We could be next

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We could be next

The terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday rings alarm bells around the globe. The unexpected act of terror claimed by the Islamic State (IS) in the capital of the Asian country targeted civilians just as the militant Islamist group did in Turkey last week. The attack in Bangladesh, which killed 20 ordinary citizens, was a cowardly act on a so-called “soft target,” referring to a site without much security, where civilians with no ability to defend themselves.

The incident attracts our attention as it took place in one of our major trading partners. Since Daewoo Group invested in its fledgling apparel industry in 1978, more than 220 Korean firms have been doing similar business there. Youngone Outdoor Corporation, a Korean manufacturer of outdoor wear and shoes, has emerged as one of the biggest employers in Bangladesh with 55,000 local employees. The attack shows that company and its employees could be the target next time.

Bangladesh so far has not been a major target of IS. In fact, radical Islamist groups such as IS or Al Qaeda have concentrated their attacks on Western countries or Muslim nations they are allied with, as clearly seen in their attacks in Paris in November, in Brussels in January and Istanbul in June.

But the attacks are expanding beyond Europe and the Middle East after IS’s stronghold of Falluja was recently recaptured by the Iraqi Army. Western analysts say the jihadist group desires to show off its undiminished power through terrorist acts in other parts of the world. IS is also using diverse tactics for attacks on new frontiers by, for instance, connecting with armed rebels in local areas and letting them commit terror on its behalf. The latest attacks in Dhaka and Istanbul were not committed by IS cells.

All the developments suggest the possibility of attacks on Korea. Islamic terrorist groups have constantly threatened Korea, partly as a result of the Korean military’s joining of the U.S.-led allied forces in Iraq and Syria and the arrest in Korea four years ago of Taliban members disguised as Muslim clerics. Last month, IS even singled out a Korean national as a target for attacks and posted his identity on the Internet. And it’s a frightening fact that our airport security is lax enough to allow suspicious terrorist members to enter this country without restrictions.

In a globalized world, no country is safe from terrorist attacks. Korea is no exception. The government must stay on alert for any possible attacks from IS.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jul. 4, Page 30
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