The October 7th 2023 attacks are likely just the beginning of another wave of Terrorist attacks that the world must act quickly to deter and prevent.
Back in 2021, I wrote two articles relating to the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the resurgence of the Taliban that came about because of it.
Two years on, pro-Iran terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are in active warfare against Israel, and other groups are regularly attacking US forces across the Middle East as the rise/return of terrorist groups intensifies.
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The problem is, the world should have seen this coming – and I was one of many who wrote back in 2021 warning that this day would come.
The US and allied withdrawal from Afghanistan has, to a certain extent, emboldened the terrorist world. After 20 years of fighting there, the Taliban ultimately won – a fact that most politicians shy away from and a fact that has caused despair among many veterans I’ve spoken to, several of whom have asked: “Was it all in vain?”
The issue is the October 7 2023, attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza shows that the threat of attacks will always be present while these groups continue to exist. Israel’s intent now is to do its very best to wipe Hamas off the face of the earth, a task that has already cost 320 soldiers in total both during and after the attack and will likely cost a great deal more in the coming weeks and months.
The fall-out from that attack is also noticeable. We’ve seen more than 30 attacks by pro-Iran terror groups against US bases across Iraq and Syria in the last few weeks, many of these emboldened by Hamas’ successes. We’ve also seen the Houthi militias in Yemen firing missiles towards Israel, with a notable 9-hour-long anti-air engagement carried out by a US Navy destroyer in the Red Sea and an IDF air intercept of this attack hitting the news around a week ago.
Elsewhere, we’ve seen a rise in antisemitic hate crimes and targeted attacks against Israelis/Jews worldwide, one recent example being a Jewish woman in France stabbed in her own home on 4th November, with a swastika drawn on her flat door by the suspect.
The US response to the Hamas attacks has probably been the most notable. At the time of writing, two carrier strike groups comprising the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN-78) and USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69) and their escorts are operating in the Eastern Mediterranean to the south of Cyprus, ready to deal with any overflow by pro-Iran groups – their presence intended to act as a deterrent to Iran and its proxies more than anything else.
The rest of the international community’s responses have been a mixed bag however. Turkey’s President Erdogan (generally regarded as a bit of a rogue figure within NATO), has come out in support of Hamas and indicated willingness to intervene against Israel if the ground invasion of Gaza continues.
Germany, on the other hand, has announced plans to expel from the nation anyone (citizens or foreigners) who shows support for Hamas. The UK is somewhat of a middle ground in this, with politicians mostly showing support for Israel’s right to self-defence and calling for appropriate protections for innocent civilians in Gaza. However, allowing pro-Palestinian protests in major cities where dozens of people have been arrested so far for showing support of Hamas and the atrocities they committed on October 7th.
And herein lies the issue – large parts of the world have often repeated “Never again”, when referencing Nazi Germany’s holocaust against the Jewish people during World War II. Many of those same nations are now either silent following the October 7th attacks or are backing the inevitable United Nations calls for a ceasefire… something which Israel cannot realistically consider given Hamas’ own claims that it will carry out similar attacks again.
Israel’s only option is to destroy Hamas or face its own extinction – the Hamas Charter literally states one of its primary aims is the destruction of the Jewish state, a fact not denied by most of the supporters at these pro-Palestine protests in major cities, where chants of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.”
To be clear for those in any doubt, that chant refers to the idea that the “Palestine” state would stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea… the entire area currently covered by Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
The issue the West faces now is that whether it supports Israel or not, Hamas’ actions have stirred up major issues globally. The support seen for the group on the streets of London is an alarming example of how much support there still is for terrorist groups, whether they be “radical Islamist groups” or as the USA has recently been dealing with “white supremacist groups”.
London’s Metropolitan Police Service has had to make numerous arrests since the October 7th incident for offences under the Terrorism Act 2003, one of the main ones being Support for a Proscribed Terrorist Group (Section 12, Terrorism Act 2003). UK policing as a whole is working overdrive to try and deal with these now publicly visible threats, and one has to wonder how many of these now public supporters for Hamas and other groups were previously known to the intelligence services.
Back in 2021, I wrote two articles following the US and allied withdrawal from Afghanistan, warning that it was only a matter of time before we’d see serious terror threats in the West again. You can read those articles here:
Afghanistan – What the withdrawal means for the world (Published 2nd September 2021).
The War on Terror – Back to square one after 20 years? (Published 22nd September 2021)
In those articles, I pointed out that the political willpower to continue the fight on the ground to eradicate terrorist groups was gone, and that, more than anything else, was why the US and, subsequently, its allies announced withdrawal (and effectively defeat) from Afghanistan and the fight with the Taliban. I wasn’t alone at the time in warning that without a counter-terrorism presence in the region, groups like the Taliban, ISIL and al-Qaeda would have time to grow.
We’ve also seen major failings from Western governments when it comes to dealing with the sources of several of these groups. Iran, widely regarded as the number one state-sponsor of terrorism, has been allowed to get away with a lot of things, with dozens of nations, including the US, failing to uphold sanctions against the regime, well known for its human rights abuses. The United Nations has even given Iran a seat on its Human Rights Council while criticising Israel’s self-defence against terrorism, perhaps one of the strongest indications of the UN’s inability to fully function as a global force for good.
The concern now will be whether or not the Western world wakes up and acts. France has already had numerous attacks and bomb threats in the wake of the attack on Israel – at one point, some six major French airports were closed due to simultaneous bomb threats. France bore the brunt of the wave of terror attacks across Europe between 2017 and 2020, suffering 26 different attacks with 24 dead and 77 wounded.
It also experienced one of Europe’s worst attacks back in November 2015 when a series of incidents saw 131 dead and 413 wounded. The UK itself faced 128 attacks between 2017 and 2020, resulting in 47 deaths and 320 wounded.
I fear we could see a return to these kinds of attacks soon. A former Hamas chief recently called for mobilisation of supporters around the world, stating: “To all scholars who teach jihad… to all who teach and learn, this is a moment for the application (of theories)”.
Western governments either need to clamp down hard on any show of support for Hamas and its genocidal beliefs or face the widespread consequences that will follow. One thing is clear – whatever we do, the War on Terrorism is far from over.
Image by Alisdare Hickson, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.