Global Jihad – Challanges to World Peace & Stability

The Jihadi Concepts of War which are a product of misinterpreted religious teaching are being redefined and are followed by most of the terrorist organizations all over the world. Jihadi concepts are basically based on anger, intolerance, hate, revenge and destruction. I shall deliberately avoid discussing the religious fundamentalism, relation between religion and terror and the difference between jihad and terrorism. When it comes to the peaceful existence of the human kind, it makes no difference as to under the influence of which philosophy of jihad the innocent human beings (especially women and children) are being killed all over the world every day.

Age-Old Problem

Jihad, terrorism, fundamentalism is not a new problem. This is a challenge that will continue to confront the nations (specially the liberal democracies) of the world till human society survives. The Zealots of Palestine used jihadi (terrorist) tactics in their struggle against the Roman occupation during the first century AD. Over the century the term ‘jihad’ got associated with the struggle against foreign domination and foreign occupation. It is a phenomenon that evolved into a highly developed strategy, allowing nations and in some cases small groups to conduct undeclared covert warfare. It is a strategy that is used against nations that are otherwise at peace. In 21st century in areas experiencing extensive conflict, it has proven to be as effective tactic that is often used by both sides of the conflict. Modern day Jihadi / terrorists have moved beyond simple assassination and bombing, they have capabilities that provide them with the potential for killing thousands of people at a time in targeted nation and as a result, threatening the political and economic stability of entire nation. From being people friendly, technology has become an agent of brutality, slaughtering people at a terrifying, scale. Same technology is now being used by terrorist as well ! 9/11 is a glaring example !
The Jahadi/Terrorists of today who operate in different parts of the world can be categorized as : Non-state supported, state sponsored and supported, and state directed groups. Such groups operate across the world. It is unfortunate that some of the self-projected, self-sponsored and supported experts in counter-terrorism and unconventional warfare have not bothered to understand and analyze the philosophy and concepts of Jihad / Terrorism. In Indian context, and against USA, non-state supported groups, state sponsored jihadi / terrorist groups and state directed groups, all operate from Pakistan. Pakistan is a exporter and advocate of Jihadi concepts / Terrorism a cross the world.

Types of Jihadi Terrorists

The concept of jihad in simple term evolves from the philosophy of struggle for peace, peaceful and meaningful existence, against an evil. However, over the centuries and especially in 20th and 21st century, the concept of jihad has been totally misinterpreted and misunderstood.
The Jahadi Terrorists who operate in different parts of the world can be categorized as : Non-state supported, state sponsored and supported and state directed groups. Such groups operate across the world. It is unfortunate that some of the experts in counter-terrorism and unconventional warfare have not bothered to understand and analyze the philosophy and concepts of jihad.
The Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan have perfected and mastered the philosophy and the art of jihad. A Jihadi / Terrorist movement must have effective leadership and an extensive support structure if it is to survive for any length of time. The leadership needs to have dedicated followers within the group and they need people outside the of Jihadi / Terrorist groups who will provide over ground support such as intelligence collection and fund-raising etc.
Since 1980 there has been an increasing involvement and participation of women in jihadi movements across the world. Since the beginning of 21st century most of the Jihadi groups have been enrolling a large number of women for Jihadi / terrorist activities. For obvious reasons women are perceived to be highly suitable for collection of information, intelligence, transmission of small weapons, carriage of money and infiltrating into government mechanism as well as security forces. Though it is a wrong perception, but terrorists seem to be convinced.

Conduits and Carriers of Jihad

While combating terrorism in Punjab in 1990-1992, combating terrorism in Kashmir during 1994-1996 and later combating insurgency in north-east India, I came across many cases when the Ladies and young girls were involved in passing information and small weapons. When I encouraged the concept of surrender by the terrorists, we found many women surrendering to the security forces along with communication equipment and radio sets. In Kashmir the terrorists have a Ladies wing named as “Dukhtatan-e-Millat” which has been the important functionary of Jihad. In many public and private hospitals ‘nurses’ were specially trained to treat gun-shot wounds. We were able to apprehends few terrorists with the help of nursing staff. SIMI which is a terrorist organization has a Ladies wing functioning for jihad.
Some of the educated girls are trained to undertake financial operations and information collection. Insurgent organization such as NSCN (IM), ULFA, NDFB have a good number of young girls staying in insurgent camps across the border in Myanmar and Bangladesh and are involved in drug, weapons, narcotics smuggling and passage of funds and information.
It is not easy to identify and apprehend the girl operatives especially in Indian context. Some of the human rights organizations use these young girls to have false allegations against state police, government officials and security forces. For jihadi / terrorist organizations to survive and succeed, these must also include active and passive supporters. These people are not actually members of the group, but they are sympathetic and supportive of the espoused credo and objective of the movement. Female supporters are very useful in covert activities. Many of them are also part of over ground organizations to raise funds for the jihadi cause.
In some cases, people contributing to these organizations do not know what the funds will actually be used for. Many of the countries in Europe, Middle East and some organizations operating from the USA have been the largest fund raisers and providers for the jihadi cause.
It is essential to remember that at the heart of every jihadi and terrorist act there is an ideology, a hidden agenda, a publicized objective, a perceived injustice or denial that is as concrete to the terrorist, jihadi, militant, insurgent and fundamentalist as any political leader’s notion of justice or freedom. All over the world, jihad or conflicts encompassing jihadi / terrorist activities have proliferated. Particularly in developing countries like India and our neighborhood.
Democracies like India in which free expression ideas including political protests, communal violence, strikes etc, are particularly vulnerable to jihadi violence. The growing number of terrorist attacks, the increasing destructiveness of terrorists’ weapons and methodology, connectivity of Jihadi organization, co-operation and understanding among them, use of information technology are posing new challenges and forcing governments all over the world to adopt preventive measures and precautions. This is resulting in siege like atmosphere around government building and institutions, embassy complexes, radio-TV stations, shopping malls, airports, railway stations, the residential areas of political leaders, senior government officials, diplomats, corporate executives, are constant reminders that jihad / terrorism is neither limited by distance or by choice of targets.


A Complex web of interaction and relationship between terrorist organizations in different parts of the world is surfacing gradually but surely. Co-operation and connectivity between jihadi / terrorist organizations, sustained and indoctrinated on religious lines, their supporters, sympathizers and sustainers has also been increasing manifold. There is as emerging concept of “techno jihad” and “techno-terrorism”
A remote controlled device bomb or explosive mechanism does not recognize or differentiate between class, education, social-status or gender. Anyone can operate any destructive mechanism. The new emerging trend is that many jihadis / terrorist belong to well to do families : they are well-educated and thoroughly indoctrinated with misguided religion as their base. This is where the women and girls also get attracted to jihad / terrorism.
The financial network supporting jihad / terrorism is very complex and sophisticated and very difficult to detect. Financial sustenance coupled and connected with smuggling of weapons and drugs, hawala operations, kidnapping for ransom, taking hostages are the means of collection of funds for jihad.
Many nations finance jihad directly and indirectly. In Indian context it is almost impossible to bring the culprits of illegal financial transactions to book, because the loopholes in the banking, financial, transaction system and the legal system. It is only recently that some check and safeguards have been instituted by government of India.

New Methodologies

Any jihadi organization in any part of the world to get desired result will execute the jihadi / terrorist act.

  1. At a proper time, when the wave of terror will be a complete surprise to the targeted society, nation and the world.
  2. With strength enough to disrupt even the strongest and most resilient elements among the target group.
  3. In the form that will have the most damaging psychological effect on the target group, society, nation and the entire world.
  4. One of the concepts of the jihadi organization is : “ You (the jihadi) cannot fight them (India-USA) because they have a large army but you can terrorize them by selective killing!!”

If examined and analyzed correctly it should be clear that in future there will be a shift from “destruction of masses” to “disruption of masses”. Disruption will be the key element.
There will also be a shift in the focus from “haw many killed” to “how quickly killed or destroyed”’ Therefore to counter jihad / terrorism there should be shift in our strike and survival capability from “survival of the fittest” to “survival of the fastest”.
If we do not perfect the concept, mechanism and art of hitting first and hitting fast, we will continue to react and suffer. Individual, collective combat power and war mechanism of super powers is unable to guarantee against global jihad / terrorism. Conventional wisdom conventional war mechanism and conventional response alone cannot counter terrorism. We need uncommon commonsense to combat and counter terrorism even in 21st century.
Jihadi Concepts of War.
The jihadi concept of war which are a product of misinterpreted religious teaching are being redefined and followed by most of the Jihadi / Terrorist organizations all over the world. Jihadi concepts are based on anger, hate, intolerance, revenge and destruction.
The central idea which must be noted is “identification of all elements of national power and gravitational centre of war”. It should be clear as to why and how the terrorist selected the targets for air strike on 09/11! Why do they target American Embassies, Indian Parliament, Red Fort, Akshardham, Mumbai on 26/11 and so on..
The analysis of above concept will clearly show as to why the successive Pakistani government and military rulers have used Kashmir as main issue for the furtherance of concepts of jihad against India. “Bringing economic pressure to bear on one’s opponent and enemy, we will increase our might ceaselessly with long range policy, we will strike at the right moment when the enemy would not dare to offer any resistance and “The resources and energies of the enemy if not preserved intact could add to the power of Islamic state. The identification and application of all elements of national power, the ability to locate and conquer the gravitational centre of war and the judicious and effective application of the military instrument is a perfect strategy. (Syria, Iraq, North African Nations, Yemen are recent examples).
The jihadi war to be planned and waged should be total to the infinite degree. It should be waged on all fronts – internal and external, political and diplomatic, spiritual and psychological, economic and military. Here will be an ideal situation in which the military strategy, operating as integral component of jihad, the total strategy will produce spectacular results. Latest example is ISIS. This is happening in Middle East and North Africa and will happen in Europe also.
Even the most powerful economy like USA has suffered a great deal of economic and financial setback due to continuous fighting in Iraq and till now in Afghanistan. USA is likely to suffer in Syria also, if they do not change their strategy and tactics.
It is not easy to achieve victory in this kind of conflict against Jahadis, terrorists and terrorism in short time. The nation state must show patience in combating jihad / terrorism and work thoughtfully and deliberately over extended periods so that jihadi groups are weakened through sheer attrition.
No fixed or ambitious time limits should be given to ground forces and commanders or should be expected, like in conventional war which is what most of the armed forces are used to because of the peculiarities and limitations of conventional war. Same will not hold good in unconventional warfare, counter terrorism, or in counter insurgency.
Counter-Jihad / Terrorism Operations.
We must always remember the concept of Mahabharata and the philosophy advocated by Indian philosopher Chanakya : “If you know your adversary and if you can deter him, you will live in peace for hundred years.” To achieve this, we must fight the war against jihad without losing the lives of our people especially the women and children, without loss of our property and above all our “national pride”. We must ensure the collapse of Jihadis / Terrorist, their supporters and sustainers “from within”.
Apart from adapting military, political, diplomatic, legal, financial and other means, there is also a need to examine and analyze following aspects to arrest jihadi / terrorist trends :

  1. What are the motivations of alienation and disaffection which drive men and women – specially the youth towards Jihad, militancy, terrorism and induce them to take up arms against the established order?
  2. How does a modern lawfully constituted state respond to local rebellions, unrest, terrorism and jihadi / terrorist movement?
  3. What are the instruments available to the state to combat jihad / terrorism, unrest?
  4. What are the aspects of regional and global co-operation to deal with jihad / terrorism?
  5. Why has the UN failed even to define terrorism / terrorist till today?

Philosophically we must remember that “Jihad / Terrorism is a weapon of the weak, to take on the powerful. The weak have one weapon, the errors of those who think they are strong”!!
In the given area of responsibility we were successful in combating, arresting terrorism by advocating the philosophy as explained below. To eradicate terrorism we must send a clear message across the world specially terrorism sponsoring nations.
Lt Gen (Dr) DB Shekatkar (Retd) served at Army HQ New Delhi as Deputy Director General Military Operations, Additional Director General Military Operations and Additional Director General Perspective (Strategic) Planning.
He has successfully combated insurgency in North East India, Terrorism in Punjab, Kashmir Valley and Assam. He is presently President of forum for India’s Integrated National Security (FINS).

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