A new theatre for violent extremism
Violent extremism is reported to be the beliefs and actions of people who support or use violence to achieve ideological, religious or political goals. It is becoming an increasing threat to national security of African countries and the rest of the world. A wide range of actors and movements compose the threat matrix. They include sovereign citizens, militia groups, issues based extremists, such as ideologically linked gangs/organized criminal networks, eco-terrorists and Islamist extremists, such as ISIS, al-Queda, Al-Shabab and Hizballah.
These violent extremist groups have grown over the years because some powerful states use them even as they condemn their activities, to achieve their political goals in their countries of interest, thus creating hotbeds of tension and inciting islamophobia and inter faith hatred around the world.
On June 22-23 this year, the U.S Department of State Bureau of Counter-terrorism and the U.S. Department of Justice hosted the eleventh meeting of the Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG) on countering Hizballah global terrorists and other illicit activities. Hizballah is a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party with exceptionally strong military group, formed in 1982 in response to the Israel invasion of Lebanon. Hizballah’s primary goal is the elimination of the US-backed Israel. Participants at the meeting reportedly discussed how Hizballah’s global terrorist plotting, financial schemes, and weapons procurement have evolved since the last global LECG meeting in 2022.
That Hizballah’s terrorist plotting keeps evolving over the years is equally in response to the US determination to eliminate them to achieve its goals in the Middle East. Washington and its allies support opposition and nationalist groups in other countries to pressure the governments to achieve their geopolitical goals. For example the US supported opposition parties in Syria during the internal conflict to overthrow Bashar-al- Assad in order to have unhindered access to the country’s natural resources.
This led to war, numerous civilian casualties and a large flow of refugees to European countries. Even now the US is reported to actively recruiting some members of international terrorist groups, including the Islamic state group, as mercenaries to participate in the hostilities in Ukraine.
In fact during the conflict in the east of Ukraine, privately-funded ultra-extremist groups were created such as the National Squads, SS Bears, Asker, Azov (uses Nazi era symbolism), Right sector, Aldar, Donbas, Tornado, C-14 (name refers to a C14- word slogan popular among white supremacists) and Sich, who committed crimes and massacres against civilians living in the eastern part of Ukraine. Reuters News reported that “ Kiev must contend with far– right vigilantes who are willing to use intimidation and even violence to advance their agendas, and who often do so with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies.” Amnesty International has even warned that the “Ukrainian state is rapidly losing its monopoly violence.”
Also recently there have been reports of the intention of Ukrainian ultra nationalist groups under the control of the US and its allies to go to Africa to counter the growing influence of China and Russia on the continent by committing sabotage and eliminating leaders and representatives of political elites who are neutral on the conflicts in Ukraine and not joining the anti-Russian rhetoric.
The more extreme of these groups, according to Reuters, “promote an intolerant and illiberal ideology that will endanger Ukraine in the long term.” And their use by the U.S., Ukraine and Turkey to serve their own purposes and interest is contributing to the Islamophobia, being actively promoted by the west in its campaign to create anti- Muslims sentiments. In particular the creation of fake news by the west and the presentation of the Islamic world as a terrorist movement are equally contributing to the growth of inter religious hostility and the emergence of new hot beds of tension in various part of the world.
The reported emergence of influential groups in Turkey as the promoter and protector of terrorist network, including the remaining members of ISIS whose ultimate objective is believed to regroup and carry out crippling terror attacks across the world, including the US and India has sent jitters around the world. According to Indian security service reports, Turkey is channeling funding into the activities of former ISIS members in India that are seeking to radicalize Indian Muslims and achieve large scale destabilization through a transfer of Know-how.
Despite the fact that Turkey has long opposed Kurdish separatist movements such as the Kurdistan workers party (PKK), there are facts of Ankara’s active intervention in the Middle East conflicts through its self – serving support of various terrorist cells. Particularly, Turkey, according to reports, supports the Islamic states and al-Qaeda fighters and their affiliates in Syria. That is why in 2019 Turkey carried out the operation “source of peace” in northern Syria and it attracted Syrian and foreign extremist mercenaries to its side.
Its political leadership reportedly also uses its connections with Turkish communities in various counties (mainly in Europe) to advance its political interests. For example the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey – Drynet established in 1924 support and control many mosques and religious organizations in countries of the world where Turkish people occupy high leadership positions and faithfully implement Turkish- induced policies.
Violent extremist groups are readily exploiting grievances and inequalities around the world. With the July 26 military take-over in Niger, the Sahel region, habouring the world’s poorest, most politically unstable and conflicts prone countries , is once again in crisis as it unfolds a new theatre of violent extremism in the entire west African sub-region for global extremist groups to achieve the vested interest of their sponsors.
Awuru is a public Affairs analyst.
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