extremism continues to pose a grave threat worldwide, with levels of violence
increasing in several regions, and cells in the West as potent as ever,
according to a report published on Wednesday by the Tony Blair Institute for
“Global Extremism Monitor: Islamist Violence After ISIS” (GEM), says the
overarching goal of statehood, or a “caliphate,” remains the focus of various
militant groups, inspired at least partially by the initial success of Daesh,
despite its defeat in Iraq and Syria.
highlights seven regions where Islamist militancy has increased, with various
groups seeking to exploit institutional weaknesses in governments, as well as
sectarian and other social tensions, to fill power vacuums and assume control.
took into account 35,000 incidents worldwide in 2018, identifying 43
organizations operating across 40 countries as having played a significant role
in conducting terrorist operations, including 6,876 recognized attacks.
to the GEM, the number of overall attacks had in fact decreased from 7,697 in
2017, a drop of 11 percent.
Islamist violence affected what the report referred to as an “arc” running from
North America to Southeast Asia, with nine of the world’s most developed
nations — including the UK, France, Belgium, Germany and Australia —
experiencing attacks in 2018.
Muslims and Christians were the most frequently targeted groups. The GEM says
there could be as many as 97 active Islamist militant groups currently
operating in the world, many with cells in the West.
Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote in the report’s forward: “State-building
remains the over-arching ambition for Islamist extremists, as is all too clear
through their military, communications and recruitment tactics.
stripping ISIS (Daesh) of its amassed territories, the pursuit of the ‘ideal’
state continues to embolden fighters, attract new followers, undermine
governments and threaten the fabric of societies around the world.”
concludes that fatalities worldwide were down by an impressive 49 percent in
2018 from the previous year, largely due to Daesh’s collapse in its twin
footholds in Iraq and Syria.
pair remain in the top 10 most dangerous countries in terms of militant
Islamist activity, with Syria occupying the top spot.
Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, Mali, Egypt and Pakistan complete the
set, emphasizing the GEM’s conclusion that weaker states are more likely areas
for groups to target.
countries were responsible for 95 percent of global fatalities from Islamist
extremism in 2018.
addition, the GEM includes seven regions where militant Islamist activity had
increased at an alarming rate in 2018: The Philippines, Kashmir, Mozambique,
Kenya, Indonesia, Tunisia and Bangladesh.
achieved in 2014 in establishing a ‘caliphate’ across Syria and Iraq was
unprecedented,” Sandun Munasinghe, an analyst at the institute, told Arab News.
Taliban claimed state power in Afghanistan following the Afghan mujahideen, and
emerged as the dominant militia, ISIS was born out of the defunct Al-Qaeda in
Iraq (AQI) and entered the Syrian conflict against a myriad of violent actors,”
powers intervened to eradicate ISIS and stem the conflict, yet ISIS were still
capable of establishing territory and appointing a caliph. They exploited
ungoverned spaces and communal grievances,” he added.
Islamist extremist groups today can be traced to networks and conflicts as far
back as 40 years ago, Islamist extremism evolved. ISIS sparked the idea that
territory can be taken, governed and maintained by groups in their infancy,”
‘state’ remains the true vision of Islamist groups. ISIS’s achievements have
become a model even for groups that preceded them.”
Browne, a journalist based Iraq, echoed the view that vacuums in power
structures, and political instability, are key.
non-religious issues that led to the rise of ISIS — the worry is that the power
of that ideology lingers on,” he told Arab News.
peak, it was a very valuable franchise to put your hands up and say ‘I’m with
these guys.’ I have no doubt that the period of the ‘caliphate’ will be used to
inspire someone in the future.”
El-Badawy, head of research at the institute’s coexistence team, said the
report sheds light on the true extent of the problem of global jihadist
isn’t limited to one area of geography, where once you might have had nations
building military operations to focus on one area,” she told Arab News.
isn’t unique to ISIS, but it has emboldened groups that otherwise operate
underground. ISIS, too, has now had to revert to that state, but its fighters
have travelled to other areas,” she said.
crises have spilled over from these regions (the Middle East and the Sahel),
and groups have been tracked back as far as Belgium and Germany,” she added.
which is on the list, and Turkey, both frequent destinations for Western
tourists, have had major issues with returnees.”
sets out a number of ways in which the international community ought to tackle
the changing phenomenon of global Islamist extremism.
include investing in fragile states where extremism might otherwise flourish,
improving relationships with and between communities that groups might
typically seek to exploit, and establishing systems to identify extremism in
high-risk areas at an early stage.
Headline: Islamist extremism ‘remains a potent global threat’
Source: The Arab News