Figuring out the cause(s) of something as complex as terrorism is no easy feat and is therefore still a work in progress. But that does not stop individuals and organizations from making a case for religion, culture, geopolitics, etc. as the underlying causes for (the increase in) terrorism. The Islamic State is the terrorism scrounge du jour, but terrorism in this world has a longer history – going further back than the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center towers or other instances of radical Islamic terrorist acts from the decade before. It is much harder to nail down all the reasons for “What causes terrorism?” than many seem to think.
Oil and Gas industry veteran Luis Durani writes about his views on the cause of terrorism in Foreign Policy Journal
But the question remains, why do these terrorist organizations continue to be created even after they are destroyed or eliminated? How are they able to thrive and recruit?
In today’s media, many claim it is Islam and the religious doctrine while others claim it is Arabs or the political culture of the region that makes them more amicable with terrorism. The answer is not black or white. There are many motivations, circumstances and factors that take place to make someone take this road. But one of the main reasons were outlined by Congressman Ron Paul in a campaign stop once, “Intervention in the Middle East is the main motivation behind terrorist hostilities … Islam is not a threat to the nation.”1
But for those of us that lack any knowledge of history and continue to question why terrorism emanates from this region, we need to look at the region’s history for the past century. (Foreign Policy Journal)
The new head of the British ‘spy agency’ Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) would like to point out the complicity of technology (companies) in enabling terrorism. And he did so with an op-ed in the (prestigious) Financial Times. This is as absurd as dragging Toyota through formal charges of abetting terrorism because their Helix trucks are the defacto modes of transportation for ISIS and other Middle-Eastern terrorist groups. The Internet, social media, wireless/mobile technologies and other forms of online communication are now very much embedded within the day to day lives of billions of people worldwide. They offer a very utilitarian benefit to these billions allowing them to stay connected, earn a paycheck, learn, be entertained and informed, etc.
The law enforcement and intelligence agencies from around the world need to start using the laws they already have in place to request the necessary data and do the investigative work necessary for successfully stopping terrorism. Do crimes get solved by investigative work and or because they are handed over on silver platters? Many online voices are not impressed by Mr Hannigan’s argument.
New head of GCHQ accuses tech companies of helping terrorists
GCHQ and its sister agencies, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web. I understand why they have an uneasy relationship with governments. They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics. But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism. However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us. If they are to meet this challenge, it means coming up with better arrangements for facilitating lawful investigation by security and law enforcement agencies than we have now. (Financial Times)
A lot has been made of the hate and vitriol that the terrorist group ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State have for everyone (but themselves). They’ve been on a murderous rampage in parts of Syria and Iraq with ongoing dreams of spreading their brand of violent Islamic terrorism across the world either by export or by radicalizing natives in those countries. So what happens when you combine the scrounge of ISIS with the other big danger being covered in the news (Ebola)? Of course there is a convergence and we end up with reports that the Islamic State is looking to somehow use Ebola as a bio-terrorism weapon in the United States. They are not likely to get access to a weaponized version of Ebola which, if it ever existed, would have been limited to the Soviet Union and maybe other military powers during the cold war.
Could they take a large amount of infected (body) fluid and somehow get it on people? Sure but that would be very cumbersome and any such hypothetical attack would have a small footprint. Terrorists could figure out a way to either smuggle or through international travel, get Ebola infected comrades into the United States or Europe. Once there these infected jihadis could try to spread the disease from person to person by physical contact. This is hard as once in the stage where Ebola is alive in the carrier and spreadable, the disease will be ravaging the human carrier and assuming it is not aerosolized, would be hard to spread. The most likely victims would have been medical personnel but one can assume that they are now on guard for Ebola cases in general. But none of these details prevent terrorists from talking about it in Internet chat rooms (sic).
Could ISIS/ISIL terrorists spread Ebola to the United States?
According to Spain’s RTVE public broadcasting corporation, the interior ministry number two said there had been “many examples” of threats to use the Ebola virus and other toxins in a new form of terrorism offensive against the West, referring specifically to three recent cases.
Most recently there was the “jihadist chat room” conversation discovered in mid-September in which “the use of Ebola as a poisonous weapon against the United States” was discussed in a forum Martínez described as “linked to Isis”.
The security chief also mentioned a series of tweets from July in which, he said, the terrorist organization Ansar al-Islam was shown to be considering the use of “deadly chemical products from laboratories”. (The Local)
The evolving threat matrix from unconventional and terrorist actors has been a concern to many governments and their security apparatus. Even as the Al-Qaeda threat has been diminished with the sustained decade plus long War on Terrorism (WoT), the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), the spread of Islamic radicalization in new parts of Africa and Asia, and continued radicalization in non-Muslim countries now presents an additional challenge. The Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington DC published a report by Peter Bergen, Emily Schneider, David Sterman, Bailey Cahall and Tim Maurer to outline these jihadi terrorism and other unconventional threats. Not surprisingly, the Bipartisan Policy Center goes by the view that the (West’s) struggle against terrorism is far from over and has in fact has entered a new and dangerous phase.
Bipartisan Policy Center recently published its 2014 report on terrorism and other unconventional attack risks
“While the core al-Qaeda group that struck the United States on 9/11 has been decimated in recent years, its affiliates and associated groups have diffused throughout the greater Middle East. They now have a presence in 16 countries, more countries than they did half a decade ago. Al-Shabaab’s 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and the 2012 attack by local militants on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, demonstrate that even relatively weak terrorist organizations can pull off deadly attacks against local targets.
The civil wars in Syria and Iraq (in reality, a regional civil war) and increasing sectarianism across the region have reinvigorated jihadist movements, while the demise of democratic Islamism in Egypt risks creating an Islamist insurgency in a country important to U.S. interests. It is not clear, however, that the diffusion of al-Qaeda-like groups and roiling instability in the Arab world will translate into terrorist attacks against the United States itself, although attacks against American interests overseas will surely remain quite likely.”