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Terrorism in the Modern World

R Jayaraman

Author: R Jayaraman

Date: Mon, 2016-08-22 15:02

Armed terrorism causing destruction to life and property has been in vogue for some time now in parts of the world. The only saving grace is that the expression “parts of the world” can still be used. This is because the area of terror is just now confined to the favourite places - Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, USA. Some other places like UK, Myanmar, Philippines,Thailand, Ireland keep moving in and out of the terror map – fortunately for them. France is the latest addition, and the severity may reach the proportions seen in Iraq if not tackled in time and in an appropriate manner. Current efforts seem to indicate that the French lack the expertise to deal with this monster which is encircling the nation. Belgium is also in the same boat. They could learn from the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand which seem to have put a temporary stop to all locally engendered terrorism.

The “Islamic State” is only a new entrant in the continuum of agencies and movements which have been entering the arena of terrorism. There have been others – the IRA, the Spanish, the Shining Path and other guerrillas in South America, the al Qaeda, the JEM/JUD and other movements in Pakistan. Each one of these agencies has an agenda to oppose some cause and establish its own cause by non-peaceful means. This very methodology clearly indicates that civil society does not accept their viewpoints. This is the cause of the friction, which often leads to conflict, bloodshed and violence. These groups appear to have never heard of Mahatma Gandhi, the Frontier Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. It appears that Sri Sri made an attempt to speak with IS and al Qaeda and was immediately rebuffed so severely that he had to beat a hasty retreat.

Given this background what is the way forward to deal with the mayhem and killings that are bound to happen in the near future? One, do not panic. Looking at the media reportage one might get an impression that the terrorists have gained the upper hand and occupied a lot of territory. Far from it. Even as of now terrorism remains a small scale activity which can be handled by the police and in extreme cases, the military.

However what is disheartening is that hardly any effort is being made to engage with the terrorists in a non-violent manner. All terrorists, in the long run, are amenable to reason and logic. There is no historical parallel that any new country has been created through terrorism. Unless the mass of people support the new movement – which then becomes a revolution, initiative for change etc. the terrorists will find themselves isolated, sooner or later.

In the present case, one must find the forces for peace. They are there – Saudi Arabia, Iran,Turkey, Egypt – which all must pool in to control and over the long term, arrive at some tolerable level of equilibrium. In the case of India and Pakistan, India has been doing a good job of containing the terrorist forces, while taking some casualties. The news yesterday mentioned a figure of 709 such casualties over the entire period, which is not bad considering the carnage in Iraq and the 9 /11. One should accept some casualties as the price to be paid in the short term – and short term has to be defined flexibly - to deal with misguided and violent forces who espouse the bullet over the pallet of the entire spectrum of life in its splendid variety. 

In all cases where the containment has been done the local countries involved themselves took the lead and finally overcame the terrorists and got them to lay down their arms. In the current case, the IS should be contained by Iran, Iraq and the other countries named before, with the support of some nearby countries who have the political systems to deal with negotiations. Another thought is to form a Coalition for Peace which will deal with the specific issues of terrorism only. This body must be entitled to negotiate with those who sponsor terrorism and get them around. With all the developments that have taken place in honing the human mind, this should not be a big problem. Let’s do it.

 

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Comments

The blog posted by our distinguished professor R. Jayaraman and the stand that he has taken while dealing with the sensitive topic of Terrorism in the Modern World needs to be appreciated and lauded. At the outset, I would like to say that it is not an easy topic to garner even a few lines about leave aside explaining the intricacies so beautifully and conveying the message yet so powerfully. I agree with professor Jayaraman wherein he says that Terrorism is still isolated only to a few parts of the world but is alarmingly spreading its wings with the advent of social media and all it takes is the internet to radicalize anyone even in the remotest part of the world, case in point: what the IS have been doing. Yes, it is not fair to label a particular community/country for the misdeeds of a select few but I do strongly agree that it is the prerogative of the home country to reign in these terror groups. For instance, the Punjab insurgency of the late 1970s had to be contained by the Indian forces and had that not happened at the right time we never know it might just have spread to the neighboring parts of India disturbing the peace of the region. Nations like the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia for that matter need to stop politicizing the atmosphere any further and act like responsible parties to help bring an end to this carnage. There is absolutely nothing that can’t be solved by way of a dialogue, it’s just that the protagonists sitting across a table need to have the will to do so and understand what it is that the other party seeks with an open mind and work towards a resolution for the same. However, I would like to add that the UN in particular has been an absolute disappointment and an utter failure when it comes to dealing with the subject of Terrorism and probably a body should be formed that has more teeth, courage and can take decisions for the betterment of the society and our collective future.

Sir, at the outset let me thank you for this brilliant article on your perspectives regarding the modern day terrorism, which has marred our world. Terrorism has been around for far too long and has constantly evolved over the years. The various anti-terrorist lobbies in its capacity have also come a long way in its effort to crush such anti-social elements. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in 2015 published the top 15 spenders on military expenditure and the number is a staggering USD 1.25 trillion. All efforts put in place towards world peace have not managed to curb or eradicate the terrorist activities; in fact terrorism has only been on the rise. The humongous cost of modern day military is justified or not is an altogether different debate. Interestingly, the one thing that is constant in this evolution of both the terrorist and the anti-terrorist fronts is the use of technology. While the new age military has intelligence & law enforcement agencies, satellites, drones, laser guided missiles and a host of other equipment’s in its arsenal, the terrorists of today with easy access to the internet have their sophisticated network of cyber criminals and media savvy ways to spread their ideologies. For a terrorist, it is better to kill one person in front of a camera than to kill a hundred in a secret location. The terrorist of today needs an audience. Access to instant communication, mobility, and destructive technology mean that terrorism will continue to plague the world. Thus, the solution lies in using development as a tool to counter terrorism. The world has seen ample examples of such transformations, like the emergence of Germany and Japan as superpowers from the brink of adversity. In 1945 Japan’s industrial cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were destroyed by the use of atom bombs. After the holocaust, Japan abandoned violence and adopted a peaceful course on the lines of development. As a result, within forty years, Japan rapidly became a great economic power of the world.

The recent terror attack on British Parliament has brought to fore what is modern terrorism. Is it use of communication lines to direct the operation or use sophisticated weapons to cause mass damage? It seems that after, security forces world over, has tighten their grip on internet, communication line, weapon procurement, terrorist organization has taken a step back and has gone back to its old methodology. Recent attacks in Berlin, Fien and London were carried by individuals who have converted day to day uses items into potential weapon. London and Berlin attackers have turned vehicle into killing tool while Fien attacker used kitchen knife. These individuals have no connection with any parent organization, they were not guided on real-time about their operation. They were just negatively motivated men who have been mind washed by several radicalization videos released by terrorist organization. These so called “lone wolves” has posed new kind of challenged to security forces world over. It is difficult to trace them as they don’t communicate and remains as sleeping cell which can be activated when the time requires. The only sustainable way out is to integrate the Muslim community as much as possible. Cornering them or discriminating against innocent ones will create a blow back in long term. This will provide a conducive environment in which they would be easy prey for terrorist organization. Educated and far sighted Muslims also need to play a critical role in this. It is their responsibility to educate, give wider horizons and provide right perspective to fellow members of their community. “Not on the name of Islam” movement after the Paris attack is a good example, which provides a alternate platform to fellow members who feel the other way.

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