Involvement of Urban middle class: A new challenge of terrorism in South Asia
A.S.M Riad Arif writes for DOT :
In the recent few years, the emergence of terrorist groups from the educated youth generation in South Asia is a new security challenge for the region. They are coming from the middle class or upper middle class and highly motivated by the idea of jihad and radicalism. Studies show that many of the militant groups are using social media for dissemination of their propaganda, operation and for the recruitment process.
Previously they used open-ended social platform but now moved to what’s up or telegram for their encrypted facilities. Naturally South Asian Militancy is different from the other region of the world. Terrorists and jihadist were mainly come from a poor background or influenced by some religious institutes like madrassah. But the recent involvement of educated youth from urban areas is really alarming.
This generation is a freak of tech and media and there are near about 500 million internet users in this region. The terrorist groups use these components an opportunity for the growth of extremist ideology.
Terrorism, happening in this region is basically two kinds of form: religious terrorism and ethnic nationalist terrorism. Left-wing terrorism is also seen and in a few. Though there is no official declaration for the existence of ISIS in the area ‘the complex socio-political narratives can be an open door of militant fantasy for than an ideology’ (KabirTaneja).
This educated urban class is the 4th generation of South Asian jihadists. The 1980s Afghan jihad comprises the 1st Generation original like Hizbe-Islami, Harkat-ul-Jihadi Al-Islami et al. The development of Al-Qaeda, the Kashmir focused activist gatherings like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, and the Afghan Taliban during the 1990s are the second Generation and the post 9/11 jihadi are the 3rd generation. (TTP), Jandullah, Punjabi Taliban, the Indian Mujahedeen (IM) and Harkat-ulJihad-ul-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B) are the third generation South Asian jihadists. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Indian Mujahedeen (IM) and Harkat-ulJihad-ul-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B) are the example of this generation.
On July 2016, the terror attack at Holly Artisan Restaurant killed 22 people including foreigners brought the spotlight of terrorism in Bangladesh. However, the Bangladesh Government stated that the perpetrators belonged to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and were not affiliated with ISIL. But They were well-educated and mostly from rich families and this the 4th Generation of South Asian Terrorism. Recently, the terrorists who targeted the Quetta police-training academy in Balochistan were college and university educated students except for the suicide. Many of the aspiring terrorists from India visited Syria were educated and from an urban background.
Abdul Basit, a Research Fellow Nanyang Technological University, Singapore pointed out three major reasons for an account for the emergence of educated and urban militants in South Asia.
Firstly, the deeper Internet penetration and the onset of social media that has decreased the distance between local and global developments. It also accelerated the flow of communication.
Secondly, the lower-threshold of radicalization and violence.
Thirdly, the generational shift has undergone by social, political reason.
Terrorism is a common threat to the development of this region. To prevent this educated group from terrorism we need to build up counter-narrative and counter-ideological responses. A cultural movement is necessary for that. South Asia countries should not accuse each other of sponsoring terrorism against their neighbor’s country. Intelligence unit for cooperating information of terrorism should be build up. SAARC can play an important role to fight against terrorism in this region.
The Writer is graduated from South Asian University, New Delhi under SAARC Silver jubilee Scholarship. Can be reached through [email protected]