Terrorism and the Root Causes

Published on Friday, January 23, 2009

Terrorism and the Root Causes

Real Ahsan

Terrorism, while an old phenomenon, has taken new dimensions over the last 8 years or so.  Why suddenly, this surge of terroristic activities and how they can be addressed to be eradicated from our societies.  Not an easy task by any standards.

First, we need to agree that Extremism and Terrorism are not one and the same; while one responds with extreme measures in reaction to an event or an existing socio-economic or socio-political  situation or as a response to a direct measure of someone else that are often disproportionate to the existing or the applied force; the other however, spreads the senses of terror to induce fear among the general mass to attain certain pre-conceived response to an existing or introduced act of intervention.  There is a correlation between the two but one does not replace the other neither can one be super-imposed on the other.  With that definition in mind, I would start my analysis.

While it is true that personalities do come into play in the transformation of an individual to resort to extreme means or being able to spread terror, the psyche however has a more dominant role in that transformation.  There are two groups of people involved in the process in both cases.  First is a visionary, who understands the loopholes of the existing laws that govern our social and political architectures, our environment and the instruments available at our hand that can be skillfully applied to exploit the psyche of second Group.  The second Group, on the other hand, is the operatives and the instruments, which reacts in a way that satisfies the intellectual design of the first group.  In the cases of Extremist, the first Group can not be segmented out from the second.  In Terrorism however, these are two very distinct Groups of peoples playing two different roles. The people with extreme psyche can be exploited by the visionaries to serve their purpose and as such, extremists may unknowingly become part of a terror network.

Among the tools that are available to human beings, especially for the Visionaries, there is nothing more powerful than a religion to induce senses of common purpose among a synchronous and harmonious group of people, where a faith is at stake.  However, in Terrorism and Extremism, there are other tools as well that can be as lethal as religion.  Senses of Deprivation, Oppression and Injustice, are other lethal factors that can bee easily exploited by the visionaries to exert on their agendas.  Now if religion is compounded with the other three factors, one can imagine the force of cohesion it would produce.  Extremism is a response of an individual or a Group with no particular cohesion of a purpose but Terrorism does have a sense of purpose.

Now that we have defined the Terrorism and Extremism, I would focus on the Terrorism only in the rest of my article.  The emergence of terrorism has its roots in the sense of Ones feelings of being deprived of his/her rights and the failure of the establishments and existing laws to secure what is perceived to be his/her rightful place in the social architecture and hierarchy.  If someone or an Organized Group senses that discomfort among the general mass or a group of people, the Visionary would exploit those feelings to stream and guide them to a common purpose that is larger than all individuals.  That is the start of the phenomenon what we call in today's term Terrorism.  This is a broad definition and can be adapted to each and every act of terrorism as we perceive today around the globe.

Of all what we see today, each and every act of terrorism is somewhat linked to the roots of religion and specifically to Islam. It is however not the Moslems who categorize themselves as Terrorists but are branded by others as such.  If we look at the history: neither Lenin, nor Stalin, or Mao Tse Tung,  Che Guavera, Tikka Khan, Yahia Khan, Chengiz Khan  or even Hitler are branded as Terrorists although they had resorted to acts of terrorism in promoting their plans and programs.  May so be, who or what they were targeting to remove from the social architectures might have termed them as terrorists at the time but the outcome of the events have relieved them of the title.  One thing you would find common in most of those cases I have listed here, they were either successful in achieving what they set out for or were part of the establishment defending a cause of their own.  Religion was never a part of those, I have named in the list.  There might have been some but religion was never the main cause or the main motivation of their acts.  They might have had exploited religion (either for or against to advance their cause).

Coming back to our modern day terrorism and the roots thereof, we have to understand that the world is in a transitory stage right now looking for the right balance of power.  There is clearly a vacuum that needs to be filled and bridged for the natural phenomenon to take its roots.  With the collapse of the communism, the world is looking for an alternative that can fill that vacuum.  There are focuses on various systems at work that can effectively replace the communistic systems.  What we see today as the war of the civilizations is nothing more than the outcome of that focus.  Islam is under scrutiny, as one of the probable replacement for communism and as an alternative to the Capitalistic system being pursued by the West.  People are getting to learn the fundamentals of the religion and the code of its operations as not only a religious system but social and economic structures as well. 

It would not be too much for me to say that it is only at the start of its scrutiny that might take some 20 more years or so before a balancing system is enacted.  The push of the war of the civilizations was a measured one and was intended for the religious rights to push for their own brand of replacement for the communist systems.  The act of 9/11 was nothing more than part of that act and the war that followed, was an attempt to divide the globe based on religion with two distinct hemispheres with two distinct systems governing their political, economy and social systems.  The process however, had its first jolt with the election of Barack Obama, who came to power with a mission of change.  He had rightly understood the agenda of the religious right and offered an alternative to the mass in the US and around the world to halt the division of peoples on the basis of religion. "Fear" is the tool for Terrorism and that "Hope" has beaten "Fear" in the US squarely.  This is clearly a set back for those who induces "fear" into the hearts of the people to manage and rule them. It is also a setback for the people, who decided to use religion as a tool to divide humanity and use their own system to fill the vacuum.

Now, with Barack Obama in office and his plans for change to steer the economy clear of the doldrums and overhaul his healthcare and education systems, he still would need to find an alternative to his own brand of Capitalistic Society.  The laws of nature would never allow a mono-leithic society to rule the whole world.  Therefore, a second force and a second system have to emerge to keep the balance.  It is for us and our future generations to find out as to what that force is going to be.  The indications are quite clear that one of the religious forces would emerge as victorious at the end to replace the old communist systems.  The people who values morality as an integral part of the governance will tilt to one of the religions as an alternative that has a full system of socio political and economic governance.  Islam does seem to be a complete code of life and has an advantage over other religions in terms of its political clout and a financial system supporting the moral and political base.  If China, Russia, and some of the EU countries back one of the religions, then that is the solution and the alternative to the Capitalist system.  Islam along with some other religions is vying for that spot.  Islam is being radicalized by a segment that clearly understands the stakes at hand and is promoting their own agenda to get an upper hand within Islam so that if and when the opportunity arises, they would take control of the Islamic world. Islam does not yet have a single point of command as yet like that of the Catholics but the Shiaa sect of the Muslims would soon create one, as it seems from the new belt they have created that they can call a unified cell stretching from Iran and going all the way through the Middle East to North Africa and moving South to Asia.  While the Sunni Muslims are still vying for a brand of their own, they still lag behind their Shiaa brethren counterparts in creating a single point of command and control.  Current war with Hamas had given them a tremendous opportunity for fermenting one. Israel, on the other hand, knowingly or unknowingly has promoted the cause of the Shiaas and helped them emerge as a force to reckon with, which they have denied for the Sunni Muslims. Bush's era has made the Shiaas the single most beneficiary of his policies, knowingly or unknowingly, he has created the lethal most gifts to the Shiaas on a silver platter that will haunt the US and its allies for the generations to come.

Coming back to the holy war of the Muslims, It has been very clearly mentioned of the circumstances under which Islam can condone one.  A holy war is permitted only when they are attacked and their existence is in question.  The focus of Islamic Jihad has never been an offensive weapon.  The focus of Islamic Jihad is also directed to the self ill conceptions and ill intents to purify ones mind and body.  As I had mentioned earlier, that certain segment of the Western World, who understands the need for an alternative to their Capitalistic Society, are trying their best to put these forces into test by pressuring them and setting up for the grounds for confrontations.  They are providing every opportunity to the Muslims to find a rightful cause for them to wage a holy war.  Current push by the Israelis into Gaza was nothing more than forcing the Muslims to unite and wage a holy war against them and their allies namely the West.  Understanding the opportunity, people vying for that spot, has given the call for a holy war and sooner or later, a full fledged war is expected.

"Fear" is a powerful tool and People and leaders do take advantage of this powerful tool to rule and manage their own people at the expense of the negative impacts it has on the population in general.   In our societies, the mothers use this technique to feed their unwilling children to eat or the fathers use it to discipline their children so that they become attentive in schools and attend classes but the harm it inflicts on their mind is inconceivable.  At times the lines are crossed.  The lingering impact it has on the psyche is irreparable.  The young minds become resilient to reasons and become conflict prone.  The senses of negativity make them imparvient to reasons and make them impulsive and as a result develop an extreme psyche that dwells between the two extremes.  Their mind becomes emotional.  These adults become prey to the Visionaries, I have defined earlier.  These impulsive minds are them framed to commit the acts of violence that spread fear among the population for a purpose.  They become committed and loyal to the cause.

The second factor that turns people into terrorism is for economic reasons.  Economically deprived mass would very easily be recruited by the religious operatives.  Religion is a platform, where the economically disadvantaged people can easily take refuge and feel relieved. They turn to God for changing their economic dire situations.  The near to free healthcare, free food and charity becomes their lively hood and those acts are all managed by the organized religious groups.  These acts of charity and kindness turn them to a loyal and cohesive force that would be ready to sacrifice their lives for a cause that had made the social disparity in the first place.  The cumulative anger and stored frustration is the breeding ground for the onlookers to make their move and this is what becomes a breeding ground for the potential terror network to get started.  In conclusion, I would say that we directly or indirectly contribute to the process of developing the psyche of a future extremist or a terrorist and the opportunists with a plan and agenda takes advantage of them.

We can not solve this problem anytime soon until the economic and social deprivation our stamped out from our intelligent designs and a more equitable social architectures are put in place.  To be honest, the current upheavals, no matter where it stems from, the root causes are more economic than religion and religion has found an agenda and a just cause to thrive on. If the economic conditions and social justices are brought to bear, religions would not have that opportunity any more to bank on.

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