Tackling Terrorism : An Alternative Strategy
Terrorism, a global phenomenon, has become over a number of years the topic of ceaseless comment, debate, controversy, and search for roots and motives, and it figures on top of the national and international agenda. It is also at present one of the most highly emotionally charged topics of public debate, though quite why this should be the case is not entirely clear, because the overwhelming majority of participants do not sympathize with terrorism.
Terrorism and its connections with Political Islam have caught fire at the International level Since September 11, 2001. Whether in Sep. 11 attack on WTC; Oct. 12, 2002 blast in Bali and again on Oct. 1, 2005; and the consequent blasts at Madrid on March 11, 2004; Sep. 1, 2004 terror at Beslan, Russia and series blasts that rocked the great city of London on July 7 and July 22, 2005, attack on the ISRO scientists conference in Bangalore, the Varanasi blast that left 20 dead, last year serial blasts in Mumbai that left 200 dead and 700 injured were preceded by a string of explosions at Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir that left 8 dead and 30 wounded; recent London-Glasgow terror plot and recent Jai[ur blasts in all these incidents the Islamic fundamentalists’ involvement was an unblemished truth. The role of goreign hand was also strong in all these incidents.
By attacking Mumbai, the city of commoners, in the year 2006, the terrorists have proclaimed a war against India’s civil society and questioned the integration of the country. This war, Jihad, against India did not begin on July 11, 2006. It began in 711. That was the year when the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus sent two expeditions in Sindh and Baluchistan against the Mohyal Monarch of Sindh, King Dahir. Those attacks no doubt were foiled, but Arabs reappeared next year, under Mohammed bin Kasim and King Dahir was killed in a deadly combat1.
Terrorists attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iraq does not figured in this list, because it becomes a regular feature in the life of the civilians. Though, the USA declared “War against Terror” and the developments until the latest terrorists attack in Amman, Banglore, Varanasi, Mumbai, London serial Train blasts and recent attack on Glasgow Airport had suggests that the efforts to combating Terrorism has not produced any impressive results.
Al-Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalist outfits, with upsurge, extending their terror network by recruiting young people into their organizations. While analyzing the terrorist attacks, a surprising profile has emerged. Many attackers were not driven out by poverty or ignorance, but by a lethal mix of nationalism, zealotry and humiliation. Many were young, middle class and educated. “Unlike the September 11 attacks and most other terrorist incidents around the world, the London bombings in the year 2006 and London-Glasgow terror plot, were done by Muslim raised, educated and living in the UK, and willing to kill fellow Britans in the name of Islam”2.
The parents of at least one of the July 2005 bombers confessed that they had no clue of what their son was up to. This is of course true of many modern parents, irrespective of the religion to which they belong, who are surprised by the deviant behaviour of their children. There is information that one of the bombers had suddenly become extremely religious, and this did not arouse his parents’ curiosity. From the evidence so far available, anger against the war in Iraq seems to have motivated the terrorists, especially in the Glasgow Airport plot. If the profile of past terror cells is a guide, cultural alienation and experiences of racism may also have played a role3.
Some writers believed that this is a prominent characteristic of the U.K’s Muslim community. Most of the parents in their 50s are immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or India, who had come into the country two or three decades ago seeking enhancement of their economic status. Some of them had succeeded in this objective, while the others had improved their lot marginally. Overall, they were a contented lot, with no major complaint against the existing social order. Their children, however, have other ideas about British society. A majority of them believe that their plight was miserable, and this was because of gross racial discrimination. This feeling of neglect and injustice has led to desperation in some of them, and a search for succor has led them on to Bin Laden, whom they consider their saviour.
After 7/7 terror in London YouGov Polling firm interviewed 526 Muslim adults across Great Britain online during July 15-22, 2005 weighing the data to reflect the British Muslim population’s age, gender, and countries of origin. The survey found that 1 per cent of them, or “about 16,000 individuals, declared themselves willing, possibly even eager, to embrace violence” in the effort to bring an end to “decadent and immoral” western society. Further, the survey identified about 6 per cent of Muslims justified the 7/7 bombing attacks in London4.
The Daily Telegraph commissioned survey of attitudes with in the UK Muslim population is one that may be superficial, but it does convey some hard truths. While an overwhelming majority of Muslims in the country condemned the blast. One third of those who were asked stated that they considered Western society as “decadent and immoral”. A few did not disfavour the resort to violence to change this social order. The findings are nevertheless a pointer to the conflict within the community; between a majority who feel that the UK is their home and a substantial number, especially in the younger age-bracket, who feel they are aliens5.
Several polls and studies conducted since 1981 have confirmed that the persistence of negative stereotypes of Arabs/Muslims among the majority of Americans. Michael Suleiman, who has written extensively on this topic, concluded that “Many Americans tend to see Arabs/Muslims as either extremely wealthy and immoral or as Bedouins who are indistinguishable from the deserts they inhabit6.
Five national polls conducted in the 1990s found that a plurality of Americans believed that “Muslims tend to be religious fanatics”, and that Islam is “basically an anti-democratic religion”. In other words, Islam was seen by many Americans as a hostile culture and a threat to their interests and cultural values7.
In the aftermath of London Blasts attack against Muslims, in Britain, has increased six times higher than the normal circumstances. For instance, within hours of the attack, 30,000 abusive and threatening e-mails were sent to the web site of the Muslim council of Britain and the fear of anti-Muslim violence was so acute that the Islamic Human Rights Commission advised the London Muslims to stay indoors 8. The expected backlash from Right Wing extremists has begun in the aftermath of blasts. Mosques in northern England have been targeted, others have received bomb threats, and several people of “Asian” appearance have been subject to racist attacks.
Within a day of London Blasts 2005, the then Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, has observed that the “Shoddy Perversion” of Islam, caused by hatred of the western way of life and freedom, had driven a small minority of Muslims to turn to terrorism. Less than a week after terrorists struck London, on July 7, four alleged suicide bombers were identified-three of Pakistani origin, born and brought up in Britain and sons of respectable and hardworking immigrant families from Pakistan Settled in Leeds, West Yorkshine. It is important to note that all the three had reportedly visited Pakistan and attended “Madrassas” where, it is suspected, that they were “brainwashed”9. It was an established truth that Pakistan and Afghanistan have been the recruiting ground for holy wars waged in so many parts of the globe since the late 1980s.
The report which published in the Times of India, has also revealed that, the British agency has traced the origins of 7/7 back to a terrorist training camp in northern Pakistan, which was visited by the ringleader of the London suicide bombers as far back as the summer of 2003 10. Though, Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, in the wake of 9/11, 13/12, announced his commitment to tackling on the fundamentalists but the ground reality has not changed drastically except few “reformed” Madrassas.
After the Parliament House attack, in India on December 13, 2001, the leaders and Hundreds of followers of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e- Mohammad were arrested, their offices in different parts of Pakistan were raided and shut down, and their assets were frozen. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was ordered to withdraw its support to Pakistani based militant outfits operating in Kashmir. However, within months they had to be set free as authorities did not file any substantial charges against them.
Pakistan’s prestigious English monthly Herald ran cover story days before the London carnage on the revival of terrorist camps in the country. It quoted an unidentified top manager of the training camp in Mansehra, saying that all the major organizations, including the Hizbul Mujahideen, Al-Bardr Mujahideen and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, had begun regrouping in April and renovating training facilities that were deserted in 2004. The magazine said that atleast 13 major camps in the Mansehra region were revived during the first week of May. These are located in the areas of Pano, Dheri, Jallo, Sufaida, Oghi, Khewari, Jabba, Batrasi, Naradoga, Akherilla, Hisari, Boil, Tanglaee and Achherian 11.
Jihad in India
Pakistan’s support to Terrorists organizations, especially the LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad and Jamaat-ud-Daawa, was an established fact by the media and through various reports. The Jamaat-ud-Daawa, a renamed version of the LeT, operates freely in Pakistan under the guise of a charity organization. Its headquarters is situated at near by Lahore. Though, the group claimed that it has no connection with LeT, and it was now involved only in “social service”. But after the earthquake in Pakistan, April 2006, the US state department put this “NGO” on its specially designated Global terrorist list. The same as LeT and that it also had links with the Al-Qaeda.
Praveen Swami in his recent report quoted atleast more than hundred Jammu and Kashmir men have come back from Jihad training camps in Pakistan, and thousand more are waiting to come back to Jammu and Kashmir. While interrogating with the people, who have come back to Jammu and Kashmir, they says “most of our leaders were from the Jamaat-e-Islami and their main interest was in killing leaders of the National Conference and Congress. They do not want freedom; they wanted power and wealth”.
Earlier in the month of July 2007, the CBI secured the conviction of several members of an Islamist cell led by Maulana Sufiyan Patangia – a Tablighi Jamaat preacher who used to run in the Walliullah seminary in old city Ahmedabad’s Kalupur area. Patangia is thought to have recruited cadre for the LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad after the 2002 communal pogrom in Gujarat. According to the CBI, the preacher played a key role in organizing the assassination of one-time Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya12.
Investigations into the 2006 serial bombings in Mumbai showed that the ISI planned and executed serial blast through terrorist organizations LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which in turn used the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and their own modules, Police Commissioner of Mumbai, D.N.Roy told the media13.
The Red Mosque operation, aiming to eliminate the terrorist inside the Mosque, was another recent example for how Pakistan allowed its territory to use the Terrorist group into to its training ground. It is significant to note that, Rafiq Ullah, a 14 year old youth from Pakistan, who was sent to carry out a suicide attack on the Governor, in Afghanistan, was detained by the Police in Kabul. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai strongly criticized some ‘Madarassas’ in Pakistan for teaching violent extremism.
American President Bush, while speaking to its citizens, has outlined the strategy to combat terrorism and identified the goals of the terrorists. The ideology that drives terrorists to kill indiscriminately was clearly focused by the resident. “Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism,” he said. With greater economic, military and political power the terrorists are confident that they would be able to achieve their stated agenda:
i) Develop Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
ii) Destroy Israel;
iii) Intimidate Europe;
iv) Assault the American people; and
v) Blackmail the U.S government into isolation
vi) Creating a Dar-ul-Islam
The aim of Islamists is to create a Dar-ul-Islam or the Land of Islam for Islamists with a global vision. Firstly, ending western influence in the Muslim world. Second, gaining control of Muslim Governments and finally establishing “a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia14, where Islamic Orthodoxy would be enforced. Further, analysts, especially Daniel Pipes, left speculation about the motives of terrorists. An intention to change the international policy can be seen as a motive: pulling “a Madrid” and getting governments to withdraw their troops from Iraq; convincing Americans to leave Saudi Arabia; ending American support for Israel; pressurising New Delhi to cede control of all Kashmir. In nearly all cases, the Jihadi terrorists have a patently self-evident ambition: to establish a world dominated by Muslims, Islam, and Islamic law, the Sharia15. As London’s Daily Telegraph cited their, terrorists, “real projects is the extension of the Islamic Territory across the globe, and the establishment of a worldwide ‘caliphate’ founded on Shari’a Law”. A biography of one of the most influential islamist thinkers of recent times and an influence on Osama Bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam declared that his life “revolved around a single goal, namely the establishment of Allah’s Rule on earth” and restoring the caliphate 16.
What is Needed?
Since Sep. 11 2001 the USA, has launched “war against terrorism”. Initially the USA attacked Afghanistan, then Iraq and next could be Iran but they journey has not stopped. After 6 years of experience, learning from the past, the present war against Jihadis (or) Islamic fundamentalist outfits has proved unsuccessful as this effort failed to prevent terrorist activities at the international level, finally the American government started to focus its attention towards (or) trying to promote a non-radical interpretation of Islam. In other words, the greatest danger, at present, is not Al Qaeda (or) Lashkar-e-Taiba but “highly politicized form of radical Islam”. Now the American government has been spending millions to change the very face of Islam. The root cause of Terrorism is not poverty or U.S. Foreign Policy, but a compelling political ideology. Many terrorists arrested were educated and not driven by poverty or unemployment, but by radical Islamic ideology.
The present goal should be not to fight against Jihadis but to change essentially the face of Islam as well as and modernize the Muslim society. The war against Al-Qaeda (or) Lashka-e-Taiba would not produce any permanent results but will result in temporary stand off. What is needed? The focus should be on to promote moderate Islam. In this connection Washington has quietly funded Islamic radio and TV shows, coursework in Muslim schools, Muslim think and tanks, political workshop, or other programs that promotes to moderate Islam. Further, this fund has also going to restore Mosque, save ancient Korans, even build Islamic schools. This effort, to promote radical Islam, is active in at least 24 countries.
Madarassas or Islamic schools are the particular concern. They need to be reform urgently in order to prevent the next generation of Jihadis (or) terrorists. In the 7/7 blasts four allegedly suicide bombers were reportedly visited Pakistan and attended “Madarassas”, where, it is suspected, they were “brainwashed”.
In Pakistan, US funds go discreetly to third parties to train Madarassa teachers to add practical subjects (mathematics, science, and health) on their curriculum, as well as civic classes. A ‘model Madarassah” program that may eventually include more than a thousand schools is also now underway.
In the Horn of Africa (defined by the Pentagon as Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen), the US Military finds out where Islamists plan to start a Madarassah, then builds a public school in direct competition with it. In Uganda, the U.S. embassy has signed three grant awards to fund the construction of three elementary-level Madarassahs. Further funds for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has nearly tripled, to more than billion and of this, more than half goes to the Muslim world. American government funding, among other programmes, has reached to the Arabic-Language Radio Sawa and Alkurva television 17. In this situation moderate Islam has lost its voice and importance among the Islamic society.
The ultimate goal is not to disarming Al-Qaeda (or) any other Islamic fundamentalist outfits but a diffuse global Militant Islamic ideology. Targeting the ideology, rather than disarming (or) dismantling the Jihadis, would be the best way of combating terrorism. And this will be the one of the lasting solution for global menace terrorism.
1. Walter Laqueur “The Terrorism to Come”, Policy Review, Aug. & Sep. 2004.p.49; Balbir K.Punj, “From 711 to 7/11”, Indian Express, July 19, 2006.p.8; Deccan Chronicle, October 1, 2005. 10.
2. Deccan Chronicle, September 3, 2005.
3. The Hindu, July 6, 2007.p.10.
4. Daniel Pipes, “British Opinion Surveys from an Islamist Hell”, Front pagemagazine. Com.
5. R.K.Ragavan, “Probing the British Muslim”, Frontline, August 26, 2005.p.108.
6. Michael W.Suleiman, The Arabs in the Mind of America, Brattleboro, VT: Aman Books, 1988. p.147.
7. Fawaz A. Gerges, America and Political Islam. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999. pp.7-8.
8. Frontline, July 29, 2005. p.126.
9. Frontline, August 12, 2005. p.47.
10. Times of India, January 23, 2006. p.16.
11. Frontline, August 12, 2005. pp.48-49.
12. Praveen Sami, The Hindu, July 8, 2007.
13. The Hindu, October 1, 2006.p.1.
14. Bush Outlines U.S. Strategy against Terrorism the White house, Office of the Press Secretary, October 28, 2005.
15. Daniel Pipes, “Bush Declares war on Radical Islam”, New York Sun, October”, 2005.
16. Daniel Pipes, “What do the Terrorists want?, New York Sun, July 26, 2005.
17. Daniel Pipes, Washington Finally Gets its on Radical Islam, Front Pagemagaine.com.
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