Who exactly are terrorists? Are they rebels with (or without) a cause? Monsters with an unquenchable thirst for blood? Mindless robots out on a killing spree or are they just human beings fighting for the greater good?
These questions and much more have plagued the human race ever since the first appearance of this breed of savage entities. It is virtually impossible to deny the fact that terrorists, whether they are fanatics or patriots have given rise to an untold amount of death, suffering, and horror wherever and whenever they show up. Their activities range from suicide bombings to genocides, toppling of governments, air raids and a whole lot more. Terrorists all over the world have butchered millions all in the name of patriotism, religion, or for the so-called ‘glory’ of their fatherland. While the very thought of them is sufficient to strike abject terror into the hearts of the people, their very actions have accomplished far more malevolent objectives! With the numerous terrorist cells or groups scattered all over and operating in some unfortunate regions in the world, the following represent the most dangerous groups ever brought into existence.
Known officially as ISIS or ISIL which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant/Syria), the group controls part of northern Iraq and parts of Western Syria. It has fashioned a form of brutal government that enacts and enforces sharia law. The Islamic State, which was founded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has perpetrated acts of terrorism and barbarism that are so cruel that it was condemned by even Al-Qaeda. ISIS admits fighters from around the world and motivates them to relocate to “al-Sham” which means heaven on earth and is believed to have nearly 80,000 fighters within its ranks in Syria and Iraq. The group believes in an apocalyptic vision where they will bring in paradise by capturing certain territories in the region. They encourage all forms of terrorist attacks in Western countries and accepts allegiance from anyone who will swear to them. The group finances itself by selling slaves, artifacts, drugs, and oil. They promote themselves greatly through the use of social media by posting videos of grisly activities such as beheadings. Their latest actions have prompted USA, Germany, UK, together with other countries, to carry out several operations with the objective of infiltrating their ranks and battling their rising insurgence. They are also responsible for the gruesome attacks in Paris.
Founded by Abdullah Azzam, Osama Bin Laden, as well as other militants, the Al-Qaeda is a Wahhabi organization whose objective is to unite all the Muslims around the world in a global jihad and a harsh interpretation of Sharia law. The al-Qaeda played a role in the US embassy bombings in 1998, the September 11 attacks, and the Bali bombings in 2002. Even though Osama Bin Laden’s death resulted in a setback for their operations, they remain the deadliest terrorist organization in the world. Their attacks are sectarian related and their typical way of executing attacks is through the use of suicide bombers or carrying out of suicide missions. They are tremendously influential and are believed to own numerous aircraft including executive jets and Boeing 727s.
The Afghanistan chapter of the Taliban is ubiquitous in their illicit activities. The group has an annual revenue of nearly $400 million resulting from their activities ranging from extortion, human trafficking, drug trafficking among others. Mohammed Omar is a founding member of the group and remains its spiritual leader since its commencement in 1994. The September 11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center was perpetrated by the Taliban. The Taliban was trained by the ISI and organized by the USA to free Afghanistan from Soviet Union control. Reportedly they have perpetrated some of the most monstrous violations of human rights ranging from raping women, ethnic cleansing, and recruiting child soldiers. The Taliban rank among the deadliest terrorist groups in the world.
12. BOKO HARAM (now sworn to ISIS)
Boko Haram is an Islamist based militant group in Nigeria, and is affiliated to and receives funding from Al-Qaeda. They are exceedingly vocal concerning their intolerance of Western education and made the news for their abduction of over 250 Nigerian school girls. Boko Haram literally means that western education is anathema. Boko Haram is alleged to have killed at least 6,742 civilians between 2009 and 2014. The group was originally established as a Sunni Islamic group and advocates for the proliferation of the very intolerant Sharia law in places where they have seized power. They continue to threaten an overthrow of the Nigerian government, which they say has become heavily biased and open to Western influence. In June of 2011, they successfully carried out the bombing of the UN headquarters located in Abuja.
Ranked among the most notorious groups currently in operation, the Lashkar-e-Toba became infamous after the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai. The attack resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and left the nation damaged. The group also carried out the attack on India’s Parliament in 2001. With the sole intention of introducing an Islamist state in Southern Asia, the Lashkar-e-Toba has sworn to free Muslims living in Indian Kashmir. The group has also been notorious for using children that are aged 13-14 and from the impoverished segments of society to propagate their terrorist activities. The group has also carried out bombings in Delhi in 2005, the bombings in Varanasi in 2006 among others. There are shocking rumors that Saudi Arabia is allegedly sponsoring this group.
This group which is known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan forms part of the numerous Islamist groups that have been active in the in Pakistani-Afghan border. Their intentions include the complete overthrow of the Pakistani government, enforcement of the Sharia law as well as combatting the NATO forces present in Afghanistan. The TTP which is led by Maulana Fazlullah is not in direct association with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The attempted car bombing in 2010 at Times Square was purported to have been carried out by the TTP. The group has claimed to be responsible for several attacks which include attacks on Pakistani army and naval stations, suicide bombings, and the bombing of the Pakistani UN offices.
The Lebanese-based Shi’ist militant group was established by Muslim clerics (headed by Ayatollah Khomeini) with the sole intention of countering Israel’s occupation of Lebanon (1982). Their intention has been clearly defined as they seek to expel all foreign presence, particularly Americans together with their Western allies. The group is sponsored by Syria and is also known to receive funding and training from Iran. Some of the terrorist activities which have been credited to this group include the hostage crisis in Lebanon from 1982 – 1992, the bombings of the Lebanese US Embassy in 1983, the attack in 1994 of the Israeli Embassy in London, and many others.
The group sprouted from the splintering of the Islamic Courts Union after it was defeated by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and their Ethiopian military allies. The group was established in 2006 with the sole aim of stopping foreign Somalian military forces. It is a Salafist jihadist group that is based in East Africa and it pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012. In 2015, they carried out their deadliest attack which resulted in the killing of 148 students at a Kenyan university. The group has been officially designated as a terrorist group by Canada, Australia, the UAE, the U.K and the US.
Hamas which stands for “Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia,” is a Palestinian socio-political terrorist organization, which was established in 1987 as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group was founded with the objective of carrying out jihad against Israel and securing Palestine’s freedom from Israeli ‘occupation.’ In its operations against the Israeli government, the terrorist group is known to be significantly supported by Hezbollah. They are also associated with deadly suicide bombers. Recently, a European Union court has petitioned that Hamas should be taken out from the list of terrorist organizations in EU countries.
The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was founded in the 1960s, and their regular activities include kidnapping, illegal mining, and extortion. The Colombian Government together with other North American, European and Latin American governments have all recognized the FARC as a terrorist group. It was discovered in 2002 that the FARC and IRA had ties to each other- the IRA had received nearly $2 million in cash from the FARC from their drug trafficking operations. The FARC has been credited with several killings, assassinations, and bombings in Colombia and ranks among the largest drug-trafficking organizations in the world.
5. Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)
PKK is a Turkish group founded in 1978 and has been fighting for an independent Kurdish state. Though internationally designated as a terror group, the PKK functions in regions such as Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, and is viewed in a positive light by the Western media due to its station as a fighting force in the warfare against the Islamic State. Nonetheless, their official status is that of a terrorist and rebel organization, and it also receives money from Iran. They also have in place several influential lobbying firms based in D.C. who assist them with their positive media depiction in the U.S.
4. Al-Nusra Front (a branch of al-Qaeda)
Jabhat al-Nusra or the Al-Nusra Front is Arabic for “The Support Front for the People of Al-Sham” and operated originally as an arm of al-Qaeda in Lebanon and Syria. They are led by Abu Mohammad al-Julani, and their importance lies in the terrorist group being the stoutest supporters of the Syrian rebels that are fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad. This is one of the rebel groups in Syria which receive assistance from the U.S. in the form of weapons because it opposes the Assad and the Islamic State. The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the U.K, the US, and the UN.
The Naxalites are mostly linked with the CPI-M or the Maoist i.e. Communist Party of India and derive its name from the village Naxalbari, in West Bengal where it originated. Currently, states like Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand have all seen an increase in the activities of this group. Their creation started in 1967 from a violent uprising which was led by Kanu Sanyal to facilitate the redistribution of land to the masses. Their struggle was encouraged by Mao Zedong, who was the chairman of the Communist Party of China at that time, and who supported the Naxalites forceful overthrow of the upper-class society and the government. The Naxal movement gained so much massive support and momentum during the post-1970 era that students studying in reputable colleges in Calcutta were frequently dropping out of college to join the group. Their objective was to provoke a civil war by the assassination of individuals of great power. In 1971, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister launched the Operation Steeplechase (which included the Indian Army) which lead to the killing of several Naxalites and the imprisonment of many more. Though their numbers have decreased, the Naxalites still carry on the killing of civilians, policemen, and security personnel. Dr. Manmohan Singh has characterized them as the “biggest threat to national security.”
2. IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY
Founded in 1913, the IRA is a revolutionary organization formed from the now defunct Irish Volunteers and are based in Ireland. From 1919 to 1921, the IRA was solely responsible for carrying out a war of independence against the British. This war of attrition was a very vicious affair and resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Members of the IRA were trained as guerilla units and were highly skilled in carrying out ambushes and surprise attacks. Just before the conclusion of the war, the Anglo-Irish treaty was signed, and this resulted in a division among the IRA: those who supported the signing of the treaty became known as the Irish National Army while the rest maintained their membership in the IRA. This division culminated in a civil war which the IRA ended up losing. Ever since then, the group has continued to exist with the sole intent of overthrowing Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State to realize their dream of an Irish Republic. The IRA has claimed responsibility for assassinations (which includes the assassination in 1979 of Lord Mountbatten) and several car bombings.
1. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)
The LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) or the Lord’s Resistance Movement is a Christian cult/dissident/terrorist group whose area of operation includes South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Uganda, and the Central African Republic. It was formerly known as the Uganda Christian Army/Movement, and the United Holy Salvation Army and its sole objective was the creation of a multi-party system of democracy, and the ruling of Uganda according to the Ten Commandments.
Previously, the US designated the LRA as a terrorist group but has been removed from its list of active terrorist organizations. The group has been alleged to commit a widespread violation of human rights, which includes abduction, murder, mutilation, coercing children to take part in the hostilities as well as child-sex slavery. Presently, the organization is almost defunct, but they have slaughtered thousands.
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