Opinion / OP Rana

Fighting terror a fight to save civilization

By Op Rana (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-24 07:43

Fighting terror a fight to save civilization

Police control the access to the central train station following bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Tragic. Horrific. Devastating. No adjective can describe what happened in Brussels on Tuesday. Just like no adjective could describe the Paris attacks on Nov 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 New York and London to Mumbai 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 in May 2011, Boko Haram was 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 a way with the Internet, their propaganda literature is designed to fool and lure youths, their recruitment process uses filters to draw the 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 the Molenbeek 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. Why cannot we teach the children born into a certain community this fact? Why have we forgotten our responsibility to "save the children that have not tasted human blood"? Why cannot 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 of God?

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@hotmail.com

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