Terrorism A War Against Civilization Criminology Essay

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"When I say that terrorism is war against civilization, I may be met by the objection that terrorists are often idealists pursuing worthy ultimate aims -- national or regional independence, and so forth. I do not accept this argument. I cannot agree that a terrorist can ever be an idealist, or that the objects sought can ever justify terrorism. The impact of terrorism, not merely on individual nations, but on humanity as a whole, is intrinsically evil, necessarily evil and wholly evil."

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, International Terrorism


Islamists view the non-Muslim world, as well as the non-pure Muslim world, as morally evil, a perversion of the one true faith, and an affront to the one true God.  Modernity can be understood in terms of both morality and science.  On the one hand, the West, the embodiment of modern morality, is representative of that which is unholy in the world.  On the other hand, modernity as symbolized by science and technology is willingly embraced by Islamists.  Accordingly, despite the hatred which Islamic fundamentalists harbor towards the West's modern morality, they have displayed a notable tendency to employ scientific instruments and technologies of modernity in their attempts to defeat Westernization and "reclaim" society. Underlying Islamic fundamentalist attitudes towards science are two differing traditions of knowledge:  religious sciences and rational sciences (i.e., philosophy and natural sciences).  The former has long been viewed as ultimate truth, while the later has been considered as inferior, foreign, or secular. [1] 

In modern world the answer to Bombay type of terror attacks is 'preventive war'. Elimination of terrorists will not help achieve victory over terrorism till such time, the social, cultural and psychological causes of terrorism remain, new generations of terrorists will arise.

Addressing Root Causes of Terrorism

Checking Islamic Fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism especially Islamic fundamentalism is the major factor contributing to the global terrorism. To tackle global terrorism, we need to arrest the trend of growing fundamentalism in the Islamic world. It is more prudent to target fundamentalist ideology than the terrorist himself. Success in confronting terrorism stemming out of ideology and theopolitics lies in a multipronged approach beyond judicial pursuit, preventive security measures, and the use of military violence. Its basic causes must also be addressed in close cooperation with influential moderate elements from within the religious or political community of the terrorist. [2] 

Secularism. A secular world can contribute positively to the world peace. Respect and tolerance for all religions will be the key to establish an environment of peace and harmony, thus defeating the evil designs of terrorists.

Uprooting Poverty and Illiteracy and Creation of Modern Society. Survey suggests that most militants or terrorists are from poor family background and had limited education. Western world is an example of what prosperity and education can bring to the human kind. To eliminate terrorism, the world needs to eradicate poverty and illiteracy. West's contribution towards it will not only be essential but a must to create a terror free world.

Dismantling Drug Trade. Money earned from drug trade is diverted towards sustaining terrorism. Without money radicals will find it difficult to continue Jihad. Drug trade established in Afghanistan and Pakistan in pre cold war era continues to be is one of the biggest contributor towards global terrorism.

More Mature Role of US and the West. At the political level, it is important to separate terrorists from Islam as a whole. Unfortunately, fault lines are developing between 'Islam and the West' or even 'Islam and the Rest'. This dangerous divide must be checked. The world must stand together and double standards must be avoided. For example, why Pakistan, the nursery of majority of terror groups be treated differently than Iran or Iraq? A vast majority of Muslims around the world hate terrorism as much as others do. It is essential to placate this majority. Follies like the two Iraq wars must be avoided at all costs. Equally, it is essential to stop the growing socio-economic isolation of Islamic world.

Proliferation of Weapons. An urgent need exist to formulate an international law on proliferation of of weapons including the weapons of mass destruction. Mere law without enforcement policies is as good as not having a law. Countries like China, Pakistan, North Korea, and to some extent US and Russia have to refrain from indulging in proliferation of weapons whether directly or indirectly.

Stable States. In modern society, a failed state can hardly assist the aspiration of the other. A stable Pakistan is equally in India's favour as it is in the favour of Pakistan. Only a democratic, liberal and stable government can provide stability to a nation and all measures be taken to ensure a viable political system exist in fragile democracies thereby preventing them from collapse.

Weighing Military Action. The world has witnessed two wars in Iraq, while another in Afghanistan. The situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan are far from desirable, despite military victory by Allies in both cases. Similar was the case of Vietnam, where US Army could not forge peace in spite all wherewithal available for fighting a war. Military action should be an exception rather than a rule to secure peace.

Combating Terrorism

Anti-Terrorism Versus Counter-Terrorism. The concept of anti-terrorism emerges from a thorough examining of the concept of terrorism as well as an attempt to understand and articulate what constitutes terrorism in Western terms. It must be remembered that in military contexts, terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology. Terrorism may be a tactic in a war between nation-states, in a civil war, or in an insurgency.

Counter-terrorism refers to offensive strategies intended to prevent a belligerent, in a broader conflict, from successfully using the tactic of terrorism. It is "Operations that include the offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, preempt, and respond to terrorism."[1] In other words, counter-terrorism is a set of techniques for denying an opponent the use terrorism-based tactics, just as counter-air is a set of techniques for denying the opponent the use of attack aircraft.

Planning For Detecting and Neutralizing Potential Terrorist Acts. Building a counter-terrorism plan involves all segments of a society or many government agencies. In dealing with foreign terrorists, the lead responsibility is usually at the national level. Because propaganda and indoctrination lie at the core of terrorism, understanding their profile and functions increases the ability to counter terrorism more effectively. Following to be focused at:-

Sharing of information internationally.

ELINT (Electronic intelligence) should be given due importance.

HUMINT (Human Intelligence) is most essential foe real time as well as background intelligence.

Legal Contexts. In response to the growing threat of international terrorism many countries have introduced anti-terrorism legislation. These laws form the guidelines for the security forces to operate within the legal domain. It helps prevent Human Rights violations at the same time give special powers to armed forces to operate and perform counter terrorist operations inhostile environment with legal protection. The aim of these are as follows:-

Taking effective measures to make impunity impossible either for acts of terrorism or for the abuse of human rights in counter-terrorism measures.

The incorporation of human rights laws in all anti-terrorism programmes and policies of national governments as well as international bodies.

Preemptive Neutralization. Some countries see preemptive attacks as a legitimate strategy. This includes capturing, killing, or disabling suspected terrorists before they can mount an attack. Israel, the United States, and Russia have taken this approach, while Western European states generally do not. Another major method of preemptive neutralization is interrogation of known or suspected terrorists to obtain information about specific plots, targets, the identity of other terrorists, whether or not the interrogation subjects himself is guilty of terrorist involvement. [3] 

Military Intervention. Terrorism has often been used to justify military intervention in countries where terrorists are said to be based. That was the main stated justification for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. It was also a stated justification for the second Russian invasion of Chechnya. History has shown that military intervention has rarely been successful in stopping or preventing terrorism. Although military action can disrupt a terrorist group's operations temporarily, it rarely ends the threat. [4] 

Planning For Response to Terrorism. Police, fire, and emergency medical response organizations have obvious roles. Local firefighters and emergency medical personnel (often called "first responders") have plans for mitigating the effects of terrorist attacks, although police may deal with threats of such attacks. [5] 

Target-Hardening. Whatever the target of terrorists, there are multiple ways of hardening the targets to prevent the terrorists from hitting their mark, or reducing the damage of attacks.

Command and Control. An unambiguous command and control system at national level is essential not only to improve reaction of government machinery but also act decisively in urgent situations. Formulation of disaster management committee in India is an example of the same, though it has not been put to test since its formulation. National response, for example, might be needed for a nuclear, biological, radiological, or large chemical attack.

Damage Mitigation. Fire departments, perhaps supplemented by public works agencies, utility providers (e.g., gas, water, electricity), and heavy construction contractors, are most apt to deal with the physical consequences of an attack.

Local Security. Again under an incident command model, local police can isolate the incident area, reducing confusion, and specialized police units can conduct tactical operations against terrorists, often using specialized counter-terrorist tactical units. Bringing in such units will normally involve civil or military authority beyond the local level. [6] 

Medical Services. Emergency medical services will bring the more seriously affected victims to hospitals, which will need to have mass casualty and triage plans in place. Public health agencies, from local to national level, may be designated to deal with identification, and mitigation, of possible biological attacks, and chemical or radiologic contamination. [7] 

Counter-Terrorism Tactical Units. Today, many countries have special units designated to handle terrorist threats. Besides various security agencies, there are elite tactical units, also known as special mission units, whose role is to directly engage terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks. In Indian context NSG (National Security Guards) is the elite tactical force trained and equipped to deal with terrorist threats. RR (Rashtriya Rifles) has also come into existence on the same line, though it is purely for operations in Jammu and Kashmir.