The Latest Spat of Terror Attacks Threaten to Alter or Halt the Provision of Humanitarian Aid

On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, the headquarters of the humanitarian aid organization, Save the Children, was attacked by ISIS. The attack occurred in the city of Jalalabad located within Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. The official death toll currently sits at six and over twenty-five people were injured during the assault. The attack began with a suicide bombing outside of the organization’s headquarters destroying a van belonging to the organization. Following the bombing, gunmen stormed the headquarters building. The attack lasted a total of ten hours until the Afghani Security forces subdued the assailants. Four of the group’s employees were killed in the attack.

The attack was initially thought to be the work of the Taliban, but the Taliban denies responsibility. On Wednesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid insisted the bombing and assault were not carried out by the Taliban. (1) The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Jalalabad via the group’s news agency Amaq.

Following the attack, Save the Children announced that it would temporarily halt all operations in the country. Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children, responded to the attack on Wednesday saying, “We have temporarily suspended our operations across the country following today’s events, however, we remain fully committed to helping the most deprived children of Afghanistan.” (2) On Thursday, Carlos Carrazana, the Chief Operating Officer of Save the Children, assured observers that the organization would not be pulling out of Afghanistan.

The staff members of Save the Children are the latest victims of the evolving phenomena of extremist violence perpetrated upon humanitarian aid groups and NGOs. High-profile attacks upon aid groups burst into the public consciousness afresh in 2003 following a series of attacks upon the Red Cross and UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. At the time, such attacks were beyond the pale; this is no longer the case. Aid organizations are now well aware that they are targets and can become victims of extremist violence. While the media profile of attacks upon aid groups grew, so did public perceptions of their frequency and impact.

The number of documented violent attacks on NGOs rose sharply in 2013. According to the Aid Worker Security Report, 475 aid workers were the victims of violence in 2013. (3) While the profile and prominence of these attacks in media and news coverage remain large, it appears that the number of attacks and their efficacy is on the decline following the 2013 spike. In 2016, 288 Humanitarian aid workers were killed or injured in violent attacks. (3)

Zarghoona* is a 13 year-old girl, in grade 6 at school in Afghanistan. She has four brothers and four sisters. She has been receiving training in Child Focused Health Education (CFHE) from Save the Children. *name changed for protection (PRNewsfoto/Save the Children)

Save the Children’s decision to not conclude its operations in Afghanistan speaks to the dedication of the organization’s staff to its mission, but it might also expose a disconnect between the media narrative surrounding attacks on humanitarian aid organizations and NGOs, and reality as these organization’s see it. The number of attacks upon aid workers in 2016, when compared to the number of attacks carried out between 2008 and 2015, excluding 2013, is fairly consistent. The relative consistency of such attacks is even more striking when we consider the large spike in attacks carried out in 2013.

Any attack on humanitarian aid workers is an attack too many, however, the media frenzy associated with these sorts of events may hurt aid groups rather than help them. The larger a group’s profile may be, the more value there will be in attacking said group. In addition to increasing the profile and then vulnerability of aid groups, intensive media coverage of attacks may exacerbate difficulties attracting funding and recruits. Several aid groups have already begun to scale down their operations in Afghanistan, as the result of violence.  An outsized discussion of risk may further damage humanitarian efforts, hindering the provision of humanitarian aid. Nonetheless, humanitarian aid remains a significant tool in combatting extremism and radicalization.


  1. One dead and 14 injured after charity offices attacked in Afghanistan. (2018, January 24). Retrieved January 26, 2018
  2. Update on Attack at Save the Children in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (n.d.).
  3. Stoddard, A., Harmer, A., & Czwarno, M. (2017, August). Behind the attacks: A look at the perpetrators of violence against aid workers.
  1. ISIL claims attack on Save the Children in Jalalabad. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2018,
  2. Salahuddin, S. (2018, January 24). Islamic State attacks Save the Children charity in Afghanistan. Washington Post.
  3. Death Toll Rises to 6 In Save The Children Attack In Jalalabad. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2018
  4. Why are aid organizations increasingly targeted? (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2018,
  5. Ogwude, E. C. (2015). Twelve Years Later: Afghan Humanitarian Aid Workers on War on Terror (Ph.D.). Nova Southeastern University, United States — Florida.
  6. Thomas F. Lynch III (2015) After ISIS: Fully Reappraising U.S. Policy in Afghanistan, The Washington Quarterly, 38:2, 119-144, DOI: 10.1080/0163660X.2015.1064714

The More We Sweat in Peace, The Less We Bleed in War


The effects of War:

The political, sectarian, and ideological conflicts and civil wars taking place in the Middle East since the late 1990s have had devastating effects on social, psychological, and economic frontiers. These threaten to kill the aspirations of multitudes living in and around the conflict zones. These conflicts threaten society as a whole and put its very institutions at stake. The Middle East’s wars and conflicts cause many people in the region to live in despair. When war breaks out, state institutions are forced to close their doors to the citizenry, reduce jobs and services and lead to unemployment and an increase in poverty. This snowballs into more dire psychological consequences, negatively affecting minds and thoughts. A lack of funding and opportunities leads individuals to feel they are incapable of achieving their desired ambitions and goals. Not knowing when, how or even if a conflict will end leaves individuals intimidated and frightened of the future. The psychological pain that individuals endure as a result of recurring political, sectarian, ideological, and civil wars leave one with little choice but to consider leaving his or her childhood and school memories, relatives, friends, and even customs and traditions of his or her society he or she grew up in behind for other regions away from war to search for a more decent life. Family displacement and dispersion, the suffering of children and the deterioration of economic, social and political conditions all follow from war and conflict. Here are some other consequences:

  • Educators might be also forced to collect their belongings and flee when schools’ doors are closed due to war. Students lose access to more than education and role models they can emulate, they lose the desire to maintain their education.
  • War diminishes the effectiveness of law in keeping societal spectra organized and regulated. In light of the law’s weakness and ineffectiveness, criminality, looting, and theft all ensue. The consequence of such criminality is a deviation from social norms, social conduct and individual civilian behavior from a correct path consistent with historical traditions and customs aligned with ethical legislation and international systems.
  • Conflict and wars are major causes of the spread of deadly diseases such as Cholera among others. The international community has witnessed the spread of Cholera in Yemen beginning in 2016 due to a war whose roots political, civil and sectarian. Cholera spread rapidly through various cities due to the lack of safe, treated drinking water.
  • This video shows the impact of war on children:

The individual’s role in spreading a culture of peace in Middle Eastern societies:

Each individual plays an essential role in the development of society and its foundations. Each individual can be a source of energy and power for his or her society. When society sets the general goals and expected tasks that need to be achieved, it is the individual who implements them, participating in different activities to turn societal goals into reality. Every person in the Middle East, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian or non-believer in the Abrahamic religions, male or female, is directly and indirectly linked to the security and stability of the Middle East and the world as a whole. Each individual in the Middle East must realize that he or she has great responsibilities as regards improving and building their societies. Each individual in the Middle East must also realize that he or she is the maker and source of peace and that peace is initiated from within each individual. If an individual wants to get rid of the scourge of war, if the individual wants to prevent the poisons of conflict from paralyzing society’s development, if the individual wants peace to prevail in Middle Eastern societies, then he or she must first understand the principles of peaceful societies and cultures that serve as a foundations for human coexistence.

Freedom is one of the most important principles on which a culture of peace is based. Freedom is a central and a fundamental pillar of peace and coexistence between the members of a society. We must recognize and assert that “absolute” freedom does not exist in any society in the world. We only think “absolute” freedom exists. Because “absolute” freedom can also mean “absolute” chaos and “absolute” corruption and this is unacceptable. Freedom itself does exist, but it is restricted in accordance with the agreed upon limitations of society’s values, idea, and traditions. Freedom comes in many forms. The following are some forms of freedom: freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of the press, freedom to wear the clothing you like, etc. One of the most important freedoms that must be understood thoroughly and appreciated by the individual living in the Middle East is freedom of belief and religion.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the three monotheistic and Abrahamic religions that constitute an integral part of Middle Eastern history and culture. It is also worth mentioning that the three religions were born, so to say, in and around the Middle East. Although there are differences between these religions, many religious scholars conclude that the similarities between these religions are more numerous than the differences. This video explains how these three religions are connected to each other

Because the similarities outweigh the differences, each individual in the Middle East should appreciate and glorify those similarities to pave the way for tolerance and coexistence to in turn increase cooperation and harmony between Middle Eastern societies. Individuals must respect differences between the three religions to stop the bloodshed and avoid ideological and sectarian wars. Differences in beliefs and religion should not spoil people’s relations with each other and people should not seek to eliminate a party or side that disagree with their views.

Islam and the Freedom of Religion:

There are many verses from the Qur’an, the Islamic faith’s holy book, that show the importance of respect for others’ beliefs and religion.  The verses emphasize the importance of not interfering with other people’s affairs and of not forcibly imposing beliefs or religion on others. It is not the right of any person to interfere in the relationship of another person with his or her God. Everyone has the right to choose his or her own beliefs and religion. And everyone is responsible for his or her own actions. The following are some examples from the Qur’an:

“There is no compulsion in religion” The Cow: 256

“I do not worship what you worship, you do not worship what I worship, I will never worship what you worship, you will never worship what I worship, you have your religion and I have mine” The Disbelievers: 2-6

Human beings have no right to attack the beliefs of other people and the only one who can judge people is God. Human beings have the right to offer advice but without anger. Humans have the right to debate and support their arguments with proof and evidence in a calm and respectful manner. Humans have the right to express their opinions but without encroachment or assault on others. Humans do not have the right to force others to change their views and beliefs.

  • ({Prophet}, call people to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way) The Bee: 125

It is crucial that we interpret and understand the verses of any religious text very carefully to determine the intended meaning. Proper interpretation requires careful study and this is not always an easy task. People should strive to embody the greatest integrity when they interpret verses of a religious text.

Organizing events, seminars, discussions, and workshops:

In order to create an atmosphere of cooperation and peace among individuals in Middle Eastern societies, to enable the individual to develop his or her interpersonal skills, and to encourage the individual to actively engage in the development of his or her society, we should organize and coordinate events, seminars, discussions and workshops that bring together individuals from different Middle Eastern communities to address important topics and instill peaceful values, principles, and behavior within every individual. Some examples of constructive topics that can be addressed through workshops include:

  • Teamwork and team building
  • Self and time management
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Work ethics and behavior
  • The idea of peace and the role of the individual in achieving peace and tolerance
  • The idea of freedom and how to carefully use freedom to build society and not to destroy it

This is just an example that shows how an individual can use his or her time wisely to contribute to society instead of wasting time in initiating conflicts with other groups of people.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia taking security measures to prevent terrorist attacks during tournament

© Alexandr Sherbak/TASS

Every four years societies come together to watch and cheer at the largest sporting events on Earth, the FIFA World Cup. Thirty-two teams from across the globe will represent their nations and compete to be the last to lift the winner’s trophy. Russia will have the honor of hosting the World Cup this year. The international soccer tournament runs from June 14th until July 15th.

While the World Cup remains a time of celebration and national pride, the event poses significant terrorist concerns. Russia plans to host sixty-four games in eleven cities scattered across European Russia. Of these locations, three cities remain close to Russia’s North Caucasus region, a hotbed for Chechen separatism and Islamic fundamentalism. Other cities represent high-value targets for their cultural or political significance, most notably St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Image courtesy Human Rights Watch[1]

Russian citizens, like the rest of the world, have become accustomed to the possibility of terrorism in their daily lives. In April 2017, a terrorist detonated an explosive device in the St. Petersburg metro system. In 2014, just before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, two deadly attacks in Volgograd killed 34 people.[2] A review of Russia’s recent history shows concerted terrorist efforts to attack metro systems, passenger planes, and government representations. These targets will remain critical during the World Cup as fans from across the globe travel to attend games and visit Russian tourist attractions.

(Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press)

Russia has had recent success in hosting a major international tournament. The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics came off without any terrorist incidents. While their success is laudable, the 2018 World Cup is a much larger event. The Sochi games held a total attendance of three million people including those who attended concerts, theatre performances and exhibitions and more than four hundred thousand in attendance at the Olympic events themselves.[3] In comparison, the 2014 Brazil Cup included a total attendance of roughly three million people at the sixty-four games and more than five million attending local fan events and celebrations.[4] Additionally, while the Sochi games only occurred in one city, the 2018 World Cup will spread the Russian security apparatus across the county. This spreading of the security forces does not guarantee a terrorist attack will occur but does expose the possibilities of greater vulnerabilities for terrorist actors to slip through.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has discussed the required responsibilities in managing World Cup security. Lavrov stated, “Our ultimate priority is to ensure the maximum convenient and safe stay of players and fans in Russia. Russia’s law enforcement agencies are taking all the necessary steps in this direction.”[5]

Fighting terrorism remains a significant priority of the Putin presidency. Since his first term, Putin has sought to strengthen and reaffirm Russian presence on the world stage. By hosting notable international events, Russia hopes to demonstrate that it is a modern, bustling nation that is on equal footing with developed nations. The Russian government will seek to demonstrate that the 2018 World Cup is safe for international visitors and prevent any type of violence or terrorism from occurring. While Russia’s standing and relations with the rest of the world have fluctuated over the years, terrorism remains one front in which cooperation is possible with Europe and the United States to ensure a prosperous event.

Like any tournament, fans want to remember the events that occurred on the field, court, or pitch, not any acts of violence that shattered the spirit of the games. The 2018 Russian World Cup remains five months away. Russia has a significant task before it in assuring the safety of all international visitors. For their own national image as well as the safety of international fans, Russia will seek to rise to the challenge.

No state can guarantee 100% safety from terrorist actors who wish to maximize their message by targeting events that garner massive public awareness and notoriety. Large sporting events serve as appealing targets. Yet, fans of the game cannot let that dampen their spirits. If people start to allow terrorist actions to affect their lives and prevent the enjoyment of activities, then terrorists achieve their goal of creating disruption. So, go if you can, watch if you wish, but remember to enjoy the spectacle of some excellent soccer played out every four years.


[1] Human Rights Watch | 350 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10118-3299, USA | “Red Card | Exploitation of Construction Workers on World Cup Sites in Russia.” Human Rights Watch., last modified -06-14T00:00:01-04:00, accessed Jan 20, 2018,

[2] “A Timeline of Deadly Attacks in Russia.”. Los Angeles Times.

[3] International Olympic Committee. 2015. “Factsheet: Sochi 2014 Facts and Figures.”: 1-7.

[4] “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ in Numbers.”, last modified -09-23 09:36:00, accessed Jan 20, 2018,

[5] “Russia Makes all Efforts to Ensure Security at 2018 FIFA World Cup — Lavrov.” TASS., accessed Jan 20, 2018,


The International Community Questions Whether Pakistan can be Counted on to Combat Terrorism

The International Community Questions Whether Pakistan can be Counted on to Combat Terrorism

On January 16, 2018, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shahid Khaquan Abbasi, appeared on a program hosted by Pakistan’s GEOtv network and explained that Hafiz Saeed, the accused mastermind behind the infamous 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was released because he has no case in Pakistan. The Prime Minister’s statement sparked controversy amongst Pakistan’s citizens, neighboring nations including Afghanistan and India, and members of the international community. Pakistan has been the subject of much criticism from the international community. Many of the community’s members question Pakistan’s commitment to combating terror.

Hafiz Saeed is the founder of Jamat ud-Dawa. Jamat ud-Dawa is thought to be an affiliate of the well-known terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat ud-Dawa are credited with carrying out the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

NEW DELHI: Mumbai attacks mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed has filed a petition in the United Nations, asking his name to be struck off from the list of global list of designated terrorists.

Hafiz Saeed and the Mumbai Attacks

On November 27, 2008, 166 people were killed in a series of terror attacks in Mumbai, India. On December 12, 2008 Pakistani authorities initiated a country-wide crackdown on Jamat ud-Dawa, one of the groups believed to have orchestrated the attacks. Saeed was captured during the crackdown and placed under house arrest. Pakistani authorities have held and released Saeed multiple times following the 2008 attack. Saeed was released from house arrest this November, following the Lahore High Court’s review of his charges. Saeed was being held on house arrest under the Maintenance of Public Order Law. The governments of both India and the United States requested that Saeed be held and charged with the 2008 attacks.

Saeed’s release was met with condemnation from Pakistan’s neighbors, international observers, and the United States. Saeed’s release is significant and threatens the tenuous security balance within Central and South Asia as well as Pakistan’s status as a partner in the global effort to combat terrorism.

The Indo-Pakistani relationship is one wracked with difficulty and enmity. Since the founding of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it and the Republic of India have repeatedly engaged in direct combat and proxy warfare. The largest contributing factor to the ongoing tension between the two nations is the status of the Jammu-Kashmir territory. Both India and Pakistan assert claims over the region. Jammu-Kashmir is home to many extremist and separatist groups. India has long accused Pakistan of using these groups as proxies in Pakistan’s war on the Indian state. The 2008 Mumbai attacks attributed to such proxies further exacerbated the tense relationship between India and Pakistan.

International Condemnation

The decision of the Lahore High Court, to release Saeed, incensed the Indian leadership. The Indian foreign ministry voiced its frustration with the decision of the court. The Pakistani Prime Minister’s January 16, 2018 statement, meant to assuage worries and calm tensions, will likely have little impact on the perceptions of India’s leadership.  

India is not the only country outraged by the release of Saeed. Afghanistan, which shares a border with Pakistan, was also upset by the court’s decision. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry told TOLOnews, “the move by Pakistan’s Interior Ministry shows that Islamabad supports terrorists-Pakistan supports terrorist groups” (1)

The United States responded to Saeed’s release with condemnation. During a press briefing on November 25, 2017, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee-Sanders asserted that, “Saeed’s release, after Pakistan’s failure to prosecute or charge him, sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan’s commitment to combating international terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil.” (2) The efforts of the Pakistani state to combat extremism have received criticism from US observers and policy makers for some time. The discovery of Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad deeply damaged the relationship between the two nations. US President Donald Trump voiced his concerns regarding Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terror and threatened to end security aid on January 1, 2018. This month the administration acted upon its threats ending nearly 900 million dollars in security assistance funding to Pakistan.

Damage Control

The government of Pakistan has not shied from addressing the controversy, and has taken steps to assuage the concerns of Pakistan’s citizens and partners. Pakistan’s Interior Ministry shared the name of 72 terror groups with its citizens informing its citizens that they are not to cooperate with these groups or they will face prosecution.

The events of this month lend credence to those accusing Pakistan of neglecting its commitment and responsibility to tackle extremism and terror. It remains to be seen how or if the loss of US security funding will impact Pakistan’s will to combat terror. What is known, is that the seriousness of the Pakistani commitment to combating terror is in question and that Pakistan will have to produce results if it is to mend its reputation as an anti-terror state.


  4. Javaid, Umbreen and Marium Kamal. “The Mumbai Terror ‘2008’ and Its Impact on the Indo-Pak Relations.” South Asian Studies (1026-678X), vol. 28, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 25-37.


A Dangerous Method:  Zurich University Study Exemplifies Double-Edged Sword of Migration Policy in Europe

Researchers at Zurich University of Applied Sciences have released data linking a rise in criminality in Germany to teenage migrants, thereby sparking a larger conversation about the conditions immigrants and asylum-seekers face.

Conducted in Lower- Saxony, Germany, a densely populated area in which 745,185 of its 8 million residents do not have German citizenship, the study called Teenagers as Perpetrators and Victims (originally Jugendliche und Flüchtlinge als Täter und Opfer) indicated that the overall percentage of crimes had increased by 10.4% by the end of 2016[1]. While that information alone is not necessarily problematic, it states that 92.1% of these criminal cases are linked to immigrants[2]. The study comprehensively breaks down several areas of criminality and links them to potential causes and contributing factors like lack of community engagement, violent social norms, parental involvement, or even radicalization[3].

Increasingly popular extreme right-wing parties have linked immigrants to crime long before this study had been released. While most people saw the connection as incidental at best, this government-funded study could add legitimacy to parties that before were dismissed as “extremist”. It is evident that the migration crisis of 2015 and 2016 has impacted Europe, and the world, deeply. Chancellor Angela Merkel is still struggling politically with her decision to leave borders open in August of 2015, and European Commission President Juncker made migration policy and proper burden-sharing a major item on the European Union’s agenda. This study has the potential to influence large policy changes, especially now that the German government is discussing changing its policies regarding family reunification and asylum applications[4].

Despite its potential political influence, the link between migrants and criminality is indicative of a much larger issue among newcomers– and especially refugees. This study offers exact facts, dates, and graphs, but also sheds light on what happens to populations that are left without proper community involvement, education, and a sense of inclusion.

The researchers Christian Pfeiffer, Dirk Baier, and Soeren Kliem found that over half of the violent crimes were committed by young immigrant males and that these populations face serious problems that are not obvious at first glance[5]. A lack of integration and engagement can lead to more than just criminality, it can also lead to radicalization. The researchers did, however, find a concrete way that the government and communities could improve conditions: Education.

Language courses, community involvement, and professional training are some of the things that could help make newcomers more integrated and help youth build stronger ties to their communities. Education is key for German natives as well– since right-wing nativist parties like the Alternative fuer Deutschland benefit largely from uniformed and frightened populations. An open flow of information could ease hostility and prevent further prejudice and conflict.


This study, while having been conducted in Germany,  alludes to a much bigger picture: similar results have been found in the Netherlands, France, Austria, Italy, and other countries in Europe. It has already sparked a larger discourse, or perhaps a call to action, about the conditions and the treatment of newcomers to various European countries. Despite being a double-edged sword because of the possibility of it reinforcing anti-immigrant, anti-refugee or anti-Islam sentiments, this study is powerful because it also offers a voice to the next generation in which insufficient investment has been made.

A graphic published by the German Federal Statistical Office in 2015[6]


[1] Pfeiffer, Christian & Baier, Dirk & Kliem, Sören. (2018). Zur Entwicklung der Gewalt in Deutschland. Schwerpunkte: Jugendliche und Flüchtlinge als Täter und Opfer.

[2] Pfeiffer, Christian & Baier, Dirk & Kliem, Sören. (2018). Zur Entwicklung der Gewalt in Deutschland. Schwerpunkte: Jugendliche und Flüchtlinge als Täter und Opfer.

[3] Germany Must Come to Terms With Refugee Crime. (2018, January 3). Retrieved from

[4] German would-be coalition partners plan 1,000/month cap to family reun. (2018, January 12). Reuters. Retrieved from

[5]Pfeiffer, Christian & Baier, Dirk & Kliem, Sören. (2018). Zur Entwicklung der Gewalt in Deutschland. Schwerpunkte: Jugendliche und Flüchtlinge als Täter und Opfer.

[6] Karte: Statistiken zu Ausländern und Schutzsuchenden (Flüchtlingen) – Statistisches Bundesamt (Destatis).. Retrieved January 16, 2018, from