MIDDLE EAST

Making sense of the new phase of street terrorism

The recent London Bridge attack which left seven dead and 48 injured, has raised question marks around whether we are witnessing an era of “street terrorism” in the form of a modern Guerrilla warfare. If this is indeed the case, then this is nothing less than sabotage spreading terror in the streets of Britain.

This new face of terrorism is deviated from the established understanding of extremism and takes the shape of militant insurgency of a group of combatants who are taking their fight against the system by spreading terror among the public.

The London Bridge attack marks a departure in mechanism from the Westminster attack which was orchestrated and executed by one man; Khalid Masood. While with the London Bridge attack the terrorist “Guerrilla” evolved into a ring of three attackers who went on a rampage on the streets, targeting people at random, ambushing them by either stabbing or running them down in a white van.

The three combatants were also wearing hoax suicide vests to spread fear among the public. This rising phenomenon of modern guerrilla warfare does not stop at executing physical violence in public.

It aims in the long-run to create more confrontation with the system, including the society, police forces and policies. It invokes public chaos, division among communities and spreads the culture of fear and lack of trust in the system and the ruling authority.

State’s structure and policies

Their idea is to create distrust in the public toward the authorities and have them blame it for the chaos and violence caused by these insurgencies, something which will have an impact on the state’s structure and policies.

This is where a departure from conventional terrorism is increasingly apparent. The three perpetrators of the London Bridge attack are taking own law into their own hands, by enacting what they believe to be justice by attacking people on a Saturday night out with an aim to protect their twisted extremist ideology which condemns and frowns upon drinking, and the weekend lifestyle of western people.

This marks the transition of the extremist ideology from rhetoric, a tactic of manipulative debate taunting and social media activism, to commanding an ever larger presence and voice by being physically in the British streets.

The dramatic trajectory of Khurram Butt, whose appearance in Channel 4’s documentary sparked controversy. From a hardliner and ideological supporter of ISIS to belligerent insurgent for the terrorist group, his journey highlights the path from silent spectator and ideological follower to an active militant. His case is testimony to the rapid transformation from an ideology to a violent act.

Street terrorism gives the impression that the extreme rhetoric is transmitted from the ideological sphere onto a spatial manifestation of territorial conquering

Dr. Halla Diyab

Long praised

“Street terrorism” in the shape of guerrilla warfare is a terror tactic long praised by terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, and today the globally feared ISIS. In April, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged in an audio titled “Syria will only bow to God”, released on the internet armed Syrian opposition to wage guerrilla warfare against the Syrian government and its allies.

The spirit of guerrilla warfare travels to ISIS and grows to be a tactic of fusion with its almost singular focus on efforts to take and hold land and simultaneously to win the “hearts and minds,” of the population by means of terrorism.

Scenes staged by insurgency like the London Bridge attack serves the visual component of the terrorist group. Street terrorism gives the impression that the extreme rhetoric is transmitted from the ideological sphere onto a spatial manifestation of territorial conquering.

Dynamic of deviation

The organized violence of the terrorist modern guerrilla warfare works to convey the threats of the extremists, that they can invade the British streets, at any given time or place, spreading horror, anxiety, fear and chaos.

The evolution of modern terrorist guerrilla warfare is a dynamic of their deviation. Their manifestations are not static and traditionalist, but rather embryonic and continuously finding shape and form. The new era of street terrorism, with its deviations, not only highlights the dangerous growth of the extremist ideology but also how the shape of this new facet of terrorism can evolve to street insurgency.

Within this evolution and multi-layered power, it is their danger embedded. The shock result of the UK elections questions the impact and the prospect of the rise of street terrorism on the trust of the British public in the ruling authority.

With these ideological hardliners relinquishing their invisibility, shifting from wielding rhetoric to wielding a machete, the question of how much the British public will continue to trust Theresa May’s government, hangs in the balance.
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Dr. Halla Diyab is an award winning screen-writer, producer, broadcaster, a published author and an activist. She has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from the University of Leicester. She carried out research in New Orleans, USA while working on her thesis “The Examination of Marginality and Minorities in the Drama and Film of Tennessee Wil-liams”. She holds an MA in Gender and Women Studies from the University of Warwick. She is a regular commentator in the Brit-ish and international media and has recently appeared on Channel 4 News, BBC Newsnight, BBC This Week, CNN, Sky News, Channel 5 News, ITV Central, Al Jazeera English, and BBC Radio 4, to name a few. Dr Halla is also the Founder & Director of Liberty Media Productions, which focuses on cross-cultural issues between Britain and the Middle East. She tweets @drhalladiyab.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 13 June 2017 KSA 09:07 - GMT 06:07
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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