Whither Ter­ror­ism? 28

What is ter­ror­ism to one, may be a freedom strug­gle for a no­ble cause to an­other.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By S.G. Ji­la­nee S. G. Ji­la­nee is a se­nior po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and the for­mer edi­tor of SouthAsia Mag­a­zine.

What is ter­ror­ism for one may be a

freedom strug­gle for an­other.

Ter­ror­ism has re­ceived the widest pub­lic­ity since the 9/11 at­tack on the World Trade Cen­ter and the global war on ter­ror that Amer­ica launched against Al Qaeda. But ter­ror­ism, per se, has been a much older phe­nom­e­non, used as an ex­pres­sion of re­volt against real or per­ceived in­jus­tice - prin­ci­pally, po­lit­i­cal or eco­nomic.

To­day, In­dia, Pak­istan and the Mid­dle East – es­pe­cially Iraq, are its hot­beds but Bri­tain and Amer­ica, as well, live un­der its shadow. Al Qaeda has proved to be a hydra for the United States. Pres­i­dent Obama may have de­feated it in Afghanistan but it has been re­born in Ye­men and the Maghreb. In In­dia there are the Nax­alites and the United Lib­er­a­tion Front of As­sam (ULFA). The for­mer is fight­ing against eco­nomic ex­ploita­tion of ma­jor In­dian cor­po­ra­tions and lo­cal cor­rupt of­fi­cials. The lat­ter seeks to es­tab­lish a sov­er­eign As­sam through an armed strug­gle.

In Pak­istan, the Tehrik-e-Tal­iban Pak­istan (TTP) is re­spon­si­ble for many ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing at­tacks on mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions and caus­ing much loss of life. The de­mands for which it is fight­ing with the state in­clude that Pak­istan with­draw its sup­port to the US war against Tal­iban and en­force Sharia in the coun­try. An­other out­fit in the re­cent past was the LTTE in Sri Lanka. It al­most held the coun­try to ran­som from 1983 to 2009. Among its most sig­nif­i­cant ter­ror­ist acts were the as­sas­si­na­tion of Sri Lankan pres­i­dent Pre­madasa and In­dia’s ex-prime min­is­ter, Ra­jiv Gandhi.

Still ear­lier, there was the Baader Mein­hoff Gang, also known as the Red Army Fac­tion ( RAF) in West Ger­many and the Red Bri­gade in Italy. Founded in 1970, the RAF was the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent leftwing mil­i­tant <http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Ter­ror­ist> group. It en­gaged in armed re­sis­tance against the state was deemed to be fas­cist. In al­most thirty years of its ac­tiv­i­ties, it was in­volved in nu­mer­ous ter­ror­ist acts. The Gang’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Cell (Revo­lu­tionäre Zellen, RZ), was held re­spon­si­ble for “296 bomb at­tacks and ar­son and other at­tacks be­tween 1973 and 1995.”

Launched at about the same

time, the Red Bri­gade was an­other left­ist group that sought to cre­ate a “rev­o­lu­tion­ary” state through armed strug­gle and take Italy out of NATO. In the process it car­ried out nu­mer­ous ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion of Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Aldo Moro. The Ir­ish Repub­li­can Army (IRA) was yet an­other ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion re­spon­si­ble for more than sixty ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Lon­don be­tween 1971 and 2010, plant­ing bombs all over the place that killed peo­ple at all places from pubs and post of­fices to the House of Par­lia­ment.

Go­ing back in time, there were Jewish and In­dian ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions as well. Be­fore Is­rael’s emer­gence as a state, the Jews had formed two mil­i­tant or­ga­ni­za­tions - the Ir­gun in 1931 and the Stern Gang or Lehi, in 1940, when Bri­tain gov­erned Pales­tine un­der its League of Na­tions man­date. They at­tacked Bri­tish mil­i­tary and civil per­son­nel. Two op­er­a­tions for which the Ir­gun earned the worst no­to­ri­ety were the bomb­ing of the King David Ho­tel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 and the hor­ri­ble Deir Yassin mas­sacre. The lat­ter was car­ried out to­gether with the Stern Gang on 9 April 1948. The Stern Gang or Lehi also re­peat­edly at­tacked Bri­tish per­son­nel not only in Pales­tine but also be­yond its bor­ders. Two of its mem­bers as­sas­si­nated Lord Moyne, the Bri­tish min­is­ter of state in the Mid­dle East, in Cairo in Novem­ber 1944. Later, the Stern Gang at­tacked air­fields, rail­way yards and other strate­gic in­stal­la­tions in Pales­tine. Lehi also as­sas­si­nated United Na­tions me­di­a­tor Folke Ber­nadotte, for which the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil called the as­sas­sins “a crim­i­nal group of ter­ror­ists.”

In In­dia Ju­gan­tar and Anushilon were formed to re­sist the par­ti­tion of Ben­gal in 1905 and pro­mote the cause of In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence through vi­o­lent means. Young men and women, im­bibed with the pas­sion of lib­erty from the Bri­tish Raj, at­tacked and killed Bri­tish of­fi­cers. Benoy Basu, Di­nesh Gupta and Badal Gupta killed Ben­gal’s In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice, Low­man and the IG Pris­ons, Col. Simpson, in a dar­ing raid into the Writ­ers’ Build­ing that housed the Ben­gal sec­re­tariat. Khudi Ram Bose, a young lad from Mid­na­pore in Ben­gal, went to Muzaffarpur in Bi­har to kill Kings­ford, a Bri­tish judge. By mis­take he killed the fam­ily of a lo­cal Bri­tish lawyer, Mr. Kennedy. He was only 18 years, 7 months and 11 days old when he was hanged.

That was the first phase. In the sec­ond phase of rev­o­lu­tion­ary ter­ror­ism (1929 to 1934), Bha­gat Singh as­sas­si­nated John Saun­ders, a Bri­tish po­lice of­fi­cer (1928). Surya Sen car­ried out the Chit­tagong Ar­moury raid in 1930. Lethal at­tacks were made on the gov­er­nors of Ben­gal – Sir John An­der­son in 1932 and Sir Stan­ley Jack­son in 1934, re­spec­tively. In the lat­ter case, it was Bina Das, a stu­dent of the Cal­cutta Univer­sity, who fired the pis­tol that Jack­son par­ried.

But what is ter­ror­ism for one may be a no­ble cause for the other. The Ir­gun and Lehi were ter­ror­ists for the Bri­tish. Yet Ir­gun was the po­lit­i­cal pre­de­ces­sor to the Likud Party, now rep­re­sented by Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. His fa­ther, Prime Min­is­ter Me­nachem Be­gin was also an Ir­gun leader and Yitzhak Shamir, an­other Is­raeli prime min­is­ter was a leader of Lehi. In 1980, Is­rael in­sti­tuted a mil­i­tary dec­o­ra­tion as “award for ac­tiv­ity in the strug­gle for the es­tab­lish­ment of Is­rael,” “the Lehi rib­bon” and, in In­dia, like­wise, the “so-called” ter­ror­ists are ex­tolled as national heroes and mar­tyrs. .

How­ever, ter­ror­ism seems to cease when ei­ther the or­ga­ni­za­tion has lost its steam (Baader Min­hoff), or is suc­cess­fully put down by po­lice ac­tion ( Red Bri­gade, In­dian rev­o­lu­tion­ary ac­tors), or by mil­i­tary force (LTTE), or as a re­sult of dia­logue (IRA), or when it achieves its pur­pose (Ir­gun, Lehi).

As to the fu­ture, in In­dia, it may con­tinue. In Pak­istan it may cease if Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif’s pol­icy of a dia­logue with TTP and puni­tive ac­tion as an al­ter­na­tive, is suc­cess­ful.

As to the United States it is go­ing to re­main pit­ted with Al Qaeda for some time be­cause it is not in a mood to con­sider any al­ter­na­tive to de­feat­ing its bête noire.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.