Westminster attack: Why India should be worried

On Wednesday 22nd March 2017, a terrorist drove a vehicle into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and people standing near the palace gates before fatally stabbing an unarmed police officer. The attacker was shot dead by another officer. At least four people, including the attacker, confirmed dead. At least 40 people were injured. The police believe the attacker was inspired by “international terrorism”. So far, British Police arrested 7 people linked to the attack. The attack followed the same pattern of Nice and Berlin attacks. It’s becoming evident day by day that the lone-wolf attacks are the new norm.It’s easy to execute, not much planning or training required, highly cost effective, No need for movement of people or explosives. A kitchen knife to a heavy truck can be used for the attack. Operatives can be radicalized and trained online. Most of the time, it’s hard for the intelligence agencies to track them. Israel has been dealing with it for so long. Now, Europe has started feeling the heat. India is not completely unfamiliar with the concept. In 2015, A Maharashtra constable was stabbed by a youth to avenge ‘Beef Ban’. Indian intelligence agencies have continuously warned against possible lone-wolf attacks. In counter-terrorism, Indian elite special forces are on par with any of the world’s best forces. But when it comes to these kinds of attacks, Indian cops lack training and experience compared to their western counterparts in dealing with armed assailants. And being comparatively densely populated, it’s easy to mount such an attack in India. To make matters worse, Islamic State chief Baghdadi ordered his foreign fighters to go back to their native. It’s believed that at least 73 Indians had joined ISIS. Which means, highly trained and radicalized youths who are capable of spreading the ideology may anytime return back to India. And there are self-radicalized youths and groups who pledge their allegiance to the terrorist organization.  As these people usually won’t get in touch with ISIS or any other terrorist groups, they will mostly be out of the radar of intelligence agencies. Also, agencies cannot rule out the possibility of local terrorist organizations tying up with ISIS. For instance, Lashkar-e-Taiba has sleeper cells across India, mostly in states like UP, Kerala and, Tamil Nadu. They can be mobilized without compromising the identity of the handlers.  In coming months, intelligence and policing agencies have to do an uphill task of identifying and deradicalising such potential terrorists. Considering the political climate, they cannot afford to make any mistake. A wrong person getting arrested will negate all the good work they have done and a failure in picking up someone before an attack will end up in disaster.


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