Today, I come to everyone with questions that fill my mind. Many are the queries I ponder over incessantly yet with no clarity and answers in sight. I seek enlightenment from those who may have light and have deeper understanding on the issue of terror and efforts to counter same. Almost on daily basis we wake to horrifying news about acts of terror and the countless number of life and property it consumes yet never satiable, yet never relenting, yet never pacified, and yes, it is never ending. But why? Why don’t we seem to ever be getting the remedy to this monster called terror? What is the exact cause of terrorism and extremism and who is/are causing them? What then is the approach: individual, community, religious, national and international? What have we done and what has been the progress or successes of our efforts thus far? Where do we stand in the quest of fighting terror and saving innocent lives and properties? Have we gone back to the drawing board yet; do we need to; who are the engagement partners in redefining our approach? What is the strategy going forward; do we have one; who has it, who is leading the chart; will it work; what is the time frame? Why has it taken so long without any seeming evidence of triumph? Is it not the demonstration of the greatest form of weakness as we watch on perplexed and lives are being gruesomely flashed down below the ground?
These are delicate questions that connect to human dignity and right to life. Each moment that passes without an answer – not just an answer but the best right answer – to any of them, multiple human lives disappear from the face of the earth forever. Death is not a strange thing; it comes to us all but there are justifiable deaths and those that are not. From Istanbul, to Baghdad, to Mogadishu, to London, to Cairo, to Madagali, to Kidapawan, to Quetta, to Izmir, to Jablah, Abyan, to Aleppo, to Jourian, to Waza, to Pishan, to Brussels, to Berlin, to Orlando Florida and many other places across the globe, the act of terror is ubiquitous. Almost every continent has experienced radicalism and terrorism in one form or the other. With only halfway into 2017, there has been 1,053 registered cases of fatal terrorist activities in 48 countries brutally killing some 7,638 people. Around the same time in 2016, the world had already lost some 10,000 lives to terrorism, a death toll that sharply rose to 21,237 by the end of that year. What is being done about it?
Many nations including Iraq, the United Kingdom, France, Afghanistan and Syria appear to be overwhelmed by the raining of these attacks on their people and countries. They seemingly are given no time to breath out of one before the next follows, then the next and the one after. The only major news that has come from the United Kingdom for instance aside from Brexit has been terror and its corollary fatalities and blight. Suddenly, our leaders have become retroactive when it comes to the massacre of terror. It is as though we are expected to accept it as part of normal life; as a new stranger who is never going to depart. Are we truly bereft of ideas that foster proactivity and prevention and saving innocent lives? The speeches global leaders deliver these days when these incidents happen tell it all; we have thrown in the towel and rather doing case management on piecemeal basis of terrorist incidents. In her speech following the Finsbury Park terrorist attack on muslims on Sunday, June 18, 2017, Theresa May, the prime minister of the United Kingdom said “Extra police resources have already been deployed to reassure communities and the police will continue to assess the security needs of mosques and provide any additional resources needed, especially during this final week before “Eid al Fitr”, a particularly important time for the whole muslim community…”. Great assurance and very much needed at a time like this but how do we get to the root causes of terrorism and what can we change in our approach in dealing with same? The prime minister of France, Manuel Valls, in the aftermath of the Nice terrorist attack called on the French people to learn to live with terrorism. How can terrorism be cohabited with when it devours before recognition?
The scope and depth and the expansion of terrorism can only understandably thrive on a strong financial, technical and network resource backing. Who are the financiers and brains behind these massacres? What systems do they use to carry out financial disbursements and such operational excellence that continually seem to elude the sophistication and shrewdness of all the huge intelligence and security agencies around the world? Or is it the case that for some reason our leaders simply want terror to be around for the dividends they rip thereof in power, wealth and influence in the world? It is illogical to take a simplistic view of this phenomenon and focalize resource on the task force who maybe mere employees and the vehicle through which this quest of power players is accomplished. It is important we chart a pathway towards a long term solution to curb the rigors of terror, an approach that is devoid of egocentrism, judgement, hatred and evisceration.
Why not dialogue instead of going under the impression that some way somewhat we will be able to identify all radicalized persons and extinct them to end radicalism and its upshots? As much as hatred is innate so is peace and the desire to have it in each of us. We should focus on activating the good and positive in people to achieve our ends. Can we reach out to our friends on the other side and jaw-jaw instead of war-war? At least that way, we know we have explored the option of brokering peace and and starting the process of reconciliation through dialogue. Discarding any reasonable potentially available option without giving it a trial is completely wrong. Voltaire made it clear; “Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do”. The strategy and action must be swift, realistic, reliable and goal oriented, and it is due now, maybe overdue. The more time it takes us in quandary as to how to deal with this quagmire, more lives are being wiped and terrorist groups are gaining more grounds.
But do individuals, families, communities and their leaders, religious groups and their leaders, and society in general also have a role to play? “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” says in Proverbs 22:6 of the holy bible. All persons who have been radicalized belong to families, communities, and have nationalities. They have or at least had friends in the societies they emerged from prior to their radicalization. At individual and community levels, we may have a role to play in their “unradicalization” and thinking of helping these persons rather than casting them out only to realize sooner or later that they are coming for our lives.
Can nations do more in ending terrorism? Isn’t it time we began thinking prevention rather than cure? Poverty is undeniably a major driving force for the extremist agenda. When people become desperate, hopeless and purposeless, they tend to be easily malleable to identify with some purpose or course whether good or bad. National leaders have the responsibility to create the enabling national space where economic activities thrive permeating the lives of its citizens and dwellers. Is it true that unnecessary interference in the affairs of other nations and bad foreign policies do not have a bearing on terrorist activities? I do not think it is true. In as much as the world needs reasonable policing to protect lives and resources, certain invasions of other nations have clearly been carried out on the wrong pretext or even if justifiable without the adequate think-through that something as phenomenal as a military intervention in another country deserves. The military activities of the United States and Europe in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and their contributions to terrorism are fresh testaments to the symbiosis between western invasions of other nations and terror. More remains to be desired of the United Nations in checking some of these indefensible crackdown on other regimes. Clearly, we need to return to the drawing board and accurately assess the true cause and cost of terrorism, then we can more correctly determine strategies for its resolution.
Can we all see our contributions to the causes of terrorism and responsibility to be part of the solution? I hope we do, we have to, because no more life deserves to disappear this way.