Terrorism still a challenge after Charlie Hebdo attack
Beijing, Jan 8 (IANS) The international community is still rife, if not more, with challenges in its fight against terrorism one year after the shocking newsroom massacre at the premises of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Adding oil to the fire for Europe were controversy and dilemma in its refugee policies in the face of immigrants’ floods from the Middle East where regimes were paralyzed or toppled in the Arab Spring, Xinhua reported.
Many countries were on high alert against terrorist threat on Thursday — the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Tension is obvious in Paris as a man wearing a fake explosives vest and wielding a butcher’s knife was shot to death by police. He was shouting extremist slogans and waving the knife at officers outside a police station.
The prosecutor’s office said he was carrying a document with an emblem of the Islamic State group and “an unequivocal claim of responsibility in Arabic.”
The news jolted France with a new dose of fear as people marked a year of terror since the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 7, 2015.
France also suffered a series of attacks on November 13 last year on cafes, restaurants, a sports stadium and a music hall that left 130 people dead. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for all the killings there.
In New York, thousands of police watched over a bustling Times Square. In Germany’s southern city of Munich, stations were evacuated over an imminent terror threat.
In London, around 3,000 officers were deployed across the center of the city. In Italy, fireworks were banned in towns and cities amid fears that loud explosions could spark panic.
Tension could be felt in other parts of the world, too. In Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, officers had just foiled detailed plans for an alleged New Year suicide attack.
Turkish police detained two Islamic State suspects allegedly planning attacks in the centre of the capital city of Ankara.
In Moscow, even the Red Square was closed off, where tens of thousands of revellers traditionally gather to usher in the New Year.
In headline news in the United Kingdom on Thursday, media named a masked militant who was shown directing the killing of five men in an IS propaganda video as Siddhartha Dhar, a Londoner who once sold inflatable bouncy castle toys, though he was not officially identified.
There have been discussions on how he slipped out of the country in September 2014 while on a police bail.
Authorities reportedly failed to ask him to surrender his passport in time. He turned up in Syria weeks later, leading to questions over the shoddy security in the UK.
There have been calls for solidarity in dealing with terrorism with a firm hand. However, the international community has not turned safer but has, instead, suffered from an increasingly worrying tide of terrorism.
In France, President Francois Hollande recently paid respects to fallen security forces, saluting their valour in protecting the French “way of life”, which he said terrorists wanted to attack.
In the Paris neighbourhood where the attempted attack happened on Thursday, officers ordered for the roads to be blocked and shops closed. Subway stations in the area also were closed and bus service halted.
Some of the residents had to wait for the street to reopen. One of them said they no longer have a sense of safety.
“It is a vicious spiral where the efforts to fight terrorism led to more terrorism and galvanised the growth of the new terrorism,” Zheng Yongnian, a renowned scholar and director of the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore, said in an article published recently.
While it is necessary to stand united in the fight against terrorism, some of the Western countries have adopted double standards, Zheng said.
It is a question of integrating the different cultural traditions while the current anti-terror strategy of relying on the state forces to curb the growth of terrorism should be called into question, he said.
Some observers have said the Western powers have adopted double standards to justify whatever way of fighting terrorism on their part and used the fight against terrorism to promote their interests.
Even politicians in the US have come to realise that the international community has not been safer than it was before the toppling and paralysing of some of the regimes in the Middle East, though few would admit it.
Ted Cruz, a Republic presidential candidate, said in December that there has been “a consistent mistake in foreign policy”.
The US got “involved in toppling Middle Eastern governments, and it ends up benefiting the bad guys,” he said.