By Babatunde Jose
Terrorism is the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear; coup de main, surprise attack. Ironically given its usage today, the term originally referred to a legitimate system of government which used terror to assert itself. Its inspiration was the fearsome ‘la Terreur’ which engulfed revolutionary France under Robespierre’s doomed command between 1793 and 1794, during the French Revolution.
Terrorism is a very broad field: Its variant, Islamic terrorism, started in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, as an offshoot of the ‘Cold War’. Until the rise of the modern nation state after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the sort of central authority and cohesive society that terrorism attempts to influence barely existed. Communications were inadequate and controlled, and the causes that might inspire terrorism (religious schism, insurrection, ethnic strife) were typically settled by open warfare. During the late 19th century, radical political theories and improvements in weapons technology spurred the formation of small groups of revolutionaries who effectively attacked nation-states.
Following the recent tragic events in Manchester, London, Paris and elsewhere, there is a need to put the origin of these terrorist groups in proper perspective. What is the origin of Al Qaeda and the ISIS? Much like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) is ‘made-in-the-USA’, which has a long and torrid history of backing terrorist groups; which will surprise only those who ignore history. The CIA first aligned itself with extremist Islam during the Cold War era. Back then, militant political Islam, was considered an ally in the struggle against the Soviet Union.
The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, General William Odom recently remarked, “by any measure the U.S. has long used terrorism’. During the 1970’s the CIA used the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a barrier, both to thwart Soviet expansion and prevent the spread of Marxist ideology among the Arab masses. The United States also openly supported Sarekat Islam against Sukarno in Indonesia, and supported the Jamaat-e-Islami terror group against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan. Last but certainly not least, there is Al Qaeda.
In a 2004 BBC article entitled “Al-Qaeda’s origins and links”, the BBC wrote: “During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.”
Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary in the UK from 1997–2001, believed the CIA had provided arms to the Arab mujahedeen, including Osama bin Laden; Throughout the ’80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.”
According to Jason Hanna, of CNN, ISIS sprang from al Qaeda in Iraq. It exploited Sunni resentment against Shiites. Hussein had led a secular government, but it was dominated by members of Iraq’s Sunni minority and it brutally repressed opposition. When Saddam was ousted, power went to the majority Shiites, who wanted revenge.
Rather than promoting religious integration and unity, American policy in Iraq exacerbated sectarian divisions and created a fertile breeding ground for Sunni discontent, from which Al Qaeda in Iraq took root.
America’s Middle East policy revolves around oil and Israel. The invasion of Iraq has partially satisfied Washington’s thirst for oil, but ongoing air strikes in Syria and economic sanctions on Iran have everything to do with Israel. The goal is to deprive Israel’s neighboring enemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of crucial Syrian and Iranian support.
ISIS is not merely an instrument of terror being used by America to topple the Syrian government; it is also being used to put pressure on Iran. Truth is, any Iranian nuclear ambition, real or imagined, is as a result of American hostility towards Iran, and not the other way around. U.S. Department of Defense report stated: “The data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement abroad and an increase in terrorist attacks against the U.S.” Truth is, the only way America can win the “War on Terror” is if it stops giving terrorists the motivation and the resources to attack America. Terrorism is the symptom; American imperialism in the Middle East is the cancer. . Claimed Garikai Chengu, a research scholar at Harvard University; “Put simply, the War on Terror is terrorism; only, it is conducted on a much larger scale by people with jets and missiles.”
Iran did not just start a nuclear program. When the going was good, in 1957 the United States signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal with the Shah, paving the way for Tehran to build its nuclear program. In 1975, West German company started building nuclear plant at Bushehr. The tune changed with the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.
Some of the CIA’s greatest Afghan beneficiaries were Arabist commanders; Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, an associate of Bin Laden’s, was given his visas to enter the US on four separate occasions by the CIA. Rahman was recruiting Arabs to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war, and Egyptian officials testified that the CIA actively assisted him. Rahman was a co-plotter of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
CIA created ISIS’, says Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. He said: “A decision by the CIA, together with Saudi Arabia, to plough billions of dollars into arming the Mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan to tackle the Soviet Union, had led to the creation of terror group al-Qaeda. This, in turn, he said led to the 9/11 terror strikes, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by the US, and the creation of ISIS.” ”The uprising at Mecca permanently shifted Saudi Arabia towards Wahhabism, leading to the transnational spread of Islamic fundamentalism and the US-Saudi destabilization of Afghanistan.” “The 1979 current of Islamification spread to Pakistan where the US embassy was burned to the ground and Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed.”
Unlike the tightly-knit groups of the past, such as the Red Brigades in Italy or the Abu Nidal group in the Middle East, al-Qaeda is loosely knit. It operates across continents as a chain of interlocking networks. Individual groups or cells appear to have a high degree of autonomy, raising their own money, often through petty crime, and making contact with other groups only when necessary. This would probably account for the operation of lone-wolves’ in Europe and America.
United States and Iran relations; two countries that share a long, turbulent history of friendship, antagonism and strife would epitomize the meddlesomeness of America in the affairs of other nations. The 1953 coup that removed Mossadegh is remembered and referenced widely by Iranians, who point to it as a sign of the West’s meddling in Iranian affairs, motivated first and foremost by greed. These anti-imperialist sentiments would underlie the 1979 revolution that swept away the Shah of Iran and the ascendancy of Islamic revolutionaries led by the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Iran’s revolutionary authorities scrapped multibillion-dollar contracts for the construction of 23 nuclear facilities. Revolutionary students stormed and occupied the U.S. Embassy in November 1979, leading to a dramatic 444-day-long hostage crisis. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were cut in 1980. The United States would later back Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in a bloody, eight-year war that kicked off that year with the then-fledgling Islamic republic: America created the ‘monster’ Saddam, unwittingly.
In 1983, a suicide bomber targeted a U.S. Marine barracks in the Lebanese capital, leading to the deaths of 241 U.S. military personnel, the deadliest single incident for American troops since the ‘Battle of Iwo Jima’. The attack was linked to the Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah. A year later, the Reagan administration listed Iran as a state sponsor of terror. In 1988, an American warship, the USS Vincennes, shot down an Iranian passenger airline, killing all 290 people aboard: If not terrorism, what?
The U.S. is trying to achieve Pax Americana. Militarily it cannot be done. But using psychology coupled with axioms from the dictionaries of fanaticism and paranoia, it is trying to project the negative truth of fundamental and Islamic terror.
But again the question arises who are the terrorists. Are they only those who gun down innocent tourists in a bus in Cairo? Or those who slit the throats of foreigners in Algiers? Do they not have camaraderie with the Russian and Serbian butchers?
The 2016 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report reinforces the fact terrorism is a highly concentrated form of violence, mostly committed in a small number of countries and by a small number of groups. The five countries suffering the highest impact from terrorism as measured by the GTI; Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, accounted for 75 per cent of all deaths from terrorism in 2016. Similarly, only four groups were responsible for 74 per cent of all these deaths; ISIL, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Qaida.
While terrorism as a form of violence has a major psychological impact on the societies it touches, there are other forms of violence which are more devastating. Major armed conflicts resulted in more deaths in 2015 as well as the wholesale destruction of economies. The global homicide rate is 15 times the death rate from terrorism.
Like my brother, Tola Adeniyi, let me make one point clear: “I support public execution for anybody who attempts to blow up an aircraft. Any evil minded individual who callously decides to terminate other people’s lives; especially innocent people’s, has forfeited his or her right to live.”
But the point at issue here is the undeserved demonization of Islam. Now let us look at the reality on ground. Suicide of any shape or manner has nothing to do with any religious persuasion. There was no single case of suicide bombing in Israel before 1948. And yet Islam had existed since 632 AD. Islam did not begin in 1948. If therefore there had been suicide bombings after the 1967 War, the cause must be located somewhere.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City is Christianity’s most hallowed shrine. It’s believed that the rock-cut tomb at the heart of the church is where the body of Jesus Christ was once laid. The intractable nature of the rivalries among various Christian sects over custody of the place has led to a rather curious, unique arrangement dating from the 12th century:Two Muslim families were entrusted. . . . . . to be the gatekeepers of the church. The Joudeh family keeps the key, while the Nuseibeh family opens the church door every morning and locks it in the evening. In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key — an old, cast-iron object that’s a foot long — described his family’s hereditary task as ‘a metaphor for religious tolerance. “For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” he said.
For Tola Adeniyi, the real master of murder suicides or homicide suicide as it is called is the country that is always quick to call other nations ‘mass murderers’. According to UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s, America alone in the year 2015 recorded 19,872 homicide deaths.
“The world must begin to address its mind to the real causes of murders and suicides. Never in the history of mankind has suicide risen to this height. There must be several underlying causes for people to decide to take their own lives, or take other people’s lives before shooting or bombing themselves. The cause or causes must be laid squarely outside the confines of one religion or the other”, intoned Adeniyi. There are facts to suggest that the CIA and its other agencies still engage in clandestine acts of terror which they conveniently pin on known terrorist organizations. The causes of the 9/11 episode have never been resolved. (See Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11). Moore discusses the complex relationships between the U.S. government and the Bush family; and between the bin Laden family, the Saudi Arabian government, and the Taliban, which span over three decades. Moore alleges that the United States government evacuated 24 members of the bin Laden family on a secret flight shortly after the attacks, without subjecting them to any form of interrogation. There is also the contended role of the British MI5 in the assassination of Princess Diana. Even the recent ‘Tower’ fire in London has a curious origin that needs looking into.
Adeniyi cautioned: “And we do not help matters if we left leprosy to grow wings while expending energy on mere irritating craw-craw.” There is too much anger in the air. There is too much frustration. There is a frightening hopelessness. There is hunger. Mankind has lost its soul. Scapegoatism will not restore it. Solution or part thereof is in Justice, Fairness and Equity. At all levels: in the home, locally, nationally and globally” If the poor cannot sleep; the rich cannot have their snore! Hmmm!