Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi girl was kidnapped along with her 11 sisters by the terrorist organisation, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They were taken to Syria, along with hundreds of other girls to be brutally beaten and raped for months. Until one day, Nadia successfully escaped. She felt the burden of responsibility towards the girls still in captivity and decided to speak openly. Today, the world recognises the ethnic cleansing by ISIS because of her bravery. Despite this, the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 awardee still feels that she has lost her peace forever for her 6 brothers lay in mass graves in ISIS- controlled areas of Iraq.
On 14th February 2019, a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle carrying over 100 kgs of explosives into a convoy of the Indian Army in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir. More than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were martyred in this deadly terror attack. Later, Jaish e Muhammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, which led to the resurgence of strong hostility between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, India and Pakistan. Not only, the regional security and stability were under threat but also, the world peace.
Terrorism has been in existence for over a century now. It is a lesser known fact because its forms and the reasons for inflicting terror have evolved over time. The assassination of the Austrian Prince by Serbian extremists led to the disastrous World War 1. And it didn’t take long for the world to witness another war. World peace was in ruins. After World War 2, one of the significant development was the creation of Israel, the land of Jews in a Muslim- dominated West Asia. Despite multiple direct wars attempting at regaining the holy site of Jerusalem, the West Asian nations failed every time.
The cost of direct conflict was extremely high in terms of personnel, finance as well as internationally. Thus, nations started proxy wars using non-state actors. This was known as the state- sponsored terrorism. Regarding the fall of USSR, John Levis Gaddis said that we killed the python but gave rise to numerous snakes which pose serious threat to the world security, stability and peace. Pakistan bleeds India using terrorism to achieve its objective of a thousand cuts.
However, Noam Chomsky, a prominent political scientist, calls USA the top terrorist state in the world. It uses terrorism as its foreign policy strategy. Thus, USA is the biggest challenge to world peace. However, the world fails to see the reality of USA because of its global hegemony. It has very carely weaved a discourse which showcases itself as the victim, and not the perpetrator of terrorism.
The first vivid image of terrorism in our minds is the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in US planned by Osama Bin Laden who founded Al-Qaeda, an Afghanistan-based terror organisation. Al-Qaeda carried out this attack in retaliation to America’s support for Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East to protect its oil interests. Bin Laden saw it as a Christain-Jews alliance, supported by apostate Saudi royalty working to undermine Islam. Thus, his aim was to preserve Sharia- based traditions and values even if it meant using violence.
9/11 became the watershed event in the human history. USA declared a ‘Global War on Terror’, which futher hindered the peace- building process. In 2003, USA attacked Iraq reasoning that Saddam Hussain had nuclear weapons. The entire political system in Iraq collapsed. Years later, these Iraqi nationals worked with Al-Qaeda to form the ISIS, having a vast territorial ambition to establish a Caliphate, in the politically unstable Syria. Millions like Nadia lost their families and homes.
SP Huntington predicted that the multipolar world would re-align along cultural faultines. He called the resulting tensions as ‘clash of civilizations’, which would affect world peace. Boko Haram is one of the deadliest terrorist organisations. It operates in the West African countries- Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. The name ‘Book Haram’ means ‘Western education is forbidden’. In their most gastly attack on a Nigerian school, they kidnapped more than 250 girls and converted the Christain girls into Muslims. This highlights the spread of religious extremist ideologies globally.
The terror organisations use the modern aspects of life they claim to be against like internet, social media and the democractic value of freedom of speech to further their cause. “Pen is mightier than the sword.” is true in this case because the tech-savvy terror organisations like ISIS have been able to recruit even the most educated minds globally. They talk about the grievances and atrocities of Muslims to justify their ‘Jihad’. The recruits are radicalised by emotional appeals to their loyalty towards religion. The youth fails to see that such ideologies put world peace in danger.
The targets and victims of terrorist organisations are not the ones that are killed, rather the ones that survive. The social media and global press become ‘the theatre of violence’ as they telecast these events world over and induce fear in the minds of the people. The capitalists especially in Global North have securitised terrorism i.e. made it a first- world problem despite road accidents killing more people. And they capitalise on fear and mint money out of it.
The mess in West Asia has had horrendous implications on the lives of millions. With families lost, many fled their homes to seek a peaceful place. Putting their money and lives in hands of strangers, they take the boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Not all are lucky as hundreds of boats capsize. The picture of the Syrian kid lying dead on the Turkish beach screamed loudly at the world to take notice of the situation. But, some of the European countries refused asylum to them. The refugee crisis has rocked the EU completely and led to its breakdown i.e. the Brexit. Islamophobia in these countries hangs like a sword on the heads of the refugees.
Lone-wolf terrorism has been on the rise. Its less to do about people joining organisations and more about people adopting ideology. We saw it in western nations like UK, France (Paris Charlie Hebdo) etc which were earlier considered immune to such attacks. These individuals, especially from marginalised communities, are “almost always self-radicalised” by accessing information in online forums and manifestos which reinforce their views with a particular type of ideology which often features some sort of “call for action”. The feeling of isolation and development disillusionment can be the driving force towards radicalisation.
SP Huntington’s Clash of civilizations is becoming a reality. Its manifestaion is increasing challenging world peace. Since, the mass migration resulted in the demographic change, white supremism began to surface. Earlier, it was in the form of apartheid. Today, it has taken a new face of terrorism. However, the trigger of white- supremism was the 2009 election of Barack Obama, the first African American President in USA’s over 200 years of democracy. Also, the economy was in ruins because of the sub-prime crisis.
US alone has witnessed a 1000% increase in such shootings in a decade. The entire generation has been sold the idea of supremacy. These Neo-Nazis belonging to organisations like Ku Klux Klan are fascist, anti- Muslim, homophobic, anti- Semitic and anti- immigration. The suprising aspect is that there is no information on domestic terrorism. Bigotry, hatred and oppression have also gripped Europe where we see the rise of far-right fanaticism in politics. They don’t want to be minority in their own country. The ugliest attack was on muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, 2019.
Terrorism is one of the foremost threats to international peace and security as it maims and kills people, and undermines the ability to attain development goals. Unfortunately, the talks about combating terrorism have not been matched by our actions. The strengthening and implementation, without double standards of existing international laws and mechanisms to fight the menace of terrorism is an imperative. This age- old problem requires a modern solution i.e. effective multilateralism.
We need a strategy that guides and unites us by emphasising operational elements of disuasion, denial, deterence, development of state capacity and defence of human rights. To fight terrorism and ensure sustainable world peace, we must begin our ‘war on ideology’. And the best weapon for it is education, and not guns as was advocated by Malala Yousafzai. It is the most effective form of defense spending. We must commit ourselves to achieve the principles of peace and justice so that people like Nadia and martyrs of Pulwama do not suffer the global disease of terrorism.