A Long Journey to Eradicating Terrorism

A commercial ad promoting people to fight terrorism
A commercial ad promoting people to fight terrorism

Terrorism has been around for centuries and is now currently a growing issue all over the globe. While it is hard to come up with a precise definition for what exactly terrorism is, several scholars and organizations have come up with close definitions. Terrorism is the “calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological”, as defined by the United States Department of Defense (Terrorism Research 1). Terrorism could also be defined as “an axiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-)clandestine individual, group, or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal, or political reasons, whereby- in contrast to assassination- the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators,” as defined by Alex Schmid, a Dutch scholar on terrorism studies (Sageman 3).  From these two definitions it is clear that there are differences in the definitions defined by different scholars and different organizations. However, it is agreed amongst all that terrorists use violence in ways that dehumanizes and or traumatizes victims beyond the directed target. This paper will be be analyzing terrorism and introducing new ways everyone can help to end this problem.

Depending on how one defines terrorism, it can be dated back to as early as the 1st century. Most people would agree that terrorism is “as old as humans’ willingness to use violence in order to get power or to change politics in their favor” (Hayes, Brunner and Rowen). Sicarii is a word meaning “dagger-men” in modern Hebrew, they were a 1st century terrorist group who carried out assassinations and massacres using short daggers (Zalman). These terrorists Jewish Zealots led by the descendents of Judas of Galilee Northern Israel. Judas, known as one of Christ’s disciples, believed that the Jews should be ruled by no one but God alone. With this belief held in mind, the Jewish terrorists, Sicarii, led a revolution against Roman rulers when they tried carrying out a census in the 6th CE so the Roman rulers in Syria could tax their Jewish subjects. This was only the beginning of Sicarii, they began violent resistance to Roman rule around 40 years later, in 50 CE, which was when they really started using guerrillas and terrorist tactics. Today problems involving terrorism greatly affects Israel and other countries such as Egypt.

Though there had been many attempts in solving the issue of terrorism, there are still many existing and emerging. Some of the more well known terrorist groups include Al-Qaeda, Boka Haram, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, etcetera. Al-Qaeda is today one of the most infamous terrorist groups, surpassing Hamas and Hezbollah, it is known mostly for its suicide attack on the twin towers on September 11th, 2001 (Hayes, Brunner and Rowen). Boko Haram is another terrorist group that rose to the public’s attention a few years ago. Located in Northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram is known for the Chibok Schoolgirls Kidnapping that happened just last year, 2014, around April 14th-15th (NCNT). According to the women who were just rescued around a month ago in May 2nd, Boko Haram members brutally slaughtered the older males in front of their family members before taking the females into a forest where most died of either starvation or diseases (NBC News). Many people have a misconception that modern day terrorists are centralized in places such as Africa and the Middle East, like the examples provided above, but little do they know that terrorism is occurring all over the world. Abu- Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are both terrorist groups centered in the Philippines. ASG is known to be the most violent terrorist that is currently operating in the Southern Philippines. They want to create an Islamic State in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago (NCNT). BIFF is also centered in the South of the Philippines. It is believed that they only have a few hundred soldiers, making it less of a threat when compared to other terrorist groups like ASG (Global Security).

One reason why terrorism is such a big threat today is because many people from all over the world are joining to become one of them, especially European Muslims. Immigrants or their descendents from all over Europe– Madrid, Milan, Marseilles, and Berlin– are starting to volunteer for jihad against the West (Leiken). There are many reasons behind these European Muslims joining for jihad; for some it is because they feel mistreated and feel like they do not have equal rights as white Europeans, and for others it is because of their dissatisfaction with their current governments. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research last year,  they found hat the majority of the population in countries like Greece, Italy, and Poland gave the Muslims in their country an unfavorable rating (Hackett). Of course Islam isn’t the only religion with terrorism, many other religions such as Christianity suffers from terrorists of their own religion, too. One major Christian terrorist groups known by many people is the Ku Klux Klan, or the KKK. However, the terrorism problem Egypt faces is Islamic terrorism, therefore it will be discussed more. It is not new to us the Islamists’ conflict with democracy, most European Muslims feel uncomfortable with democratic governments that grant citizens universal rights such as freedom of speech and expression,  freedom of religion, and even gender equality (Cooper and Hasan). Recently, European governments have started becoming aware of this growing issue and are planning on passing a joint law to prevent citizens from joining terrorists. European laws vary; countries like France already have laws that charges people with crimes if the government finds out they are planning to leave the country to support jihadists. Nonetheless, there are still many countries that lack laws to prevent people from leaving to join terrorists, such as Scandinavia (Irish Examiner).

Rise of Global Terrorism
Rise of Global Terrorism

It shouldn’t surprise anyone if a study shows up saying that no one likes terrorists, however, the vast Muslim population is usually blamed for terrorism. According to “Al-Islam”, a website explaining hidden meanings in the Qu’ran,  Islam does not in any way support terrorism and prohibits Muslim men from attacking innocent people. Over the past decades, there has been many Islamic scholars who have tried to explain to us why terrorists are not considered Muslims. For example, from Charles Cooper, a London based researcher on Middle Eastern politics, jihadism and Islamist movements, “Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances, terrorism goes against every principle of Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism, he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for political or financial gains.” Another quote from a US educated Saudi Arabian journalist further proving why a lot of people today’s perspectives are wrong: “Muslims throughout their history never allowed the killing of civilians, even in the midst of wars such as crusades. There is no respected Islamic scholar here in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else in the Muslim world who would support such a fatwa” (Khashoggi). Such misconceptions could be very detrimental to the self esteem of the Muslim community and should be dropped immediately.

The problem of terrorism in Egypt has been becoming more and more of a problem since the 1990s, when Islamic terrorist groups from the Middle East started attacking government officials, local policemen, the Christian minorities, and tourists visiting Egypt. Since then, many attacks have occurred including the 2004 Sinai bombing, the April 2005 Attacks in Cairo, the 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks, the Dahab bombing, and so on. However, with the problem of terrorism growing bigger each year, the Egyptian government led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seems unable to fight this alone (Solomon).

The whole world has been trying to eradicate terrorism, the Western world by preventing their citizens to join and become one of the terrorists and the Middle East with the Kurdish army fighting terrorists and insurgents, but what has the world’s biggest peacekeeping organization, the United Nations, done? Eighteen instruments- fourteen instruments and four amendments- have been elaborated within the UN system; an instrument is a formal legal document published. The General Assembly has been especially active in countering terrorism, trying to come up with the perfect resolution to stop international terrorism. The Security Council has also been active, establishing subsidiary bodies and working on resolutions (UN). Countering international terrorism is one of the UN’s priorities, though there has not been a resolution passed that has successfully eradicated terrorism.

Now that we have talked discussed what the world how the world has contributed to countering international terrorism, let us discuss what individuals can do to prevent terrorism from spreading. Individuals  can help cut off funding sources to terrorist groups by not buying products from black markets. Elephants, one of the most beautiful animals out there, are facing extinction. A study shows that around 100 to 150 elephants are killed per day, and UNEP released a study saying that 17,000 elephants in monitored reserves were killed in the year of 2011, and the number became even higher in 2012. Elephants are mostly slaughtered for their ivory tusks. Where do the tusks end up? In black markets. Black markets today are able to earn millions just by slaughtering elephants and selling their tusks, and many of these black markets are used to fund terrorists, one terrorist group funded mainly by black markets is Boko Haram (Quarterman). This means that by not buying illegal goods like ivory tusks, you are cutting off their source of fundings. If they do not have money, it decreases the chance of their future attacks.

Believe it or not, companies and organizations can be very useful and can be a great help when it comes to eradicating terrorism. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are useful especially when it comes to network terrorism and social media (H.). NGOs have an advantage when dealing with network terrorism and are especially suited to fight network type terror groups. Examples of network type terror groups include Al-Qaeda and Al- Shabaab. Social media nowadays is where many things happen, it is also one of the main contributors to terrorism because it has made it easy for extremists to have access to unlimited public debates. NGOs have the power to “restructure the linguistic and political landscapes that these extremists want support from through social media” (H.). On the other hand, companies are also useful when it comes to preventing terrorism. For example, after the 9/11 attack set out by Al- Qaeda, firms immediately started producing anti-terrorist equipments and services. Some of these include machines that check suitcases and luggages for weapons and explosives, bisthmus cartridge, other anti- terrorist products.

At the end of the day, it is agreed by everyone that terrorism is definitely not something good and should be eradicated as fast as we can. It is obvious that the current strategy we are using right now is not working. For our this journey of eradication to work at its optimal efficiency, we must throw away our old strategy and adopt a new one. It is crucial for us to combine our individual power, the power of the country, and the power of firms and NGOs. There is a very well known myth amongst many Indian villages that has been passed down for generations. It tells a story of a village next to a river. One day, the villagers noticed bodies floating down the river, they take the bodies out and bury them. But no matter how many bodies they take out and bury, more bodies always flow down the river. The same thing kept occurring for days and days. One day. a villager decided to ask the village elder for help. He told the villagers to stop burying the bodies but instead go up hill to find out what’s causing these bodies to flow down the river. So they went and found the cause of these floating dead bodies and successfully solved the problem (WashingtonBlog). What does this story tell us? It tells us that the United States politicians are the villagers; they’re sending in military forces to fight against terrorism but they don’t actually understand the root cause of terrorism. Attacking terrorists may help solve the problem temporarily (or it may not),  but if we’re looking for an effective way to eradicate terrorism, looking for the underlying motivation of these jihadists in inevitable. Begin today, and the brighter future without terrorists terrorizing people will come faster.


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