Terrorism: Separating Politics from Terror

By Adnan Khan The last few weeks have seen a spate of terror attacks across Europe. Since the beginning of 2016 Turkey has been on a virtual war footing with numerous terrorist attacks. France and now Belgium have also been on the receiving end of terrorist attacks and both attacks have been given wall-to-wall coverage by the global media, which has confirmed for many, the threat of terror attacks by lone gunmen and suicide bombers....
23rd March 20166 min

TerrorBelgium

By Adnan Khan

The last few weeks have seen a spate of terror attacks across Europe. Since the beginning of 2016 Turkey has been on a virtual war footing with numerous terrorist attacks. France and now Belgium have also been on the receiving end of terrorist attacks and both attacks have been given wall-to-wall coverage by the global media, which has confirmed for many, the threat of terror attacks by lone gunmen and suicide bombers. Despite a raft of legislation after each attack and despite many in the west giving up their freedoms in the name of national security, terrorist attacks continue with the recent Belgian attacks being just the latest in a long line. But these latest attacks and the subsequent reaction and response have muddled the real threats to the point that fact and fiction have become blurred. In order to separate politics from terror, some key points need to be understood.

Every attack that takes place is presented as confirmation of the western narrative that its civilisation is under attack and that Muslims in the west, Muslim immigrants and Muslim refugees are a threat who perpetuate all terrorist attacks. Before the facts are known and can even be verified the media in the west point the guilty finger at the Muslim community residing in the west and expect public condemnation of the attacks – before the culprits are even known or ever proven. The media in the west since the French attacks have reached levels not seen since the vilification of the Jews on the eve of the holocaust – the Muslims in the west are now being treated like the Jews were by the Nazi’s. The blanket media coverage given to the attacks is fear mongering and has now reached fever pitch. Torture, snooping on electronic communication, human rights abuses, closed-door trials and holding terrorists indefinitely as well as aggressive assimilation has all be justified due to the perceived threat of terrorism by Muslims, but this is patently blown out of proportion.

One person losing their life is a tragedy, no matter the motive. Neither the loss of life nor the burden on families should be trivialised. However, in the big picture, the number of people killed through gang warfare dwarfs the number killed by al-Qaeda or ISIS— even accounting for the huge number of deaths on 9/11. Yet terrorist attacks continue to generate hysteria that far outweighs their real impact. As one US security analyst highlighted: “Five dead at multiple crime scenes involving street gangs is a bad night in Chicago or Detroit, but it hardly gets noticed in the national and international media. But five dead at multiple crime scenes in which a Muslim gunman is involved becomes immediate fodder for round-the-clock cable news.”[1] Official data from Europol, which is the European Union’s law enforcement agency, who publishes an annual terrorism report, EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT), shows that more people die from car accidents, burning fires and lightning strikes than they do in terrorist’s attacks.

[pullquote align=”right” color=”” class=”” cite=”” link=””] Official data from Europol, which is the European Union’s law enforcement agency, who publishes an annual terrorism report – EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT), shows that more people die from car accidents, burning fires and lightning strikes than they do in terrorist’s attacks. [/pullquote]

Many dubious personalities are being presented as experts on terrorism and adding to the hysteria. The conveyor belt theory, the strength of ISIS and the global Islamic threat have all been concocted in the labs of think tanks who have dubious sources for funding and are filled with right-wing ideologues who will make their narrative fit the reality irrespective of the real facts. The same think tanks who produce research on the threat of ISIS were the same organisations that justified the invasion of Iraq, which was all built upon dubious evidence. Many of the terror experts given airtime promote discredited theories and promote sensationalist opinions as facts. These experts promote government propaganda as experts when they are anything but. The most prominent terrorism experts in the US and Europe have a really shameful history of incredible error and all sorts of very dubious claims because they’re really just rank and file propagandists.

When terrorist attacks take place they do not originate from thin air, neither are they random, as many a terrorism experts would like us to believe. Taking away the politics from the attacks allows one to look at the details of the attack, which allows one to work out the capabilities of the attackers and the potential perpetrators. The terrorism spectrum has on the high end an entity that conducts attacks and takes and holds territory and governs over it, with multiple resources. At the low end is the requirement for few resources to conduct simple attacks. In between this spectrum is a variety of capabilities from conventional warfare to guerrilla warfare. This spectrum requires a range of capabilities and all attacks, whether lone wolf attacks to attacks by groups such as ISIS require terrorist tradecraft in order to be successful. Groups that operate at the low level cannot marshal the resources necessary to conduct sophisticated attacks as the training they receive is quite basic and is usually restricted to operating a rifle and handling grenades. Sophisticated attacks require training in conducting surveillance, operational security, clandestine communications, traveling under an alias etc. What has been taking place in Europe recently is more armed assaults, where individuals with guns are pointed at a mall or train station and the element of surprise gives them the advantage over the masses gathered there. In these types of attacks, the level of skill required is low – one just needs rudimentary training in operating a gun. In this way, the nature of the attack allows one to determine what was required to conduct it and this allows for working out potential perpetrators.

Ter­ror­ism, the use of ter­ror or vio­lence is a tac­tic utilized by a wide array of indi­vid­u­als, groups and states and some­thing that has existed through­out his­tory. Ter­ror­ism did not come into exis­tence on Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001. Ter­ror or vio­lence tran­scends across var­i­ous fault lines and there is no sin­gle creed, eth­nic­ity, polit­i­cal per­sua­sion or nation­al­ity with a monop­oly on ter­ror­ism. Indi­vid­u­als and groups of indi­vid­u­als from almost every con­ceiv­able back­ground from late Victorian-era anar­chists to tribal clans­men to North Korean intel­li­gence offi­cers — have con­ducted ter­ror­ist attacks. Despite this, west­ern gov­ern­ments have pre­sented ter­ror­ism as an exis­ten­tial threat. The peo­ple most at risk of ter­ror­ism are not in the West but the areas where the West fights its wars and proxy wars. Six of the country’s most at risk — Soma­lia, Pak­istan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen — are the sites of West­ern wars, drone wars or proxy wars. The sit­u­a­tion cur­rently is the war on ter­ror pro­duces ter­ror. And west­ern gov­ern­ments exag­ger­ate the threat in order to win accep­tance of an unpop­u­lar pol­icy. In doing so it demonizes whole com­mu­ni­ties and ensures that a minor­ity have addi­tional moti­va­tion for com­mit­ting ter­ror­ist attacks. This is the very def­i­n­i­tion of a counter-productive policy.

Ever since 9/11 terms such as ‘transna­tional plots,’ ‘sleeper cells,’ ‘lone wolfs,’ and ‘transna­tional jihadists,’ con­tinue to be thrown around, blur­ring impor­tant dis­tinc­tions and hyp­ing up the threat the west faces. A closer exam­i­na­tion of the sup­posed threats to the west show ter­ror­ism, at most, presents a low-level threat and upon further scrutiny, it is the propaganda which is used by government and the media that perpetuates the problem.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/terrorism-when-reality-meets-unrealistic-expectations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Stakes Rise in Pakistan-India War

Stakes Rise in Pakistan-India War

5th November 2015
5 min
The Politics of Nuclear Weapons

The Politics of Nuclear Weapons

6th August 2015
7 min
JF-17 Thunders over Paris

JF-17 Thunders over Paris

23rd June 2015
5 min