Terrorism and Vigilance

Vigilance is important against new variants of terror, remaining ahead of the curve is even more vital


Mains syllabus: –  Internal Security :  Role of external State and non- state actor in creating challenges to internal security – ( GS paper III)

Analysis :

Terrorism in 21st century – Terrorism is hardly a post-modern phenomenon. Several of the terror attacks in the 21st century, however, reflect a paradigmatic change in the tactics of asymmetric warfare, and the practice of violence. Today’s attacks carried out in different corners of the world by al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Islamic State, al-Shabaab, and similar terror outfits, are very different from those witnessed in the previous century. The tactics employed may vary, but the objective is common, viz. achieving mass casualties and widespread destruction.

26/ 11 Mumbai terror attack 2008 – How was it different from other terror attack :

  • It was the most heinous of terror attack perpetrated anywhere in the world .The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack,  is in some respects comparable to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S.
  • The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was one of a kind, and not a mere variant of previous instances of terrorist violence. It was the rarest of rare cases, where one state’s resources, viz. Pakistan’s, were employed to carry out a series of terror attacks in a major Indian city.
  • Seldom has any terrorist group then, or for that matter even now, used such highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art communications, including Voice over Internet Protocol. Planning for the attack involved the use of a third country address.
  • From an Indian standpoint, it was perhaps for the first time that an operation of this nature involved Rapid Action Force personnel, Marine Commandos (MARCOS), the National Security Guard (NSG) and the Mumbai Police.


  • In the wake of the terror attack, several steps were initiated to streamline the security set-up.
  • Coastal security was given high priority, and it is with the Navy/Coast Guard/marine police.
  • A specialised agency to deal with terrorist offences, the National Investigation Agency, was set up and has been functioning from January 2009.
  • The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has been constituted to create an appropriate database of security related information.
  • Four new operational hubs for the NSG have been created to ensure rapid response to terror attacks.
  • The Multi Agency Centre, which functions under the Intelligence Bureau, was further strengthened and its activities expanded.
  • The Navy constituted a Joint Operations Centre to keep vigil over India’s extended coastline.

Challenges –

One new variant is the concept of ‘enabled terror’ or ‘remote controlled terror’, viz. violence conceived and guided by a controller thousands of miles away. Today the ‘lone wolf’ is, more often than not, part of a remote-controlled initiative, with a controller choosing the target, the nature of the attack and even the weaponry to be used. Internet-enabled terrorism and resort to remote plotting is thus the new threat. Operating behind a wall of anonymity, random terror is likely to become the new terror imperative.


Notwithstanding increased vigil and streamlining of the counter-terrorism apparatus, the ground reality is that newer methodologies, newer concepts more daringly executed, and more deeply laid plans of terrorist groups have made the world a less safe place. The actual number of terror attacks may have declined in recent years, but this does not mean that the situation is better than what existed a decade ago. Terrorism remains a major threat, and with modern refinements, new terrorist methodologies and terrorism mutating into a global franchise, the threat potential has become greater.

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