To terrorists, it’s just ‘one country’: Hong Kong and ISIL/Daesh

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China has picked a side and is against ISIL, aka Daesh. Evan Wilcox is sceptical that terrorists are concerned about the finer points of 1C2S, meaning Hong Kong could be a valid target. 

Photo: Chief Executive CY Leung attends vigil for victims of the Paris terrorist attack. (Consulate General of France Facebook page)

The recent events in Paris, Lebanon and the Sinai Peninsula indicate clearly that ISIS/Daesh are now committed to terrorism outside the borders of Syria and Iraq. Despite what some may say, Daesh has a strong desire to bringing its twisted and morbid form of ‘’government’’ to peaceful countries such as France, Russia and parts of China (Xinjiang).

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the recent terror attacks is the amount of security in place before the attacks. In the case of Paris more than 2,000 French soldiers were patrolling the city before the attacks happened. In the case of the Metrojet bombing, the terror group managed to smuggle a bomb onto a plane, a tactic thought to be eradicated in the early 1990’s.

Though chances of dying in a terror attack are much lower than many ordinary daily tasks, many societies have learned attacks have a strong psychological effect that can have a deep impact on a society.

For China its position as a global power and an ardent anti-ISIS force has put it in the cross hairs of ISIS – perhaps along with Hong Kong.

China is in this

There have been two watershed moments for China in its fight against ISIS/Daesh: the legions of The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) fighters from Xinjiang joining ISIS and the recent execution of Fan Jinghui, a 50-year old consultant from Beijing. In light of these atrocities Xi Jingping has vowed (again) to join with other countries serious about defeating terrorism where it lives (along with Russia and France). Xi’s government is signalling its concern the returning and radicalised ETIM fighters could soon cause havoc inside of China itself.

Despite what some delusional individuals in Hong Kong may think, Hong Kong and China are in fact part of the same country – The People’s Republic of China – in law, in reality, and in the minds of most people of the world, including terrorists. And if China does start to carry out combat missions against Daesh targets, then China and Hong Kong will become fair game in the eyes of ISIS/Daesh. Depending on Daesh operatives, or fanatics inspired by Daesh, to have a deep understanding of the nuances of ‘one country, two systems’ is wishful thinking at best.

Hong Kong and China, together

Should the two entities join forces to protect its borders? Yes. How? That is a more difficult question to answer.

As seen with the attacks in Paris, the threat is not only refugees fleeing a war zone, but citizens returning from the battlefield radicalized and prepared to wage war in their own homeland. With hundreds of Chinese citizens now fighting alongside of Daesh, border security should now be considered extremely important to Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to identify anyone who could be considered a threat.

Cooperate and blacklist

Beijing and Hong Kong’s respective immigration departments should (if they are already not doing so) share intelligence on any Chinese national suspected of travelling to the warzones and turn said individual over to the necessary authorities if caught trying to enter Hong Kong (or China) legally or illegally. In addition, secondary screening should be conducted on anyone who has travelled to conflict areas such as Syria, Iraq and Libya. Hong Kong security could take a page out of Israel’s book by conducting stricter security checks on anyone placed on a predetermined checklist in order to mitigate potential terrorist threats. It’s not nice, nor is it ‘PC’, but it is effective.

Terrorism has no borders; dealing with it is not nice. It’s messy and dirty. Though some Hong Kong citizens will shudder at the thought at increased cooperation with Beijing, those same citizens should know that it is a better alternative than what took place in Paris.