World War III on Terror – But What Is ISIL’s Next Target?

christopher_lee180-11

9th November 2015

London

There are people in the UK who want the chance to put a bomb in a British passenger jet flying out of Heathrow. That is the Intelligence briefing to senior ministers including the political head of MI6, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. In other words the 31 October Russian Metrojet flight from Sharm el-Sheikh was not the only target for terrorists.

In the BFBS Radio current affairs programme Sitrep last week the UK’s most recent ambassador to Cairo John Watt  told presenter Kate Gerbeau that he was certain that the Russians were the exclusive target when the bomb went off 21 minutes after take off from Sharm. Was he right?

Go through some of the dark on-line pages of jihadists after the hit for example al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) Inspire and what you will see is predictable. Inspire, just two months ago was given an 88-page handout on assassinations.

A simple message such as telling sleepers as well as activists to go out and kill is not a hidden message.  There are no hidden agendas. The message is clearly given, it is clearly understood and when what we call a tragedy occurs, the sites are alive with celebrations.  This war on terror is that simple.

So it must be that the most important question is what is the next target.

The websites and mobile chatter loops are not telling terrorists go get a Russian plane or an American or a British holiday jet.  They are not explaining that an attack will reduce profits at Sharm el-Sheikh by 70%, or beach resort bookings in Tunisia by 62%. They are not saying that every believer working air-side at Gatwick, Heathrow, JFK, Schiphol, Paris CDG or wherever should be ready to slip in a primed detonator into the hold at loading point.  It is all simpler.

If a terrorist goes for a big picture target the longer term impact is a thing about anniversaries instead of what is intended: striking long term and terror to damage and disrupt and then question governments ability to keep populations safe.

Read the dark pages again and think what may happen if the next attack were to be, say, a happy holiday jet to Majorca and an Isle of Wight Ferry and a Christmas department store and a Cathedral family Christingle service – all on the same day.  In other words anyone is a target. No one gets to fly, ferry, go Christmas shopping, go to Carols round the Crib.  That is not going for anti IS USA, Russia, UK. That is going for the power-bring bystanders. That is terrorism.  That is where we are heading.

A reactively simple operation splits allies and makes populations nervous or in some cases downright frightened. That means, it succeeds in terrorising and people start to ask why great powers are unable to stop ISIL?

Metrojet proved if we needed proof that there has been a strategic step change in the battle against IS and its like. The Global Coalition was established in September 2014 “to Degrade and Defeat ISIL” Some 65 states joined the Coalition. Thus one third of the world, including the nuclear powers, has joined against ISIL. In any one’s language that is World War III. For the moment it is not going so well.

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