A large section of the International community had heaved a sigh of relief when ISIS Chief, Abu Al Bakr Baghdadi was killed very recently by the US special forces in Northern Syria. It was then generally believed that the IS and other terror groups would be on the defensive following this prize encounter.
However, as anticipated by the experts, the euphoria was short lived when a massive terror strike came on the way in the African country of Mali in a latest attack in Indelimane, in Menaka region in a Mali military establishment killing around 53 soldiers and civilians on the border of Niger. ISIS has claimed the responsibility for this daring attack for loss of so many lives.
More importantly, there were at least three suicide bombings as part of this fatal assault inside the military camp. It would appear that there was complete failure of intelligence leading to such a brutal act.
While ISIS has owned responsibility for perpetrating this high profile attack, professionals are busy analyzing if it was a handiwork of Al-Qaeda which is a dominant source of terror in the Arab Peninsula and in the sub Sahara region raising its hood at regular intervals.
Either way, it is evident that there is no visible or profound impact of the Baghdadi killing and every part of the world still remains fraught with potential of terror strikes by any terror group irrespective of nomenclature or affiliations. Also, the fresh attacks in Mali is a major blow for the so called SAHEL force which is 5000 strong and thought to be specifically trained with counter terror in mind.
France also has to apportion its blame as it had avowed to its commitment to the French speaking Mali providing a beefed up security by providing professional expertise, logistics and other related assistance to meet threats of extreme nature.
It may be recapitulated that Northern parts of Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked fighters in the wake of failure of the Mali's Army to suppress an uprising in 2012. Despite the French presence, the terrorists continue to hide as a tactical move and then regroup and strike at will whenever there is an opportunity.
Such modus operandi has now become more a rule than exception in countries like Burkina Faso and Niger where fighters have exploited the communal passions causing enormous damage to the social harmony. Neutralizing them effectively remains, therefore, a big challenge for the political establishment.
Other than these, there seems to be an urgent need for a rapid development and better governance in the region as part of measures to contain terror. Being in possession of vast area of terrain in the desert,anti terror operations remain a major obstacle.
Another example of terror threat looming large in the aftermath of Baghdadi killing which has come to notice is from Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander, Abu Uzail has threatened that India will very soon face a deadly suicide terror attack.
Possibly, not to be seen as undeterred following Baghdadi exit from the terror scene, another Pakistani sponsored terror outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has vociferously claimed that it has trained and indoctrinated a number of its cadres to report at its Markaz-Usman-o-Ali headquarters at Bahawalpur in preparation to strike at Indian locations.
Intelligence reports, in the meantime, indicate that radicalization of JeM cadres are carried out specifically for feedayeen attacks with Kashmiri targets in mind. It is further learnt that JeM supremo, Masood Azhar, is currently in Bahawalpur undergoing intensive medical treatment. Abu Uzail is suspected to be in the company of Masood Azhar seeking directions to meet his objectives.
Credible intelligence inputs also suggest that Pakistan Army/ISI have directed the LeT and JeM terrorists to cross the LoC and hit out at various infrastructure and members of the Indian Armed forces stationed in Kashmir. These new wave of terror threats pose a serious security challenge to the Indian security agencies but given their professional expertise, the threats can be met effectively.
Also, in the neighborhood of India, countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia etc also need to increase their alertness as the ISIS or the Al-Qaeda have their footprints in the region and may like to make their presence felt by a slew of terror acts showing to the world that terrorism has come to stay even without Baghdadi around.
The writer is a security analyst, a columnist and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime
Minister of Mauritius
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