Iyoha John Darlington
There have been terror attacks here and there which are still ongoing. Is there any country on earth that has never experienced any terror-linked attack? I doubt! These attacks have always resulted in a monumental loss of human lives and property. Governments the world over are increasingly becoming helpless and frustrated as to the mechanism to employ that would stand toe to toe with these vermin whose only language the world understands is destruction to advance or propagate their retrogressive ideologies. Be that as it may we must first identify the root causes of terrorism to enable us know how to effectively tackle the menace.
Since the destruction of the twin towers in New York, USA, concerted efforts have been made to investigate the cause of that ill-conceived attack on the World Trade Centre by the George Bush administration. President Obama has also not relented in his effort in this regard. This has led to beefing up security within the United States and extending the same beyond their territorial borders. America, without doubt, stands out today as the most advanced nation on earth and in that capacity has employed all means to ensure that the bitter experience of 9/11 is never relived throughout the length and breath of the world’s most powerful country. It is a thousand pities that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism, America in her military skill, dominance and prowess in war which is second to none would have long rooted out terrorism from their land and export same to the rest of the world in her resolute pursuit of global peace and security.
Long after the historic 9/11 attack on US soil, there have also been other terror-linked attacks in the United States calling to mind the botched attempt by a certain man to detonate a shoe bomb aboard American Airlines Flight 63 on December 23, 2001. In September the following year, six Yemeni-Americans were swooped on by US security operatives for providing material support for al-Qaeda. The above-named, the writer has it on good authority, also ran a terrorist cell somewhere in Buffalo, USA. What would have destroyed and adversely affected world trade was the unsuccessful terror plot on key financial institutions namely, the New York Stock Exchange, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Citigroup Centre in 2004. As luck would have it these attacks were foiled. . Another terror plot was foiled in 2010 when a young man of Nigerian extraction went to Yemen and got radicalised who on return attempted to blow up an American Airliner over Detroit on Christmas day. There have been many other terror plots in post-9/11, United States targeting Western especially American interests all over the world.
Here in Western Europe there have been many terrorist attacks before the sensational assault on Charlie Hebdo in the French capital of Paris last year which claimed many lives. Taking a cursory glance at Terrorism Database in Europe the following countries namely Britain, Switzerland, Spain, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Belgium have fallen prey to terror-linked attacks with Spain hard-hit calling to mind the Madrid train blast in May 2004. London tube and bus bombings also reportedly claimed many lives.
Further glance at Global Terrorism Database has more to tell us about terror attacks as of 2014 in other countries around the world namely Australia, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen , Somalia, Cameroon, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Nigeria. From the foregoing there is no restating the obvious that terrorism has become a global problem out to annihilate mankind.
What has terrorism cost the world if one may ask? There is no denying the fact it has set the world back in terms of human and huge material resources, many countries economies have been destroyed, people have been killed and property worth billions of dollars destroyed with many lives still on the line if allowed to rage unabated. 9/11 terror attack remains the largest ever in US history where over 2,996 people were killed at one blow excluding the 19 hijackers. In Nigeria, West Africa, many lives and property have been destroyed in the north-eastern flank of the country by Islamist Jihadists who are fighting to actualized a sovereign Islamic state, a move being fiercely resisted by the country’s military. Over 20,000 people, reports say, have been killed since the Jihadist insurgency began years ago.
In Iraq, terror attacks resulting in flight from the country via migration have indeed changed the country’s demography. Large-scale destruction of human lives has continued with undiminished intensity via terror attacks since the US-led armed invasion of the country years ago. Syria has been fighting a civil war from which a dreaded Islamist terror group eventually emerged – the ISIS- which has been unleashing terror on the people in the region and beyond. In Somalia the al-Shabab another dreaded Islamist sect has been fighting for God-knows-why: Reports say the latter together with Boko Haram in Nigeria has pledged allegiance to ISIS. Into what danger would this further lead the world?
At this juncture, let us carefully identify the root causes of terrorism. Cultural globalization transmits ideas and values around the globe. The circulation of cultural values across national borders doubtless remains one of the root causes which is often frowned upon and consequently sparks off resistance especially when this is fundamentally opposed to the tenets of their religious beliefs and practices.
Secondly, false doctrines and teachings in places of worship should equally be frowned upon. This is the pivot on which most terror plots and attacks rotate. Many people are often led astray by the cloudy and ambiguous nature of some theological philosophies. False doctrines bring about extremism and fanaticism. In many places of worship, for instance, the contents of the Holy Writ are often misinterpreted to suit a particular sect’s selfish interest and in consequence of this the followers imbibe and hold extreme views and this often gets them radicalized and see people of other religious faith as objects of destruction. The writer has repeatedly heard on the grapevine that Islamist Jihadists are told in the event of death while fighting in the cause of Allah one secures or is guaranteed a one-way ticket to Paradise, There is an urgent need for this falsehood to be debunked by respected Islamic clerics via enlightenment lectures, seminars and discussions because here is the place where young men and women who have barely enough to eat to keep body and soul together are often indoctrinated and recruited to execute their heinous crimes after money changes hands. Hence, governments must draw up poverty alleviation programmes to effectively combat or reduce poverty to its barest minimum.
Unemployment reduces people to pawns in the hands of terrorists and it is one social problem that materials must be committed to fight to a standstill. An idle mind , they often say, is the devil’s workshop. When people are busy with their jobs and earning money to better their lots the propensity for violence would be killed, that way terrorists would fail in a bid to enlist their help to commit violent crimes all in the name of religious extremism.
Ignorance is ruinous and has cost civilization a great deal. When people are uninformed they believe hook, line and sinker whatever they are told. That is why governments the world over should endeavour to provide education to rescue people from the pit of ignorance. People ought to be educated to get them well informed. A person born without knowledge and, therefore a tabula rasa is likely to fall prey to false indoctrination and more likely to consent to be blown to bits by a deadly volley of canisters or other powerful explosives.
Dastardly acts are chosen or resorted to by the aggrieved in a bid to right what is perceived to be a social , political or historical wrong in the face of agonising deprivations, denials and the like. For instance, when stripped of one’s land , rights or totally denied of these, it is seen by the victim as injustice who then resorts to all means including terrorist acts to get one’s pound of flesh. Hence, injustice in all life’s forms should be consistently denounced. Terrorist masterminds are often of the belief that violence or the threat of violence will be an effective tool to usher in change. Many terrorists opined that violence remains the product of long deliberations. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) had no option but to bomb British targets in the 80s because of the annexation of their land. In a similar vein, British interests were targeted in the 1930s by the Zionists in a bid to create a Jewish state. In the early 90s Osama Bin Ladin declared war on American interests throughout the globe resulting from the presence of American troops in the royal kingdom of Saudi Arabia which negates the kind of Islamic State he thinks and feels that should exist in the Arabian peninsula. In the Orient, Uighur Separatists who are Muslims have been giving the regime in communist China sleepless nights. They use the religious repression in the country to justify their terrorist tactics.
Corruption creates certain conditions that are favourable for terrorism. In a nutshell, corruption provokes terrorist acts. Misappropriation of government funds by political leaders in third world nations via embezzlement often creates hardship for the people. Leaders of these countries resort to all means to get rich quickly and in so doing embark on reckless spending of public funds. We see an ostentatious display of wealth by money stolen from the public till thus reducing their subjects to thrive in dirty and dirty surroundings. While their subjects’ children remain dwarfed for life in public schools, for instance, theirs are trained overseas to continue the legacy of internal apartheid. These ought not to be after all!
Tackling the increasing threat of global terror is a collective responsibility. The campaign must start from places of worship to deradicalise some religious faithful who have been brainwashed by terror masterminds. Governments have a pivotal role to play in this by retaining the services of clerics to educate adherents on the dangers inherent in being stuffed with false doctrines, belief and religious practices.
Much work should be done in terms of intelligence and information gathering seeing that we are fighting a faceless platoon of radicalised homo sapiens. This entails the infiltration of the civil populace by informers and undercover police officers to both detect and foil terrorist acts.
We must stop arming the terrorists. Some countries have been caught red-handed in state sponsorship of terrorism. This is one of the dangers that has continued to put the terrorists’ swords over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles. There should be an arms embargo on rogue nations around the world. Countries caught in such acts should be sanctioned and have their leaders removed from office. On the world stage, working with like-minded nations will deny further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists by ensuring that other states accept their responsibilities to take action against these international threats within their sovereign territory. This, however, requires the co-operation of all countries.
Grievances that give birth to separatist feelings and aspirations should never be swept under the carpet while the aggrieved within a distinct polity are left to rot in a sense of conquest and permanent subjugation. Attempts should be made to listen to grievances and lasting solutions quickly proffered. As we speak with one voice against terrorism it must be constantly borne in mind political violence must be expected and on no account should terror masterminds be tolerated anywhere under the sun who employ modern technology and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to wreck havoc on civilized society.
All in all, the whole world must unite against their leadership, their command centres, finances, communications and control to make them ”fly an ordinary pitch”, if I may quote a hackneyed line from Shakespare.
Iyoha John Darlington, a social activist, political analyst, an opinion leader and public commentator on national and global issues lives in Turin, Italy.