Future terrorism is expected to witness the expansion of various types of terror networks and forces existing today, including Marxist social class warfare such as Maoism in Asia or neo-Trotskyism in Latin America. On the other hand, the many separatist terror networks, such as in Turkey (the PKK), Russia (Chechens), southern Philippines, Xingian province of China (Uighurs), or Kashmir in India, are expected to continue with their attempts in the absence of political solutions to their problems.
But beyond these forms of terror, the widest network projected to expand and threaten most democracies around the world is undoubtedly the jihadi global web, indoctrinated in the Salafi ideology. Other forms of jihadi terror groups, some supported by the Khomeini ideology, are also expected to expand in the Middle East and beyond, depending on the political future of the regimes that support them, mainly in Iran. Hence, what democracies in the West and Asia will continue to face off with in the next two decades are organizations and movements identifying themselves as jihadist (al Jihadiyyun). Al-Qaeda will continue to mutate and morph, as will the organizations that espouse the same ideology. We may even see new types of jihadi groups emerging.
Based on a totalitarian ideology and a universal agenda, the global jihadist threat targets democracies throughout the international community in an effort to establish what they coin as "Emirates," from the kind we witnessed under the Taliban before 2001 and the attempts we see in Iraq's Sunni triangle, in Somalia, and in Waziristan. These pockets are building blocks for the long-sought Caliphate, the ultimate goal of all jihadi movements and organizations since the 1920s.The jihadist movements have been diverse and have adopted different international strategies, as I have explained in my book Future Jihad: Terrorist strategies against the West.
Internationalization of the Jihadists
One major feature of the jihadist Salafi movements is that they draw their principles from one universal ideology. Hence, they are able to assist each other against dispersed and often divided foes. The jihadi terror forces were able to single out the United States, European democracies, Russia, India, black Africa, China, and many moderate Muslim countries. It is clear that the jihadists are coordinating worldwide and that their targets are not. Worse, the jihadist propaganda often hijacks separatist causes and transforms them into a jihadi battlefield, making it difficult for the rest of the world to identify them as terrorists, but rather as resistance movements. These are the cases in Chechniya, Kashmir, the southern Philippines, Gaza, and Lebanon. The propaganda network of all jihadi forces combined isolates the United States and fights it on particular issues, then isolates an Arab or Muslim government on another issue, as in Pakistan, Nigeria, or Egypt. Then the jihadi machine demonizes India on the Kashmir issue and tries to isolate New Delhi on the matter.
Internationalization of the Confrontation against Jihadi Terror
Today's central question is about the internationalization of the confrontation with the jihadi forces operating in many countries. Salafists and their radicalization network worldwide aim to confront their own foes, mostly democracies, one at a time and with various strategies. In our assessment, we are proposing a global response integrating the resources of all countries targeted by al-Qaeda. Hence, future strategies must be based on the following principles:
a. That targeted democracies around the world, including India and Russia, will develop a joint platform on all levels to counter that ideology and isolate the threat instead of being isolated by it -- as I argue in The Confrontation.
b. That regional coordination must also develop, such as in Africa, in the Muslim world, and in Latin America, to coordinate efforts based on the particularity of each region.
c. That the sum of all these platforms comes under an international platform of confrontation with the jihadist forces.
(Adapted from Professor Phares speech to the Asian Security Conference 2010 under the theme "Asian Strategic Futures 2030: Trends, Scenarios and Alternatives." Professor Phares' presentation was under the title "The Future of Terrorism: Jihadi threat in the Indian Subcontinent.")
Professor Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He is the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.