On the 23rd March, it was announced that the territorial Islamic State caliphate in Syria had been defeated. However, it is clear that, after the emergence of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi just days ago in his first video appearance since 2014, the struggle for peace is not over. In a full circle, the so-called Islamic State group have lost swathes of land and are becoming once more an ideological insurgency group.

Despite the hope that this defeat might spark global change, terrorism and violence still plague the world. Even since the declaration of victory over the caliphate, a shocking 111 horriffic incidents have taken place, including the catastrophic Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Sri Lanka against Christians, and Poway, California’s Passover Synagogue shooting. Earlier, in March, Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand were attacked in a Mosque, with 50 killed.

In just these three examples, peaceful and ordinary followers of three major world religions have been murdered and families have emerged with sickening experiences of human barbarism. Thousands of years of social and technological advances have passed, violence and hatred have not died down – if anything, expressed more readily thanks to instant communication. This is worrying as we wonder whether the War on Terror can ever be won.

It is hard to imagine a world without terrorism, especially as it has close to never existed, with examples as far back as the 1st Century CE. However, the utopian vision of a violence-free world troubles the minds of many in the world today. The general public usually have no intention for mindless war, pain and suffering, yet are often the most subject to it. There is no doubt that, if we could live in harmony, the planet would be ultimately improved as we could focus on other humanitarian problems with a united approach, such as poverty and climate change. Nonetheless, it seems that no progression or evolution can remove the stain of evil.

Perhaps terrorism continues because of its perceived success amongst those who practice it. The fear of terrorism has rampaged globally since the 9/11 attacks, and many new groups have exploited these fears through countless attacks across the world. A recent study of 45 violent and 45 non-violent political organisations by international relationships scholar, John A. Tures (@JohnTures), showed that “when it comes to achieving broader strategic goals… terrorists usually fail.” This implies that the only victory for violent extremists is ideological – unfortunately also suggesting that the legacy of Daesh will survive. 

Realistically, there is no end in sight for terrorism. The caliphate has fallen in the Middle East, but the inherent corruption of humankind has not. Will we have to keep dreaming of a safe, harmonious world? In order not to, there must be some vast changes to our society.