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Singling out terrorists

The Woolwich attack, in which two radicalised Britons of Nigerian origin attacked and killed a British soldier, shook the world because of the gory nature of the crime. What came as more shocking was the motive behind the crime: the two ideologically motivated youths were protesting against British military action in Muslim countries.

india Updated: May 27, 2013 21:24 IST

Just when world nations had thought that they had seen the worst of terrorism and were devising ways to check and tackle it, comes an offshoot of terrorism that is frighteningly hard to detect and contain given its nascent and localised nature.

‘Lone wolf’ terrorism, in which an individual or a small group of people, after being influenced by extremist views, decide to attack, has been on a steady rise over the years.

The Woolwich attack, in which two radicalised Britons of Nigerian origin attacked and killed a British soldier, shook the world because of the gory nature of the crime. What came as more shocking was the motive behind the crime: the two ideologically motivated youths were protesting against British military action in Muslim countries.

The Woolwich incident is not a one off case. Right from Norway where Anders Breivik gunned down more than 80 youngsters to Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt to bomb Times Square in 2010 to Fort Hood where Nidal Malik Hassan gunned down 13 people in 2009 till the recent Boston marathon bombings where two radicalised youths used pressure cookers to kill three and injure more than 250 people, lone wolves have proved to be as potent and dangerous as organised groups.

Two main reasons for a sprout in such attacks is the increasing difficulty in organising a 9/11 type of organised, large-scale attacks and a growing access to radical views on different platforms: be it on the internet or educational institutions.

These developments, though not taking place here, have a bearing on India and should catch the attention of New Delhi. India is not immune to terror attacks. India has been a victim of the various hues of terrorism and has at times been successful in tackling it. However, New Delhi is yet to come up with a comprehensive strategy to tackle terror.

More often than not we have seen a piecemeal approach which involves gathering scattered bits of information after there has been an attack. With internet and information technology penetration increasing throughout India, the law enforcement agencies must be on top of the job when it comes to surveillance of online activity.

More manpower and technology should be dedicated for this purpose. If we fail to heed this wake-up call, it will be too late before we get our act together.