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.