Terrorism Continues to Shape the Global Agenda

During the past week, a series of terrorist incidents took place in Germany amid security concerns caused by the massive influx of refugees from Syria and other countries of the broader Middle East. Meanwhile, last Saturday a major blast claimed the lives of at least 81 people in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Anatol Lieven, director of Research on Terrorism and International Relations at King’s College, London, believes that both prosperous Germany and war-ravaged Afghanistan face a dangerous enemy of a new kind.

Lieven believes the Kabul attack bears hallmarks of ISIS and demonstrates that the terrorist group is becoming a real danger in Afghanistan. “An interesting thing is that the Taliban denounced the attack. The Taliban in general and its leadership have kept away from sectarian attack on the Shia,” he told valdaiclub.com in a telephone interview Monday.

The explosion took place during a demonstration by members of the Hazara minority. The Hazaras, who are overwhelmingly Shia Muslims, are Afghanistan’s third largest ethnic group and fiercely resisted the Taliban rule in the 1990s.

“Earlier this year, the Taliban attacked a group of ISIS fighters, which attacked the Taliban,” Lieven said. “The Taliban attacked ISIS in Kandahar and inflicted a very serious defeat on them. I believe this could be the beginnings of a coming together between the Taliban, the Afghan State, and the Americans, but the Americans made it impossible in the foreseeable future by killing the Taliban leader.”

Lieven referred to the incidents in Germany as “a curious mixture of attacks”. “The worst of them doesn’t seem to be connected to ISIS or to Islamism at all, as the attacker was from Iran. This may have been a horrible chance as the attack, which is of the type that happen in America happened in Europe as well, just by insane youth trying to get back at life,” he said.

Last Friday, an 18-year-old German of Iranian decent shot dead nine people, including seven children, outside a shopping mall in Munich before killing himself. The authorities said he was a depressed teenager who grew obsessed with mass shootings after being bullied at school and had no links to ISIS whatsoever.

On Sunday, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested after killing a pregnant woman and wounding two people with a machete in the southwestern city of Reutlingen. On the same day, a 27-year-old Syrian man blew himself up outside a crowded music festival in the Bavarian city of Ansbach, injuring 12 people. Lieven believes the incident, involving a backpack filled with explosives and metal parts, was an attempted terrorist attack.

“Of course, the latest bomb attack was a terrorist attack. The main point is that the way things are going, Merkel is not going to last as the Chancellor of Germany for very much longer. Clearly, her decision over the refugees was extremely unpopular, and all of these events are making it still more unpopular,” Lieven said.

Lieven expects major changes in Germany’s political landscape. “What is going to happen soon is a much more radical, right-wing CDU in Germany, perhaps allied with Pegida and other new right-wing forces. At that point you’ll see Germany moving more in the direction of France. The first attack was not a terrorist attack, and the second one most likely was, but the German public will see both as terrorist attacks and react accordingly,” he concluded.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.