that the forces presently lined up against Islamic State are unable to cope with the situation and to eliminate it, and in the meantime, IS network is expanding far and wide. I think it would have been in Pakistan’s interest to join others in the Middle East and to finish off IS there instead of waiting for it to gather strength in Pakistan and then to make efforts to eliminate which would be far more difficult. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s armed forces are reluctant to get involved in wars abroad even though Iran, a much smaller country, has joined Sunni forces in their fight against IS, which has become a threat to both Sunnis and Shias.

    Admitted, Pakistan’s forces are engaged fighting home-grown terrorism in addition to watching both Eastern and Western borders. Still, they could manage to spare some forces for a very important international mission.

    It was reported in Express Tribune that military high command was terribly unhappy with the Federal Government which, it thought was not pursuing BBC report which made serious allegations against some MQM members and was preparing to discuss the matter in military commanders’ meeting. I think those at very senior levels should not be impulsive and should wait for the contents of such reports verified before taking these up. The report was based on certain confessions made by MQM leaders before the London Police but the London Police has already distanced itself from it, saying no such thing is on their record. At the same time, military officers led Sindh Rangers force is going around apprehending MQM worker collecting Fitra in order to finance the welfare work done by the party through its Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundations which runs ambulances, Coffin carrier buses and offers other charitable services. The Rangers see Fitra collection by MQM workers as extortion which amount to making a mountain of a molehill. Obviously, if the military high command and its affiliated institutions get involved with such matters, they could hardly have much appetite for an international role, like fighting IS in the Middle East, eliminating which there could be in the interest of Muslim world as well as that of Pakistan.

    KarachiRecommend

  • syed & syed
    Jul 7, 2015 - 2:19AM

    IS is a real threat not only for Islamic states but also non Islamic ones. It can foreseen that they will one day occupy Saudi Peninsula and will do the same as they did in Iraq and Syrian heritages. Only Saudi King, Turkey, dwarf Sheikhdoms and Egyptian dictator is responsible for this turmoil , killings, massacres.Is Daish Talibs are all infidels and it is time to show muscles to them otherwise doom is nearRecommend

More in Editorial