This might also influence the Islamic State’s parent-organisation al-Qaeda to come up with similar devastating attacks in order to be back in the limelight after the former outstripped its global prominence. Equally worrisome is the sense of encouragement that must have been felt by various terror and disaffected groups, particularly in Af-Pak, Africa and Southeast Asia, which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
A Syrian passport being reportedly found near the body of a suicide bomber near the stadium will likely elicit reactions that link the refugee influx and such attacks. Simultaneously, untactful handling of this issue may cause large polarisation of the European society and that would aid the Islamic State. Beyond this, a graver issue that needs to be acknowledged is the real-time threats from the foreign fighters returning to their home-countries, the presence of highly-motivated lone-wolves, and that of home-grown jihadists. These elements are prevalent in the European context.
The kind of suicide bombings associated with West Asia (using suicide vest or ‘SVESTs’) is apparently introduced for the fist time in France, and this will trouble the security establishments.
Questions will also be raised about the possible presence of skilled professionals. The familiarity of the attackers with the terrain of their target-locations and the sophisticated nature of the entire episode suggests that this has been orchestrated in coordination with top-level leaders within Europe and those in Syria. The investigation into the role of a Belgian national goes with this proposition.
A connected issue is the nature of training the attackers might have received in the Islamic State camps which enabled them to sneak through high-level security arrangements. It is no secret that most of the outfit’s suicide bombers in the past were of foreign origins, and French recruits are no exception to this. Martyrdom remains important for these vengeful youths no matter how the attributed factors for the act are ridiculed. As long as there are networks assisting these people, their potential to create unrest should not be underestimated.
Considering the developments, every concerned country must take cognisance of the shifts in the strategy of the Islamic State and its operational capability. The apparent successes while striking in foreign territories within the last few weeks are the evidences of its maturation in executing attacks of such intensities and they might look for further overseas operations by putting in resources although this is unlikely immediately. This will, however, depend on how much they can accumulate wealth amidst the intensifying assaults on them in Syria and Iraq and on an uninterrupted flow of funds from their donors.
Another possible strategy reorientation is to build more robust coordination between the group and their supporters in different parts of the globe. The group’s charismatic leader had called on foreign fighters to stay at home and attack their enemies with brute force.
As of today, effective countermeasures to destroy the Islamic State are nowhere in sight as the policies are quite fragmented due to different vested interests of the actors and allies involved. Everything will remain mere rhetoric in the absence of consensus.
Meanwhile, non-Western countries, including India, which are under the isis radar, should start recalibrating their assessments on the changing tactics of this group, and should question themselves on the level of their preparedness to meet challenges in the wake of Paris attacks. This attack is a message as well as a lesson; how much we can learn is left to be seen.