The threat of terrorism has been around in many parts of the world for generations. In fact, the concept of terrorism dates back to the late eighteenth century following the Reign of Terror in France. Since then, a number of terrorist organizations have existed with the intention of not only killing others but also instilling a sense of politically or ideologically-motivated fear.
Today there are a number of dangerous and hostile terrorist organizations that originate from different parts of the world. These include many organizations that have spread to cover many bases well outside where they originated from.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
Regardless of what people call it, the Islamic State of Iraq and its surrounding regions, particularly Syria, has quickly become a critical threat to many Western countries. Formerly known as a part of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the organization formed in 1999 as a group devoted to waging a holy war, or jihad, on those outside the Muslim faith. It recently declared a new caliphate and called on Muslims to migrate and join its jihad against its enemies.
The organization engaged in many suicide attacks during the Iraqi insurgency that came after the American invasion of the country in 2003. The total membership within the group has expanded to include more than 80,000 fighters within Iraq and Syria. The organization has engaged in many acts of terror against civilians and have even engaged in some acts of sexual violence. The assorted videos of Islamic State members beheading captives have especially created a sense of concern.
The organization has spread to include many bases all over the Middle East and has even evolved to where people from within the United States have volunteered to be a part of the group. American and British forces have engaged in military actions to weaken the organization and destroy its operations and resources.
The Boko Haram terror group is an Islamist terror group based out of Nigeria. The organization promotes a form of the Islamic faith that states that it is forbidden, or “haram,” for Muslims to participate in any activity relating to Western society.
The organization states that Nigeria is run by people who do not believe in its values and has resisted British influence. The organization, which has been in operation since 2002, was originally focused on opposing Western education. It would not be until 2009 when Boko Haram started military operations to establish its own Islamic state.
The group has engaged in many attacks on police stations and government-related properties around Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Boko Haram has also originated many attacks in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, going so far as to attack the UN and police headquarters in the city.
The most noteworthy attack by Boko Haram came in 2014 when it abducted more than two hundred girls who were studying in the Borno state. The group planned to use the girls as slaves and eventually sell them off as brides. It is estimated that Boko Haram has more than two thousand children in its possession. In addition, at least six thousand people have been killed by the group’s violence since 2011.
The biggest problem with stopping the terror group is that the Nigerian government has not done much to create a proper education system that supports the Muslim population nor has the country been trying to resolve its ongoing poverty crisis.
The Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahidin militant group, or al-Shabaab as it is better known, originated out of Somalia in 2006. The organization particularly focuses much of its work on the southern and central parts of Somalia. The group has engaged in guerrilla warfare with the Somali government and various aid organizations.
The group committed a number of suicide bombings in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and has especially targeted a number of government officials in the country. The organization has spread many of its activities into other countries around Africa. The most noteworthy attack committed by al-Shabaab was at the Westgate Mall in Nariobi in 2013. The attack killed 67 people and led to a large siege at that mall that went on for days. It was also behind an attack at Garissa University in Kenya that led to the deaths of 147 people.
There are about seven to nine thousand people in al-Shabaab right now. The group was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 and Kismayo in 2012 but it continues to hold control of much of Somalia’s southern and central areas.
It also operates with an extremely strict form of the Sharia law. This includes extreme punishments for people who oppose the law, most notably women being stoned to death if they are accused of adultery.
The Taliban terror organization is not as strong as it was in the 1990s but it continues to be a serious threat to the world. Originally formed in 1994, the organization focuses heavily on actions around Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was established as a Sunni Islam group that focuses on creating a state that operates under an extreme form of the Sharia law. It has particularly ruled residents in the region with an extreme sense of control, outlawing various forms of entertainment and even banning girls ten years of age or older from going to school.
The Taliban took over much of the region in 1995, starting with the Herat province near Iran. The group eventually took over a majority of Afghanistan by the end of the decade. The group particularly housed a number of al-Qaeda-based groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan around the turn of the century. It particularly provided the group with a safe base to reside in to plan and carry out the 2001 terror attacks on the United States. In 2001, American military forces removed the Taliban from power within the region.
However, the Taliban continues to operate as its own separate group and is currently engaging in acts of terror around the Middle East. It does not have a particular set destination but it has proven itself to be a dangerous organization over time. It continues to install roadside bombs around the area with the intention of fighting Afghan and NATO-led forces.
It is unclear as to how many Taliban members are operating but it’s estimated that there are at least 5,000 members in operation right now. A majority of them are in Afghanistan and Pakistan although there are concerns about people from other parts of the world holding cells with the group. Mohammad Omar, the founder of the organization, continues to be at large. The government has issued a reward of $10 million to anyone who captures him or has information that could lead to his capture.
al-Nusrah Front was formed in 2011 and quickly became one of the most prominent jihadist groups in Syria. It originally came out from the al-Qaeda group in Iraq.
The organization quickly rose to prominence after a suicide bombing in the Damascus district in 2012 that killed 26 people. The organization is looking to overtake Syria and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state.
The organization has particularly grown in popularity since 2013. This came after the United States opted not to get into the ongoing conflicts within Syria.
There are about six thousand members in al-Nusrah Front. The organization is also separate from the Islamic State or ISIS group. The organization has also garnered a large amount of support from other groups that oppose Syria’s current rule following the United States’ designation of al-Nusrah Front as a terrorist organization.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is a terror group that has been in operation since 1964. Although it has not been as strong as it was back when it was supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union, there are still nearly ten thousand members in this group.
The group was originally formed as a Marxist-Leninist group dedicated to the opposition of Colombia’s government. The group has engaged in a number of kidnapping plots over the years and particularly uses child soldiers. It has also engaged in many forced abortions of women in the country.
FARC has evolved to continue to threaten Colombia’s national security and has engaged in many illegal trading and mining activities with other countries in South America and elsewhere to support terror-related activities. It takes in millions of dollars each day on illegal drug transportation and sale services. The group also continues to take in hostages from many parts of the world.
FARC has also been known to engage in many terror attacks around South America with a majority of them going against soldiers, officers and other people of high ranking within the continent.
There are about eight thousand members of FARC as of 2010. Efforts are being made to curb FARC’s influence in South America as the current FARC base is half the size of what it was in 2000. Its influence today has spread to much of the country’s eastern borders. These include borders with Brazil and Venezuela.
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army has existed in various forms since 1917. The organization is devoted to Irish republicanism. This is a belief that all parts of Ireland should be declared as an independent republic. The organization is not as strong as it used to be but it continues to create several threats.
The IRA established a war for independence against British forces not long after it was formed. A large part of the IRA split off after the war with the remaining members being ones who opposed the official treaty that put an end to the conflict. Today the group continues to operate with the intention of overtaking the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The goal is to unique the two parts of the island into one Irish republic.
The organization continues to engage in a number of car bombings, assassinations and other activities around the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. A large number of these attacks have taken place in the city of Belfast. The organization was responsible for the assassination of Lord Mountbattern in 1979. It also fought in the Troubles, a thirty-year affair between the IRA and various state security forces operated by both Ireland and the United Kingdom.
It is estimated that there are more than a thousand people still associated with the IRA. The organization had engaged in a temporary ceasefire as there was a sense of dispute within the organization’s ranks but the group has continued to engage in acts of terror and has been doing so since 2011.
People who travel into Belfast are encouraged to avoid suspicious areas and to protect their vehicles as car bombs are not unusual around the region as the IRA continues to try and fight for the region.