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Technology Allows ISIS Terror Threat to Spread across wider circles, say Intelligence Officials

The issue of easily shared information by ISIS among different countries across their international borders is what poses a threat to the governments and the defense organisations

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FILE - An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Wilayat Fazzan, in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website on April 19, 2015.
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September 8, 2016: Even though the U.S.-led coalition has made progress in efforts to oust Islamic State from its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, top U.S. intelligence officials warn that technology is allowing the threat of terrorism to spread across even wider circles.

“The terrorism threat we face is broader, wider and deeper than in the recent past,” said Nick Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center at an intelligence and national security summit in Washington. “It is more geographically expansive and as a result, considerably less predictable. Plotting in this environment matures more quickly and with much less warning.”

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper emphasized the difficulties in predicting how technology will affect national security, saying the influence of IS on the global terrorism landscape has created a new intelligence reality.

FILE - IS social media distributed photos in several languages of children holding placards in Islamic State territories offering "congratulations" on the deaths of Americans, apparently in reference to the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, 2016.
FILE – IS social media distributed photos in several languages of children holding placards in Islamic State territories offering “congratulations” on the deaths of Americans, apparently in reference to the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, 2016.

“ISIS will eventually be suppressed, but I think for some time to come, we’ll have more extremist organizations, which will be spawned and which we have to contend with,” said Clapper while delivering a keynote address at Wednesday’s summit. ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.

Information sharing

Many in the intelligence community say the terror threat in the U.S. is increasingly dominated by homegrown violent extremists or those individuals who often don’t fit a specific demographic profile or have clear ties to terrorist networks overseas.

“What’s changed, what’s different is the size and scale of the population that’s proven vulnerable to homegrown violent extremism,” said Rasmussen, adding that, “this puts a greater amount of pressure on intelligence and law enforcement officials, to get to them before they get to us.”

That increasing fragmentation and diversity of threats highlight the importance of information sharing between countries. But that’s a task that some say is tough to accomplish across international borders.

“Europe is in a very, very bad counterterrorism place,” said Michael Leiter, chief operations officer for Leidos, a global science and technology solutions company, adding, “[their] ability to police their own borders is largely nonexistent.”

Defining ‘victory’

The framing of the counterterrorism debate is also at issue, with many saying the rise of the Islamic State needs to be viewed through a broader counterterrorism lens.

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“The conversation on ISIS/ISIL tends to become all consuming,” Rasmussen said. “The stuff we’re seeing with ISIL is additive and comes on top of an already difficult threat picture.”

Experts agree that figuring out what comes after the takedown of terrorist organizations like al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula or Somali militant group al-Shabab is also an area that needs more work.

Being able to define what victory looks like, says Dr. Frank Ciluffo, director of the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, is crucial to the success of overall counterterrorism efforts.

“I do see a day when we can defeat ISIS,” Ciluffo said. “But I don’t think that translates to the jihadi threat going away.” (VOA)

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  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    So technology now becoming their weapon too! It’s just wrong use of technology.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Sharing of information made easy.. but improper use makes the wrong use as the ISIS.

  • Manthra koliyer

    Technology and sharing information should not be used in such a manner.

  • Ayushi Gaur

    India undoing a target

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    So technology now becoming their weapon too! It’s just wrong use of technology.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Sharing of information made easy.. but improper use makes the wrong use as the ISIS.

  • Manthra koliyer

    Technology and sharing information should not be used in such a manner.

  • Ayushi Gaur

    India undoing a target

Next Story

Emergence of Radical Political Groups Raises Concern in Pakistan

Concerns are being voiced about how a few radical groups with proven terror ties have been allowed to re-brand themselves as political parties.

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Rising concerns in Pakistan regarding radical terrorist groups establishing themselves as political parties. VOA
Rising concerns in Pakistan regarding radical terrorist groups establishing themselves as political parties. VOA
  • Tension in Pakistan increasing due to emergence of Radical Political Groups.
  • Extremist groups are gaining a footing in Country’s politics.
  • According to reports, goverment’s efforts are not enough to stop the emerging radicalism in Pakistan.

Concerns are being voiced in Pakistan about how a few radical groups with proven terror ties have been allowed to re-brand themselves as political parties.

Taj Haider, one of the prominent and founding members of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has been in power five times since 1970, told VOA the country is again seeing the trend of extremist groups camouflaging themselves to enter into politics.

“Religion and politics cannot go hand in hand, but unfortunately this is our new reality. We have seen the recent by-elections in Lahore and Peshawar where militant-turned-political parties were able to mobilize people and gather votes,” Haider said. “And these so-called new political parties, with proven terror records, look determined to contest the upcoming elections in 2018.”

In a recent high-level party meeting presided by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan’s slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the government was sharply criticized on its inability to forcefully implement the National Action Plan and bar proscribed groups from entering the political sphere.

The National Action Plan is a 20-point strategy devised to combat extremism in 2015 that clearly states no banned groups can operate in the country by changing their names or identity.

Analysts say many other political parties are also agitated and wary about the recent political dynamic that has allowed radicalized groups to enter the political arena.

“The government has repeatedly said it will not allow the hardliners to enter into politics, but the reality is different, these parties are going into masses,” Rasul Baksh Raees, a prominent analyst from Pakistan told VOA.

“As long as these proscribed groups stick to their extreme ideologies and violence, they will be a danger to the society and democracy itself.”

Hafiz Saeed
Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistani religious party. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

PPP’s acute criticism came as Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), inaugurated the office of his newly launched political party Milli Muslim League (MML) in the eastern city of Lahore.

Pakistan’s Election Commission rejected MML’s party registration application in October, citing its link to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S. designated terror-sponsoring organization.

But MML looks determined to contest the upcoming state and provincial elections. The party has several offices, has launched a website, and has a social media team spreading its messages through Facebook and Twitter.

Pakistan’s government has repeatedly emphasized it will not tolerate any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to use democracy and political means to spread their extreme ideologies.

But critics still say the government is not doing enough to stop radical groups from entering politics.

“Look what happened in Lahore’s recent by-election and who can forget the power show by extremists on the roads of Islamabad. The government was totally helpless,” Raees said.

During the Lahore election in September, a MML backed independent candidate secured the fourth position in the race. The by-election was also contested by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TeL), another extremist religious party created to carry-on Mumtaz Qadri’s mission, the bodyguard who killed Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer in 2011 after he had demanded reforms in the controversial blasphemy law. Mumtaz Qadri was later sentenced to death.

Islamic Extremists
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik party (VOA)

In November, thousands of followers of the Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labaik blocked Islamabad roads for weeks and demanded the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, after accusing him of blasphemy. The government eventually surrendered to hardliners’ demands after Pakistan’s military played the role of mediator.

The experts say the emerging trend of politicizing militancy is a danger to democracy. They also point out the sectarian and hardline rationale will further complicate the situation in the country that has been trying to combat terrorism for more than a decade.

“Imagine when these hardliners, through political parties, will spread their extreme views on the grassroots level. What will be the future of this country?” Raees said.

But some politicians dismiss the blending of radicalized groups into politics. Haider believes the people of Pakistan can differentiate between politicians and extremists and will not allow militant-turned-politicians to thrive.

“If you look at the past, the religious parties including the Jamaat-i-Islami [an old religious party], despite having a huge following, were never able to clean sweep or get majority in the electoral process of the country,” said Haider.

“Even now, with all these efforts, I believe Milli Muslim League or Tehreek-e-Labaik will not be able to pull large numbers during the general elections. Religious or sectarian votes are scattered in the country and can’t be unified and will not help these newly established political parties to win a prominent number of seats.” VOA