Why are terrorists ten steps ahead of the intelligence?

New Delhi, July 4: In this day and age of Do It Yourself Terrorism, the Intelligence Agencies need to be ten steps ahead o of the terrorist.

However Intelligence is always a game of hit and miss and unless and until various experiments are conducted, the IB officials would continue to tread ten steps behind the terrorists.

Read more: Why does Saudi Arabia fund the ISIS?

Manning a terrorist group is much easier than a lone wolf who indulges in Do It Yourself Terrorism. It is impossible to have one IB officer manning every citizen of the country. Recently India decided that it would undertake a de-radicalisation programme across the country. 

Why terrorists outshine intelligence

However what one must bear in mind is that if the deradicalisation is done by the police or the IB, it is most likely to fail. Take the case of the United Kingdom which had conducted one of the most extensive deradicalisation programmes. Today UK is the country which has provided the ISIS with the most number of fighters from the West.

Collecting preventable intelligence:

Former official of the Research and Analysis Wing, Vappala Balachandran discusses in depth with OneIndia the challenge ahead in this day and age of lone wolf or do it yourself terror. He says that we are yet to realize that there is a major problem on hand the intelligence agencies are having across the world in collecting preventable intelligence.

As long as terrorists operated in groups, it was relatively easy to gather information. A group has a structure and a pattern. However the problem became immense when the al-Qaeda splintered and new outfits like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) appeared on the global scene spreading the message of "Do It Yourself Terrorism".

Balachandran says that this trend was foreseen by some Americans prior to 9/11. In the year 2006, the Pentagon official James Kitfield had pointed out that vigilance had become difficult when global militancy got attracted to bin Laden's message "like distant and seemingly disconnected light particles respond in unison to an unseen wave."

Share intelligence not snoop:

Unless and until there is proper and professional sharing of intelligence between two countries, the days ahead will be very difficult. When the CIA decides to share intelligence, it needs to do just that and not indulge in snooping. The French too had been accused of snooping into the Indian Prime Minister's office back in the 1980s.

The other issue Balachandran raises is with regard to the December 21 Wilileaks. Two secret CIA documents conveying instructions to their employees how to keep watch on extremist modules in airports were published.

In the same month CIA's secret plans to carry out of drone attacks on Jihadi leaders were exposed. Millions of such operational instructions were leaked which have gone to the advantage of the extremists. How does such publication of information help in the long run, Balachandran questions.

Deradicalisation will not work always:

England is a country that has spent a lot of time deradicalising several youth. Balachandran says it is a useless exercise and in the case Britain, it has ended up providing the highest number of Western fighters to the ISIS. Bringing people who have prejudice against the government and trying to talk sense into them does not always work.

Worse the people who are roped in for the job are the police and the intelligence who are not trusted by such people. They would always feel that the government is sending these men with a motive. One could rope in the elders in the community to do the job. It may not be entirely successful, but there is no harm in trying.

Such deradicalisation sessions should be conducted with an open mind. It cannot be done under the presumption that the present generation does not know about the essence of Islam. In Singapore, UK and France it was done by the police and it failed miserably.

In Indonesia, some radical elements were taken to slums and told that the real threat to Islam is poverty and not the other religion. It worked at first, but then it failed. It was often argued by those who attended deradicalisation camps that they were being held under duress.

Tread very carefully:

The time today is extremely delicate. The Americans in their anxiety to bring down Saddam and Assad in Iraq and Syria respectively ended up creating the ISIS. In the bargain they ended up encouraging pro-religious people and this gave birth to the menace called the ISIS.

There seems to be a wave in favour of the ISIS especially among the radical mindset. The time is very delicate and any attempts being made to deradicalise a person ought to be done with a great deal of care.

If the people do start complaining that they are held under duress, then the sitiuation can go from bad to worse. In addition to this, there also has to be proper intelligence sharing between countries. In the India scenario what needs to be borne in mind is that the radicalization always takes place outside the country.

OneIndia News

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