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S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

Terrorism Outlook in 2012: The threat continues

The global terrorism threat emanating from the Af-Pak epicentre and Middle East will be multi-dimensional and diversified. Al Qaeda ideology will radicalise more local groups and individuals. Besides physical security measures governments will need to employ counter-ideological approaches to fight the increasing threat.The year 2012 will be a crucial year in the global fight against insurgency, terrorism and ideological extremism. The global economic downturn has led the United States, backbone of the global counter-terrorism effort, and other governments to scale down counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism budgets. With the US-led coalition preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, following the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq last year, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is likely to deteriorate.Although the core leadership of the global terrorism movement, Al Qaeda, was decapitated by the killing of its leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, Al Qaeda’s ideology and its clones in West Asia and the Middle East still present a real threat to societies and governments. The US withdrawal from Iraq, leaving behind an unfinished conflict, and its intention to withdraw forces from Afghanistan, had emboldened the international terrorists and extremists, who view both as defeat for the US.Four significant developmentsThe year is likely to see four significant developments in the multi-dimensional threat: i) self-radicalised homegrown terrorists will eclipse the threat posed by traditional terrorist groups operating out of fragile and failed states; ii) continuing and likely escalation of terrorism and insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan; iii) expansion and escalation of the tribal and sectarian insurgencies in Yemen and Somalia; and iv) displacement of the terrorists from the Maghreb in North Africa to the Sahel in West Africa.The global threat landscape is influence by the tempo of attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, the signature battlefields. Despite the ending of the US mission in Iraq,… Read More