Recently I became a member of a secret anti – violence group in Facebook. Thinking about violence, I have to admit, as human beings we are capable of myriad forms of violence both against humanity and nature, ranging from domestic violence and animal abuse all the way to terrorism, holocaust and genocide. However, as the current global focus is on terrorism, I too shall not deviate from it, although I firmly believe that by all means poverty is the most severe form of violence against humanity. It is also one of the prominent catalysts behind many other forms of violence. Moreover, poverty plays a key role in the rise of disillusionment among the third world youths, who can then be brainwashed and recruited by different terrorist organizations as well.



Before delving further into the realm of terrorists and terrorism, let me exempt one form of violence and bloodshed from the other destructive kinds mentioned earlier. It is the violence that ensues from a collective action against imperial occupation or invasion, i.e. wars of independence in Vietnam or Chechnya and rebellions against extinction such as the Native American revolt in the face of westward expansion by the US government, among many others. History has an avid thirst for blood when it has to press forward and start the next chapter for humankind. These tides of change are often borne by collective actions from the afflicted populace. Unfortunately though, in today’s world of political and economic globalization, often these collective actions are taken hold of and abused by psychopaths or corporations for individual gains and/or vendettas. Before most of the activists in these cases realize it, their collective action has sired a terrorist organization by getting involved in crimes against humanity. A very recent example would be the atrocities committed by pro – Russian rebels in east Ukraine.



This trend of collective actions getting hijacked by vested interest groups for unsustainable gains is, as it should be, a growing concern too. We need not look any further than the amazing Arab Spring for yet another sad example of the said trend. Beginning in Tunisia, the movement was hijacked as soon as it entered the bordering Coloneldom of Egypt. From there it started submitting more and more to the will of these global gamblers as it spread to Libya and Syria with more internationally vested interests due to their natural resources and political connections. In the end Egypt reverted back to yet another Army backed government, Libya erupted in a civil war and Syria is on any top ten lists that deal with possible reasons for the start of World War 3. The only successful legacy Arab Spring has managed to leave in its wake is in Tunisia with a better constitution that facilitates individual liberty and enhances women’s rights.



Now, we all know that there are as many counter terrorism units as there are terrorist organizations but training and deploying reaper units is not the way to fight against a poisonous-fruit bearing tree. It will bloom again in the next season. Yes I know this method is economically more gainful since the fertilizer industry can keep on producing. The equipment and weapons industries can also boom from the need of equipping the reapers as well as any who might want to defend the tree’s right to blossom and fruition, for the sake of production.



To further illustrate the vulnerability of the popular counter terrorism methods, let us examine two of the most used techniques to fight terrorists. One of these techniques is carried out through drone and other forms of strike, both aerial and ground based, to eliminate influential leaders and training sites, the other is when a terrorist attack takes place, achieved through direct confrontation. Here we must remember that like any society, a terrorist organization is also roughly divided into three classes. At the top are the strategists and the patrons. Below them is the midlevel and we would mostly find terrorists with specific skill sets in this level. Some are experts in brainwashing and work as recruiters. Some with expertise on explosives while others with martial training or planning or carrying out attacks. Of course none of the later ones in that list would be possible except the scouts for carrying out reconnaissance. Finally the third tier is made up of the new recruits, who despite being brainwashed to some extent, has not become enough of a zealot to be trusted with higher responsibilities mentioned above. This class also contains the target group, mostly disillusioned youths ready to be brainwashed and abused.



Now back to our dissection of the techniques used in counter terrorism. The first technique is condemnable solely from the resulting amount of unintended civilian casualties. Moreover, even if theoretically the technique did wipe out the top echelon of a terrorist organization, we are left with the entire midlevel and the probability of one of the lieutenants to take control of the proceedings, possibly with an even more bizarre and radicalized strategy. Even worse is the possibility of a fractionalization between armed terrorists from the resulting power vacuum. The second technique is even more futile as it deals solely with midlevel operatives, creating precedents for the responsible terrorist organization to use for brainwashing more possible recruits.



So how can we do it? The answer is easier said than done but to fight such a tree we have to attack at its root, at the bottom most level of new and possible recruits. I have seen enough research and studies on the web to know that illiteracy and poverty have already been identified as two of the most prominent reasons for the existence of this class of youth that can be and more often than not are brainwashed and abused. No wonder we do not see even the Islamist terrorist organizations to wage war to ensure Zakat, a form of mandatory annual charity in Islam, designed to alleviate poverty or to ensure literacy, one of the fundamental duties of each and every follower of Islam. Because literacy and lack of poverty will cut off the very roots the tree is thriving on. However, economic growth is a controversial issue and has many conflicting interpretations worldwide. But education or literacy has no such stains; so, what we need are massive constructive reforms in the education sector, especially regarding the content, quality and interpretations found in existing religious education.



Therefore, I believe creating think – tank organizations to oversee religious education should work more effectively and sustainably to fight terrorism than the creation of more gun – wielding Special Forces or economy – sabotaging sanctions and laws. In the end, any act of terrorism is an act of terrorism, regardless of the uniform, insignia or means used by the assailants to carry out the act.


34 thoughts on “Counter – Terrorism

  1. This is well said, Amit. I hope you will consider joining our collaborative poem #POETSFORPEACE hosted on forgottenMeadows. Just paste your words into the comments of her “Calling All Poets …” post. The actual poem not a link or ping back.
    Whether you decide to contribute or not, your words here, and you, are appreciated.
    Thanks for following my blog too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The thing is, that all religions are based on peace and love, forgiveness, charity, love thy neighbour, thou shalt not kill etc. All very laudable, but all of them sanction war, killing, oppression of women (and I include the pro-lifers in that) when it suits them. I believe that one of the most fiercely defended rights in the US constitution is the right to bear arms and to kill to defend one’s property. Science, philosophy, art and literature have progressed despite religions, not because of them.
    Everyone has the right to express their beliefs and convictions, but I don’t think that because you can find a reference to something in the Bible or the Koran or any other religious text, that this is a reason to make it law. If a woman accepts to stay cloistered at home with a veil over her head, if someone persists in believing that the earth is flat, or that the dinosaurs never existed, that’s their choice. I just don’t want to see these kind of religious affectations foisted onto the entire population, and like it or not, they are part of the package if you accept to take a religion as the benchmark for how we organize society.
    We’ll probably just have to agree to disagree, since I don’t see the fundamental rightness of religious belief.

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  3. I haven’t finished reading yet but your first paragraph about poverty got to me. I read a book recently about evil. It seems a community that believes that poverty causes violence is more apt to raise a society that reacts to poverty with violence. It seems if we give people excuses for violence they rise to our expectations. We also have to define poverty—I think poverty of the mind is the big problem. If we believe we are just creatures without a divine spark then there’s really no moral reason to be peaceful. Morality is just what some quaint folks believe in. Truth is what you think it is. Violence is just a feeling.

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    1. but you know how the framework of consumerism points out that economic growth is the key factor towards happiness… so the lack of such growth can cause widespread dissatisfaction that can be used by the recruiters to fabricate issues like the economic stagnation is caused by the west/capitalism and/or a lack of fundamentalism in religious beliefs. btw, I did not say that poverty causes violence, what I said was, poverty is the worst form of violence against humankind. one more thing though, it is very hard to remain civilized without the existence of a bare minimum food security, and that is poverty in my book.

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      1. Before capitalism people still wanted things, amassed wealth, etc. American capitalism for a long while produced a very large middle class, but as with all things corruption sets in. Sigh.

        I would argue that poverty of the heart is what leads to physical poverty and all other forms of violence. Also, in my travels I’ve found some people who are better off spiritually even though they live in tin huts than some people living more comfortably. This is not to say poor people are spiritually superior. Humans can choose not to be enslaved mentally even if their physical surroundings are awful–and even if they are surrounded by wealth. No one avoids suffering–or death.

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  4. Amit you seem to have a lot of knowledge about this subject … I’m an ignorant bystander but my understanding is that most are recruited online … net access assumes some literacy and means to have www contact?
    And sure poverty, religious extremists, etc may contribute but one Muslim lawyer/media man here claims most recruitment and fear stems from hatred. What I’ve read/researched also claims hatred to be the most useful propaganda tool for both sides! That very recent killing in the cafe was carried out by well educated middle class people … HATE is a deep and nasty emotion making those who hate ugly inside and out!
    I sincerely believe terrorists come from a varied background and cannot be neatly lumped into a heap of illiterate povos. Less bigotry and more equatable care would go a long way to resolving current tensions?

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    1. what you say my dear is partly true. the café attackers were all middle class academically certified youths. but my point is academic certification is not enlightenment. think of Zawahiri, he is said to be a scholar from Al Azhar university. I meant to say we need more humanitarian education that emphasizes more on the similarities among humankind than the divisions. yes, hatred is the prime provocateur but where do these hatreds come from… most are from perceived inequalities between the developed and developing nations. and most importantly, a truly enlightened person cannot succumb to hatred, bigotry, chaos or violence and are less susceptible towards accepting misinterpretations of religion and heritage.

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      1. Glad that you have defined “more humanitarian” education – most education as in the 3 Rs, etc do not help people to personally develop, to deal with their emotions, conflict, etc. This is the education we all need – to develop our own inner ethics and therefore not be so susceptible to propaganda from anyone … westerners, religions, etc so many do propaganda very well! Detecting that is a real key to balance.

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  5. I know I won’t make any friends here, but I firmly believe that until we can shut the big multinational religions out of politics and social debate, until we start to act like human beings and not as card-carrying members of a particular self-righteous club, we will never have peace or equality, alleviate poverty and all the other forms of discrimination. We have had thousands of years of kow-towing to religious authority, it’s time the humanists had a turn.

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    1. you sound cordial enough … may be you will consider me a friend.. I agree with you, religion is and needs to be a personal affair… it should have no place in political debates… and I am all for humanists too but people keep saying not in our lifetime 😦

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      1. I already do consider you a friend 🙂 People say ‘not in our lifetime’ for everything that you have to fight for. It’s just so tragic to see whole populations oppressed by figments of their imagination.

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    2. I guess I wonder what you mean by acting like human beings–we are already doing that. Humanity is flawed and no amount of think-tanking or counter terrorism units will solve the basic problem of bankruptcy of the heart. Self-righteousness goes far beyond religion–it’s seen in every group of people on earth whether they are Muslim, Christian, Atheist or writer. Pride and lack of forgiveness are the roots of evil. (Yet some people don’t believe in evil). Tough times we live in, indeed. I will say after a careful reading of the Bible that nowhere in it does Jesus applaud self-righteousness.

      I am ashamed of American foreign policy but see it as only a blip on the historical timeline of brutality and pride…

      Peace to you Jane!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suppose by humanity I mean by showing the same sort of respect to fellow members of the species that many animal groups seem to manage. I know you don’t have to be religious to be self-righteous, but it is used as an excuse for all sorts of appalling behaviour. My point isn’t that religious people are any worse than anyone else, simply that religious belief should have no weight on the social scene. It’s a belief, personal and private, and as such should only influence the way an individual behaves and not an entire state. Taliban ISIS, Pro-Life commandos, they all think they have a God-given right to impose their firmly held beliefs on those who believe in something completely different. We can do better than that.

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        1. I think the idea that religion has no place in public thought makes little sense. Not everyone is fanatical. If we say that religious people have no right discussing things with other people on the social scene we walk a very dangerous line. Who gets to decide who is allowed to speak up? Governments are always informed by the values of the people. Are only viewpoints from individuals who profess no religious beliefs valid?

          The American Declaration of Independence was based on the religious thinking of our founders. It was assumed that Western civ was built on the Judeo christian value system–which has produced some of the most profound thinkers on morality and virtue the world has ever seen–not to mention brilliant art, music, charity and literature!

          I guess the non-religious dictators of countries responsible for the countless millions of people slaughtered in the 20th century get a pass?

          How interesting that you put ISIS (who kill children) and Pro Life people (who want to save children) in the same category.

          I think once we see the world as an us against them (ie Pro life commandos) we are part of the problem and perfectly illustrate why becoming human makes little sense. Who’s version of human utopia do we follow? Who’s value system?

          Can we really do better?

          All of this I say respectfully and in the name of good-natured debate.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. here is my two bits… I believe religions have no problem, it is how the preachers have been interpreting the scriptures that create all the divisions, bigotry and bloodshed… and I believe we can do better but to do that we need to start at the premise, most probably everything that we believe in are falsified versions of the truth.


            1. I think falsified may be too strong a word here–I think we may not fully understand the universe or God or whatever you want to call it. 🙂 People just aren’t as smart as they think–there’s that pride thing again. 😉

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        2. all human beings are created equally… and no one was made better than any one else, the whites were not better than the blacks, the Europeans than the Africans, the Christians than the Pagans…. and all these acronyms, TTP, ISIS and PLC or KKK and the Nazis in the past, they simply tried to usurp this basic and irrevocable right of human beings…. let religion be a private affair, helping the believers to perform more harmoniously in the social, state or international level but nothing can be imposed and no dialogues can be barred.


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