'Killing a terrorist will serve no purpose, address the root cause and avoid so called collateral deaths. Collateral killings breed more hate and revenge.' Raja Mujtaba
By Air Commodore ® KhaIid Iqbal
During Munich Security Conference 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron made a belated yet very pertinent comment by clearly distinguishing Islam from Islamist violent extremism. He acknowledged that many of Britain's home grown terrorists are not the product of failed integration, but rather "have been graduates and often middle class". Historically, extremism has never been confined to any particular religion or ideology; it belongs to every religion and culture. Duke University and University of North Carolina have published a study on terrorism in February 2011. It revealed that in 2009, more non-Muslim Americans were involved in terrorist plots than Muslim Americans; last year there were more than twenty plots by non-Muslims.
The ‘Triangle Centre on Terrorism and Homeland Security’ has confirmed that tips from the Muslim American community resulted in prevention of potential terrorist plots in forty-eight of the 120 cases involving Muslim Americans. Data from the ‘Muslim Public Affairs Council’ also indicates that Muslim community helped and assisted law enforcement in 75 percent of all al-Qaeda related plots since December 2009. Moreover, American Muslims involved in terrorist acts dropped by more than half as compared to 2009.
David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Centre, said, “Americans should take note that these crimes are being perpetrated by a handful of people whose actions are denounced and rejected by virtually all the Muslims living in the United States.”
Mark Fallon, a thirty-year veteran of federal law enforcement and counterintelligence, says the Muslim community has provided a "significant level of cooperation" in combating terrorism; he is worried that the rhetoric from some critic’, like Representative Peter King, risks alienating a segment of American population that "needs to be part of the solution." He is of the opinion that the process of radicalization, or "violent extremism," is usually a function of conditions highly personal to the subject, rather than ideological.
Robert Pape, a political scientist of Chicago University, has carried out an in depth study on the genesis of extremism. His study is based on data from over 300 suicide terrorism campaigns executed around the world as well as on the information regarding more than 450 individual suicide terrorists. His findings show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions. Rather, all suicide terrorist attacks had in common been a specific political objective: ‘to compel foreign countries to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.’
Robert says, “In general, suicide attackers are rarely socially isolated, clinically insane, or economically destitute individuals, but are most often educated, socially integrated, and highly capable people who could be expected to have a good future”. Out of the sample of his study of suicide terrorists, only 21% were ‘Islamists’.
Self-sacrifice or suicide missions have a very long history. In 1831, During the Belgian Revolution, Dutch Lieutenant Jan van Speijk detonated his own ship in the harbour of Antwerp to prevent its capture by the Belgians. In 1943, Clarence Cull was charged with attempting to assassinate President Roosevelt by suicide bombing.
World War II saw use of Kamikaze pilots on suicide mission by Japan. Over 7000 Kamikazes flew such missions. Acts of Kamikaze were glorified by carrying out ceremonies before their departure on these one-way missions. During the Battle for Berlin, German Air Force flew “Self-sacrifice missions” against Soviet held bridges.
Viet Minh “death volunteers” were used against the French colonial army. In May 1967, US Marine Commander was also of the view that North Vietnamese were using suicidal tactics in their attack.
A former associate director of the ‘Regional Centre for Strategic Studies’ in Colombo, Suggeeswara Senadhira, also rejects the idea of linking suicide attack with any religion. He writes, ‘during the Lebanese civil war, around 70 percent of suicide attackers were Christians’.
LTTE perfected the art of suicide bombing. They were considered most dreaded and successful terrorists organisation due to their suicide squads. Famous victims of LTTE suicide bombers included; Sri Lankan President Premadasa and a former prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. LTTE invented the suicide vests. Around thirty percent of LTTE suicide bombers were women.
Lindsey O’Rourke, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago has also declined to accept the link between religion and suicide bombing. She wrote that more than 85 percent of female suicide terrorists since 1981 committed their attacks on behalf of secular organizations; many grew up in Christian and Hindu families. She also found out that motivating factors for female bombers are same as for male bombers. Around ninety five percent of female suicide attacks occurred as part of military campaigns against foreign occupying forces, suggesting that chief motive has been to create or maintain territorial sovereignty for respective ethnic group.
Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) had used the concept of human bomb; people were forced to drive car bombs into British military targets. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party based on revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism also used suicide bombing in its campaign against Turkey for establishing an independent Kurdistan.
There were no suicide missions during Afghan resistance against USSR. However, when suicide attacks made a debut in Iraq, Afghans also started such attacks against the occupation forces.
In 2010, Andrew Joseph crashed his plane into building which housed ‘US Internal Revenue Service’ in Austin in Texas. In his suicide note Joseph mentioned his long running feud with the organization. In the US close to 350 school shootings have taken place since 1992, in majority of these incidents, attackers killed themselves.
In 1995, Chief Minister Beant Singh of East Punjab, India, was killed by a suicide bomber; Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh outfit claimed the responsibility. Likewise, Bal Thackeray, head of Hindu extremist outfit Shiv Sena called upon Hindus to form suicide bomber squads. He said suicide bombers, along with bombs planted in Muslim neighbourhoods, were needed “to protect the nation and all Hindus.”
One of the largest ever opinion poll conducted by Gallup in Islamic world found out that over 93 percent Muslims condemned the 9/11 attacks. Among the seven percent who viewed these attacks as “completely justified”, none supported their stance with religious reasons; rather, they expressed their fears about American plans for occupation and domination of the Muslim world. As per Gallup, “Politics, not piety, differentiates moderates from radicals” in the Islamic world.
M. Zajam, a Patna-based freelance columnist, in his article ‘Suicide Missions: Nothing Islamic About It’, has chronicled a long list of historic incidents of terrorism to carry forth the point that terrorism is not confined to any single society or religion. He says, ‘Thanks to media and some groups, Suicide missions are projected to associate only with Islam. It is forgotten that neither Muslims are the first one to use it or will be the last one’.
Suicide missions are the ultimate manifestation of extremism and terrorism; these missions have been carried out irrespective of religious inclinations or geographical limitation. Unfortunately, Islam bashers are projecting as if Muslims have invented patronised and monopolized extremism and terrorism; indeed nothing could be farther from truth. There is a need for a concerted campaign to correct the perspective.
Also indiscriminate killings of innocents becomes the breeding ground for terrorism because they want to avenge the killings of their dear ones.
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