Terrorism: Cause and effect

By Fiamma Nirenstein

Every hour we have breaking news about terrorist attacks – the tragedy of Moscow is already in the past, the assassination of an American diplomat in Amman is news only for a few hours until the next tragic and ferocious event. Al-Qaida has visited Jordan a number of times, a large cell was discovered there. Hamas has its headquarters there, financed by Iran, which also pays the bills of the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Saddam Hussein probably hands over the $25,000 he gives each family of suicide terrorists through Jordan.

Plots and subplots. The fact that al-Qaida and its criminal connections have been roaming through Chechnya is common knowledge. The Caucasus and the Balkans have been infested with Islamic extremists passing as nationalists for quite a while now. Karkur, Philippines, New Delhi, Bali and then Moscow and Amman. And there’s Yemen, too – i.e., the French ship, and the island in Kuwait. Bin Laden’s fan, the sniper in Maryland.

If we were hunting for average, run-of-the-mill evidence, we’d have no problem finding one common denominator: Islam.

Every ethnic group has its own region on the map, as Italian journalist and former ambassador Sergio Romano has pointed out, but are nationalist claims really our main concern today?

High-minded journalists write that each group has his or her own private suffering, persecutions that produce belligerence. But do we really need to know that to help us understand this new phenomenon and protect our families, our society and our works of art? Because that is our duty today.

Quite plainly, we can perform this duty with a common strategy as to money and weapons. We need a strategy directly aimed to stop and disarm countries supporting terrorism so that they will discontinue their assistance, and so that we, the people attacked by Terror, can work with them. Our common goal must be to avoid monstrous carnage as well as reactions that threaten our moral sense and the rules of democracy.

That doesn’t keep us from supporting freedom for Chechnya. It doesn’t have anything to do with it. Terrorism is something else – an autonomous and single entity. Its has common inspiration and funds. It has a common religious reference point, even if somebody may be convinced that it’s different from its original message.

This doesn’t change the main problem we have today: Define the perpetrator of terrorism.

Anyone can see, with an uneasy glance, that terrorism has these things in common: ideological directives; the ability to strike; financial and international training networks; organizational make-up; suicide terrorists.

All these common elements define a common enemy. In the United States, in Europe, we failed more than once to look this terrible reality square in the face. America has now understood the challenge – let’s hope that a good look and not several bad experiences would force Europe to throw its full weight behind the U.S., that it will not be the fear of losing its uncertain identity that will guide its leaders.

For the good people that point to local fights and ethnic and national suffering as the reason for terrorism, why does it so often strike randomly (Bali, Egypt) at miscellaneous tourists, adolescents, Australians and Africans – instead of their own oppressors?. And why was there Egyptian and Saudi terrorism in New York, Tunisian terrorism in Gerba and, apparently, Indonesian terrorism in Bali.

Mark Heller of the Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies put it well when he said, if terrorism develops out of local causes, why didn’t it rise up in Sudan and Nigeria? Why hasn’t Muslim repression created non-Islamic terrorism?