Glitches in countering global terrorism

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Amongst the several discussions which took place during world economic forum 2017. A summation of the  two separate sessions – namely the Global Security Outlook 2017 and Terrorism in digital age–which included Raheel sharif as a panelist-. Reveals that a core concern amongst policy makers across the globe is in regards to the impact of cyberspace on the spread of terrorism.

The lag in catching up with technology- by the political world was also discussed.

The use of cyberspace has perhaps been the key propagated of the concept of globalism.

In a strange sense the online world carries the potential of serving as an alternate reality, as it allows a user to engage in –pretty much whatever it desires. The freedom of internet further enhances this unique sense of liberty, we all experience. The virtual realm therefore in itself serves as a ‘fully evolved’ product of globalism.

However, in the light of the ongoing challenges posed by global terrorism several concerns  were raised over the impact of this age on information on global terror

  • Freedom of the Internet: though efforts to block direct accounts of suspected terrorist/or groups on various social media sites are being made-In order to prevent ideological indoctrination- a challenge poses itself in the form of ‘sympathizers’ who may distribute the content or simply those who don’t know what they are spreading. The issue further becomes complex as the term ‘ terrorist’ also carries within it a very broad group- of across the spectrum- people; thereby, an action against a certain group or person may also be witnessed by some as- violations of freedom and not counter terrorism.
  • Lack of intelligence collaboration; apart from the element of mistrust amongst various agencies, underutilization of technology in information sharing was also discussed. Even though various terror groups are claimed to have made better use and apart from sharing ideologies, cyberspace has become a prime source of recruitment and effective coordination of terror attacks. Whereas for the law enforcement or intelligence agencies long chains of bureaucracy , lack of direct coordination amongst several members of the same agency ,was believed to be a major hindrance in countering terror effectively and placing the law a step behind. ‘The third person rule’ was another issue brought forth–the need to seek permission from the original source of intelligence before further sharing it with a third person.
  • It was also largely agreed , that ideological spread via cyberspace has been highly effective, but yet, nations or igo’s have not been able to use this infinite space to develop and spread a strong counter narrative. The assistant secretary of the UN claims that the UN has a special unit for the purpose of forming and spreading a counter narrative. Again, apart from the under-utilisation ; the issue of merging a ‘national’ counter narrative with a ‘universal’ one is also an issue —as several areas remain disputed globally, the definition of terror ,can thus vary on a national level.
  • During the discussion on inculcating deterrence, apart from the need to take up a harsh punishment against perpetrators. The tool of education via schools and mosques and other such places was also suggested. There also remains a gap in current day education systems and the cyberspace

Several interesting issues in tackling/stopping/ failures in predicting terror or unlikely events were discussed. However, the most concerning one to many was: cyber security. Examples of several cyberattacks were presented ; targeting power grids , central banks and other such key institutions. Apart from issues of theft , such incidents can also provide space for major Terror incidents. The risks to sensitive research centers remained a key concern, and the widespread nature of such perpetrators, as sometimes they may not be attached to a specific terror/hacker group directed a purposed attack , at times it could just be one or two people –without any specific ill intentions , but, nonetheless given the sensitive security conditions, such lapse may provide a window to something else.

And in conclusion, a constructive merger of cyberspace and the political world is yet to happen.


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