US-based security experts said jihadist organizations would further decentralize over 2022, the byproduct of a successful counterterrorism campaign by the US and its allies against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Since Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist propaganda broadly resonates with Westerners and poses the threat of inspired attacks in the West by homegrown violent extremists, intelligence agencies fear an alarming rise in jihadist acts and militancy during 2022. Meanwhile, in India, Islamist forces, with the active support of Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), are nurturing radical Islamic madness and spreading it under the pretext of burqa and hijab controversy.
In addition to activities of various jihadist outlets, Tablighi Jamaat has also been playing a vital role in spreading religious extremism, hatred and promoting jihad under the disguise of preaching Islam in various mosques and Islamic centres in the Western nations as well as other countries in the world, including India and Bangladesh. Counterterrorism experts see Tablighi Jamaat as the key vessel of radical Islamic militancy groups such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State, as Tablighi members were found involved in several dangerous jihadist attacks in the world.
According to US intelligence agencies, the global jihadist movement, especially ISIS and Al Qaeda, will continue to pose a significant threat in 2022. American security experts acknowledged the threat despite less bandwidth amongst the international community than it did during the peak of the Islamic State.
In an analysis titled 'Trends in Terrorism: What's on the Horizon in 2022?', the US-based security experts said jihadist organizations would further decentralize over 2022, the byproduct of a successful counterterrorism campaign by the US and its allies against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Writing for the American think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute, Senior Fellow of National Security Program Colin P. Clarke said Islamic State fighters and their families still housed in detention camps and prisons throughout Syria are a lingering security challenge.
"In early November, Kurdish forces foiled an Islamic State prison break attempt in Deir Ezzor. This method has helped the Islamic State reinforce its ranks at various points and become a more central pillar of its operational focus in the coming year," he said.
Moreover, Islamic State and jihadist propaganda more broadly resonate with Westerners, making the threat of inspired attacks in the West by homegrown violent extremists an enduring challenge for police and intelligence agencies, the report said.
According to the paper published by Clarke, the Islamic State has shifted resources and attention to its affiliates and branches elsewhere to remain relevant. In 2022, Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) and Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) will be among the "most lethal Islamic State affiliates", continuing a trend from 2021.
The American think tank noted that jihadist groups with links to the Islamic State have steadily gained momentum throughout sub-Saharan Africa. ISCAP's branch in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed responsibility for attacks in Uganda. "At the same time, the Islamic State franchise in Mozambique (also known as ISCAP) conducted cross-border attacks into Tanzania".
Following more than two decades of fighting the global war on terrorism, Clarke said the US and its allies are shifting attention and resources to great power competition, drawing down forces from dangerous hotspots, and leaving local and host nation forces responsible for countering terrorists and non-state armed groups.
"Washington is looking to move on from the Global War on Terrorism and put an end to the 9/11 era, as the pendulum swings from a focus on non-state actors back to nation-states. But the enemy always gets a vote, and the psychological impact of terrorism will keep it as a front-burner issue for the foreseeable future", he added.
Jihadist threat, South Asia perspectives
Ever since the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, the country has gone into the grips of Taliban jihadists. South Asia and Middle Eastern regions have become extremely vulnerable to jihadist activities. Such notoriety may also reach onto the soils of China, Russia and beyond. According to media reports, jihadist groups in Afghanistan are strengthening ties with their counterparts in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Gaza, Russia, Turkey, China, the Philippines and many other countries. That means the activities of jihadist nexus will widen within these nations and pose a grave threat to the national security of the countries and regions concerned. Under the current scenarios and assessments of the intelligence agencies, to maintain regional peace in South Asia, the international community, particularly the United States, needs to further deepen and strengthen interactions with governments of Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the same time, counterterrorism agencies in these countries deserve extended cooperation from the US and other Western nations.
But unfortunately, on December 10, 2021, the United States authorities have imposed sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite force that has been vigorously and effectively combating terrorism and radical Islamic militancy for years.
This elite force of Bangladesh Police has also succeeded in destroying dozens of bases of militancy groups and secret training camps of several separatist groups, which were using Bangladesh soil in continuing separatist activities inside India's northeastern states.
Meanwhile, agents of radical Islam and jihadism are continuously conspiring to grab power in Bangladesh by unseating the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina through Iran-prototype Islamist revolt. This nexus reportedly has also been spending millions of dollars to mislead the US policymakers by appointing lobbyists in Washington.
(The writer is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Follow him on Twitter @Salah_Shoaib)