- The terrorist attack in New York on Tuesday confirms fears that terrorism, especially in the West, is becoming more decentralised, with individuals radicalised by terrorist ideology taking up arms on their own. Like the ‘lone wolf’ terrorists in Nice or Berlin, who killed over 100 people last year, the New York attacker ploughed a pickup truck into a busy bicycle path in Manhattan, killing eight.
- Officials say Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, was inspired by the Islamic State and wanted to inflict maximum damage. This is a unique challenge for governments. Over the last few years, Western agencies have foiled multiple terror plots. The U.S. is a case in point. It has not seen any major coordinated terror attack since September 11, 2001. But the chances of detecting and foiling a sophisticated terror plan by a network are higher than preventing a lone wolf attack. Even before the IS suffered military defeats in its core territories in West Asia, it had outsourced terror to members and sympathisers. This means that someone inspired by the IS world view and living in, say, New York or Nice doesn’t have to contact IS handlers or wait for orders from Raqqa or Mosul. He or she can be both planner and executor. That is what happened in Nice, Berlin, Orlando and now New York.
- Governments face both political and security challenges. The political challenge is to find the root causes of radicalisation and address them. This cannot be done without support from community members and leaders. The security challenge is to be more efficient when it comes to preventive measures. In the case of Saipov, officials say he had been planning for a year to strike civilians. He had hired a truck earlier to practise making turns and rehearsed the route where he wanted to stage the attack. Once such an attack happens, the challenge is also to prevent polarisation along religious or ethnic lines while sounding the message of unity and resolve to fight terror. Instead, President Donald Trump has grabbed the moment to assail his political rivals and drum up support for his anti-immigration policies. He has already promised to step up “extreme vetting” — even though it is unexplained how “extreme vetting” could have prevented the New York attack, or how officials could have foreseen in 2010, when Saipov entered the U.S., that he would become a threat seven years down the line. Also, Uzbekistan is not on the list of countries targeted under Mr. Trump’s immigration ban. Washington needs a result-oriented plan to check radicalisation as well as prevent more terror attacks rather than ideological plans that are, in a way, helping the extremist narrative about Muslims being discriminated against and persecuted in the West.
Radicalise: cause someone to become an advocate of radical political or social reform.
Example: I’m trying to mobilize and radicalize the liberals
Ploughed: move in a fast and uncontrolled manner.
Example: The car plowed into the side of a van
Synonyms: crash, smash, career, plunge, bulldoze, hurtle, careen
Immigrant: a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
Example: Another theme running through the huge demo was solidarity with refugees and immigrants .
Synonyms: newcomer, settler, migrant, emigrant, nonnative, foreigner
Inflict: cause something unpleasant or painful to be suffered by someone or something.
Example: They inflicted serious injuries on three other men
Synonyms: administer to, deliver to, deal out to, dispense to, mete out to
Foil: prevent something considered wrong or undesirable from succeeding.
Example: A brave policewoman foiled the armed robbery
Synonyms: thwart, frustrate, counter, balk, impede, obstruct
Outsource: obtain goods or a service from an outside or foreign supplier, especially in place of an internal source.
Example: Outsourcing components from other countries
Handler: a person who handles or deals with certain articles or commodities.
Example: A baggage handler
Preventive: designed to keep something undesirable such as illness, harm, or accidents from occurring.
Example: Preventive medicine
Synonyms: preemptive, deterrent, precautionary, protective
Rehear: practice a play, piece of music, or other work for later public performance.
Example: We were rehearsing a play
Synonyms: prepare, practice, read through, run through/over, go over
Assailant: a person who physically attacks another.
Example: The assailants fled after the attack, for which no militant group has claimed responsibility.
Synonyms: attacker, mugger, assaulter, attack dog
Foreseen: be aware of beforehand; predict.
Example: We did not foresee any difficulties
Synonyms: anticipate, predict, forecast, expect, envisage, envision
Extremist: a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.
Example: Political extremists
Synonyms: fanatic, radical, zealot, fundamentalist, hard-liner