Means of Terrorism

  • Environmental Terrorism is the premeditated damage caused to natural world.  Ex. during Gulf War of 1991, Saddam Hussein ordered detonation of more than 1000 oil wells engulfing Kuwait in smoke. 
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction: are weapons that can inflict heavy and indiscriminate damage on a given target. Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons are commonly identified weapons of mass destruction.
    • Chemical Weapons: A chemical attack could be release of toxic gas caused by attacking an industrial facility or releasing a chemical that has been stolen from its legitimate users to inflict heavy damage on enemy. According to Chemical Weapons Convention signed, 1993, any toxic chemical, regardless of its origin, is considered as a chemical weapon if it is used for purposes that are prohibited. Toxins such as ricin, botulinum toxin, nerve agents, lewisite, sarin etc are examples to this
    • Nuclear weapons: Engineering skills and equipment needed to build simplest form of nuclear weapon, a “gun” style bomb using highly enriched uranium– is not particularly complex; any well-organized group can develop such a weapon. However, what makes it difficult for terrorist organizations and non-State actors is nonavailability, complicated process and cost involved in enriching uranium. Although, there are no accounts of terrorist attacks using nuclear weapons, there are indications that from late 1990s onwards, Al-Qaeda has constantly been trying to acquire it with the help of different State agencies.
    • Biological Weapons: Bioterrorism is a relatively new form of terrorist activity that has emerged because of advancements in biotechnology being accessible to terrorist groups. Bioterrorism is defined as an attack with deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. These natural agents are changed to increase their ability to cause disease, make them resistant to current medicines, or to increase their ability to be spread into environment. These are spread though air, water, or food. Terrorists use biological agents because they can be extremely difficult to detect and do not cause illness for several hours to several days. COVID 19 pandemic is speculated to have been caused by leak of virus from Chinese labs.
    • Cyber terrorismis convergence of terrorism and cyberspace. It is generally understood to mean unlawful attacks against computers, networks and information stored therein when done to intimidate or coerce a government or its people in furtherance of political or social objectives.
    • Computer technology as a facilitator of terrorism:  Used for political propaganda, terrorist recruitment and financing, intra and inter-group communication and coordination, intelligence gathering etc. Enables terrorist groups to maintain anonymity in routine activities, tactical operations and carry out their operations in a cost-effective manner.
    • Computer technology as a specific component of terrorist weapons or targets: Includes computer technology-based attacks or threats on public utilities and transportation, commercial institutions and transnational corporations, individuals, political or ethnic groups, security forces, nation-states or for that matter any ‘perceived enemy.’
    • Outcomes of cyber-attacks by terrorists:
    • Loss of Integrity: Unauthorized changes made to data or IT system can result in inaccuracy, fraud or erroneous decisions that bring integrity of system under suspicion.
    • Loss of Availability: An attack on a mission-critical IT system makes it unavailable to the end users.
    • Loss of Confidentiality: Consequences of unauthorized disclosure of information ranges from loss of public confidence to national security threats.
    • Physical Destruction: Ability to create actual physical harm or destruction through use of IT systems.
    • Suicide Terrorism:Jihadi terrorists took to suicide terrorism in 1990’s. In Kashmir, first suicide attack by Fedayeen was in 1991 on Border Security Force Post.
    • Since then, Fedayeen had been involved in attacking Indian Parliament in 2001 nearly leading to a face-off between India & Pakistan, in storming Akshardham Temple in Gujarat in 2002.
    • There have been numerous other Fedayeen, attacks within J&K, mostly on premises of Police & Security Forces. 
    • ‘Fedayeen’ does not exactly mean a suicide terrorist in the sense that his death is not vital or inevitable for the success of the mission he undertakes.
    • However, in many operations, Fedayeen have taken on Armed Forces against almost impossible odds knowing that they had little chance of retuning alive.
    • A majority of Fedayeen in J&K have been Pakistanis who had fought in Afghanistan against Soviets in 1980’s. Since very few local people volunteer for suicide attacks because of Sufi Islamic traditions of this region which embody peace and tolerance.
    • There have been only three acts of suicide terrorism in hinterland of India outside J&K in recent times. First two were Rajiv Gandhi & Beant Singh assassinations.
    • Terrorism in Hinterland: Terrorism taking place in any city or town deep inside country is called Hinterland Terrorism. This was primarily started by Pakistan after its defeat in 1971 war. It started waging a proxy war against India by targeting major cities. This strategy was also used by Khalistan terrorists following insurgency in Punjab.
    • Some instances of this kind of terrorism include: 1993 Bombay blasts, 2001 Parliament attack, 2016 Pathankot in Punjab.
    • In the wake of India’s surgical strikes in PoK, following Uri terror attack, Pakistan backed terror outfits may target interiors of the country as part of its counter-strike strategy, intelligence agencies have warned. This suggests a change in strategy by Pakistan, which may encourage jihadi groups to carry out attacks in hinterland of India. It will not carry out attacks at LoC or border areas but in the hinterland, so that it is not directly blamed or identified.

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