Rise Of Global Terrorism
After climate change and global warming “radical Islamic terrorism”, as the US President Trump calls it, is another global threat that worries the global community. If climate change and global warming are purely ‘secular’ phenomena the menace of this jihadi terrorism is purely ‘religious’ – a “terror God” is pleased whenever his ‘true disciples’ kill innocent people. However, both do not recognize national or geographical boundaries – like flash-floods, landslides and earthquakes the jihadis also strike suddenly. 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 ‘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” – representing a huge unfinished work 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 200 million Muslims. While the ISIS was born and gone just in few years the ISP has managed to survive, despite bifurcation in 1971, since its Islamic birth in 1947. It proudly houses mighty terror corporations like the Haqqanis, Taliban, and Al Qaeda along with several dozen other jihadi enterprises. Its 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. Its secret agency ISI not only runs numerous jihad factories in the country but also actively nurtures terror units in other countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar. It also has several India focused jihadi outfits like JeM, LeT and HM for whom the presence of over 1000 million “infidel” Hindus in the neighborhood is a mouth watering proposition. The “holy warriors” routinely cross into Indian border and soon get dispatched to hell by the Indian security forces, despite the promise of 72 virgins in heaven by their Pakistani godfathers!
As part of its jihadi agenda, Pakistan ISI is doing its best to radicalize Indian Muslims and exploit the historical Hindu-Muslim fault line. Therefore, the hazard of jihadi terrorism is unlikely to disappear at least from the South Asia, and Hindu India would always remain their sworn enemy for wielding the 1400 year old “sword of Islam”.
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 non-Muslim “infidels” from Afghanistan. A big number came from the Middle East including, the rich Saudi national Osama bin Laden. They turned it into 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, the global jihadis like bin Laden went ecstatic. They projected it as yet another historic victory of Islam over the non-believers, conveniently ignoring the fact that the long drawn US cold war policies had already eaten away the might of the mighty Soviets to a significant extent. Thus, the Soviets not only withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 but the whole communist bloc too fell apart soon thereafter. [It is the same reason why colonial powers like Britain and France had to withdraw from their colonies at the end of second WW2.]
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. 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 16 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 obsessed to groom terrorism as an undeclared state policy – while posing of 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!!
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. It also created India-focused terror groups like JeM, HM and LeT to continue its undeclared war of attrition in the form of bloody Islamic jihad against Hindu India, particularly in Kashmir.
The 2002 Parliament attack and 2008 Mumbai terror attack are like most precious victory trophies for Islamic Pakistan in its jihad against the “infidel” Hindu India. Pak sponsored jihadi violence is a daily feature in Kashmir. Now Pakistan plans to equip jihadis 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.
On the flip side, the love for jihadis and fundamentalists has already caused un-repairable damage to Pak society which is now badly infected with all types of jihadi viruses while the nation stands exposed internationally as a sponsor of terrorism. Global leaders are worried not only about Pakistan’s future stability as a country but also about terrorists taking control of its nuclear arsenal. They are also concerned about Pak military pushing fundamentalists into the political mainstream to weaken the “somewhat” civilian government. After North Korea, Pakistan is the only country in the world that threatens its neighbor with nuclear attack on regular basis. It is also an open secret that Pakistan clandestinely supplied nuclear technology to North Korea.
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, ignoring Pak’s vehement protest the US wants India to play the dominant role in the development of Afghanistan and peace in the entire region. President Trump has coined the term “Indo-Pacific” to further emphasize India’s emerging new dominant role in the global politics along with Japan and Australia.
“Good Terrorists” and “Bad Terrorists”
The global efforts to wipe out terrorism have so far remained ineffective primarily due to the distinction: bad-terrorists vs good-terrorists. Thus, Osama and with his Al Qaeda gang were “good-terrorists” as long as they fought the Soviets in the 1980s. They became “really bad” after the 9/11 attack in 2001!
Between the departure of the Soviets from Afghanistan in 1989 and 2001 Kashmir remained the hotbed of Pak sponsored terrorism because Pak sent “good terrorists” for jihadi violence; they were of course “bad terrorists” for India. Americans remained unconcerned because they had never tasted the hurt of jihadi terrorism. In fact, the global community never bothered to listen whenever India raised the issue of jihadi terrorism. Over the decades, Pakistan has created several gangs of “good-terrorists” like JeM, HM, LeT specifically to hurt India. The Shia Hezbollah group is “good” for Iran but “bad” for Saudis, Israelis and Americans. Hamas is “bad” for Israel but good the Palestinians, Arab nations and Iran.
So, terrorists are always “good” for their godfathers. In fact, they are important pawns in the politics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and South Asian regions – in the later region, primarily due to the Islamic State of Pakistan. Their biggest advantage is that they can do things and operate in ways not possible for the soldiers of official army whose conduct is governed by international protocols. Thus, Pakistan could launch Kargil invasion using terrorists and mutilate bodies of Indian soldiers or use them to attack Indian soldiers at the border and behead them. It also used trained suicidal jihadis to attack Indian parliament in 2002 and Mumbai in 2008 to kill “as many ‘infidels’ as they could, till death.” Such substandard things are not possible with soldiers.
Realistically, the distinction of good/bad terrorist is unlikely to disappear because they have emerged as strategic assets for most Muslim nations. A country like Pakistan, which is devoid of any positive national goal other then the single point hate-India agenda, can never think of wiping out jihadi terrorism – no matter how hard the US and India try – because it is the only thing to justify its Islamic birth as a nation, nearing its expiry date!
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 self delusion 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. Irrationality is deeply ingrained in their thinking, which easily enters the domain of insanity. Yet, whether irrational or insane, terrorists do have a political ideology that no sane person would equate with the religion of Islam. In fact, 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 at the first place. But alone they are vulnerable because of the very real fear of being killed – killing dissenters is a deep rooted practice of the fundamentalists in the Muslim societies. This deep-rooted violent tradition has largely left Muslim societies 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.