Despite Military Setbacks, Islamic State Remains a Grave Threat

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday visited Mosul and announced the city has been “liberated” from the clutches of Islamic State. Although IS still holds some territory in western Iraq, the liberation of Mosul is very significant both militarily and symbolically. It was in Mosul, seized by IS in June 2014, that the self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first sermon. Still, military setbacks to IS should not make anyone underestimate the threat it continues to pose.

The IS threat stems primarily from its ideology. As a proponent of jihadi Salafism, it has created a global network of followers, adeptly using social media to spread its brand of terror. If western nations such as France and UK are threatened by lone wolf attacks, armed groups pledging alliance to IS have taken over parts of Marawi, Philippines. India too has not been immune to its influence as young men inspired by its ideology have set off to fight in Syria.

And the threat emanating from this ideology is unlikely to abate with IS’s military losses in Iraq and Syria.

India’s policy makers and security apparatus should find it particularly bothersome that IS seems to have drawn in educated youth in relatively prosperous states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu. India needs to combat this threat at two levels. One, the intelligence establishment has to measure up to the challenge of dealing with the contemporary trend of self-radicalisation through social media.

Two, we should live up to the Constitution’s ideals which offer a view that is the polar opposite of IS’s sectarianism. All Indians need to believe they have a stake in India which is what the Constitution guarantees. It is our best defence against sectarianism.

Source : Times of India


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