In order to succeed in any struggle, we first must diagnose it accurately, thus isolating it from other similar and confusing aspects and to display it vividly in front of a community in order to reach a consensus. Then, maybe we will succeed to concentrate the struggle on the goal, which is a movement that has become a real danger to world peace.
The confusion regarding the definition for terrorism is the reason for the difficulties in the international struggle against terrorism and this confusion sometimes conflicts with democratic values, which is a barrier in the War on Terror as it is when one does not know the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. That benefits terrorism and harms freedom fighters. In many instances, terrorists take advantage of the freedom fighter title and that blurs the distinction between the two.
Terror organizations are operated by groups and not institutions. In most cases, they use religious ideology in order to recruit broader support around them as the difference between the devoutly religious and the radically religious person is very slim. It is very easy to convince a devoutly religious person to join a radical terror group depending on the discourse, the messages the terror group broadcasts, and of course the objectives set by the organization.
Terrorist organizations operate mostly within civilian population centers and they aim their main activities against civilian targets. They only go after military targets as a second choice. Take Hamas as an example. They fire at civilian population centers in Israel from civilian areas within Gaza while trying to avoid directly confronting the IDF except when they have no choice. It is also like that with the Lashkar e-Taiba in Kashmir and throughout India. They harm Indian civilians like in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that included over 27 locations, which clearly demonstrated that they are a terror group and aren’t freedom fighters.
There is also state-sponsored terrorism that is not related to military institutions and they turn against targets that they cannot attack for diplomatic and other reasons. Take the Palestinian Tanzim for example, which was established by Yasser Arafat and was not officially part of the Palestinian Authority. Also look at how Iran and Syria use Hezbollah in order to operate against Israel over the years and today, they are also operating against Syrian Opposition members.
The difference between freedom fighters and terror organizations is that freedom fighters are oppressed groups within a country fighting for freedom and equality in order to put an end to the repression against minorities and all other citizens. They fight mainly against institutions and not the innocent civilian population.
Their struggle could have been legitimate if the government had permitted it and it became an armed struggle as that was the only way possible to proceed. Examples include the Syrian Revolutionaries who took to the streets against live bullets by the regime and this is what prompted them to resort to armed struggle over the past five years. The terror organizations and their state sponsors make it difficult till today to distinguish between terror organizations and freedom fighters in Syria.
There are also minorities within Bangladesh that are struggling against the repression of the regime. They are seeking to bring about a free and democratic government that respects human rights and especially the rights of minority groups such as the Hindus. Also throughout history, the Druze minority was against the Turks and later on, the French were against the leadership of Sultan Pasha Al Atrash in Syria. Also the struggle of the Etzel and Lehi in the State of Israel against the British Mandate fits into this category.
The inability of countries in the world to reach a consensus on the definition of terrorism is the main reason that it is harder for them to fight against terrorism alongside the democratic tools that terror groups take advantage of, which enables them to build up and take root as an active and cruel terror organization. So then, how can one fight against terrorism and terrorists?
For of all, one must understand that one cannot fight against terrorism using democratic tools. Therefore, the leadership must introduce special laws in order to take care of the terrorists and there is nothing wrong with a democracy being a democracy that defends itself against bacterial lethal terrorism in order to maintain the continuity of the democracy and therefore, this article includes a number of basic moves that are preventative measures to suppress terrorism.
Terror organizations are planting roots in mosques scattered throughout the land and it is the role of the Secret Service to place people within the mosque community that will inform them about what is happening in the mosque. Every Imam’s sermon and every gathering of a group of worshipers must be known and supervised by the Secret Service of that country. Once a suspicion of terrorist activity is revealed, they should utilize the emergency laws in place in order to suppress them.
Terror organizations most of the time start out as charities and they take advantage of the needs of the poor in order to attract them. After the needy become dependent upon the same charity then the pathway to recruiting them to terrorist activity is easy. Therefore, close supervision and the linking of the charity to the financing of terror activities must be exposed before the Security Forces. One should not underestimate any organization and claim that it is temporary as every great and multifaceted organization began as a temporary group. Therefore, greater supervision by the Security System is pivotal.
The Secret Cyber Security Forces in the era of progress shows that many are recruited to terrorism via the Internet. The interests of terror organizations are pursued and even the pathway of assembling explosive devices as well as implementing terror attacks is via the Internet. Therefore, the Cyber Unit using code names define, follow after the activities of terror supporters, and thus thwart a suspect before he reaches the implementation phase.
It is important to note that investing in measures to prevent terrorism no matter how expensive are preferable and cheaper than the consequences of terror attacks, whether it is taking care of the injured and the families of those killed as well as the property damage. This is especially so given that the terrorists are motivated to succeed with terror attacks, which adds to their motivation even in the circles of those who are far away from those who are interested in terrorism.
But above all, educating and preventing terror begins from infancy and it is superior to all other methods because no matter how many terror leaders are eliminated and how many terror cells we succeed to thwart, as long as we don’t take care of the terrorist ideology, the terrorism will continue. Mosque education should only include teaching moderation to the believers as well as to emphasize the positive and the good about religion and to hold meetings between prominent religious leaders promoting unity among mankind.
Education in schools is similar to the mosques.
They should equally enrich students to recognize and honor one another and those who are different. This is a long-term investment and it is independent of the will of the parties to fight against the terrorism that harms all the peoples and religions as well as the image of humanity among those that lost it but in the end, it will be worthwhile.
This Op-Ed is the author’s personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of JerusalemOnline.com