Vienna Attacked By IS

Vienna Attacked By IS

Recently, Austria faced an Islamist terrorist attack, in which 4 people lost their lives. This incident comes after a teacher in France was killed allegedly for showing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed in class. Let’s understand what happened in Vienna and take a look at other such incidents.

Crux of the Matter

What Happened?
On Monday, 2nd November 2020, several people were fatally wounded in attacks near the synagogue in Seitenstettengasse. Six crime scenes reported in Central Vienna known as The Bermuda Triangle: Seitenstettengasse and nearby Morzinplatz, Salzgries, Fleischmarkt, Bauernmarkt, and Graben. 4 people were fatally shot and 23 wounded.

Who Was the Suspect?
The suspect was 20 years old and had Austrian and Macedonian citizenship. He was shot dead near St Rupert’s Church. Authorities said that the killer was armed with an automatic weapon, a pistol, and a machete as well as a fake explosive belt. Fourteen people have been detained in Austria who were linked to the gunman. The interior minister said they were aged 16 to 28, with a migrant background.

Terrorist group Islamic State (IS) claimed on its propaganda outlet Amaq that it was behind the attack.

Response On The Attacks
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer attributed the attacks on “Islamist terrorist” and commented that they have not experienced such an attack in decades.

“…Austria for more than 75 years has been a strong democracy, a mature democracy, a country whose identity is marked by values and basic rights, with freedom of expression, rule of law, but also tolerance in human coexistence. Yesterday’s attack is an attack on just these values.”

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has responded to the Vienna attack by urging the European Union to “focus much more strongly on the problem of political Islam in the future”.

Recent Attacks in France
In recent weeks, extremist Islamist violence has become a key issue in France.

On 29th October, a knifeman attacked inside the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice. Three people were killed in the attack. According to reports, the suspect is a Tunisian national born in 1999. President Emmanuel Macron called it an “Islamist terrorist attack”.

Another attack took place outside the French consulate in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Thursday. Earlier this month, a teacher was beheaded by an 18-year-old for showing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed in class.

Read more about it here: What’s Going On In France: Free Speech, Murder & International Reactions

Curiopedia
  • ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is also known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) or their Arabic acronym, Daesh. It was founded by Iraqi terrorist, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar was listed as a designated global terrorist by the UN Security Council 1267 Committee in May 2019. These sanctions would result in travel ban, assets freeze and an arms embargo. 
  • Hezbollah, or “Party of God,” is an extremist group based in Lebanon. It targets Israel and its supporters, including the United States are responsible for the bombing of a Marine base in Lebanon in 1983 that killed more than 250 Americans. 
  • The Indian Mujahideen is a terrorist group led by Abdul Subhan Qureshi who is now under Delhi Police custody. It was declared a terrorist organisation on 4 June 2010 and banned by the Government of India.

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Pulwama Redux Prevented By Indian Forces

Curiopedia
  • Wanted terrorist Riyaz Naikoo was among the three militants killed in the intensified operations of the Indian security forces in south Kashmir early this week. The hiding terrorists were cornered in Pulwama’s Beigpora village when the operation was launched.
  • According to the 2011 census Pulwama district has a population of 560,440. This gives it a ranking of 537th in India (out of a total of 640). The literacy rate of the district is 63.54%.
  • In 1831’s Battle of Balakot, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army defeated Syed Ahmad Barelvi and his army. After 2019 Pulwama attacks, a JeM terrorist training camp in Balakot was bombed out by India warplanes

Gurudwara attacked in Kabul by Terrorists; 25 Killed

On 25th March 2020, 25 Sikhs were killed in a terror attack on a Gurudwara in Afghanistan’s Kabul. Islamic State (IS) has taken responsibility for the attack, however, some experts do not rule out the possibility of involvement of Pakistan’s Haqqani group which is backed by ISI.

Crux of the Matter

Persecution of Minority
The population of the minority community of Sikhs in Afghanistan has been dwindling at a fast rate, with only a couple of thousands of them remaining in Kabul.

On Wednesday, 25th March, 4 terrorists entered the Har Rai Sahib Gurudwara in Kabul at 7:45 AM Afghan time and opened fire. A Sikh local Mohan Singh who was in the Gurudwara while the attack began, said that there were gunshots followed by explosions, which he believes were hand grenades.

There were more than 100 people inside the Sikh temple, of which 25 fell victim to the terrorists and 10 were seriously injured. The Afghan Security forces reached the scene and rescued more than 80 people. After a 6-hour long standoff, the 4 terrorists were killed.

Thin Veil of the Real Attacker
Taliban issued a statement saying it had nothing to do with the attacks. Islamic State (IS) later claimed responsibility. IS stated that the attack was revenge against Indian actions in Kashmir. However, some experts have not debunked the notion that Pakistan’s ISI backed Haqqani group could be behind the attack. Leader of Haqqani Group, Sirajuddin Haqqani is also the Deputy Leader of the Taliban and both groups are allegedly funded by Pakistan’s ISI. Experts believe that behind the veil of various terror group names stands Pakistan.

Recent Geopolitical History
Agencies around the world condemned this terrorist attack. India introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019 to give such persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh a fast track towards Indian citizenship.

While the US-Taliban Peace Deal seems to be falling apart, terrorism continues in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, another minority community of Shia Muslims was targeted by a body of IS, resulting in the death of 32 people.

Curiopedia

Sikhism in Afghanistan is limited to small populations, primarily in major cities, with the largest numbers of Afghan Sikhs living in Jalalabad, Ghazni, Kabul, and to a lesser extent Kandahar. These Sikhs are Afghan nationals who speak Dari, Hindi and in their native Punjabi but also Pashto. Their total population is around 1,200 families or 8,000 members. There were over 20,000 Sikhs in Kabul in the 1980s, but after the start of the Civil War in 1992, most had fled. Seven of Kabul’s eight Gurdwaras were destroyed during the civil war. During the 1980s Soviet-Afghan War, many Afghan Sikhs fled to India, where 90% of global sikh population lives; a second, much larger wave followed following the 1992 fall of the Najibullah regime. Sikh gurdwaras (temples) throughout the country were destroyed in the Afghan Civil War of the 1990s, leaving only the Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul. Under the Taliban, the Sikhs were a relatively tolerated religious minority, and allowed to practice their religion. However, the Sikh custom of cremation of the dead was prohibited by the Taliban, and cremation grounds vandalized. In addition, Sikhs were required to wear yellow patches or veils to identify themselves. They are centred today in Karte Parwan and some parts of the old city. There is no exact number of Sikhs in Kabul province. More Info

Naxals Attack Indian Troops Even as the Country Enters COVID-Lockdown

Naxal Attack

In one of the worst Naxal attacks in two years, 17 soldiers were killed and 15 severely injured after a fierce gun battle between Naxals and security forces took place in the dense forests of Bastar, Chhattisgarh.

Crux of the Matter

Troops Trapped
On March 21, 2020, nearly more than 500 soldiers of District Reserve Group (DRG), Special Task Force (STF), and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) had gone on a search mission to the dense forests of Kasalpad after receiving a tip that large number of Maoists are going to gather there. However, they did not find any and while they were returning, they were ambushed and cornered in Sukma’s Minpa by approximately 250 Naxals.

Heavy firing between the troops and Naxals lasted for more than 2 hours. During the attack, 3 personnel were killed, whereas 14 others were missing. Bodies of these 14 jawans were found in the forest by search teams. Another 15 soldiers were severely injured. Chhattisgarh DGP Awasthi said that the attack was carried out the 1st Battalion of CPI (Maoist), Madavi Hidma. Reportedly, the Naxals stole 12 AK 47 Assault Rifles, 1 Excalibur rifle, 1 INSAS rifle, and 1 Under Barrel Grenade Launcher from the slain troops.

Reduced Naxal Violence
Last such attack was witnessed in the same region in July 2018. In that ambush 24 CRPF personnel were killed. On 1st May 2019, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast occurred in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli. This Maoists-orchestrated attack killed 15 Policemen and 1 individual.

However, the number of attacks in recent years has reduced. As per the data by South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), the number of violent incidents in 2015 was 1,089, in 2016 – 1,048, in 2017 – 908, and in 2018 – 883. In the year 2010, there were 2,213 violent attacks, the highest since the formation of CPI(M) in 2004. In 2011 – 1760, in 2012 – 1,136, and in 2013 – 1,145 attacks were reported as per SATP.

The attacks come at a time when the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic hovers over India’s head. Even as India tries to stop the community spread of the virus, such attacks pose a massive threat to the rising number of cases in India, that have crossed the 400-mark.

Wondering what is Coronavirus? How does it spread? Which age group does it affect the most? During self-quarantine, read Summachar’s complete coverage on Coronavirus here.

Curiopedia

Naxalites are a group of far-left radical communists, supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology. Their origin can be traced to the splitting in 1967 of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist). Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, it has spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Dalits and other lower-caste members have also joined the militant movement. The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency again gained international media attention after the 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress leaders, including the former state minister Mahendra Karma and the Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. More Info

Pakistan's FATF Drama

In a recent FATF meet to decide Pakistan’s fate, the FATF decided to keep Pakistan on the Greylist. However, if Pakistan is not added back to the whitelist until April 2020, it will by default end up in the Blacklist.

Crux of the Matter

What is FATF Blacklisting?
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body that sets legal, operational, and regulatory, standards and norms to combat terror financing, money laundering, and other associated threats to maintain the integrity of the global financial system. Established in 1989 by G7 members and few other member nations, FATF provides policy suggestions for fighting the crimes mentioned above and the proliferation of mass-destruction weapons.

Countries that do not adhere to the standards and norms set by FATF are issued sanctions and are put on Blacklist. Blacklist includes countries that do not comply with the set norms and support money laundering activities, terror financing and other such activities. These countries are called Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). Currently, North Korea and Iran are on FATF Blacklist.

Greylist countries are those that are a growing threat to international financial security because of the ongoing terror financing and money laundering activities. Greylisting is a warning. A country that fails to put curbs on the mentioned activities, is shifted to Blacklist.

A Greylisted country might face these restrictions:

  • Economic sanctions from supranational bodies like World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc.
  • Loan curbs from supranational bodies.
  • Trade curbs by FATF member nations and other nations.
  • General international curb.

Why Pakistan?
In June 2018, FATF put Pakistan on the Greylist and asked it to strengthen its structural and regulatory environment to properly identify, assess, and combat Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT). FATF presented Pakistan with a 27 point Action Plan, the covering or compliance of which before October 2019 would decrease chances of Pakistan being added in the Blacklist. As of mid-2019, Pakistan did not comply with 25 of 27 action points that included regulatory and legal action against terrorist group leaders, money laundering, and terror financing.

This is not the first time Pakistan is under Greylist. In 2008 and from 2012-15, Pakistan was on the Greylist. In the current greylist period, Pakistan might face the risk of downgrading its credit score by international agencies like Moody’s and Fitch. FATF member nations and other world nations might impose a trade restriction on Pakistan. Economic sanctions could be placed by the World Bank, IMF, etc.

After Pakistan failed to comply with the October 2019 deadline, it was given an extension of another 4 months after which in a FATF meet at Paris, Pakistan’s fate was decided. In the FATF meet in Paris, the organization noted that Pakistan has made progress on 14 of the 27 action plans. Pakistan had sentenced LeT leader Hafiz Saeed a few days before the FATF meeting. With the vote of countries like Malaysia and Turkey, Pakistan saved itself from going to the Blacklist. However, if Pakistan is not added back to the Whitelist before April 2020, it would automatically be blacklisted.

Geopolitical Game
India has been staunch on blacklisting Pakistan after the Pulwama and Balakot attacks. India has alleged Pakistan of financing terrorist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). US has been putting a lot of pressure on Pakistan as part of US’s agenda to curb terrorism.

China, which is also the chair of the FATF, had always backed Pakistan in FATF. However, China along with Saudi Arabia seems to have aligned with US, European Union, and India to put a leash on Pakistan’s money laundering and terror financing activities.

Curiopedia

Lashkar-e-Taiba, literally Army of the Good, is one of the largest and most active Islamist terrorist organizations in South Asia, operating mainly from Pakistan. It was founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal with funding from Osama bin Laden. Its headquarters are in Muridke, near Lahore in Punjab province of Pakistan, and the group operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused by India of attacking military and civilian targets in India, most notably the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2019 Pulwama attack on Armed Forces. Its stated objective is to introduce an Islamic state in South Asia and to “liberate” Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir. More Info

Jaish-e-Mohammed, literally “The Army of Muhammad”, is a Pakistan-based Deobandi jihadist Islamic Jihadis group active in Kashmir. The group’s primary motive is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it into Pakistan. Since its inception in 2000, the terror outfit has carried out several attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It projects Kashmir as a “gateway” to the entire India, whose Muslims are also deemed to be in need of liberation. After liberating Kashmir, it aims to carry its ‘jihad’ to other parts of India, with an intent to drive Hindus and other non-Muslims from the Indian subcontinent. It has carried out several attacks primarily in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It also maintained close relations with Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and continues to be allied with these groups. Scholars state that JeM was created with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which uses it to fight in Kashmir and other places, and continues to provide it backing. The JeM has been banned in Pakistan since 2002, but resurfaced under other names. More Info

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, meaning “Party of Holy Warriors” is a pro-Pakistani militant organization that is active in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir and seeks for the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. Founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar in September 1989 with support of ISI, it is considered as one of the most important players that evolved the narrative of Kashmiri conflict from nationalism to the religious lines of jihad and is widely deemed as the military wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Its headquarters are located at Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir and a liaison office is maintained at Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. The group has been designated as a terrorist group by India, the European Union, and the United States. It continues to operate within Pakistan. More Info