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9-11 anniversary

Joel Gulhane, MENA analyst at the security intelligence firm Dragonfly, assesses that while Western nations are safer, terrorist groups in parts of the Middle East and Africa continue to flourish.

He says: “The events of 11 September 2001 exposed gaps in the capabilities of intelligence agencies, with the 9/11 commission critical of intelligence sharing across the US government and with foreign governments. In response existing alliances through groups such as Five Eyes, or bilaterally with key allies, were strengthened and have successfully countered terrorist threats. For example, intelligence shared by Saudi Arabia was a key in foiling an attempted bombing of cargo planes bound for the US in 2010.

“While these efforts have made Western countries safer, large parts of the Middle East, and North and Sub-Saharan Africa, are now more dangerous places. Military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali together with the instability of states across these regions fostered conditions in which terrorist groups and insurgencies have flourished.

“Although some jihadist militants remain highly intent on mounting large scale attacks in the US and Europe, they would struggle to organise and conduct an attack on the scale of 9/11. Nonetheless, terrorist groups are continuously innovating methods of attack and leveraging new communication channels to avoid detection, such as free-to-access encrypted messaging services.

“Governments will probably be on alert in the coming week or so. The anniversary would be an opportune moment to mount an attack, and 9/11-related propaganda is frequently used by Al-Qaeda as a means to inspire people to take violent action.”

“The Taliban’s control of Afghanistan presents another opportunity for Al-Qaeda to rebuild its networks with the ultimate aim of mounting spectacular, long-range complex attacks in the West. However, if past such attacks and plots are any guide, it would probably take a few years for this kind of threat to materialise.”

Yesterday Dragonfly hosted a webinar, ‘Global jihadism: The 9/11 anniversary and beyond’.

US President Joe Biden has proclaimed September 11, 2021, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. He called on all federal departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff in honour of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.


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