Global Terrorism: Clash of civilizations or religious fundamentalism, both or none?

Binod Kumar Pathak

June 12, 2019

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Global Terrorism: Clash of civilizations or religious fundamentalism, both or none?
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Global terrorism is everywhere. It is on the prowl to devour everything — all the gains of modern civilizations in all the aspects of life: culture, economics, politics, science, and technology. It just refuses to accept other versions and fashions of ideas and lifestyles; its language is brutal as it does not persuade, dissuade, cajole or allure to convince you. It does not believe in argument and debate over good and bad, right and wrong and beautiful and ugly. It just imposes everything forcefully and asks you to follow blindly — what we call blind faith.

Global terrorism just attacks, destroys and kills the ‘others’ whom it thinks are against their ‘religious ideology’ and way of life it stands for. It is against many of us who have no personal enmity with ‘jihadists’. The terrorists create notional enemies to destroy and kill those who they think are on the other side at a trans-national level to feel proud of what they did as a part of their religious duty. And they are assured of a place in heaven and a personal favor of God. For these terrorists often branded as ‘Islamic Jihadists’, indiscriminate killing of innocents which include everyone young, old, men, women and children and destruction of knowledge, art and architecture fall under the pious duty. They have no remorse for such kind of indiscriminate killings in the name of some abstract notion of cleansing the world from ‘infidels’. Another way is just non-negotiable and intolerable. Even death is smaller a price to be paid in pursuit of the goal they stand for. Their conscience does not prick while world bleeds profusely.

Seventy percent of all deaths from terrorism in the year 2015 were caused by ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban, and Al-Qaeda, says the Global Terrorism Index 2016.

As academicians and analysts put it, the political nature of violence under the garb of religiosity and pious obligation of followers of faith started from the 6th century only. Thus, the present day terrorism in one way or the other traces its origin in the medieval time period in the Middle-East (or West Asia) of world history. However, incidents of modern global terrorism began to surface in no unmistakable way from the 1970s.

The Grand Mosque seizure in Mecca by the Ikhwan in Saudi Arabia on November 20, 1979, caused deaths of 244 and 180 injured. Beirut barracks bombings in Lebanon on October 23, 1983, killed 307 people including 241 US and 58 French military personnel and wounded 75 people. It is considered as the first suicide bomber attack in which a truck was converted into a bomb to explode and destroy the barracks’ building housing American and French service members serving in a military peacekeeping operation during the Lebanese Civil War. It is also the first direct attack on the United States and France by killing their soldiers serving under the Multinational Force in Lebanon (MNF) which was an international peacekeeping force. A group called Islamic Jihad owned the responsibility of the Beirut barrack bombings. Less than a year on September 20, 1984, another bombing in Beirut took place this time in US embassy annex resulting in the death of 24 people.

The clash between Shias and Sunnis because of their differences on some tenets of Islam turned violent first in the Middle-East and later spread to other parts of the world to engulf the whole world with the bands of jihadists groups. Now reports of terrors not only come from the Middle-East but from all parts of the world unleashed against all or any.

In a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks which involved the hijacking and crashing of jet airlines into the high-rise buildings of places like Manhattan and Pentagon, not less than 2,996 people were killed, over 6,000 injured and damaged the infrastructure and property of at least US $ 10 billion.

Taking a clue from the recent attacks, nothing for sure can be predicted as to who will be the next target at which part of the world and for what. Seventy percent of all deaths from terrorism in the year 2015 were caused by ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban, and Al-Qaeda, says the Global Terrorism Index 2016.

At present, terrorist attacks are not limited to only Muslim-majority states in Africa and Asia, it has spread to several other countries across the world: United States, United Kingdom, India, Israel, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Australia and those in European Union. These attacks are targeting Muslims and non-Muslims. Efforts of counter-terrorism at global level began to take shape, though not actualized in terms of having any global treaty under the auspices of UN (United Nations), only after the infamous terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda on the USA on September 11, 2001 — also known as 9/11.

In a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks which involved the hijacking and crashing of jet airlines into the high-rise buildings of places like Manhattan and Pentagon, not less than 2,996 people were killed, over 6,000 injured and damaged the infrastructure and property of at least US $ 10 billion. Just within a span of 3 months, world attention was once again drawn towards terrorist attacks against democracy. It was a suicide attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi – the capital city of India on December 13, 2001, by Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist organizations Jaish-E-Mohammad and Lashkar-e- Toiba. The attack was aimed at eliminating the top leadership of India and causing anarchy in the country.

A total of 258 people were killed, including foreign nationals. National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a local militant Islamist group working for Islamic State (IS) accepted the responsibility of the Easter attack.

Journalists have also been the targets of terrorist attacks. Charlie Hebdo shooting on January 7, 2015, is still afresh in our mind. The gunmen barged into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris and killed 12 people and injured 11 others. Another terrorist attack nicknamed as 26/11 on India’s financial capital Mumbai killed at least 166 people and fatally wounded many others in a series of coordinated attacks happened on September 26, 2008. Pakistan born terrorists, as the proof discloses, were involved in this heinous crime. Pakistan though chastised by the global community for harboring the terrorists in hordes has also fallen victim of terrorism.

The year 2010 has really been a bad one for Pakistan as a series of attacks took place in different parts of the country killing hundreds of people and injuring scores of them. Not a year goes without the news of such terrorist attacks around the world. There is no stopping of terrorist attacks even in 2019. A convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway in Pulwama district was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber on February 14, 2019, killing 40 of them.

The Pakistan based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed the responsibility of the attack. South Asian region, considered a hotbed of terrorist attacks as well as the emerging den of global terrorists got another jolt when three churches in Sri Lanka and three luxury hotels in Colombo were targeted by suicide bombers on April 21, 2019, the pious day of Easter Sunday. A total of 258 people were killed, including foreign nationals. National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a local militant Islamist group working for Islamic State (IS) accepted the responsibility of the Easter attack.

The American political scientist Samuel P Huntington believes that age of ideology has come to an end and the world is locked into cultural conflicts ….in and among different civilizations. In the post-cold war era, cultural and religious identities have taken the driver’s seat driving the world into the clash of civilizations. Is the medieval culture of the Islamic Jihad is on a rise to wipe out the trace of modern civilization? Only time will tell the truth. I urge all of you to ponder over it.

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