Nice attack: Security agencies need to stay ahead of the curve to counter terrorism

One terror attack after another is taking place in various corners of the world, where the terrorists are resorting to a new modus operandi each time, but objective remains the same — to kill as many people as possible and inflict as much destruction possible, ultimately aiming at an apocalypse.

The latest attack was in Nice, France, where a frenzied, speeding truck virtually turned into a killing machine and mowed down 85 people on Thursday night, while citizens were engrossed in a firework celebration on the occasion of Bastille Day.

Analysts would like to go deeper into the incident to dig out whether there exists any pattern or style in this killing machine syndrome, but for the attackers — whether belonging to IS (Islamic State), al Qaeda or a lone wolf, the book ‘Management of Savagery: The most critical stage through which the Islamic nation will pass’ is the last word. Also known as ‘Administration of Savagery,’ this book by Abu Bakr Naji was first published on the Internet in 2004, and is the ultimate benchmark for the Islamic terror groups. It talks about strategy for the extremist groups in creation of a new Islamic Caliphate.

The book argues that carrying out a campaign of constant violent attacks in Muslim states will eventually exhaust their ability and the will to enforce their authority making way for chaos — or ‘savagery’. Jihadists can take advantage of this savagery to achieve their ultimate goal of establishing a global Islamic Caliphate. It also talks about the use of extreme violence as an asymmetrical tactic of war-making to hold territory. But, the Islamic terror groups have added a new chapter to the book. The attack is not limited to Muslim states alone, and is being carried out anywhere and everywhere.

Nice attack is no different. Just like the 9/11 airplane attack, a truck was employed here to express terror. The methodology is unpredictable, but the common denominator remains the same — using extreme form of violence to inflict maximum damage possible and to create chaos and panic in public life.

Police investigate the truck involved in the Nice attack. AP

Police investigate the truck involved in the Nice attack. AP

Broad strategy behind the attacks

“There’s nothing new about the attack. Trucks had been used in the past too. But, the bottom line behind all these attacks is not just to kill but create a comprehensive disorder and chaos through savagery that leads a state to collapse. There should be no state power to impose order and then the Islamic jihadists will take over. Their only aim is to destroy the prevailing order, which IS or al Qaeda or any other terror outfit did in the US, Europe or Indian subcontinent. This is what the Management of Savagery talks about,” explains Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute of Conflict Management.

Taking a leaf out of the book, the al Qaeda had asked its cadre to use whatever method possible and inflict maximum damage on Kafirs (non-believer). Islamic State followed the same, adding dollops of barbarity to it, asking jihadists to ‘use whatever means possible and kill as many as possible’.

“The old pattern of terrorism like taking hostage against ransom and demands is passé. Now, it’s not about any negotiation. It’s only and only about killing and mass destruction by creating tyranny in order to weaken the capacity of a state to stop terror attacks,” adds Sahni.

Different methodology, single motive

Counter-terrorism analysts opine that over the years the modus operandi of attacks by terror outfits has undergone a paradigm change. It’s no more limited to bombings.

“The Islamic State has underlined using of different tactics in its war machine including aviation. We have witnessed various methodologies, often unpredictable ones — Fidayeen attack (suicide bombers), car bombs, use of airplane, lone wolves, using vehicles to crush people, etc. But the only motive is to inflict maximum damage and casualty, so as to create mass panic. The IS has taken it to another level through barbarity. To tackle terrorism, a nation can’t have a double standard on the issue. China has to understand that it can’t have double standards in geopolitics,” remarks P Stobdan, former ambassador to Republic of Kyrgyzstan & senior fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.

Counter terrorism analyst Anil Kamboj adds, “The sole purpose of attacks like it happened in Nice, is create havoc and for this the jihadis target large crowd like in festivals, celebrations or community gatherings, irrespective of religion, community or caste. Ultimate goal is to have global Islamic rule through senseless and gratuitous violence and presenting it as an esoteric form of jurisprudence within the constellation of Salafi-jihadi ideology.”

Countering unpredictable attacks

Earlier too, France had faced terror attacks —1995 & 1996 Paris Metro bombings, 2012 Toulouse & Montauban shooting, January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and the last one in November 2015 in which 130 people got killed.

But, no one in their wildest dreams could imagine that a truck would be rammed into the crowd and kill so many in Nice.

“Next attack won’t be like the last attack. The strategy of non-state actors and jihadi organizations is to adopt a new method of attack, because security agencies develop a counter mechanism as a preventive measure. Now, it’s a phenomenon for global jihadists to go unpredictable in their attacks, so that security agencies are caught unaware,” sums up Brig (retd) Narender Kumar, a senior fellow in a think tank on strategic affairs.

“The security agencies need to have out-of-the-box thinking to remain ahead of the curve. In order to tackle or prevent attacks, we have to remain ahead of the strategy adopted by the terrorists by being proactive. Instead of reacting to the situation, the need is to act by adopting military and non-military solutions. The government has to set accountability and responsibility for the security forces, while simultaneously equipping them with legal sanctions to carry out operations fearlessly. India too should learn from previous incidents,” adds Kumar.

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Updated Date: Jul 16, 2016 13:44:22 IST

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