Counter All Forms of Terror to Stamp Out Global Terrorism

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Terrorism cannot be exterminated by selective condemnation. So let us call a spade a spade and speak the truth, whether it is pleasant or bitter. We must condemn and counter all forms of terror. Selective condemnation will not help.

Syed Khalique Ahmed

NEW DELHI—Prime Minister Narendra Modi deserves appreciation for condemning global terrorism and demanding that costs be imposed on nations supporting terrorism to make the world free of terrorism. He remarked while speaking at the ‘No Money For Terror Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing’ in the presence of over 400 delegates from all over the world here on Friday. At the same conference, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that terrorism should not be linked to any religion, nationality, or group. PM is correct to say that there should be no ifs and buts in matters related to terrorism, and organizations and individuals expressing sympathy for terrorists must be isolated.

PM used strong words against the financing of international terrorism because India is a victim of it and has been fighting against terror for decades. Terrorism benefits no one, and it gobbles up those who finance and support them.

But we need not be selective in condemning the menace that has caused immense damage to world peace and destabilized several countries worldwide in the last few decades. We must condemn all forms of terrorism, no matter who perpetrates it. 

Terrorism must be treated as terrorism, whether the perpetrators are individuals or the governments. There is no fixed form or pattern of terrorism. It has many forms. PM has correctly stated that some of the states have made terrorism part of their foreign policy, that is, they export terrorism to destabilize other countries.

However, what the world leaders have failed to point out about terrorism is the involvement of radical elements in terror activities against minority communities within their own countries. For example, Muslims and Christians in India face terror from specific radical organizations and their leaders. In addition, many Muslims have died in mob lynchings in the last eight years. Many Muslim houses in several states were demolished on the pretext that occupants of these houses were involved in some crimes. These demolitions were against the existing laws of the land. Muslims have also become victims of vigilante groups of the majority community for long. Many leaders, including elected representatives and some religious leaders, have given an open call for the massacre of Muslims. But these are roaming free. There have been concerted attacks on Christians, too, all over the country. Do these incidents not amount to terror? Minorities, particularly Muslims, are living in a state of fear. 

Another aspect of terrorism is the big military powers using their military muscle to create death and destruction when the militarily weaker countries do not toe their line in international diplomacy. For instance, the US-led Christian West used its military might to destroy and destabilize Iraq because the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain was critical of the role of the US in the Arab world. As they did not have any solid ground to attack Iraq, they hatched a conspiracy arguing that Iraq had amassed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and had become a threat to regional peace. It was on this pretext they attacked Iraq and killed millions of people, including men, women, and children. Iraq, one of the region’s fastest-growing economies, was completely decimated. Though the US and European forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, the country has not yet stabilized, and peace has not returned. At the end of the war, the invading forces declared that no WMDs were found. So, was attacking Iraq not terrorism? Why is the world silent on it and not condemning the terrorism of the super-power?

Likewise, the world is also silent on Israeli terrorism against Palestinian people. No day passes when an innocent Palestinian is not arrested or killed by Israeli forces in occupied Gaza and West Bank territories. Israel is forcibly occupying houses and land of besieged Palestinians. Israelis, including Israeli police and Army personnel, frequently vandalize Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. Israel is engaging in direct terror against Palestinians. Israel itself came into being through an act of terrorism in 1948 by massacring more than 10,000 Palestinians, expelling about eight lakh others, and destroying more than 500 Palestinian villages. But the “civilized” world, which talks about stamping out terrorism from the surface of the earth, is silent about it. Strange indeed!

Against this, the US-led Western armies reduced Afghanistan to the ‘Stone Age’ on the pretext that it had given shelter to Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden whose supporters were said to have been involved in attacking the World Trade Centre in New York. Though exact data about the civilian casualties during two decades of the war imposed on Afghanistan are not available, the US-led forces continued their operation even after Osama was shot dead in Abottabad in Pakistan and Al-Qaeda was eliminated from Afghanistan. According to fotune.com, more than 71,000 Afghan civilians were killed by the US-led western forces, and another 75,000 Afghan military and police personnel died directly because of the war imposed by the US and its supporters. Was it not terrorism because Afghanistan had not attacked the World Trade Centre, or any of its citizens were involved in the attack?

Similarly, Syria and Libya were also victims of the politics of global military powers.

According to the UN envoy for Syria, more than four lakh people have been killed in Syria, and over 13 million people have been displaced to other countries like Turkey, Germany, and several Arab countries. Everybody knows who floated ISIS, recruited volunteers, and trained and armed them to carry out death and destruction in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. According to the World Food Programme, more than four lakh people were internally displaced due to the war imposed on Libya. Thousands of people, including civilians and soldiers, are reported to have been killed in the Libyan war between 2014 and 2020. The war on Libya was imposed simply to dislodge Muammar Gaddafi, who did not support the superpower of the world. Does not it amount to terrorism?

In 2016, the US embassy staff and a Christian missionary were found involved in the attempted 2016 coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Trump administration forced the Turkish government to release the Christian priest and allow him to travel to the US. Investigations found that Turkish-origin Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen based in the US, was the chief conspirator behind the failed coup. Erdogan demanded his extradition so that a trial could be conducted against him. But the Trump administration refused to extradite him. Was the failed coup against Turkey’s head of state, not terrorism? While the world condemned the coup bid, no country condemned the involvement of the US priest and its embassy staff.

Terrorism cannot be exterminated by selective condemnation. So let us call a spade a spade and speak the truth, whether it is pleasant or bitter.

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