The worst memory that the generations of this day and age shall remember for a long time is only a few weeks away. The 9/11 attacks that occurred in New York and Washington raise a question in the minds of observers of the international scene: Has the world failed in its attempts to combat terrorism?
The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, and reports on the return of ISIS after experiencing a downfall in Syria and Iraq have both forced the search for a satisfying answer to the question above.
It is in fact Afghanistan, four decades ago, that had instigated the spread of some armed political Islamic groups, who have hidden behind the notion of Jihad, and have since spread all throughout the Middle East and Arab region, leading up to the attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda.
The situation in Afghanistan today entails the rise of yet another spread that has been set forth since the baseless withdrawal of the United States, which shall indeed create space for the return of Taliban control.
Moreover, what is currently happening in Afghanistan opens the door for al-Qaeda to exercise more of its power, and what is more is that it also allows for ISIS to rise again and reorganize for future attacks.
The return of ISIS is not necessarily correlated to the current situation in Afghanistan, as much as it is due to the overall failure in confronting them from the start. The question then lies: where have we gone wrong, and was it a logistical mistake or rather a theoretical one?
Late last July, a UN sanctions monitoring team focusing on the Middle East, particularly on Syria and Iraq, issued an intelligence-based report stating that ISIS developed its presence into a permanent one, capitalizing on the points of weakness in the Iraqi and Syrian local security, and is also targeting any forces taking part in anti-ISIS operations.
ISIS, despite suffering a series of fatal blows, was able to reorganize, and managed to strategically attack Iraq through a series of small-scale attacks led by no more than three to five of its members. It also uses these attacks in its propaganda to attract and recruit more members.
President of the Federal Intelligence Service Bruno Kahl recently gave a warning in an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Referring to the 9/11 attacks and the battle against terrorism, he said: “It is true that we have never seen such massive events as the attacks back then. But Islamist terrorism has developed since then, it has cost many human lives. The number of actors involved in terrorism and their dangers have grown.”
So, where have we failed? In the last two decades, the United States has only been somewhat inefficiently fighting terrorist groups, and not the idea of terrorism itself, and ideas can spread like wildfire especially in the cyber era in which we now live.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Emirati publication al-Ittihad.