On 26 June, 2015 the world watched with horror, shock and disdain the unprovoked terrorist attacks claiming the lives of about 50 people and leaving many others injured in three countries-France, Kuwait and Tunisia. This deadly act came few days after Jens Stoltenberg, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) scribe spoke on CNN concerning the bloc’s policy on containing the Islamic State-the group that has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The confidence with which Jens spoke, one would have been lulled to sleep with his or her two eyes closed if not for the attacks on the French factory. Can we assume we are then missing the point?
There appears be an assumption among many anti-terrorist analysts that since the Islamic State fighters are “mainly Muslims” they will honour their earlier “ceasefire” agreement during the Ramadan fast. Apart from group’s the attack on a Kuwaiti Mosque negating this misguided mis-guided view, we appear not to be learning from history!
The United States military got everything right in Vietnam until a ridiculous tactical blunder in 1968. The US military had erroneously assumed that the Vietcong-North Vietnamese militia-will in fact honour the “ceasefire agreements” during the Tet-a day highly revered in Vietnam when, during war it is traditional to declare a truce. Needless to say, it was on this same day that the Vietcong shipped in arms, using the Tet holiday as a cover, to South Vietnam, an area then under full US military protection. The rest, as they say, is history. This same mistake we still make today!
One should be amazed if we cannot see a progressive return to the Cold War era. The only difference this time is that it is not between the world’s super powers or ideologies, but between world’s deadliest terrorists groups!
The Islamic State which have since claimed responsibility for the most recent attacks on those three countries could be seen as a direct response to the Al Quaeda Islamic Magreeb(AQIM)-linked al-Shabab recent attacks on the African Union(AU) base in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Garrissa University(Kenya) attacks in April and others in East Africa may just be a direct response to the rising profile of Boko Haram(an Islamic State ally) notoriety in West Africa. One needs to see the patterns of these attacks as battles for control of “spheres of influence” between these two dangerous groups. In parenthesis, during the Cold War era, Africa was really a battleground!
To further confirm how far we have missed the point, we are paying lesser attention to the timings of these attacks. One of the issues that traditionally dominate every US Presidential election is Foreign Policy. Shaping the US foreign policy is global security and terrorism. We must not forget that the two leading parties have been at loggerheads over what is responsible for the rise of global terrorism. While Democrats have been quick to point out that the George W. Bush administration’s tactless invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively as responsible for the rise in world terror; Republicans provided the counter-argument that the Barack Obama’s indecision to prevent the spread of the “Arab Spring” as the reason for the rise of a notorious group like the Islamic State (ISIS). Irrespective of which side of the divide one belong, these terror groups have much interest in US election than most people may think!
The Vietnamese fighters or Vietcong with their poor trainings and orientations understood that the simple fact that 1968 was a US presidential election year. With that at their disposal, they acted promptly by doing all they could to shape the US public opinion in an election year and taking full advantage of the shifts in public opinion. This remains an error President Lyndon B. Johnson(who was defeated in that year’s Democratic Primary in New Hampshire to anti-war campaigner Senator Eugene McCarthy) will never forget!
It is more than mere coincidence that the attacks came on the same day the US Supreme Court handed its judgement in favour of “marriage right”(a fairer way of saying homosexual, gay or same-sex marriage right). Again, this is perhaps one of the hotly debated issues in US politics today. The Islamic State fighters are known to have murdered those they identified as “homosexuals” and “infidels” with impunity. Being an issue that is sure to generate much heat as the presidential campaigns heats up, one just need to look well to see the connections. To this writer, these attacks may not be unconnected with parts of the terrorists’ intentions to shape the outcome of the US presidential election!
We are either overrating or underestimating these terrorist. It also appears we lack proper diagnosis of their intentions. We need to divest emotions from our analyses of terrorism and their activities if we are really serious about winning the war against terror. Terrorists think the way(s) we won’t think; they do things we won’t ordinarily do; their understanding of human nature and experiences differs remarkably from ours. They are not the ghosts or spirits they want us to believe they are neither are they the beasts we take them to be. They are but mortals with their own fears too, only playing on our own fears and spreading their fears through us. This is the point we are missing!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a political risk analyst and an independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria.
His write-ups can be viewed on his website http://olalekanadigun.com/
Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080
Follow me on twitter @adgorwell