TOLL OF TERROR
Terrorism is one of the gravest menaces facing our 21st-century world
because it sees acts of violence as the only way to achieve political
aims. The particular aim or problem depends on the terrorist's individual
worldview. In a terrorist's eyes, political dilemmas and conflicts caused
by ethnic and cultural differences can be resolved by violence alone.
No group can get what it wants, except by "blood and iron".
The terrorist believes that his objectives-enforcing his demands, spreading
his organization's propaganda--can be attained only by damaging the fabric
of society; when unease, fear, and conflict come to dominate daily life.
Some groups aim to take advantage of the climate of chaos that their actions
bring about. They think that it will be easier to achieve their aims where
social stability has collapsed, individuals are wracked with fear and
uncertainty. From the destruction, they claim, will rise what they call
"righteousness and justice." But expecting that acts of terrorism can
establish righteousness and justice, or that problems can be resolved
by violence, is a terrible mistake. Violence is counter-productive: All
they that live by the sword shall perish by the sword.
In the Qur'an (13:25), God describes such people as "those [who]
cause corruption in the earth." So far, they have managed only
to increase the number of deaths among the innocent---and among their
own supporters as well. Every year, terrorist attacks cause thousands
to live in fear and anxiety and suffer economic harm, not to mention those
who are wounded or killed. Terrorism threatens all of mankind, its toll
so very terrible that fighting has become urgently essential.
TERRORISM IS CLOSE TO HOME!
There are an estimated 500 terrorist groups in the world. These include
international cartels controlling trade in drugs, arms and prostitution,
as well as underground organizations, marginal movements, various radical
ideological groups, and deviant cults that stage actions allegedly in
the name of religion. Many terrorist organizations do operate within their
own countries' borders, but a number target what they have decided as
"enemy" countries, through attacks on prominent sites and individuals
that, they calculate, will elicit a huge public reaction. From the reaction,
they seek to achieve fame, in fact notoriety, which they hope that will
add to their power.
Bhagwan Shee Rajneesh, leader of a perverted
cult that poisoned 750 people in Oregon, here seen with his followers.
Though terrorism has existed since the earliest times, through esoteric
organizations like the Sicarii or Assassins, and flourished in the modern
times through revolutionary cadres like the sans-cullottes of the French
Revolution or the Russian Nihilism of the 19th century, its threat really
came to the fore in the 20th century, which saw an explosion in acts of
terror and in the number of terrorists who committed them. Weapons of
mass destruction and the rapid advance of technology made terrorist attacks
much easier and vastly increased their destructiveness.
By the 1960s, people began to wonder seriously what
might happen, if a terrorist group managed to acquire some kind of nuclear
weapon that could result in the deaths of tens of thousands. A biological
or chemical attack could wipe entire populations off the map. No such
attack happened, fortunately. But by the 1990s, the chances of such attacks
increased. These concerns only heightened with the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the weakening of control over its nuclear arsenal. The spread
of the Internet and the facilitation of all forms of information increased
worries still further.1 Fear of terrorism became the
subject of hundreds of films and books. Reports were written about the
possible consequences; research was carried out. Now, all too obviously,
terrorists could go beyond familiar, limited actions like bombings, armed
robberies, skyjackings and kidnappings, to attack entire communities.
Such attacks could be carried out by remote control or computer, with
no direct human intervention.
A number of recent fears in the US
involving biological weapons like of the anthrax bacteria revealed the
scale of the threat posed by bio-terrorism and biological weapons. With
the help of an experienced chemist in a simple laboratory, terrorists
can now threaten the lives of thousands. One of the first examples of
this occurred in 1984, when 750 people were poisoned in four restaurants
in a small town in Oregon.2 Later, it was revealed that
a Hindu-inspired New Age cult under the leadership of Baghwan Shree Rajneesh
was responsible. Disciples had grown salmonella bacteria on their farms
and placed them in salad bars in area restaurants. In 1995, the Aum Shinrikyo
("Higher Truth") cult released the poison gas sarin in the Tokyo underground
subway system, leading to the deaths of 12 people and another 5,500 injured.
Subsequent inquiries revealed that the cult had tried to construct biological
weapons in its own laboratories--revealing just how large a threat terrorism
poses to the public.3
The Oregon attack was an important
sign of the threat posed by terrorist groups who possess biological
weapons. (Right) Aum Shinrikyo
In the 21st century, computer technology
is expected to play an important role in terrorist attacks. Meanwhile,
more "conventional" ways of terrorism, like bombings, arson attacks, skyjackings
and kidnappings are still going on all over the world, from Europe to
America, from Asia to Africa. Since 1962, for example, members of the
ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) terrorist organization, fighting for the Basque
region's independence, has carried out many terrorist attacks in Spain,
resulting in the deaths of more than 800.4 For years,
the Irish Republican Army has seized world headlines with its bloody attacks
to gain independence for Northern Ireland. The central aim of the IRA
is to end British control of Northern Ireland and to achieve the reunification
of the island of Ireland. Generally it has operated in Northern Ireland
and London, but has also been involved in bombings in various European
countries such as Germany. Since 1969, the IRA's terrorist attacks , and
Britain's methods of "counter-terrorism", have caused the deaths of more
than 3,200 on both sides of the conflict.5 Millions of
dollars' worth of damage has been caused by IRA bombings of airports and
underground stations, again aimed at civilians. During a European Football
Championship match on June 15, 1996, an IRA car bombing in a Manchester
shopping center resulted in some 200 injuries.
Currently, no country can feel safe from this kind of threat. The few
examples just cited show just how deeply terrorism has come to influence
peoples' lives. No longer the problem of just a few specific nations,
it's a threat that faces all mankind. Because no one can tell when, where
or how terrorists will strike, the fight against them can no longer be
considered the duty of a handful of countries or organizations. Terrorism,
threatening the entire world, can be resolved only if well-intentioned
people support each other in search of peace, friendship and brotherhood.
For years, the militants of the ETA and
the IRA murdered many civilians and caused great physical damage
in Spain and the UK.
TERRORISM'S DARK FACE
Terrorism is currently inflicting suffering and physical damage all over
the world, not only in the United States, but in the African countries
of Uganda, Angola and Nigeria; in the European nations of Great Britain,
France and Spain; in Asian countries like Japan, and throughout the Middle
East and Latin America. At any moment, civilians can find themselves facing
a terrorist attack, whether sitting at home or at a movie theater, in
a shopping center, riding a bus, or at their workplace. Naturally, terrorism's
ability to enter peoples' homes has led to considerable anxiety and alarm.
People are hesitant to enter crowded areas or use public transport; their
daily lives are becoming intolerable. But that is exactly what terrorism
wants to see: whole communities living in fear and alarm.
The evidence of terrible attacks throughout in the world
certainly confirms that concern. In 1996, there were 296 incidents with
314 people killed and 2,912 injured. In 1997, terrorism's scope began
to expand: Out of 439 attacks, 398 were aimed at workplaces or non-official
premises, leading to the loss of 139 civilian lives, 39 of them civil
servants or military personnel.6
According to the U.S. State Department,
the number of terrorist attacks in 2000 saw an eight percent rise over
1999, with 423 deaths and 791 injured. Between 1981 and 2000, the total
number of dead resulting from terrorist attacks was 9,184.7
Nor do these figures include all the people who died in all terrorist
attacks across the globe. The report considered only attacks by international
terrorist organizations, not those inflicted by local terrorist groups.
In Turkey alone there were 21,866 terrorist attacks between August 15,
1984 and October 31, 2001, costing the lives of 5,605 security personnel
and 4,646 civilians. A further 16,562 security forces and 5,091 civilians
Terrorist actions' physical damage and economic harm add yet another
sobering dimension to the picture. The chaos and anarchy provoked by such
incidents prevent investment in the affected regions. Attacks aimed at
the economic infrastructure doesn't just hold back development. Existing
resources are also destroyed, creating economic difficulties that impede
social life across a wide spectrum of areas, particularly education. Military
costs of the struggle against terrorism impose yet another burden. This
diversion of resources that should be spent on raising standards of living
affects not just the nation in question, but the entire global economy.
This summary reveals the grim picture that terrorism represents--bringing
destruction all over the world and causing untold harm to human lives.
Graphs prepared by the U.S. State Department.
The top one shows the regional distribution of terrorist incidents
between 1995 and 2000. The bottom graph gives the chronological
distribution of such incidents from 1981 through 2000.
On August 30, 1996,
300 people died when a bomb exploded on a train in the Assam region
of India. The attack is believed to have been carried out by separatist
As a result of bomb
explosions at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August
7, 1998, 224 people were killed and hundreds were injured.
21, 1999, a rocket attack on a crowded shopping center in the Chechen
capital of Grozny resulted in 110 deaths and 400 injuries.
THE BLOODY TERROR OF THE SHINING
This Marxist-Leninist-Maoist guerrilla group operates
in Peru. Founded in the 1960s by Abimael Guzman, a professor of
philosophy, the organization was originally regarded as just another
political movement. In the 1970s, however, the Shining Path turned
into a savage guerrilla group that is now one of the bloodiest terrorist
organizations in the world.
Guzman's statements in support of
violence are particularly striking. In an April 19, 1980 address,
the Shining Path's leader declared, "The future lies in guns and
cannons."9 One of his guerrilla followers praised
the use of violence: "Blood makes us stronger ... and if it is flowing,
it is not harming us, but giving us strength." The organization
openly stated that its struggle was built on the use of violence
and debated how this could be increased in Peru. As a result, some
30,000 Peruvians were killed in the conflict.
Path, a Maoist terrorist organization, caused the deaths of
more than 30,000. The picture at top right shows Abimeal Guzman,
the organization's leader.
The 1980s saw the end of Guzman's
teaching career and the beginning of ongoing terrorism all over
Peru. Like the Japanese kamikazes during World War II, Guzman and
the Shining Path romanticized death. They believed it was a small
price to pay for the rewards awaiting them beyond what Guzman called
the "river of blood." Many innocent civilians were abducted, raped,
tortured and killed; over one percent of the population died brutal
deaths related to political violence. To further their cause, Guzman--then
commonly known as "President Gonzalo"--and his Shining Path sought
out and killed people of especially modest means, including teachers,
mayors and civic leaders.10
For years, the Shining Path inflicted physical and
psychological damage, forcing the Peruvian public to live in fear
That is a natural consequence of terrorism and, as will be emphasized
throughout this book, love is the only way of defeating its root
causes. Such a love for humanity will overcome the blind hatred
and political necrophilia that terrorism is fed from.