Psychology of Terrorism
Dr. Unaiza Niaz’s masterly work on the roots of wars, insurgencies and terrorism is the first of its kind by a Pakistani author.
It is also one of the best and comprehensive guides on the subject. The painstaking research and incisive intellectual extrapolation going into the work, often hard to assimilate, is recompensed by the smooth flow of the narrative. Readability emerges unscratched through the tangled wood of technical verbiage and technical jargon often unavoidable in a serious work like this.
The book is a ‘collage’ of guest writers - foreign and national from Pakistan, Afghanistan the Middle East, Africa and all countries where there are Muslim populations. It is a ‘voice’ from the Muslim world to create awareness of the ‘silent sufferers’ of the malady worldwide.
The battleground today lies within the civilian domain rather than on a distinct battlefield.
Hence the tyrannical term ‘Collateral Damage’ to cover up and justify the use of air power in FATA headed by Drones, helicopter gunships, Chinooks and Black Hawks – even F-16 fighters/ bombers, where necessary.
The ‘plight’ of the civilian population in the FATA region, caused by the loss of life and limb, along with the rest of the Muslim world - Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia – Herzegovina, etc. is cruelly dismissed as ‘collateral damage.’
A young Pathan intellectual, a Ph.D candidate at Harvard, whom I happened to meet in Peshawar, believes that besides the ‘psycho-trauma’ there would not be many amongst the survivors in Waziristan, North and South, without a limb or an eye missing, worse still completely blinded and disabled.
According to one of the contributors, Jessica Stern, rampant terrorism originates in the vicious hypothesis of using it as a ‘mean of demoralizing the enemy.’ The fourteenth century Chinese strategic sage Sun Tzu’s dictum ‘killing one to frighten ten thousand,’ a justification for hundreds of Drone victims. It seeks only to keep bloodshed to the minimum, in effect, to avert war altogether. Sun Tzu would rather have war without ‘bloodying one’s sword.’
Dr. Niaz identifies ‘Wahabism’ at the root of radical/political Islam and the driving force behind the growth of terrorism in most of the Arab and Islamic world. Wahabism is mainly directed against Western powers, for their unqualified support of Israel and Muslim deviants from pristine Islam.
Nearer home, the festering Kashmir dispute and the running war (Jihad) and the virtual occupation of Afghanistan by NATO/ISAF under American command waters the poisonous ivy of terrorism.
No less than 70, 000 are reported killed in Kashmir and the tally continues to rise day by day. Nothing short of genocide, overwhelmingly Muslim. It has had enormous psychological consequences affecting the ‘physical cognitive emotional health of the entire population.’
Palestine has an even sorrier tale to tell. The Israeli occupation of bonafide Palestinian parts of territories, of the Jordanian West Bank along with the Syrian Golan Heights and recurring invasions of Lebanon are the worst kind of terrorism under the deceptive label of war. As a result the region remains torn by perpetual conflict.
In her chapter ‘Terrorism and its Aftermath,’ Dr. Niaz focuses on the ‘interesting and strange symbiotic relationship between terrorism and media.’
The terrorists often take advantage of images of groups of masked individuals coercing and intimidating their captive to ‘convey the message’ that the act is a ‘collective display of the group’s power rather than an individual criminal act.’
The ‘randomness and ubiquity’ of the threat tends to give the ‘impression’ of vastly greater capacities sub-