Beyond a shadow of doubt, the tight security measures imposed on vital places in various parts of the world, estimated according to the latest global statistics at more than $300 billion, have reduced global terrorist attacks by approximately 35%. Tightening security measures contributed to clamping down on terrorists and limited their operational capabilities and criminal acts. However, the annual rate of victims of terrorism increased significantly. The cost of carrying out any suicide operation, whether by explosion or indiscriminate shooting, does not exceed $150. This infinitesimal amount causes, on average, killing 12 people, spreading terror in the hearts of hundreds of individuals living in the immediate vicinity.
The fortification of embassies, ministries and vital sites in most countries made it difficult to carry out organized terrorist operations. As such, terrorists developed plans that would cause the largest possible number of deaths outside the scope of these measures to cause great media blitz, achieving maximal horror, and gaining notoriety at the expense of innocent lives, manifested by individual terrorist kidnapping, family terrorism, gang terrorism, retaliatory terrorism, child suicide bombers, ill-intentioned tricks, lone wolves or simultaneous attacks.
Hence, the methods of terrorist organizations changed from large, carefully planned operations that require large financial resources, to cheap operations that use inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture tools. On July 7, 2005, bombs made from bottles filled with nails and explosive components of household items were found in the car of a participant in the London bombings. Such explosives became easily available, cheap and locally made. Later, the United Kingdom thwarted a plot to detonate four transport bombs made by placing explosives in cheap plastic containers used by housewives. On May 22, 2008, the young British man, Nikki Riley, tried to plant improvised explosives in a restaurant in London. He was sentenced to prison and died by suicide in prison in October 2016.
In the USA, the security forces thwarted two underwear bomb operations used in two failed bombing attempts to shoot down two American planes. The first was on Christmas Day in 2009; and the second was in May 2012. In Copenhagen, September 10, 2010, Lors Doukaiev attempted to detonate an improvised bomb in Jørgensen Hotel. In January of 2015, an attack occurred on the Kosher (halal) supermarket in Paris, claiming the lives of four people. On February 26, 2016, a 15-year-old DAESH girl stabbed a police officer in Hanover, Germany. All of these terrorist attacks were with light and improvised weapons.
Countries of the world have realized this operational shift in terrorist organizations. In a speech live streamed in 2015 on domestic and international terrorism, former US President Barack Obama stated: “Over the past few years, the terrorist threat has evolved to a new stage, because we have become better at preventing complex and multifaceted attacks, such as the operations of the 9/11 Attacks, 2001. The terrorists have turned into less complex acts of violence, such as mass shootings.
In the same year, FBI Director James Comey stated: “It is not the old Al-Qaeda organization that was interested in the multi-sided, long-planned attacks carried out by carefully vetted activists. We still face this challenge, but the old Al-Qaeda organization was very different from the one we see it today, DAESH also thinks in a completely different way.»
Al-Qaeda has boasted that what it calls «the attrition» that it carries out against some countries is a cheap and easy operation. This type of terrorist attack requires only two mobile phones and two printers, in addition to shipping, transportation and other small expenses. Al-Qaeda revealed that future attacks would be in this manner: «smaller and more frequent.»
COSTS OF TERRORISM
If we take it for granted that the cost of the individual terrorist operation does not exceed $150, according to international official estimates, the 9/11 Attacks of 2001 on the American soil did not cost more than $500,000; it caused heavy losses. It brought about the killing of nearly 3,000 people, injuring more than 6000, while the economic losses were estimated at about $3.3 trillion, direct and indirect losses. Between 2004 and 2016, the 28 member states of the European Union lost nearly €180 billion of their GDP due to cheap terrorist attacks.
According to international reports, statistics indicate that the global economic impact of terrorism amounted to $33 billion in 2018, while it reached $54 billion dollars in 2017, with a decrease of 38%. The losses reached their peak in 2014, at an estimated cost of $111 billion. While losses in 2015 amounted to $94 billion, they were estimated at about $92 billion in 2016.
These estimates are conservative, as the effects of terrorism are long-term economic, including a lack of tourism revenue, business activities, production, investment, security-related costs, counterterrorism costs, deaths, injuries, property destruction and GDP losses.
The terrorists’ strategies and plans in the internal confrontations combined between low costs and high returns. Terrorism spreads terror and targets important figures, including officials, officers, businessmen, dignitaries and celebrities, as well as the general public. Killing such people causes the highest level of panic, as the terrorist seeks to detonate bombs in crowded places, killing innocent, defenseless people in the cheapest way, just with a bomb. Perhaps he made it in his home and with his own hands, or detonated a train with the cheapest explosive materials; even hospitals and schools were on their list, which means to drum up for media blitz.
WAR UNDER PRESSURE
Terrorism is a pathway to illicit enrichment, driven by greed and extortion, without concern for bloodshed, destruction, rubble and the remains of the victims! At a time when the war on terror has become inevitable and unavoidable for humanity, especially the countries affected by terrorism, such countries suffer due to internal pressures, calling for the need to eradicate terrorism, and the obstacles that stand in their way, including the legal restrictions that restrain them, not just the local law; rather, international law also insists on the necessity of respecting freedoms and observing human rights in dealing with terrorist extremists who lost their humanity before losing their consciences, and they no longer have boundaries or laws that they place weight on!
The really strange paradox is that there are countries, organizations or bodies that use human rights as a scarecrow, accusing other countries of committing human rights violations, or burying alive freedoms while fighting extremism and terrorism. To some extent, this is untrue and does not take into account the reality that terrorism is the greatest violation of human rights, dignity and freedom.
Those who contemplate cheap terrorist acts, which direct their strikes easily at the lowest prices, in any part of the world, regardless of their progress in their security measures, do not harbor any suspicion that terrorists are the most dangerous threat to life and civilization, and they reveal their unwillingness to subject their views to fair ideological tests. This holds true in that multiple analytical research readings indicated that most of these recently exacerbated operations are the result of the proliferation of organized crime gangs and their temporary alliance with those obsessed with falsification of judgment, and persistent communication between the two parties to coordinate their criminal practices. This also includes the intervention of evil forces from some countries that are keen on employing others for proxy war to implement own malicious aims and flimsy plans. The most prominent sources of terrorist financing include:
- Interest-Based Alliance: it is an alliance based on the exchange of interests and services between transnational organized crime groups and terrorist groups to achieve their goals in the context of specific circumstances. This alliance often depends on facilitators or adult mediators, who have the ability to access criminal networks and mediate between them and terrorist networks. Terrorist organizations can carry out drug trafficking and kidnapping operations that are unmediated drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom with the aim of providing resources or securing smuggling routes for a fee.
- Current Financing: it is financial support or logistic service of whatever type, method, or feeder it is. It is provided to the perpetrators of terrorist operations, planners, or assistants and their supporters. This includes collecting funds from legitimate sources, intentionally or unintentionally, such as donations from individuals, states or commercial entities or obtained from illegal sources, such as money for extortion and crimes, or money derived from the exploitation of natural resources in areas that suffer from weak rule of law, or are under the control of such terrorist organizations, or from trafficking in antiquities, plundering museums, stealing archives, smuggling them across international borders, human trafficking, or all smuggling, imposition of taxes (tax levies) on merchants in exchange for their protection.
The cheap terrorism tactics used by terrorist organizations imposed on the institutions for combating terrorist financing, headed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a great new challenge to face what they called micro-finance) While law enforcement and financial institutions have developed detection methods in combating money laundering and terrorist financing on a large scale, in addition, the regulations and practical procedures to achieve this are designed to thwart large amounts of money flows funneled to known terrorist organizations without the small money.
Since banks are required to uncover illicit transactions that disguise themselves as legitimate financial activity even if they are small, and in light of the large number of transactions that banks deal with very quickly every day, it is like searching for a needle in a giant haystack, according to experts in combating terrorist financing.
The FATF has cited many common examples of small-scale terrorist financing methods that seemingly look natural, such as prepaid cards, student or personal loans without intent to repay, and exploiting cryptocurrencies. Although these transactions are difficult to detect, their detection is not impossible. Modern transaction monitoring software facilitates rules designed to flag suspicious transactions, based on certain risk factors, such as changes in transaction frequency or volume, and whether the activity itself appears legitimate. For instance, a sudden increase in small eBay transfers to a bank account might be harmless, but it could indicate something riskier and worth a closer look. In such cases, uncovering illicit transactions involves looking at where the money is going, not where it came from. To do this properly, financial institutions must build a comprehensive customer risk profile, containing high-quality data for each individual with their spending habits, as well as for their relatives and loved ones. Combating terrorist financing now requires attention to individual accounts, not just the volume of transactions.
Small-dollar terrorism is achieved by various means, most notably ill-intentioned tricks and lone wolves, all of which depend on the individual terrorist using low-cost means, whether it is a car being run over by pedestrians, or light weapons that used in an indiscriminate killing, or improvised bomb thrown at civilian gatherings and social institutions, or an explosive belt detonated it in a crowded public place or by using organized operations that disrupt movements or hijackings.
And all these small-dollar operations are worth nothing vis-à-vis the material costs and the economic implications! The result is, in fact, zero, as terrorists did not realize any of their unbridled fantasy dreams, and development did not go on its right path because of these operations, as well as killing lives that have been preserved by all the monotheistic religions, spearheaded by Islam.