Korea should be preparedThe terrorist attacks in Paris were a classic example of 21st century terrorism. The enemy carried out indiscriminate, simultaneous attacks against civilian facilities and people. The victims were hundreds of civilians. They were ordinary people who were watching a soccer game or a performance or having dinner. France is in fear, and the government has declared a national emergency. The popular tourist attractions of Paris, including the Louvre Museum and Eiffel Tower, were closed. The terrorists, perhaps about a dozen, killed dozens, wounded more and created nationwide fear, political shock and enormous economic damage. The world is now fighting a more formidable enemy than the enemy on a battlefield. The enemy cannot be located or identified, and it does not issue an advance declaration of war.
The attacks were meticulously planned at six locations. Well-trained French military and police could not stop them. Such assaults are possible because of the 21st century’s information and communications technology. Today’s terrorist forces are armed with smart gadgets. They built an international network using the Internet and smartphones. By using them, they can collect intelligence and create an operation plan. It is the era of digital terrorism.
They download bomb-making methods and weapons manuals using phones. They detonate bombs using smartphones. They can launch an operation using social network services. And they recruit extremists from around the world. A Korean teenager, Kim, is not a Muslim, but he joined the Islamic State, known as ISIS. The U.S. Homeland Security Committee said 30,000 people from 100 countries, including 250 Americans, have joined ISIS as of September this year.
The shocking terrorist attacks took place in Paris following the terrorist attack on a Russian passenger plane in Egypt. This is a clear warning that ISIS and other 21st century terrorists will more actively and dangerously threaten the world. ISIS is an extremist group different from Al Qaeda. It is the first Islamic extremist group to declare it is a state. It is a different enemy than existing groups such as Al Qaeda.
In the areas where the central governments of Iraq and Syria lost control, ISIS established an Islamic caliphate. Based on this, it has expanded its global influence, raised financial resources to rule, recruit and train warriors, and dispatched operatives across the world.
A more serious problem is ISIS’s propaganda and promotion strategy. It is different from the 20th century terrorist groups. They are no longer poorly made video images and statements issued in Arabic. They are high-definition video clips and English messages edited fancily with various colors. They are posted on the Internet and social network services.
Through them, ISIS is expanding its power beyond their main strongholds of Iraq and Syria to North Africa, Europe and Asia. It has chapters and allied forces in Libya, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. Native-born terrorist organizations in Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia are forming connections with ISIS. More seriously, billions of youngsters from around the world are exposed to ISIS’s propaganda.
The international community has reacted sensitively to the terrorist threats of ISIS. The United States, which was in the process of leaving the Middle East, is now back and leading the military operation against ISIS. Europe, in the midst of a refugee crisis, is also joining the assaults to resolve the Syria situation.
The United Nations also joined the effort to stop the movement and activities of ISIS terrorists and their recruitment of youth. In September last year, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning violent extremism and underscoring the need to prevent travel and support for foreign terrorist fighters. It was intended to stop recruitment, organization, travel and financial support of terrorists. The resolution was adopted based on the judgment that military actions against ISIS are not enough to stop terrorism. Furthermore, the resolution stipulated that each member country must establish a law to prevent terrorism.
The measures of the international community, however, could not stop the Paris attacks. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting, which killed 12 people, on Jan. 7, France maintained thorough readiness against terrorism. But small and large attacks took place, and massive, simultaneous attacks took place last week. Prevention of 21st century terrorist attacks has become more difficult than ever.
No major terrorist attack has taken place in Korea yet, but that doesn’t mean we are living in a safe zone. Both Al Qaeda and ISIS have put Korea on their lists of targets. Korean citizens were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past. We need a whole range of attitudes to prevent terrorism. We must actively participate in international responses. To this end, the anti-terrorism act must be approved by the National Assembly as soon as possible.
France, which has already established a law and started active preventive measures, was attacked. Terrorism must be prevented at all cost. Post-management measures are only incidental.
Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 16, Page 33
*The author is a professor at the Graduate School of International and Area Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.