International Affairs

International Terrorism

International Terrorism
Following the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand and the spate of bombings in Sri Lankan churches, the issue of international terrorism has once again raised its ugly head. Almost always supported by an extremist ideology, it attacks and destroys innocent lives to fulfill its extremist goals. The unprecedented rise of terrorist organizations from the latter part of the 20th century has resulted in a spate of terror attacks in various parts of the world. The USA, European nations, India, Pakistan and Middle Eastern nations have borne the brunt of these terror attacks. What is terrorism? Terrorism means the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among masses of people; or fear to attain a religious, political or ideological objective. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in war against non-combatants (mostly civilians and neutral military personnel). The terms "terrorist" and "terrorism" originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country, and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001. The international community has not been successful in developing an accepted comprehensive definition of terrorism. During the 1970s and 1980s, the United Nations’ attempts to define the term floundered mainly due to differences of opinion between various members about the use of violence in the context of conflicts over national liberation and self-determination. These divergences have made it impossible for the United Nations to conclude a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that incorporates a single, all-encompassing, legally binding, criminal law definition of terrorism. What is the motivation behind terror attacks? Post-2000, Terrorism has crossed international boundaries and is proving to be a nuisance for humanity. From the attack on the world trade center in 2001 to the blasts in Sri Lanka, Terrorism has spread its wings across the globe. Main motivations among terrorists are: •International Attention: This strategy was used by Al-Qaeda in its attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States on September 11, 2001. These attacks are used to draw international attention to struggles that are otherwise unreported, such as the Palestinian airplane hijackings in 1970 and the 1975 Dutch train hostage crisis. •Financial support for the family: Another factor is perceived assurances of financial stability for the actor's families, that they are given when they join a terrorist organization or complete an attempt of terror. An extra grant is provided for the families of suicide bombers. •Religious beliefs/zealotry: According to The Department of security of the UK, 43 percent of lone-wolf terrorism is motivated by religious beliefs. Recent Srilankan blast is an example of this wherein a particular religious’ community was targeted. Terrorist acts throughout history have been performed on religious grounds with the goal to either spread or enforce a system of belief, viewpoint or opinion. •According to the Global Terrorism Index by the University of Maryland, religious extremism has overtaken national separatism and become the main driver of terrorist attacks around the world. Since 9/11 there has been a five-fold increase in deaths from terrorist attacks. The majority of incidents over the past several years can be tied to groups with a religious agenda. Before 2000, it was nationalist separatist terrorist organizations such as the IRA and Chechen rebels who were behind the most attacks. The number of incidents from nationalist separatist groups has remained relatively stable in the years since while religious extremism has grown. The prevalence of Islamist groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria is the main driver behind these trends. •Four of the terrorist groups that have been most active since 2001 are Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIL. These groups have been most active in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria. 80 percent of all deaths from terrorism occurred in one of these five countries. Terrorism in Pakistan has become a great problem. From the summer of 2007 until late 2009, more than 1,500 people were killed in suicide and other attacks on civilians for reasons attributed to a number of causes – sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims; easy availability of guns and explosives; the existence of a "Kalashnikov culture"; an influx of ideologically driven Muslims based in or near Pakistan, who originated from various nations around the world and the subsequent war against the pro-Soviet Afghans in the 1980s which blew back into Pakistan; the presence of Islamist insurgent groups and forces such as the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. •In 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report on terrorism in the United States. The report (titled The Age of the Wolf) found that during that period, "more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than jihadists. "Virulent racist and anti-semitic" ideology of the ultra-right-wing Christian Identity movement is usually accompanied by anti-government sentiments. International Response Resolution 1373 by the Security Council, United Nations, is ambitious. Not only does it oblige all 191 UN Member States to join the fight, but it also undertakes to raise the average level of government performance against terrorism all over the world. Under resolution 1373, nations are obliged to: •Deny all forms of financial support for terrorist groups; •Suppress the provision of safe haven, sustenance or support for terrorists; •Share information with other governments on any groups practicing or planning terrorist acts; •Cooperate with other governments in the investigation, detection, arrest and prosecution of those involved in such acts; •Criminalize active and passive assistance for terrorism in domestic laws and bring violators of these laws to justice; But still, this resolution has not been adopted which shows the lack of coherence on this very sensitive topic. Though there are no set formulae to eliminate terrorism but all the nations must come together to address the humanitarian, economic, social and cultural dangers being posed by terrorism. Adopting resolution 1373 can be a good step in that direction.

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