Monsters with an insatiable blood-thirst or rebels with a cause? Mindless robots on a killing spree or humans fighting for greater good? Most importantly, patriots or terrorists?
The above questions have, perhaps, posed a dilemma to numerous debaters and popped up as a topic to think about deeply in discussions of importance. Yet, one cannot deny that terrorists, ‘noble’ or otherwise, have caused an unthinkable amount of suffering wherever they have set their devious schemes afoot. Ranging from genocides to making governments crumble to air raids and a lot more, terrorists around the world have massacred millions in the name of religion and so called ‘glory’. While the sheer weight they carry is enough to strike terror in people’s hearts, their actions have achieved far more than just that! Out of all the numerous terrorist groups operating in various ill-fated corners of the world, following are the most lethal ones present.
10. IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY
A revolutionary organization in Ireland, it was formed out of the Irish Volunteers (founded in 1913). The IRA was responsible for waging a war of independence against the British in the period 1919-21. The entire war of independence was an extremely brutal affair and there were heavy casualties on either side. Having been trained as a guerilla unit, the IRA was skilled in quick attacks and ambushes. With an end to the war, the Anglo-Irish treaty was signed that resulted in a split within the IRA- those that supported the treaty came to be known as the Irish National Army and the rest remained affiliated to the IRA. A civil war followed as an inevitable result of the rift and the IRA lost it. Ever since, the group has remained in existence with the sole intention of overthrowing the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland in order to achieve the dream of Irish Republic. The IRA have been responsible for numerous car bombings and assassinations (including the assassination of Lord Mountbatten in 1979).
Deriving its name from the village of its origin, Naxalbari, in West Bengal, the Naxalites are mostly associated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) or the CPI-M. At present, states like Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkand, Andhra Pradesh have also fallen victim to the growth of this group. Their origin lies in a violent uprising that was led by Kanu Sanyal in 1967 to redistribute land to the landless. Their efforts were spurred on by Mao Zedong, the then chairman of the Communist Party of China, who said that the Naxalites should overthrow the government and upper class people by force. In the post-1970 era, the Naxal movement had gained a significant impetus, so much so that students from reputed colleges in Calcutta were dropping out of college in order to join the movement. Their aim was to assassinate individuals of great power and incite a civil war. In the year of 1971, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had launched Operation Steeplechase (of which the Indian Army was a part) which resulted in the killing of numerous Naxalites and imprisonment of even more. At present, though reduced in number, the Naxalites still continue to operate, killing policemen, civilians and security personnel. They had been branded by Dr. Manmohan Singh as the “biggest threat to national security”.
8. BOKO HARAM
A militant Islamist group in Nigeria, this group is known to receive funding from Al-Qaeda. Extremely vocal about their intolerance towards western education, Boko Haram had recently been in the news for the abduction of around 200 Nigerian girls. Boko Haram literally means “western education is sin”. Boko Haram has been alleged to have on their hands a 5000-civilians kill number between 2009 and 2014. Boko Haram, originally founded as a Sunni Islamic group, have been advocating the extremely intolerant Sharia law in places of their stronghold. Threatening to overthrow the government, which they as becoming extremely open to the western culture, Boko Haram is known to spread terror by killing people who indulge in non-islamic practices, eg drink alcohol. The founder of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, had said in an interview that the theory about the Earth being round should be rejected as it had been propagated by the west. An incapability on the Nigerian government’s part to deal with their growing militancy, Boko Haram has also been responsible for bombing the UN headquarters in Abuja in June, 2011.
Forças Armadas Revolucionárias da Colômbia or FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was formed in the 1960s. They claim to be an army of peasant Marxist-Leninists with an ulterior motive of anti-imperialism. Kidnapping, extortion, illegal mining are regular activities of FARC. The government of Colombia recognizes FARC as a terrorist organization along with many other North American, Latin American and European governments. In 1962, the Colombian government, acting on US findings, had mobilized groups of civilians to work in cooperation with the army in countering the threat posed by FARC. This was Plan Lazo that had been set into motion by then Special Warfare commander, William P. Yarborough. In 2002 it was found out that the IRA and FARC had an understanding in between them- the IRA had received almost $2 million, resulting from drug trafficking, from FARC. FARC has been attributed with numerous killings, bombings and assassinations in Colombia and have been tagged as one of the world’s largest drug trafficking organizations in the world. Although at present they are not as violently active as they once were, FARC still remains a threat to Colombian security (as had been
A Shia’ist militant group based in Lebanon, they are considered to be more powerful than the Lebanese army. Founded by Muslim clerics (speared by Ayatollah Khomeini) the Hezbollah was founded mainly to counter Israeli occupation of Lebanon (1982). Their objective was well defined in that they wanted to expel any sort of western presence (especially American) from Lebanon, along with western allies. Hezbollah is known to receive training and funding from Iran and is also backed by Syria. The 1983 bombings on the US Embassy in Lebanon, the Lebanon hostage crisis from 1982 to 1992, the London Israeli Embassy attack in 1994, the AC flight 901 attack in 1994 in Panama, and many many more terrorist activities have been credited to this terrorist group.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a Sunni jihadist group based in the Middle-East. With an aspiration to mobilize the majority of the Muslim population under its control, the ISIS has their stronghold in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, etc. Alleged to have committed acts of great atrocity and blatant human rights violation, the ISIS has grown significantly in the last few years and is currently known to have almost 80,000 fighters in its ranks in Iraq and Syria together. In numerous raids by the ISIS civilians, including kids, have been killed. They are known for their near-inhuman treatment of civilians which includes open-firing on civilians. The ISIS has not been foreign to allegations of sexual violence either. Their recent actions have prompted USA, UK, Germany and many other countries to launch various operations aimed at infiltrating their ranks and combating their growing insurgence.
Also known as the Tehrik I Taliban Pakistan, it forms a part of the various Islamist groups that are active in the Afghan border in Pakistan. Their objectives include overthrowing the Pakistani government, battling the NATO forces in Afghanistan and enforcing the Sharia law. Led by Maulana Fazlullah, the TTP is not directly affiliated with the Taliban (in Afghanistan). The 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt was an alleged undertaking of the TTP. The TTP has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks that include suicide bombings, bombing of UN offices in Pakistan, attacks in naval and army stations of Pakistan, etc.
One of the most notorious groups operating presently, the Lashkar-e-Toiba is most infamous for the Mumbai attacks on the 26th of November, 2008. It was responsible for the deaths of numerous civilians and it left the nation scarred. Alleged links to the secret service of Pakistan, the ISI, had resulted in a blatant breach of sovereignty (although the Pakistani government disowned any involvement). The 2001 attack on the Parliament of India was also carried out by the same group. With an objective to introduce an Islamist state in South Asia, the Lashkar-e-Toiba has also vowed to liberate Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir. They have also been known to use children, aged 13-14, from impoverished sections of the society to spread their terror activities. Bombings in Delhi (2005), bombings in Varanasi (2006), the Mumbai train bombings (2006) and numerous other activities have been carried out by LeT. What is even more shocking is that Saudi Arabia is an alleged sponsor of this group.
The Afghan chapter of the Taliban, known simply as the Taliban, are omnipresent in illicit activities. Ranging from drug trafficking to human trafficking, extortion,etc. they have an annual revenue of almost $400 million annually. An Islamist fundamental group in Afghanistan, Mohammed Omar is the founding member and has been the spiritual leader ever since its inception in 1994. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York was carried out by the Taliban. The Taliban has its origins in the struggle against the Soviet that the US carried out on Afghan soil. The Taliban was mobilized by the USA (and trained by ISI) in order to liberate Afghanistan from the clutches of the Soviet Union. Alleged to have been the perpetrator to some of the most heinous human rights violations (ranging from ethnic cleansing, raping women, etc) in Afghanistan (while in power) the Taliban are certainly one of the most deadly terror groups in the world at present.
Founded by Osama Bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and other militants, the al-Qaeda’s objective is to unite the Muslims across the world in global jihad and a strict interpretation of the Sharia law. The al-Qaeda is a Wahhabi organization. The al-Qaeda had a role to play in the Spetember 11 attacks, the 1998 US embassy bombings and the 2002 Bali bombings. Although the death of Osama Bin Laden has proven to be a setback to their operations, they are still the deadliest among all such groups in the world. Their characteristic way of carrying out missions is to employ suicide bombers or execute suicide missions. Their attacks are also known to be sectarian in nature. The Ashoura massacre and the April 2007 Baghdad bombings are testimony to that fact. The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was also carried out by al-Qaeda. They are known to be extremely influential and have been alleged to own several aircrafts including Boeing 727s and executive jets.