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BY MAJOR GENERAL S.B. ASTHANA
President Donald Trump’s announcement that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State(IS) commander, died during a US military operation in Syria, later confirmed by ISIS itself, was welcome news for all fighting terrorism or suffering from it in any part of the world. This was followed by the death of their spokesperson and arrest of his sister and wife by Turkey. After the decimation of IS caliphate, IS continues to exist in small modules in many parts of the world, mainly in West Asia, but the loss of its undisputed leader, who inspired many youth globally towards radicalisation as never before, during his peak performance days, will not be easy to fulfil.
He revolutionised the art of extending the terror network through the internet, made IS the richest terror group in the world with a caliphate to govern through Sharia laws and revived sex slavery. It’s a major setback to the IS and its affiliated terror groups but long overdue good news for those who suffered its brutality, like Yezidi women.
The idea of IS does not end with the death of its leader, who stands replaced by Ibrahim al Hashemi al Qurayshi from Prophet Mohammad’s lineage (qualified to become caliph) and has taken a vow to avenge Baghdadi’s death. There being no change in the overall aim and ideology of IS, it will manage to regroup with a smaller fund flow and area of influence and wait for an opportunity to re-emerge; hence the global fight against IS has to continue.
What does it mean for Regional Terror Groups?
The US has given a strong message to terrorists but its declared withdrawal from Syria is untimely; hence the Middle-East needs a fresh look from the strategic perspective. Turkey cross-border offensive on October 9 against the Kurdish YPG militia, whose fighters made up the bulk of the SDF controlling IS, is a game spoiler in fight against IS. Turkey’s double game with terrorists is marred with helping IS and treating Kurds as terrorists as they demand a homeland. Its desire to invade Syria and destroy Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s supporters made it an ally of US, but the US is not keen on decimation of Kurds, who will be left with no choice but to commence terrorist activities against Turkey.
The temporary five days’ truce, sanctions against Turkey could buy some time, but is unlikely to change Erdogan’s intent as he seems to have decided to go the Wahhabi way. It does give some extra lifeline to the IS, which is going to get dispersed to other areas, in addition to some existing ones like Afghanistan. The US withdrawal also cedes this strategic space in Syria to the forces loyal to Assad and Russia, something which the US was not very keen to concede till a short while ago as it was not in the best interest of Israel. This strategic equation does not change the
terror potential of Hamas appreciably.
The internal political disturbance in Lebanon puts the Hezbollah in a tight spot. The current internal political turbulence in Iraq is helpful for reorganisation of IS as it dampens the Shia spirit which indirectly helps Sunni terror groups. The recent strategic clash between Iran and Saudi Arabia triggered by a drone attack on Saudi’s oil
establishment followed by an attack on an Iran oil tanker is also a recipe for refuelling of the Shia-Sunni terror competition in West Asia. After the US walked out of JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) renewed and clamped additional sanctions on Iran which the European Union could not prevent, Iran has also climbed the escalation ladder by announcing to fill gas in over 1,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium further, which it was holding out due to the deal.
This is another dangerous spiral in the region to increase the insecurity of Saudi Arabia and may result in further push to Sunni cause. These developments have blurred the definition of victim and oppressor. The internal turbulence of West Asia, therefore, is creating an environment for breeding terrorists. After IS suffered these reverses it has opened opportunities and ignited some competition for other terror groups like Taliban and al Qaeda, to strive to gain the influence they lost to ISIS earlier.
This has increased their quest to grab more power and money, a bulk of which comes from coercion globally, prove their terror potential to the target population and governments to get more attention, followers, logistics and other resources. It is, however, noteworthy that a number of terror organizations having allegiance to IS have still not changed their allegiance, indicating that the demise of IS may not be on the cards so soon and the group is still not out of competition.
What does it mean for Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) Region?
Afghanistan continues to face aggressive and coordinated attacks by ISIS’s branch in the region, the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN). Afghan Taliban seems to have grown much stronger for the fact that it controls more territory in Afghanistan than what it controlled when US forces marched in 19 years back. The fact that all world powers talked to them for peace (to fulfil their respective interests) indicate the blackmailing potential of Taliban.
Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and remaining US forces have not been able to control their terror strikes despite their best efforts, which are likely to increase if US chooses to withdraw completely. I do visualise some more efforts of global powers for talks to Taliban in the near future. Although al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan was degraded earlier by multinational forces, remnants of al-Qaeda’s global leadership, as well as its regional affiliate — al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) — continue to operate from remote locations in the region have a reason to cheer Baghdadi’s death.
Pakistan continues to be the epicentre of global terrorism playing host to maximum UN designated terrorist organisations and terrorists in the world, a large number of them have indicated allegiance to IS. Pakistani military counter-terrorism operations are more of ethnic cleansing acts against Pashtuns and Baluchis directed against groups which conducted attacks within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan Army and ISI supports externally focused groups such as Lashkar e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continue to train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan with a narrative of pseudo Islamic Jihad.
The Pakistani Army does not restrict the Afghan Taliban and HQN from operating in Pakistan and threatening US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, despite being placed on the “grey list” continuously to date, since June, 2018. The support of Pakistan to Sunni terror groups is well known and IS is no exception. The increasing radicalisation of establishments in Pakistan, and the conglomeration of terrorist groups in the Af-Pak Region is a dangerous sign as it indicates a caliphate in the making, far more dangerous than the ISIS caliphate.
What does it mean for South Asia?
After the declaration of the caliphate, the newly named Caliph, al-Baghdadi, while addressing the jihadists the world over explicitly mentioned China and India as one of the prime targets of the ISIS amongst many others and there are no signs of change in that narrative. ISIS and other militant groups are attempting to spread their ideology to countries that have Muslim population, and where there is a chance to reach out to dissatisfied youth.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and ISIS have together claimed responsibility for over 40 attacks in Bangladesh since 2015. The government in Bangladesh continues to battle terrorism with strict anti- terrorism Act in place. However, terrorists do manage to operate there with backing from ISI, Pakistan. Terrorist organizations are using internet and social media to spread their ideologies and solicit followers globally, including in South Asia, and many terrorists have been featured in multiple publications, videos, and websites associated with ISIS and AQIS.
Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and rapid radicalisation in Maldives are some more examples of IS mastered methodologies to spread terror, which is likely to continue. India having the second largest Muslim population in the world is an obvious target for IS. India is a tolerant and pluralist society with a mix of Shias and Sunnis, which has absorbed all religious faiths. Hence, the rate of penetration of radicalisation has been extremely low, although some individuals have been attracted to it.
Many Lone Wolf attacks in Europe, like the suicidal car crash attack in Westminster in London on March 22, 2017, are a possibility in India as well, in future, for which it needs to be prepared. The incidents like the explosion in the Bhopal-Ujjain Express by a terror suspect, Mohammad Saifurullah alias Ali, allegedly a member of the ISIS(K) module, on March 7, 2017 injuring 10 passengers, occasional display of IS flags in the Kashmir Valley, busting of few IS modules in South India by the National Investigative Agency (NIA), announce the arrival of IS in India. These incidents need to be viewed in consonance with the global scene, wherein Daesh is looking for new hosts after decimation of their caliphate.
Recent Trends in Terrorism
The peaceful coexistence of IS, Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and so many terror groups in Pakistan indicates that they are also collaborating and economising on certain activities and efforts like intelligence sharing, training camps, arms transfers, irregular trade and related activities on mutual benefit basis. Hence, it is increasingly difficult to use one against the other, despite intense competition amongst some of them. They are generally keen to expand their terror industry under pseudo religious cause of avenging perceived atrocities to muslims and continue to fight security forces trying to disturb their design. Their fight against each other is rarely seen in recent times.
The other interesting trend, especially in Pakistan, is that whenever a terrorist organisation is banned globally, it changes its name, registers as social welfare organisation, and continues terrorist activities as usual. A very well organized media and cyber campaign by the IS by incorporating technologically savvy cadres from western countries affecting some Indian youth is still on. Some media news that it had gained access to fissile material and suspected access to chemical weapons like Sarin gas, indicates that its potential for global nuisance is far from being over.
The same is being tried by other terror groups as well. To fight the global war on terror the world community will have to shun double gaming, individual country interest over global safety, the concept of good and bad terrorist and strict sanctions on terror sponsoring countries because terrorism cannot flourish without financial and logistics support. (IANS)
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.
Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:
* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.
You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash
* Clip your nails regularly: Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. After cutting your nails at a comfortable length also file them using a nail filer. Never share your nail care clipper as the germs can get transferred to your loved ones. Also, don't forget to use grime remover to remove hidden germs in corners and beneath nails. Also, you may like to file your nails to have a smooth finish.
* Good quality Nail Clipper: Do not use a rusted or chromium coated nail clipper as it might be harmful to skin and might cause dangerous bacterial infections.
* Stop the habit of nail chewing: Sometimes anxiety or extreme boredom can lead to chewing of nails. This habit only makes your nails uneven and ugly. Sometimes, our unclean nail folds give rise to viral, bacterial or fungal infections, which in turn can make us sick if we chew our nails.
Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. | Pixabay
* Exfoliate your hands: Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. You can buy a scrub or make one at home using brown sugar and olive oil. After scrubbing, you need to massage your hands with moisturizer.
Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. | Wikipedia
* Don't use your nails as tools: Always keep in mind that your nails are like jewels. Never use them to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters, or scraping off labels. This results in unnecessary breakage of nails, making your hands look dirty.
Never use your nails to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters or scraping off labels. | Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash
* Be aware of nail or cuticle inflammation or redness: If there are any signs of infection, disinfect the skin as soon as possible with an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ointment.
(Article originally written by N.Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Nails, groom, hand, exfoliate, chew, nail clipper, bite, cuticle
Bitcoin has become an essential crypto asset in modern portfolios and investment funds. The confidence generated in this cryptocurrency will depend a lot on the diversification that companies make in their balance sheets in Bitcoin and the increase of institutional investors that allocate a percentage of their funds in this crypto. American fund manager Cathie Wood makes some interesting predictions, both in the rise that the Bitcoin price will experience in the next 5 years, suggesting these institutional investors allocate 5% of their funds; this will help leverage the Bitcoin market.
Bitcoin will grow by a tenfold
Bitcoin is projected to grow by 10 times its current value in five years, i.e., it could reach $500,000. Of course, this will require companies to invest in cryptocurrencies. This makes it necessary to increase the weight of Bitcoin on balance sheets through investments. One of the investment gurus who supports this prediction is Catherine Wood. Contrarily, Ray Dalio, despite being clear that relying on cash is not a good strategy, views Bitcoin with suspicion, although he calls for its investment. This behavior is due to the actions of governments against the cryptocurrency market.
If something is undoubted is the vertiginous increase that cryptocurrencies have had in general, they have risen more than 60% so far this year. So, even when some governments are trying to regulate cryptocurrencies, they will fail. This attempt to regulate will end up triggering even more cryptos, especially Bitcoin, which is the oldest and most solid of that market.
Bitcoin, is the oldest and most solid of the market. | Photo by Executium on Unsplash
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The current Bitcoin price means is time to buy:
The current price of bitcoin invites you to buy, and perhaps it would be foolhardy not to. In either case, bitcoin will always represent money. Maybe some external factors generate some misgivings, but if you refuse to invest in cryptocurrencies, you are basically denying the near future, it would be as if you didn't have a cell phone or internet.
In India, more and more people are becoming convinced of the benefits of holding some Bitcoin. This can be clearly seen in the rapid increase in the number of new accounts at crypto exchanges such as WazirX and CoinDCX.
ALSO READ: How can you trade in Bitcoin in India?
Bitcoin, despite its fluctuations, represents an excellent financial strategy. The support users give is significant. The same cannot be said of the FIAT currencies, which have lost value and support, showing how fragile they are, being subjected to a constant devaluation. As long as confidence in cryptos grows, the foundations will continue to be laid to maintain their rise and to be able to continue making transactions. We know this by previous experience, as has happened with Ether, thanks mainly to the growing activity of Defi and NFT, i.e. decentralized finance and non-fungible tokens.
Remember that when you invest in Bitcoin, you can do it by buying or trading. When you want to make these transactions do it in a secure Exchange, study your finances to invest, manage the risk, and learn to manage your portfolio efficiently.