A BBC expose, with graphic visuals, is quite emphatic: The US and British-led coalition forces enabled hundreds of IS jihadists to escape from Raqqa after the headquarters of their self-declared Caliphate were bombarded out of recognition. This will set the cat among the pigeons.
The matter will surely come up in the British Parliament and Congressional hearings in Washington. More such mischief is surfacing.
The Defense Ministry in Moscow has been already in overdrive. “The US refused to bomb a military convoy retreating from Abu Kamal (in Raqqa). The coalition’s aircraft also attempted to prevent Russian Aerospace Forces from carrying out air strikes against militants.” There is considerable evidence of “direct cooperation and support for ISIS terrorists by the US-led International Coalition”, the Defence Ministry said.
In a separate incident “Americans peremptorily refused to conduct airstrikes on ISIS terrorists”. The reason given was that the militants were agreeing to surrender as prisoners of war and were “therefore subject to the provisions of the Geneva convention”. US aircraft obstructed “Russian aerospace from taking action”.
Stratfor, an establishment think tank, offers almost an apology for terrorism perpetrated by returning jihadists. “Looking at recent cases involving fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, they have tended to conduct attacks against soft targets instead of making more complex attacks against harder, more significant targets. Some examples include a Jewish museum and the soft side of the airport in Brussels; a concert in Manchester in the UK; and a café, concert venue and sports stadium in Paris.” Is it not too sanguine a tone on the theme of returning jihadists who destabilise Western societies?
Youth, fired by jihad, who have left their homes in the West for destinations like Syria, is unlikely to be less than hostile towards their respective societies when they return home. This hostility will erupt into acts of terrorism listed in the Stratfor brief.
The cat-and-mouse that goes on between terrorists and counter-terrorism units confronting them provides room for others to advance their rogue agendas. It is a witches brew.
This was lethal enough. What has evolved since the 9/11 wars in West Asia is a system of regularising terrorists in Company and Platoon strengths, backed by trainers, finance and weapons, as a military asset to be relocated wherever required. Sophisticated propaganda is integral to the project.
If readers have not seen Amaq, the propaganda organ of the IS, they must instantly obtain a copy online. It is a glossy publication which would put to shame some of the better magazines in the business. If IS is an underground, guerrilla outfit, living in bunkers and trenches, how does it have time, skill, printing presses to regularly churn out this professional product?
Non-GCC Arab diplomats, with access to their respective agencies, have been informing South Block that terrorists, airlifted from various theatres in Syria and Iraq, may have been relocated to war zones like Afghanistan and Rakhine state in Myanmar. India cannot consider itself exempt from this global menace.
Almost on cue appears a piece by Sara Flounders of the International Action Centre, Washington, focusing on how the Rohingyas’ plight worsened in Myanmar. Hostility between the Buddhist clergy, the Myanmar military and the Rohingya Muslim in Rakhine has continued for years. What then was the need for the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed resistance group, to carry on attacks on 30 Myanmar military posts on August 30? It was only then that the Myanmar military responded with a wave of brutal attacks on the Muslims driving them in the thousands over the border.
There is an intriguing twist to the tail: ARSA is headquartered in Mecca, under Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi, a Pakistani national resident in Saudi Arabia.
Why have the US and Saudi Arabia, who have supervised a three-year-long war in Yemen, rendering millions homeless and killing thousands, turned with so much sympathy to the one million Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine? Are they driven by a desire to control a group in a poor, mineral-rich country bordering China?
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has in an interview to Tehran Times expressed similar fears.
According to him, IS “is the brainchild of the US and its allies which introduced this terrorist group to the world under the pretext of fighting extremism and terrorism”. He warns regional powers not to allow the IS to grow in Afghanistan. He said the “number of this terrorist group is increasing by the day in Afghanistan”.
The Moscow Initiative on Afghanistan enunciated by Putin last April sought regional cooperation to isolate IS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Towards this end, the Taliban, an Afghan national entity, should be accommodated in Kabul’s power apparatus. As soon as Trump saw Moscow developing a constructive theme in Kabul, he reversed his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. He will stay, come wind, come weather.
(Saeed Naqvi is a senior commentator on diplomatic and political affairs. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached on email@example.com)