What Makes a Terrorist?

 By Taji M

How do you turn a young man or a woman into a terrorist, particularly a suicide bomber? The answer is a mystery to me as well as a large number of Pakistanis. We thought we had a predictable answer a few years back. The poor underprivileged children studying in hard-line Madarssas could be brainwashed and turned into killing machines. But if that was the real answer we should have had thousands of terrorists running rampant, thankfully this is not the case. More recently we are increasingly coming across educated upper middle class Muslims who have become hardliners to the level of resorting to terrorism. Some of them have in fact been living in conflict-free countries of Europe. So again, what changes a person into a killer?

Unfortunately to be effective and lethal, terrorists do not need a large number of recruits at any given point, they need only few but they do need a steady influx of new blood. We need to understand what factors would facilitate the terrorist agenda. I think one of the very fundamental mindset at play here is the distortion of concepts of Duniya and Aakhrat. Islam in general gives more importance to Hereafter than this world only to discourage the obsession of pursuing worldly gains alone. It was never meant to undermine this world totally. If that was the case, Islam would not have put so much emphasis on Rights of fellow human beings, on the conduct of good Muslims and so on. But take this view to the extreme, and observe how it can get warped. If someone starts to believe that world is a prison and many of the positives it has to offer are in fact fitna, then obviously the best thing one can do is to escape to hereafter as quickly as possible. And then what better way to enter Jannat then as a martyr who are suppose to get the highest echelons of heaven. This chain of thought would appear quite logical to an extremist. At the very extreme even collateral damage can be justified; killing a child of rival sect can be viewed as protecting the child from hell which he would be destined to go if he had lived to adulthood. Combine this logic with a sense of injustice prevailing in the Muslim youth of today on account of war on terror and you have a fertile ground for extremism.

The Bush administration’s war on terror has been a failure. Its biggest failure is that it legitimized the dooms-day scenarios of extremist ideologists. It caused saner more moderate voices in the Muslim world to go on the back foot. It is a fact that American bombings killed innumerable people in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war gave acceptance to the theory that the world is conspiring against Muslims. Outfits like Al-Qaeda got a lot of credibility from the masses due to the continued war. The final failure of this war is that it has not achieved any of the objectives it set out in the beginning. Things are still shaky in Iraq; even if they get better it will take a long time. Afghanistan is still extremely precarious. Talibans are gaining territory every day, and we need to truly dread the day when coalition forces leave Afghanistan because how things look now Talibans will be incharge.

 In addition to extremist ideology and botched up war on terror, the Pakistani context also contains pre-existing collective mistrust of politicians, sense of deprivation of masses, and tensions among religious sects. In my opinion this combination is what makes violence so much attractive many. What really bothers me however, is not just the violence prone youth. If there were no support from the Media and the populist politicians, these overzealous young men would have been marginalized and their violent acts limited. The media not just feeds on inherent xenophobia it perpetuates the mindset even further. For example after witnessing so many bombings with loss of innocent lives, one would have expected unequivocal condemnation of extremists’ agenda, and serious rethinking of role of religion in the society. Yet this is not the case. After a bombing we condemn the Talibans, but quickly start to blame the government for one thing or the other, and a few days later it is the same old Blackwater etc who are truly responsible for the deeds. Every time we do that, we give a tacit approval to the next suicide bomber. We don’t question that if the USA War is the cause of violence, then why bombers are attacking shrines, markets and bus stands.

Media is the pastime of our educated class, if the educated Pakistanis are comfortable with its direction what hope there is to modify the behavior of poor and uneducated people. The educated professionals and businessmen want to earn good money doing all kinds of worldly things, but at the same time they give support to causes and ideas which are contradictory to their own pursuits. The best example is bashing of USA. By bashing I do not mean honest critique of US policies, but propagating US as hidden hand in all sorts of things including floods and earthquakes. While the same people would be going crazy in getting access to US markets and a chance to live there.

The politicians are another interesting breed, nearly all lead double lives, even the less corrupt ones. They send their children to best foreign universities, have their primary residences in London or Dubai, and personally live very cosmopolitan lifestyles. But put them on a podium and they will be full of Pakistaniat and Islamic fervor. They project themselves as beacon of national sovereignty and defenders of Islam, but they themselves do not want to sacrifice much for these ideals. There seems to be little hope for any grassroot change in the social mindset, because the elements which can bring change are themselves compromised. Those who try against all odds are driven away from the country or sometime tragically eliminated. With increased frequency of bombings, we may have started hating the Talibans finally, but we continue to spin outlandish theories. We cannot even initiate an open dialogue about critical issues within ourselves, let alone actually achieve some results.

33 Comments

Filed under Islam, Pakistan, state, Terrorism

33 responses to “What Makes a Terrorist?

  1. Raza Raja

    A very nice read and particularly it highlights the fact that poverty is no longer an exhaustive explanation. The central issue is ideology though interplay between ideology and poverty will tend to produce more extremism than eother of the factors alone.

    I would like to like to highlight the most critical point made in the article

    “For example after witnessing so many bombings with loss of innocent lives, one would have expected unequivocal condemnation of extremists’ agenda, and serious rethinking of role of religion in the society. Yet this is not the case. After a bombing we condemn the Talibans, but quickly start to blame the government for one thing or the other, and a few days later it is the same old Blackwater etc who are truly responsible for the deeds”

    The above lines say it all!!!

  2. D Asghar

    Ms. Taji, You have really nailed it. It is the rotten mind set which is responsible for all of this.

    Iqbal’s “Shaheens” are incarcerated in this mental prison that they are unwilling to part with. The poison of hatred is running through the veins and to expect anything positive is really a monumental task.

    Yet the ticking clock of hope gives us these glad tidings, “we have hit the bottom, there is only one place to go.” Only if we can make a U.

  3. Shahid Toosy

    If we analyse the reasons behind bombing/terrorist acts objectively like a scientist in his lab, we find more or less three major factors responsible for it. 1- The role of religion in society, 2- Disgruntled Taliban and government’s policy regarding war on terror, 3- USA/Black Water etc. The opinion in the media by and large reflects all these aspects. The criticism of media by Mr.Taji is not fair.

    Mr. Taji implies that educated professionals and
    businessman propagate US hand in all sorts of things including floods and earthquakes ! Is not this going too far to prove your point Mr. Taji ?

    I like the closing sentence , ”We cannot even initiate open a dialogue about critical issues within
    ourselves let alone actually achieve some results”.

  4. Bilal Ahmad

    The most valuable sentence is about the media where the author says “The media not just feeds on inherent xenophobia it perpetuates the mindset even further.”
    Really after ever suicide attack we condemn TTP for sometime but then everyone starts bashing US and blackwater, it has made our nation mentally ill, where people consider US to be responsible for even floods and earthquakes.

  5. Self-excuse is the only real international sport. Look at the American split between self-righteous provincial ‘patriots’ vs coastal liberals who blame their own country for everything wrong in the world.
    Then there is England, surrendered to the apparat of Brussels and in full retreat from anything ‘English.’

    In England, you cannot talk about ‘black crime’ or even ‘black-on-black’ crime which is as prevalent there, perhaps as it is in the U.S. American media is owned by large corporations and they exercise
    a large degree of control over what can be said, anmd the BBC has embraced Political Correctness with religious fervor.

    Pakistan’s difficulties portend the future potential of many western countries, it is only that the lack of any kind of general education is so much more prevalent. Or take the question of ‘birth control’. Say what? Aids, drug addiction? Say what? Your country is also an instance of another global problem – fake democracy.

    Pakistan could become another Burma – a narcokleptocracy. But I wonder, when everyone looks at root causes of prejudice, have you read Kipling’s Kim? And do you remember the happy
    times of Indian communalism? “They threw a pig into the mosque.” Kill them all./ “They slaughtered a cow outside the temple. Kill them all.” Of course nobody ever found the pig or the cow.

  6. Maryanne Khan

    What Shahid says bears scrutiny:

    1- The role of religion in society, 2- Disgruntled Taliban and government’s policy regarding war on terror, 3- USA/Black Water etc.

    1- The role of religion in society covers everything from postulating Pakistan as a theocracy; to considering Pakistan’s raison-d’etre (going back to Partition) as a non-Hindu haven for Muslims who would have been seriously disadvantaged economically and socially in being subsumed by a Greater India; to the Ul Haq historical ‘compromise’ under which religion stepped outside spiritual boundaries and key aspects of sharia law were to a certain extent institutionalised, and continue to be.

    The role of religion in Pakistan is problematic in that it struggles to be compatible with a western model of democracy, in which all citizens are equal before the law and the law is not based on religious precepts, eg. where a (usually female) citizen may face the death penalty for adultery.

    2- Disgruntled Taliban. (See above. The habit of exercising power both spiritual and temporal is a hard one to break.)
    and: Government’s policy regarding war on terror.

    When these two items are listed together, one has the impression that the War on Terror is irking the Taliban expressly because it’s a war on ‘militant taliban.’ I rather disagree.

    3- The US and Blackwater

    Here we are talking about US instruments in gaining intelligence (CIA et al) and the economics of managing the logistics of an expensive war (Blackwater.) Yet the War on Terror was originally launched against Al Qaeda in retaliation for a highly symbolic strike from home soil — let us not forget that the targets — the WTC, the Pentagon and the Capitol/White House — represented the financial, military and political power of the US.

    The subsequent targeting of Iraq and then Afghanistan were purely economic under the guise of a war against ideological ‘enemies.’ (Years before the strike against Iraq, Condoleeza Rice was advocating disciplinary measures when Saddam Hussain refused to continue trading in US dollars.)

    Pakistan was co-opted, willingly enough, also because it did nothing to deny safe haven to the architects of the 9-11 strike. It therefore finds itself fighting on two fronts: aiding the US effort in return for financial rewards yet at the same time, remaining without the political will to engage renegades on its own territory who are assisting the Afghan effort against which America is fighting. America retaliates and Pakistani politicians and citizens alike cry foul. Obviously, the Pakistani government prefers to do nothing to shut down the supply of men and weapons into Afghanistan to counter the US’s attempt to establish a friendly power in Afghanistan (read: puppet.)

    Apart from a certain squeamishness with the faith, America is not fighting a war against Islam. It is fighting with an economic strategy involving oil supply from Turkmenistan and Iran through Pakistan, Afghanistan (and on to India in the long run) and most importantly, to China. The ‘theatre’ of this war happens to be in Muslim countries. Hence the waters are necessarily muddied.

    America will continue fighting this war as long as it is a cost-effective means of dealing the US into the economies of oil and curbing the expansion of China into top position as the world’s greatest economy. Then of course, there is also control of the drug trade, the profits of which feed into the International pharmaceutical and financial systems.

    The Pakistani government is playing with fire in positioning itself as an unwilling player in this. It stands as a government that is shackled by a marked lack of stated purpose, it has no policy. Had it the political will to take a stance in return for the cash it willingly accepts in return for its support of US policy, and the will to assert sovereignty over internal religious players, it would be different. In my opinion, this lack of purpose is what is causing ordinary citizens to be disgruntled with the government especially when they have the Taliban whispering in their ears. The Taliban want their political and legislative power to continue and the State can go to hell.

    It matters not much from where they draw their suicide bombers — they are acting in a political vacuum and are by default free to act as they please because the State has abdicated its responsibility to deliver security, stability and the means of obtaining these to its citizens.

    As George Orwell said, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This is what is in the minds of politicians, the upper classes and the Taliban alike.

  7. Zulfiqar Haider

    Perhaps it’s the sense of deprivation combined with fanaticism that compels a person to become a terrorist. But we can change it very easily, by curbing fanaticism and extremism from our country.

  8. bciv

    @Maryenne Khan

    actually point no.2 might have been much closer to reality had it not ignored the other jihad – the more relevant one. a roll back there has irked the homegrown jihadis giving them an incentive to shuffle closer to the more ‘global’ jihadis, at least as a possible (near) future strategy. at the level of the individual jihadi and smaller sub-groups, ‘conversions’ have been taking place – added to ‘spin-in’ from the afghan taliban jihad – with devastating results as we have been witnessing.

    a full and final decommissioning and liquidation of assets in this other jihad closest to home would not be easy to achieve. but it is the only hope for turning the tables on the global jihadis as far as pak is concerned. it will have a profound palliative effect on pakistani society too, and i don’t mean the reduction in suicide bombings. however, no such decision has been made or even contemplated.

  9. Rs

    Iran is on receiving end of American ire but how many Terrorist they produce ,Zeroo. It is not just anti America feeling that breeds fanaticism and extremism.
    But excellent infrastructure that Pakistan provides.
    Pakistan can hardly provide for its citizens and they want to control and have influence over Afghanistan.
    The real culprit is your over ambitious India hating Army about whom you guys hardly write. Indian politicians are just as corrupt but India is making huge Progress while this cannot be said about Pakistan , Army is de facto ruler of Pakistan . So should not they be Blamed for all that ails Pakistan.
    In turkey Army quite recently used to call the shot. But they not only controlled religious fanaticism but also their economy is also in Top 10 of the world.
    Bilal is an example that poverty doesn’t breed fanaticism.
    In India An army Major cannot afford to send his children abroad but in Pakistan it happens.
    You guys are close to major oil and gas producing countries and with Chinese help and cheap labour you guys can make huge strides in Manufacturing sector. But for that you have to dismantle all Jihad factories , then only you cane expect FDI and some real development.
    Moreover by all Jihad factories i mean India centric also because now Indian media and Indian public will not let Indian government look other way round when people get killed in incidents like 26\11.
    We want peace an ready to go extra step for that.

  10. Ammar

    The battle against extremist elements needs to be fought at various fronts, the prime being the military operation and then countering the ideological misconceptions they disseminate, the root cause of extremism lies in poverty and social deprivation and unless such issues are addressed this menace will continue to grow

  11. bciv

    the root cause of extremism lies in poverty and social deprivation and unless such issues are addressed this menace will continue to grow

    …like it does in all 50+ countries even poorer than pakistan?

  12. Maryanne Khan

    leaping in here and glad to engage in a discussion with bciv’s comment number one.

    Yea, the absorption of national Talib groups with global groups is bound to happen. But after getting a feel for how things work in such a climate, I might hazard a guess that no matter what the outcome, the Pak groups will settle back into issues of local control/influence. They can’t sustain a global agenda, when that is not the primary objective.

    What I’m saying is that their immediate survival, as you say, has provoked “a roll back there has irked the homegrown jihadis giving them an incentive to shuffle closer to the more ‘global’ jihadis, at least as a possible (near) future strategy.” You say it’s a near possible future strategy. But can it endure, and why should it last?

    Why should the local jihadists continue to embrace a global agenda, given the (my reading here) historical, local/tribal focus of such groups? Are they really equipped to engage in the global jihadi battle? Did they do so in the past when given the ‘chance’?

    Might I suggest that when you say, “a full and final decommissioning and liquidation of assets in this other jihad closest to home would not be easy to achieve. but it is the only hope for turning the tables on the global jihadis as far as pak is concerned.” Might this not be achieved by force of implosion?

    And you rightly say, “the root cause of extremism lies in poverty and social deprivation and unless such issues are addressed this menace will continue to grow.”

    Oh yes, I say Rwanda, Somalia, the Congo, yup.

  13. bciv

    Maryenne, to start with the bit about ‘the root cause of extremism lies in poverty’, that is a comment by Ammar, not me. as you can see, my response to it is the same as yours.

    returning to the main point we had started discussing, most of your questions will perhaps be answered by noting that the “more relevant jihad” and the one “closest to home” is none other than kashmir.

    re. “historical, local/tribal focus of such groups”: these are just sideshows, whether in 1820’s, 1857, 1920s, 1980s or now. the real issue there is of ‘safe haven’. when it comes to homegrown terror, the leading question is centred around the likes of muridke and bahawalpur. if all the dots are joined, those who wish to save the ‘assets’ for a rainy (or partly cloudy) day would like to prevent an implosion, not least because an implosion would be no less destructive (if not apocalyptic) than an unbridled explosion.

  14. bciv

    Are they really equipped to engage in the global jihadi battle?

    no. but somewhat like the crusaders the talk of freeing jerusalem is kept up just so that they can have the perks and pleasure of plundering constantinople.

  15. Maryanne Khan

    Thanks bciv. Interesting point about Kashmir, it bears further investigation (on my part.)

    I appreciate your engaging in discussion with me, for although I am keenly interested in what is happening, I am an ‘outsider’ not living permanently in the country and each time I come there I spend most of my time with family in our village. Actual study has to happen elsewhere.

    Would you mind elaborating on this for my benefit?

    “if all the dots are joined, those who wish to save the ‘assets’ for a rainy (or partly cloudy) day would like to prevent an implosion, not least because an implosion would be no less destructive (if not apocalyptic) than an unbridled explosion.”

  16. bciv

    Maryenne, it would seem there are a number of jihadi groups ranging all the way from al-qaeda to LeT. within the pak establishment too, it would appear, there are differing views, some more pragmatic than others.

    the jihadists are disgruntled about rolling back of jihad in kashmir. the establishment is not going after groups like LeT because they do not want to open a new battlefront in the east before they are done with the one in the west. of course the hope would be that, once the western battles have been won and settled, LeT types can be taken care of by mere policing and similar non-military measures.

    the question is whether the intention is, across the board, to liquidate them or to only once again bring them to heel.

    the LeT types, for their part, have not challenged authority, but it is quite likely that they are constantly weighing their options. the establishment does not want any desertions over to the global jihad camp with its openly declared verdict against the state of pakistan.

    the state won’t mind a strictly controlled implosion, that is terrorist on terrorist fight, but it is a dangerous game since it makes them nervous and (even more) desperate and less amenable to control, incentives or negotiations (ie to any sense of self-interest).

    while the state of pak – the declared enemy – remains undefeated, the global jihad groups at least have an incentive not to navel gaze too much and stave off forces of implosion. similarly, the LeT types are not going to turn against the state until the state turns against them, even as they watch events very closely. as for the many groups between these two ends, and the floating ones, they are as big a headache for being an intractable mess as the global jihad groups are for being a committed and determined enemy.

  17. Maryanne Khan

    well that makes a lot of sense, thank you so much.

    As you say, it’s a matter of ‘control, incentives and negotiations.’ (Something I sense the US isn’t happy to apply in Afghanistan to the extent that Karzai is.)

    I also see the issue of the ‘divided E/W front’ as occasionally playing into the hands of LeT, who seem to be keen on periodically stirring things up in the east to destabilize the attention from what’s happening in the west. What’s behind that strategy? Are they saying ‘watch out, we’re here too?’

    You say, ‘the question is whether the intention is, across the board, to liquidate them or to only once again bring them to heel.’ Seems it would require a massive effort to liquidate them and as you say earlier, regular policing and non-military measures can keep them under control (as long as, I’m assuming, that the western front is stabilised). This seems to be the most practical way of dealing with them, as outright confrontation, as we’re seeing in Afghanistan, is difficult to orchestrate and to measure. Last time I heard (well, not really the last time, but what the US was saying back in 2002) the Taliban were ‘defeated’

    (I’m reading ‘In The Graveyard of Empires’, in which Seth Jones spells out how the US blew the campaign by diverting men and materiel to Iraq after 02.)

    Then there are the ‘floaters’ you mention who have local vested interests, no?

  18. Shahid Toosy

    I have a question. If we implement, in letter and spirit, all the useful suggestions put forward by the worthy participants, do you think terrorism will go ?

  19. Maryanne Khan

    Shahid, we’re back to the beginning of the discussion – what causes terrorism in the first place? Disenfranchisement, I would say.

    what’s wonderful is actually having these conversations, for a rational discussion is what’s needed. In the broader picture, it should be a case of “Getting to Yes” – a strategy of compromise and discussion where grievances are aired and compromises made, a process of ‘How can we come to agree on X?’ The tribal areas still operate on this system, isn’t that what the Jirga is about?

    Those intent of overthrowing The State, are intent on overthrowing THIS State, perhaps another configuration might be more acceptable. Of course working out what is needed in a new configuration is the hardest thing to achieve. What’s not working (if I may say so and I’m a foreigner) is treating opponents as ‘Them’ as opposed to the ‘Us’ who dismiss them and refuse to deal with them until they gain enough strength (by whatever means) to topple the ‘Us’ who are currently in power. That’s a ‘Zero sum’ mentality, in which anything ‘you’ stand to gain is something ‘I’ will necessarily lose.

    There will come a time when it will no longer be a ‘gain’ to destabilise the country from within, and if the ‘benefits’ of being a Pakistani citizen are shared amongst more than the upper and ruling classes, the destabilisors will have no cause to exist as enemies of the State.

    That’s what should happen, but it depends on the stakeholders and who the new stakeholders will be. Pakistan is strategically located in regard to the middle east and China, and its poor standard of governance is preventing it from embracing a potentially powerful position.

    Understand that these are my thoughts and I am fortunate enough to live in a stable and prosperous country, so I’m not able to speak for you guys who live in a different reality. But I reckon it’s worth saying anyway.

  20. Maryanne Khan

    Right back to what Tajji said originally:

    “We cannot even initiate an open dialogue about critical issues within ourselves, let alone actually achieve some results.”

  21. ali hamdani

    Poverty and hatred for all is what makes a terrorist. Young minds that are manipulated easily in search of two meals a day is the catchy point.

  22. Mustafa

    @Maryanne Khan: Like your analysis regarding US economic interests whether in the form of oil pipelines or drugs. Because nobody talks about these interests even though they are the largest element in the picture. The reason why these wars happen in the first place. When these wars take place, extremism and terrorism also takes off as a result.

  23. sarah

    “Media is the pastime of our educated class, if the educated Pakistanis are comfortable with its direction what hope there is to modify the behavior of poor and uneducated “………. all our educated class does is earn , spend and enjoy the entertainment provided by the anchors and politicians blaming and yelling at each other on tv relaxing themselves on comfy sofa’s….who cares about the country, where ever it goes …to hell or down the drain…..all they care abt is how much they earned the day and how much they can afford to spend…..

  24. bciv

    maryenne, we might have misunderstood each other’s views o poverty being a cause. it is a factor, a contributing factor, but incapable of being a cause. deprivation and poor social justice only offers fertile grounds to the ideology of hate (which in this case uses religion). but deprivation has little or no ability to spontaneously spawn extremism, esp religious extremism.

    the ideology was allowed to exist and propagate. the state was an actor to the extent of being deliberately passive, at the very least. it all started with the need for global jihad and mujahideen in soviet occupied a’stan, and to ensure support for it at home (in pak). but also the dictator at the time saw and tried hard to develop religion and religiosity as his political constituency. it suited him to see the jihadist trends grow. the tribal areas were used as the base of the pro-pakistan mujahideen and this played havoc with social and economic life of the locals.

    things became even worse after the soviets withdrew. there was much patting one’s own back taking the credit for the superpower running with its tail between its legs. heads inflated. zia and junejo fell out because junejo wanted to have a democratic consensus in both a’stan and pak about the future of a’stan. zia, representing the establishment, wished to have a client state in a’stan.

    many pakistani and other non-afghan mujahideen left a’stan. at least some were ‘redeployed’ to kashmir. zia got killed. foreign and security policy was a no-go area for the new civilian govt. unlike zia, those running the security policy now did not have to be in the public eye nor share responsibility or ideas with any other part of the state. their new choice of policy meant that they coveted the homegrown product of extremist ideology. now it was not FATA but pakistani society which had to pay the price.

    in 1994, there was the ’emergence’ of the taliban. they were adopted as ‘our people’. they were in control in kabul by 1996. bin laden was invited back to a’stan from sudan.

    Then there are the ‘floaters’ you mention who have local vested interests, no?

    there are all sorts there. they are floaters mainly because they are smaller, in many cases splinter, groups. jihadists don’t agree to disagree. either they follow or go their own way.

    There will come a time when it will no longer be a ‘gain’ to destabilise the country from within

    yes. addressing issues of deprivation and inequality is what must be done in the long run. extending democracy and, therefore and thereby, development to FATA is important too. but the state cannot even begin to do any of this if it gives out the signal that all anyone has to do to twist the state’s arm is to pick up a gun or a bomb and bully the state a bit. i’m not saying the state must never negotiate. but the state’s right and duty to have the absolute monopoly over means of violence is non-negotiable. unless that principle is clear and made clear, there is no hope.

    the US is pak’s best hope of getting the job done as far as the threat and attack from the terrorists are concerned that pakistan is under. pak should do the prudent and wise thing and make best use of whatever US presence, interest, concern and commitment we have in this area before it starts to dwindle and disappear. if we want to survive and overcome this then we should care the least whether oil, gas or good old imperialism forms any part of US strategy or not. even if it does, what is it to us? if the US can become our customer or her suppliers in the region can become our customers in some way, that would be an added bonus to being saved in this war against the terrorists with the help of those allied, so far, to fight the terrorists, for now.

  25. krash

    My original post from yesterday is still awaiting moderation because it was a link to a Salon article on this exact topic.

    Let me, instead, post some excerpts from that article. You can see the link when my previous post is cleared.
    —————————

    In 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld commissioned a task force to study what causes Terrorism, and it concluded that “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies”: specifically, “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” through our “one sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan” (the full report is here). Now, a new, comprehensive study from Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, substantiates what is (a) already bleedingly obvious and (b) known to the U.S. Government for many years: namely, that the prime cause of suicide bombings is not Hatred of Our Freedoms or Inherent Violence in Islamic Culture or a Desire for Worldwide Sharia Rule by Caliphate, but rather. . . . foreign military occupations.
    …………………………………………

    They have compiled the terrorism statistics in a publicly available database comprised of some 10,000 records on some 2,200 suicide terrorism attacks, dating back to the first suicide terrorism attack of modern times – the 1983 truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 U.S. Marines.

    “We have lots of evidence now that when you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns, … and that when the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100% of the terrorist campaign,” Pape said in an interview last week on his findings.

  26. Salman Arshad

    What makes a terrorist?

    Nothing “makes” a terrorist.

    Its just that when terrorism is more beneficial than any other alternative, its only right to choose terrorism.

    And Pakistan is a fantastic place. You can actually work for the state if you are a capable terrorist, especially in the real foreign policy department or the Security for the Security department. I didn’t want to name the departments. You can find them everywhere these days.

    To make a suicide bomber, take someone who thinks they don’t have anything to live for, and show them that there is a lot more to die for.

    Poverty doesn’t create terrorists. But the poor might incidentally be frustrated of their lives too. If it is profitable for the victim to be destructive, he would choose that. So you can guess what happens when the state itself sponsors you.

  27. Maryanne Khan

    bciv

    I absolutely agree with all you say. All the research I have done for my novel revealed exactly the issues and historical events you cite.

    The State’s control over ‘violence’ or force of any kind should indeed be non-negotiable, I agree. I’m always harping on PTH that the State has abdicated that control.

    You say, “if the US can become our customer or her suppliers in the region can become our customers in some way, that would be an added bonus to being saved in this war against the terrorists with the help of those allied, so far, to fight the terrorists, for now.”

    You bet! If Pakistan can forge a role as commercial partner with the US et al, it would be a different story. One tends to suspect that this is not being publicly discussed because those in the position to take advantage of such deals as pipelines etc fully intend to monopolise business for themselves. It’s kept quiet and the actual implementation is happening well out of public scrutiny. I might be a cynic here, but correct me if I’m wrong.

    And I’m always harping on the strong , key position Pakistan actually occupies in the region in regard to pipelines (and supply conduits westward — as the recent blockade of American supplies to A’stan clearly showed and as it was in the 80’s when my husband watched – then clandestine – arms being shipped over during the soviet war).

    Strategically, Pak is in the position to really set terms with a co-operation with the US in terms of what you rightly call presence, interest, concern and commitment on their part. To be sure, the US will be keen to obtain some sort of short-term return for that, and at the moment, the Pak govt is having what we call ‘a bet each way.’

    Everyone is saying that poverty does not directly result in hatred and violence and they’re right. But it does nothing to empower people, and it’s that sense of hopelessness that I sense that breaks people’s spirits. Same situation in rural Italy, where the people shrug off whatever the government does because it does not affect them personally, they are so removed from national life that all they do is grin and bear it. Sound familiar?

    At least there are you folks over there!

    checking what krash says now. Thanks for all this guys!

  28. Maryanne Khan

    krash

    yes indeed!

    I just read a 700 page history of the British Raj and as you conclude in reporting Pape’s findings on the root of ‘terrorism’ (read: armed resistance) that author also concluded that the cause was ‘foreign military occupations.’ That was always the case especially in what is now Afghanistan, and so it shall be in the future. As long as, and here’s the point, the occupation is seen as hostile.

    Right now, the US has to learn to position itself as a partner in the region and not a stabilising force. The post WWII Marshall Plan is the ideological model the US is still largely implementing. In Europe, it was a case of ‘ fill the post-ballistic economic void and things will take care of themselves.’ Not so simple in Afghanistan, where the US is providing military power to establish who will be the legitimate government with which to deal. Let alone building a viable economy.

    At the moment, the US is very squeamish about trusting this region to manage its own security, and is debating the cost of filling a perceived void. This is very clear in Afghanistan and the need for that country to take hold of its own security is paramount. Same with Pakistan to a certain degree. The US would be pretty keen to work with Pak IF it thought that Pak was ‘a good investment.’

    In that case, co-operation with foreign powers would no longer be a question of working with a government that is not in control of its own internal security (exactly what is happening in a’stan.)

    Yes, once the foreign power withdraws, there will be a fall in armed resistance for precisely that reason. (Of course who will actually end up in control is something the US is not at all sure of and is hesitant to leave that country to its own devices. There are currently no guarantees that a future government will be ‘friendly’ or not.)

    The Pakistan government can build a partnership with foreign powers if it can take control of and exercise its sole right to enforce its laws and provide security. It can’t afford to allow internal groups to threaten it with a bunch of bombs and the threat of ‘random’ civilian casualties.

    (Some of the targets of violence seem to have a history of being the locus of prior uprisings against foreign occupational forces, such as the Qissa Qhawani Bazaar uprising and massacre; or are symbolic, as in the various Pearl Continentals that have been hit. Even the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai was the site of a former uprising against the Raj.)

    If you go back far enough, as the Pape study has done, this is the pattern that emerges.

  29. Maryanne Khan

    Mustapha

    too right mate! Gone are the days of Grand Ideologies battling for ascendancy. Today it’s purely a question of financial ascendancy, the control of resources. As you say, that’s what’s at stake in these wars. It is also what the US is on about in rattling a sabre under the nose of Iran, a key supplier in the IP pipeline, which is already a done deal and due to commence construction in 2014. One never hears anything about that. One never hears, also, who exactly it is going to benefit. Is it in the nation’s projected budget?

    And another thing no one talks about is the potential overwhelming preponderance of your northern neighbour, China.

    They control 25% of US debt, are the basis of OUR economy in Australia and even we aren’t openly talking about what will happen when future pipelines (in addition to the sweet crude they are already obtaining from Africa) come into play to provide cleaner energy than our coal.

    China – softly, softly, catchee monkey – and is that a proposed new Sino-Pak new transportation route I spy running through the Karakoram Mountains?

  30. Shahid Toosy

    Yes Krash thats it ! after all someone talked about the source of the evil. The original article and all the comments, revolve around the symptoms. Why ?

  31. Maryanne Khan

    bciv

    Ah, you cite the back-patting and crowing once the Russians left Afghanistan, a super-power with its tail between its legs. Pakistan glorified by the other super-power involved on whose behalf it was acting.

    Yeah, yeah the spectre of Russia invading your part of the world goes back at least to the 1800s in ‘recent’ history, and the Brits under Abbott had the better of them. This last wasn’t a battle between Afghanistan/you and the soviets, it was between the Soviets and the US really.

    Now, what’s going to happen when the Americans and NATO pack up and leave? In the big picture, who exactly will have ‘won’ and who ‘lost’ and will whoever ‘wins’ last long?

    And will the Americans pursue ties with Pakistan if they withdraw with no result in Afghanistan? Either they won’t, on the basis of the US cutting its losses, or by default, Pakistan will emerge as ‘the last man standing’ in the region and they will.

  32. Ammar

    We need to inspect the reasons that are causing militancy. At the strategy level we need to develop a comprehensive counter terrorism strategy based on the perceptive of beliefs, frame of mind, background, common aspirations and motives of extremists.

    The government also needs to chalk out an official framework for dealing with the problem of extremism. Such a framework should focus on deterrence, then engaging the militants who are ready to repent in a dialogue and lastly rehabilitate those who can turn back