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Kamran Mir Hazar        Letter to Editor

The Strongest Terror

Hakeem Naim

The United States Department of Defense, defines terrorism as the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.  In essence, the method that an individual, group, and/or a state use violence to accomplish its political, social and economical goal is called terrorism. The violent acts of an individual and/or a group if it is not supported by some states, most of the time are less effective and preventable. The worst type of terrorism is state terrorism, which is performed by a legitimate and sovereign state. 

States are generally involved in terrorism by directly committing terror which is called state terror, or supporting terrorism by proxy groups which is called state sponsored terrorism. State sponsored terrorism is a term used referring to support and finance organizations and militia groups for the purpose of attacking civilians.  Internationally known political analyst, Michael Parenti, provides some information about the U.S support to some militia groups all around the world, Since World War II, the US government has given more than $200 billion in military aid to train, equip, and subsidize more than 2.3 million troops and internal security forces in more than eighty countries (Ahmad, 6). Among those groups there have been some of the most notorious militia groups that tortured, raped and killed many civilians such as fundamentalist militia groups in Afghanistan, called Mujahiddin.  Research shows that the military aid to Afghan Islamic fundamentalist groups in 80s and early 90s was more than 2.8 billion each year (James, 9/4). Just between 1992 to1994, when these Afghan militia groups took power in different parts of Afghanistan, more than 60 thousands civilians were killed in Kabul, the capital, as an outcome of the Terror they have committed. 

 State- Terror most of the time, covers a large area and the outcome is increasingly gory and brutal. Although both state terrorism and state sponsored terrorism are really dangerous, state terrorism as a terror of powerful against the weak, brings devastated and predictable humanitarian, economic and social disasters.  For example, although the Taliban Regime in Afghanistan was not recognized as an official government of Afghanistan by the U.N, they had controlled 90 percent of Afghanistan including, the capital, Kabul prior to September 11 2001. Therefore, by the definition of state - the territory occupied by a nation -, Taliban were a sovereign state.  The atrocities that Taliban government as a legitimate state, committed during their five years government were in larger scale than any terrorist organization in the world history.

The individual or group terror usually lasts for a short period of time, whereas state terror can be performed for years and become increasingly violent.  The indiscriminate violence against civilians by Israeli regime in Middle East has been continuing since Israel was founded and recognized as sovereign state in 1946.  Noam Chomsky, a well-known political activist and scholar argues that indeed the worst international terrorism act was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The car bombs in the Beirut, which was placed outside a mosque and timed to go off when people were leaving the mosque killed eighty people and wounded 259 others. It was a powerful bomb that killed babies down the street.   Also, another example of state terror can be Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile.  After the September 11 19 73 military coup, in which Pinochet became a dictator in Chile, civilians found themselves defenseless against his state terror. As Kenneth Hewitt, wrote on his article Between Pinochet and Kropotkin: state terror, human rights and the geographers, At least 3,900 people were disappeared. Death was generally preceded by torture or caused by it. In the first two years over 250,000 persons were detained and some 42,500 `political' prisoners were tortured, threatened with death, or suffered extreme privations. Most were later released, but denied legal redress for themselves or their families, who also suffered great hardship. About 20,000 people were forced into exile or fled voluntarily.  Some had been tortured and continue to require post-traumatic care. Perhaps one million persons -- 10 percent of the population -- suffered repressive violence of some sort, and at least 200,000, `situations of extreme trauma.' This clearly illustrates the scale of state terror.   

With the assistance of cheerleader media stations, and direct correlation of powerful and wealthy countries to state terrorism, the term of terrorism is mostly defined as an anti state activity.  Therefore, unfortunately, there has not been any international action or focus against state based terrorism, which should be the key point in fighting terrorism. In the international arena for the first time in Nurnberg Tribunal the violence and atrocities committed against humanity were called government Terror.   Since then, there has not been any international action to address this problem.  However, the Organization of Islamic Conference, a large inter - governmental organization, released a statement stating that the War in Terrorism should include state terror as well as state supported terrorism.  This was the only recent international action addressing state terrorism.

Terrorism is a global issue that cannot end without ending the State terror.  While the heartbroken terrorist attack at world Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 carried by non uniformed men and about 3 thousand people lost their lives, just in the first six months of so called War on Terror more than 3 thousands civilians were killed in Afghanistan by uninformed men and women.

 After the September 11 attack, there are many questions raised among people such as what can be the reason that some young men and women explode themselves although they know they certainly die?  Most of the people in America want to know what they have done wrong that they had faced the most horrific terror attack on September 11? Although nothing can justify the brutal attack on September 11 2001, the U.S intervention and support to blood hands terrorists group around the world can partly answer those questions.  The only solution to end terrorism is to stop our own terror and atrocities.  As Noam Chomsky said, Today, it is a universal principal that we do it; it is counter terror, a just war, and so on. They do it; it is terror. As long as this principle exists, not only there wont be a solution to global terrorism, but also civilization continues to be held hijacked by extremists in the world.

  Although almost everybody seems against terrorism, there has been no international and serious discussion, conference or scholar working to find the core issues regarding terrorism.  The international actors and leaders always try to mislead the public by illustrating terrorism as a non-state action. They passionately try to show that terrorism is an outcome of clashes among different, religions, ethnicities, and cultures.  For instance, the Turkish government has always tried to demonstrate the war against the Kurdish resistance movement in the South East of Turkey as a war against nationalist and ethnic separatist groups, but in reality the reason of the war was ruthless discrimination of Turks against Kurds all over Turkey where the Kurds couldnt even speak their own language until mid 90s.   

Terrorism is the bloody wound of our civilization in 21st century.  It must be stopped whether individuals or states carry it out.  Neither God nor security can justify terror. If the powerful justifies its own terror and its alliances atrocities in the name of culture, religion, freedom, security, and so on, the dark flame of terror will reach all around the planet and humanity will face a new dark age in 21st century.  Noam Chomsky says, Everyones worried about stopping terrorism.  Well, there is a really easy way: Stop participating in it.  Justice, tolerance, and peace can let the sun shine and lighten the grave of the tens of millions civilians who have lost their lives by brutal acts of terrorism that we have committed. Humanity should stand against injustice, power abuses, and extremism. This is our responsibility to leave a safe and peaceful planet to the next generations.

Work Cited 

(1)   Chomsky, Noam. Power and Terror.  Ed. John Junkerman & Takei Masakazu. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003.

(2)   What is Terrorism? Terrorism Research.    Dec.2. 2006. < Terrorism-Research.com>.

(3)    Ahmed, Mosaddeq Nafeez. American State Terrorism. Media Monitors Network. September 24 2001. Dec. 2. 2006  <www.MediaMonitors.net>.

(4)   James, Rupert, "Afghanistan's Slide Toward Civil War," World Policy Journal 6/4 (Fall 1989).

(5)   Hewitt, Kenneth. "Between Pinochet and Kropotkin: state terror, human rights and the geographers.(Statistical Data Included)." The Canadian Geographer 45.3 (Fall 2001): 338(18). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Sacramento City College. 29 Nov. 2006  <http://find.galegroup.com>    

(6)    Statement of his Excellency Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic conference at the high-level plenary meeting of the United Nations general assembly. Organization of Islamic Conference.  September 2005. Dec. 2 2006. <www.oic-oci.org>.  

(7)   Herold, W. Marc. A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan. Cursor Homepage. March 2002. Dec 2006. <www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm>. 



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