The only way to wipe out the menace of terrorism is to attack at the roots of the ideology which is nurtured in the Madarsas and propagated through the mosques. Merely killing terrorists is highly inefficient; the ideology must be also attacked simultaneously.
Rise Of Global Terrorism
After climate change “radical Islamic terrorism”, as the US President Trump calls it, is the most serious global threat. If climate change is a purely ‘secular’ phenomena the menace of jihadi terrorism is purely ‘religious’ – a “terror God” is pleased whenever his ‘true believers’ kill innocent people or terrorize societies. However, both challenges do not recognize national or geographical boundaries – like flash-floods, landslides and earthquakes, the jihadis also strike suddenly anywhere. Although their global brand ambassador, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has lost territory in the Middle East its “virtual Islamic Caliphate” continues to thrive in the cyberspace – radicalizing and recruiting Muslims to eliminate all ‘infidels’ from the world. Thanks to its high-tech marketing propaganda on the internet and social media platforms, the glamour of jihadi terrorism has spread widely and penetrated deeply in the Muslim societies around the world. Now other jihad corporations are also perfecting the virtual skills for global jihad. Of around 7.6 billion global population, only about 1.6 billion are “believers.” The rest 6 billion are “infidels” who must be slaughtered or converted. It’s a a monumental undertaking for the global jihadis!
Walking on the footsteps of the ISIS is the Islamic State of Pakistan (ISP) in the South Asia – the biggest Islamic State in the world, with over 220 million potential jihadis. While the ISIS was born and gone just in few years the ISP has managed to survive , since its Islamic birth in 1947, despite the bifurcation in 1971. It has proudly created a highly flourishing world class “terror industry”; if corporations like the Haqqanis, Taliban, and Al Qaeda are global brand names there are dozens of other jihadi enterprises, each carrying on some ‘useful’ task for the mother nation.
Pak army and secret agency ISI not only look after all ‘raw-material’ as well as ‘human resource’ supplies, they also grooms them as ‘unofficial strategic assets’ to further Pak’s foreign policy objectives. The ISI runs numerous jihad factories inside the country but also actively nurtures terror units in other countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar, exploiting the Islamic connection. Now Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar are offering a great opportunity to Pakistan to propagate its jihad in the South Asian region, particularly against Hindu (kafir) dominated India. It has created several India focused jihadi outfits like JeM, LeT and HM for exploiting the Kashmir issue. So, the “holy warriors” routinely cross into Indian border, inject overdoses of painkillers into their veins and fight with Indian army till death to reach the kingdom of Allah where their Pakistani godfathers have promised to provide 72 virgins for sexual pleasure till eternity.
Pakistan’s ex-President, Pervez Musharraf, proudly declares on TV channels that he has very high regard for the globally wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed – the mastermind of Mumbai terror attack of 2008.
Dream of Islamic Dominance!
Although the tradition of violence in the name of Islam is as old as Islam itself, the roots of the current spell of global jihadi terrorism can be traced back to the fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1980s during the last decade of the cold war era. Using its close ally Pakistan, the US created an army of Afghan jihadis and pitted them against the communists. Reflecting the peculiarity of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Muslimun), around 20,000 Mujahideens also arrived from different parts of the world to join the jihad (“holy war”) to drive out the Communist “infidels” from Afghanistan. A big number came from the Middle East, including the rich Saudi national Osama bin Laden. They made it a typical Islam vs ‘infidel’ battle. Certainly, the Americans then could not imagine that this jihadi monster, like the Bhasmasur of Indian mythology, would one day turn against them and the whole humanity!
When the communists decided to end their decade long occupation of Afghanistan in 1989, the global jihadis like bin Laden went ecstatic. They projected it as yet another historic victory of Islamic jihad over the non-believers. They failed to realize they were merely used as pawns in the US cold war against the Russian communists. The communists withdrew for the same reason why colonial powers like Britain and France had to withdraw from their colonies at the end of second WW2 – it was no longer profitable to stay in Afghanistan. But what can one do if Jihadis want to stay under lifelong delusion and want to see it as victory of Islam! Did the communist grab Afghanistan to change their religion?
This ‘victory’ emboldened the hardcore jihadis like Osama bin Laden to prepare for a much “bigger jihad” – reflecting their deep-rooted Islamic dream of conquering the whole world. The deadly Hollywood style September 11, 2001 attack on the US soil was the first quantum leap forward – a display of their morbid hatred against the Western culture. Masterminded by Osama, it successfully demonstrated their capability to strike even the mightiest in the world. 15 out of 19 terrorists were from the Saudi Arabia – the motherland of the most suppressive version of Islam, Wahhabism that promotes radicalism and motivates terrorists to do what they do.
In retaliation, the US troops arrived in Afghanistan hunting Osama, and threw away the Pak backed Taliban government. But it took them 10 years to hunt down bin Laden in 2011 because he was living safely inside the radicalized Pakistan. However, even after 17 years of military presence, endless drone attacks and dropping the “mother of all bombs” they have failed to root out the jihadi hazard. On the contrary, jihadis appear to have grown stronger over the years, the credit for which again fully goes to Pakistan which is “religiously bound” to groom terrorism as an undeclared state policy – while posing off as the “biggest victim of terrorism” before the international community. It even wants the world to acknowledge its “high sacrifices” made in the global war or terror!!
Well, sanity is never the trait of jihadis or their sympathizers!
Pakistan Turns Into A Jihadi “Islamic State”
Soviets withdrawal from the Afghanistan did not just inflate the ego of the Al Qaeda masters it also distorted the cocky brains of Pak generals and turned them rogue. Rather than dismantling the jihadi factories after the Soviet departure in 1989 they decided to divert the trained jihadis against its ‘eternal’ enemy India. Thus, Pakistan started infiltrating battle hardened jihadis into Kashmir. Now it plans to equip them with high-tech weapons for night warfare and is training them to handle even chemical weapons. Winter months always posed problems for the Pak jihadis to cross into the Indian side, so now Pakistan is importing protective winter gears for the jihadis so that they can carry on their violence uninterrupted throughout the year.
For the Pakistanis, the 2002 Parliament attack and 2008 Mumbai terror attack are among the most precious victory trophies, in its holy jihad against the “infidel” Hindu India. Pak sponsored jihadi violence is a daily feature in Kashmir; kashmiris are paying the price for being Muslim.
On the flip side, Pak society is now badly infected with all types of jihadi viruses while the nation stands fully exposed internationally as the global hub of terrorism. World leaders are worried not only about Pakistan’s future stability as a country but also about its nuclear arsenal falling in the hands of jihadis. They are also highly concerned about Pak military pushing fundamentalists into the political mainstream.
However, the US President Trump has put Pakistan in a very tight spot by demanding that it eliminates terror groups from its soil because they are connected with groups launching terror attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan, of course, drags its feet pretending innocence! In the past, it was also ‘ignorant’ of Osama and several other top terrorists living in Pakistan!! Lying is an inherent cultural trait of Pak leaders; the world knows it all too well by now. As a result, the new US Afghan policy has dumped Pakistan despite its geographical prominence. Instead, the US wants India to play the dominant role in the development of Afghanistan and peace in the entire region.
Radicalization Through Social Media
A peculiar angle has emerged with Jihadi violence in recent years due to increasing penetration of Internet and popularity of social media around the world. Now, for instance, global terror groups can use social media and net connectivity to radicalize Muslims (lone wolf tactic) in any country. They can even give online training in bomb making and various ways to create panic, disrupt societies and kill people. Social media is a great channel for brainwashing and radicalization through videos, chats and multimedia material. Thus, people around the world have to be constantly watchful – there is no way to know if the Hafiz Saeed, Assiduddin Owasi or Pervez Musharraf living next door is not a radicalized lone wolf waiting for his chance to attack them.
The global Muslim population is around 1.6 Billion. Imagine if just 0.1 percent of this population is radicalized. That’s staggering 1.6 million potential terrorists threatening humanity.
How To Fight The War “On Terror” More Effectively
President Trump must evolve ways to plug online radicalization along with closing the sources of weapons and terror funding so that as the existing jihadis gets killed, no more crop up to replace them. But it would still not counter the ideology that creates terrorists at the first place.
President Trump’s two predecessors after the 2001 9/11 attack, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, did not see Jihadi terrorism on ideological lines. Republican Bush, however, was close in his description of jihadi terrorism as Islamic fascism of the terrorists who had perverted the ‘peaceful teachings of Islam.’ But he carried on his “War on Terror” as a “war against the evil” – not against the ideology.
His successor Barack Obama, wanting to be more politically correct, further distanced himself from the ideological reference and downgraded Bush’s “War on Terror” to a “fight” – a fight against specific terrorist groups. The phrase “terrorism has no religion” became fashionable among global leaders. He introduced drones to chase and kill terrorists in order to save American casualties. Americans felt relieved at this but he could not wipe out terrorism because as terrorists got killed many more were ready to replace them. The supply chain of fresh terrorists kept working, in fact more efficiently than ever. He failed to realize that the ideologically motivated jihadis are not like other underworld criminals who happen to be Muslims. Thus he only killed terrorists – and terrorism continued flourishing.
Republicans have long condemned Obama for failing to properly assess the threat. Trump and his team are more straightforward and quite close to calling a spade, a spade. Dumping the deception of ‘terrorism has no religion’ and the compulsion of ‘political correctness’ they chose to talk pointedly in terms of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’.
Interrogation of captured terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan also revealed that the top brains of terror outfits like the Al Qaeda and Taliban were genuine ideologues, adherents to the fundamentalist Salafi/Wahhabi strain of Islam. This ideology exploits the dual role of Mohammad – a social reformer saint and a political leader who fought wars. It solely focuses on the later and interprets Quranic verses out of context and in a totally distorted manner to glorify violence as a god given duty. In doing so, it entirely throws away the spiritual “essence” of Islam and turns it into a totalitarian political ideology. It is not surprising that their ideology appears totally alien to even Muslims.
Yet, they have an ideology which must be countered through a well devised narrative. Muslim scholars can make significant contribution here. In fact, they should have prevented misuse of their religion in such as a gross way long time ago. But alone they are vulnerable because of the very real fear of being killed – killing dissenters has a long tradition in the Muslim societies. Thus, Muslim societies remain at the mercy of fundamentalists.
President Trump must collaborate with progressive Islamic elements such as scholars, intellectuals, and Muslim activists and create a vocal global entity that would counter and expose radical preachers and brainwashing experts who prepare the raw material for the terror industry. Saudi Prince’s recent desire to wipe out global terrorism gives some optimism. The Wahhabi scholars of his country can play a vital role in depoliticizing Islam by eliminating distorted interpretation of Quran. The following video shows where to attack for the most effective counter-terrorism strategy: