‘’The world is not very much aware to the fact that Shiite Iran and its Revolutionary Guards are controlling Sunni Al Qaeda. They became a tool into the hands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. They will use it in the future for state-sponsored terrorism and subversive activities, especially in the Middle East but also elsewhere,’’ said Prof. Boaz Ganor said.
‘’I do believe that counter-terrorism experts would definitively not been unemployed in the coming year. Under the assumption that the coronavirus pandemic would be contained, we are going to see a rise in the phenomenon of global and local terrorism? both jihadi and far-right terrorism,’’ said Prof.Boaz Ganor, Founder and Executive Director of the leading International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, Israel.
During an online briefing organized by Europe Israel Press Association, Ganor shared his vision of the ‘’changing trends and future concerns’’ of terrorism he believes Europeans need to consider.
Besides ‘’lone wolf’’ terrorist attacks (Vienna, Paris,Nice…), 2020 saw a decline in the capabilities of all the terrorist organizations, including Isis, due to the coronavirus crisis and its lockdowns which prevented the opening of crowded places, limited air travel and border crossing. ‘’All this led to a decrease in the level of terrorism, especially in Western countries,’’ said Ganor.
But in 202, if we believe that the sanitary situation will stabilize amid the vaccination campaign worldwide, global terrorism is expected to rise again, Isis terrorism in particular, said Ganor.
‘’For Isis, it’s very crucial to make an impact, especially now that they lost their territory, the caliphate. In fact they need to show that they exist, that they are strong and I think that they will be very interested in conducting a strategic terrorist attack. I don’t want to say something along the line of 9/11 but as biggest they can in order to send a message that ‘We are here and we are still active,’’ he added.
Another phenomenon mentioned by Ganor is the fact that Al Qaeda, which suffered also a huge decline in the last decade, is now seeing an opportunity to fill the vacuum created by the decrease of Isis.
‘’The world is not very much aware to the fact that Shiite Iran and its Revolutionary Guards are controlling Sunni Al Qaeda. They became a tool into the hands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. They will use it in the future for state-sponsored terrorism and subversive activities, especially in the Middle East but also elsewhere,’’ Ganor said.
‘’The assassination of an Al Qaeda chief in Tehran last year was not surprising to the intelligence community which has been tracking the development of this dangerous collaboration for 30 years,’’ wrote British reporter and Middle East expert Jake Wallis Simons in The Spectator, in a reference to the killing of terrorist group’s second-in-command Abu Hamad el Masri.
Boaz Ganor: ‘’For Iran these relations with Al Qaeda is very convenient. Because it gives them the ability to disassociate themselves from activities, from terrorist attacks that will be conducted by Al Qaeda in the future.It’s not a new phenomenon that Iran is supporting Sunni terrorist organization and not just Shiites. Of course they actually created and use them as marionettes, Hezbollah, which is a Shiite terrorist organisation but other such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian arena are tightly connected to Iran, getting support for many years and monitored by Iran.’’
”Looking ahead in 2021 and further, I think that we would see the rise of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism all over the world, including maybe be in Europe. Their capabilities are Shiite militias all over the Middle East, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Houthis in Yemen and Al Qaeda and of course Palestinian terrorist organizations. All these capabilities, in my view, in the coming years, will be used in order to pressure the new American administration to come as fast as possible and as weak as possible to a strategic discussion with Iran in order to renew the nuclear deal,’’ said Ganor.
‘’As Pompeo warned, Iranian logistical support may also enable Al Qaeda to enter Europe and set up new versions of the Hamburg cell, which played a key role in the 9/11 attacks,’’ writes Wallis Simons.
He believes that recent Israeli-Arab peace deals are causing Tehran and Al Qaeda’s interests to converge even more sharply. ‘’There is no doubt that this heightened Shia-Sunni collaboration is bad news. For the first time, jihadists look set to gain access to the full intelligence resources of a major nation state, to accomplish joint aims. This is nothing short of chilling,’’ he wrote.