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POST TIME: 10 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 September, 2018 12:08:34 AM
Terrorism and its challenges
Vital intelligence network is necessary to combat terrorists and conduct psychological warfare operations
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed

Terrorism and its challenges

The world 'terror' means the action or quality of causing dread and alternatively, a person, object or force, inspiring dread. Modern words like terror, terrorize, terrible, terrorism and deterrent are beloved to have been derived from the Latin verbs terror - to tremble or to cause to tremble and deterrere to frighten from. The central meaning of concept terrorism is 'use of terror for the furthering of political ends', and it was originally used to denote the use of terror by the French revolutionary government against its opponents. This is also the sense in which it was used, and on occasions justified, by the Bolsheviks after 1917. The range of activates which the term covers is rather wide. But four main forms are : assassinations, bombings, seizures of individuals as hostages and more recently, the hijacking of planes, In the 1970s, the term international terrorism and state terrorism also began to be used.

What fundamentally distinguishes terrorism from other forms of organized violence is not simply its severity but its features of amorality and antinomianism, ideologists of terrorism assume that the death and suffering of those who are innocent of any crime are means, entirely justified by their political ends. Political terror is characterized by-indiscriminateness, unpredictability, arbitrariness, ruthless destructiveness and implicitly amoral and antinomian nature of a terrorist's challenge. Political terror may occur in isolated acts and also in the form of extreme, indiscriminate and arbitrary mass violence. Political terrorism is a sustained policy involving waging of organized terror either on the part of the state, a movement or faction.  International terrorism generated wide-spread concern in the societies affected and as a result, it has spread in the world on the whole. Some countries like the USA set up special units to cover anti-terrorism, that is, measures to prevent terrorist acts and counter-terrorism. Then there was terrorism within communal situations, largely in Third World countries. Here, people of different ethnic or religious character, who had often lived side by side for centuries came to be locked in situations of violence and retribution, often involving massacres, mass kidnappings and so forth. Examples of such terrorism were conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, Guerrilla warfare is another form of terrorism. The Western world realized in the 1960s and 1970s how vulnerable it was to attack by urban guerrillas. some earlier, mainly anti-colonial, movements had employed tactics akin to those of the urban guerrillas, notably the Jewish Stern Gang and Arab terrorists who attacked the British Mandatory regime in Palestine.

Meeting the challenges of terrorism is not an easy proposition. It will be unrealistic to hope for complete disappearance of terrorism from the face of the earth in near future but to deem it totally impossible is to turn pessimistic. Let us start removing the pricking nails of hatred, fear and distrust. Let us strive for peace. Let us move, what if the route is long, up and steep. Humanity will win as it has won many such paths.

Means of conducting struggle against terrorism generally polarize around two approaches; (a) the police plus non-violent sanctions approach and (b) the military approach. The first approach stresses that what defeats terrorism ultimately is slow, patient, police work, foiling plots, defusing bombs, arresting and trying culprits, diplomatic expulsion etc. supplemented by, perhaps, economic or other boycotts of an offending state. The second approach stresses that terrorism deserves, in addition, a more violent response-though one which is more carefully targeted and discriminate than the terrorist acts complained of. The bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi on 14-15 April, 1986 was justified by the American and British Governments in these terms.

While dealing with the menace of terrorism Government concerned should be firm in its attitude. There should be no submission to terrorist blackmail. In the face of guns and bombs it would be as foolish to argue with them as it would be to present a protest note to an invading army. Government must prove that it can meet such threat with force. It should also convince the common people that it can protect them from terrorists. Above all the Government must seek to avoid alienating the support of the masses of the population.

The other strategy is to isolate the terrorists from their host population. But this is fraught with risks requiring an extra-ordinarily high degree of skill determination and patience on the part of governments and security forces. No concessions should be made by the government. If the government is too soft with them, they will be encouraged to make more demands and other extremist groups will also be encouraged to resort to terrorist blackmail. In order to maintain the moral of the security forces as well as public confidence in government, it is essential that the government rigidly maintains its authority and implements its policies without fear or favour.

At the political level, special or emergency powers and acts may be used to prescribe membership in supports of terrorist organizations and forbid the raising of private armies and wearing of Para-military uniforms. Such measures should be combined with banning of marches and demonstrations. The regulation of availability of fire arms, use of explosives and sale of dangerous chemicals and weapons is another useful measure.

Vital intelligence network is necessary to combat terrorists and conduct psychological warfare operations. However, the best hope for effective action to reduce the vulnerability of liberal democracies to attacks by international terrorists and narco-terrorism lies in the adoption of stronger anti-terrorist measure by individual governments.

                  

The writer is a contributor to

The Independent