Fight­ing ter­ror a fight to save civ­i­liza­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Tragic. Hor­rific. Dev­as­tat­ing. No ad­jec­tive can de­scribe what hap­pened in Brus­sels on Tues­day. Just like no ad­jec­tive could de­scribe the Paris at­tacks onNov 13.

In­deed, no se­cu­rity is se­cure enough to stop peo­ple from blow­ing them­selves up in the name of re­li­gion, al­beit driven by the bla­tantly wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tion of faith. The world, from NewYork and Lon­don toMum­bai and Bei­jing, has seen what youths un­der the in­flu­ence of self-pro­claimed pro­tec­tors of re­li­gion can do.

The so-called war on ter­ror has been rag­ing since the Sept 11, 2001, at­tacks. It started against al-Qaida. Be­fore al-Qaida it was the Tal­iban that was the scourge of hu­man­ity. And even be­fore Osama bin Laden was gunned down in Pak­istan’s Ab­bot­tabad in­May 2011, BokoHaramwas wreak­ing havoc in Nige­ria and other African coun­tries.

And then from the bat­tle­grounds of Iraq and Syria emerged a das­tardly force giv­ing sleep­less nights to peo­ple across the world. The Is­lamic State group is by far the most dreaded re­li­gious out­fit in his­tory, and its lead­ers use the most so­phis­ti­cated means to re­cruit youths and in­doc­tri­nate them with a dis­torted ver­sion of re­li­gion to turn them into bru­tal killers and mo­bile grenades. They have away with the In­ter­net, their pro­pa­ganda lit­er­a­ture is de­signed to fool and lure youths, their re­cruit­ment process uses fil­ters to drawthe most dog­matic youths as well as to pre­empt in­fil­tra­tion by sus­pected “sabo­teurs”, and their bru­tal­ity is aimed at spread­ing fear not only among their “enemies” but also among their own mem­bers to pre­vent them from even think­ing of leav­ing the out­fit.

For the IS, a Paris or a Brus­sels seems to be a means to an end— spread­ing the fear of an­other at­tack so that gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions go into a frenzy and launch in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions that un­wit­tingly in­con­ve­nience peo­ple of a par­tic­u­lar faith. The more sus­pi­cious gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions be­come of mem­bers of a cer­tain com­mu­nity, the more its youths will feel wronged and the more they will be drawn to­ward the IS. The IS or­ches­trated the Brus­sels at­tacks just days af­ter the ar­rest of the prime sus­pect of the Paris at­tacks Salah Ab­deslam from theMolen- beek neigh­bor­hood of the Bel­gian cap­i­tal.

Chil­dren of the faith that the IS claims to rep­re­sent are among the most marginal­ized in the world, over­whelmed by the vi­cious cir­cle of poverty, il­lit­er­acy and ig­no­rance, and are thus easy prey for ter­ror­ist out­fits. The world has been fight­ing ter­ror­ism for decades, more in­tensely over the past decade and a half. Yet ter­ror­ism has grown from strength to strength. Counter force just doesn’t seem to be work­ing. And the in­ter­ven­tions in Afghanistan, and Iraq, Libya, Syria and other Mid­dles East coun­tries have wors­ened the situation.

Per­haps it is time to counter ter­ror­ism with in­for­ma­tion. The IS’ net­work is deep, wide and ex­ten­sive, be­cause youths have co-opted be part of the ter­ror­ist out­fit’s off­shoots in coun­tries not only in the Mid­dle East but also Europe and Asia, even the United States.

No re­li­gion, not even the one that IS claims to be the flag-bearer of, tells its fol­low­ers to kill fel­low hu­man be­ings or blow them­selves. Why­can­not we teach the chil­dren born into a cer­tain com­mu­nity this fact? Why­have we for­got­ten our re­spon­si­bil­ity to “save the chil­dren that have not tasted hu­man blood”? Why­can­not we launch a counter pro­pa­ganda war against ter­ror­ism out­fits like the IS? Why can­not we seek the help of re­li­gious heads of a cer­tain com­mu­nity to spread the true mes­sage ofGod?

Ex­pe­ri­ence shows the dec­i­ma­tion of a ter­ror­ist out­fit gives rise to a more sav­age force. So let us not turn the fight against ter­ror­ism into a clash of hu­man civ­i­liza­tions, be­cause it is a clash to save hu­man civ­i­liza­tion. Only when the world re­al­izes this fact can it save it­self from not only ter­ror­ism but also all forms of sav­agery and op­pres­sion.

The au­thor is a se­nior edi­tor with China Daily. oprana@hot­

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