Climate change has provided an opportunity for terrorist groups to raise funds, propagandize and recruit by allowing them to exploit extreme weather events to step into the gaps left by governments unable to provide humanitarian relief often in remote locations, the 10th edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has warned.
A report based on the index released by Sydney-headquartered think-tank Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) on Tuesday underlined there is no straightforward correlation between a country or region experiencing climate change impacts and terrorism.
It cited non-governmental organisation Germanwatch’s Long-Term Climate Risk Index (2000-19) of countries most affected by climate-related extreme events. The report noted it features both countries experiencing significant terrorism-related challenges including the Philippines, Mozambique, Bangladesh, and Pakistan as well as countries such as Haiti, the Bahamas, and Nepal, where terrorism is a minimal issue.
“…in Pakistan, Jamaat-ud-Dawa – the then front organisation of terrorist group Lashkar-e Taiba – provided significant humanitarian relief in the wake of devastating floods in 2010,” the report said.
Laskhar was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 175 people dead.
The report said terrorist organisations attempt to channel grievances against the government into violent action. “Of the 830 million people facing food insecurity globally, 58 per cent live in the 20 countries most affected by terrorism. Many of the countries most affected by terrorism are also the most vulnerable in terms of the availability of water.’
The report said many countries face severe ecological changes, which are more likely to exist in conflict settings and intersect with terrorism. “While the relationship between terrorism and ecological threats has been largely underexplored, it is recognised that a relationship exists between ecological threats, climate change and peacefulness.”
The report said while ecological threats are not the single cause of terrorism, they are a threat multiplier, able to destabilise society and create an environment that terrorist groups can exploit and thrive in. “Additionally, the interplay between ecological threats and socio-economic dynamics may lead a country into a vicious cycle of progressively greater adversity. Ecological threats interact and converge with other existing risks, as well as state weaknesses and pressures, a context which can increase the likelihood of fragility or terrorism.”
The report said turmoil that arises after a catastrophe creates or exacerbates vulnerabilities within a state, which terrorist groups might exploit. “Pre-existing vulnerabilities, both political and societal, largely determine the extent to which a country can recover from the shock of a natural disaster. Disasters also expose governments to greater scrutiny and can exacerbate pre-existing divisions. As such, a government’s ability to provide security and maintain control in disaster-afflicted areas can suffer significantly in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Food insecurity acts as both a consequence and a driver of instability.”