Roots of Terrorism Must Be Fully
Investigated, and Anti-Americanism: How to End It? by M. V. Naidu,
Chairman, Dept. of Political Science, Brandon University
September 25, 2001
Below are two of my articles, pertaining to recent terrorist attacks on the
U.S., being published in the local Brandon Sun newspaper.
ROOTS OF TERRORISM MUST BE FULLY INVESTIGATED
M. V. Naidu
Chairman, Dept. of Political Science
(Published in the Brandon Sun, Tue. 25 September 2001)
On 11 September 2001 terrorists attacked the United States causing heavy
damages to life and property. President George Bush has called the attacks,
a war on the United States.
The passion and anger of the Americans are understandable because the United
States was never before bombed by foreigners, even though the U.S. bombed
military and civilian targets in many parts of the world, and killed
thousands of persons. Of course thousands of American soldiers died in all
these undertakings. The present experience has ended American innocence on
foreign invasions. The attack has roused American patriotism, and the
What is terrorism?
Simply said, terrorism is the phenomenon in which a community is subjected
to fear and terror through threats to human well being, and/or through
symbolic destruction of life, liberty and property. The targets of these
threats and/or attacks are essentially civilian population, though military
targets could also be included. The aim of terrorism is to create panic,
disorder and instability among the citizens so that they can in turn demand
political change, or can destabilize the regime or rebel against it.
Usually terrorism can be used by minorities against the regime that is
unresponsive to the minority grievances. But when government uses the same
terrorism against certain minorities that are considered dangerous to the
regime, it becomes "state terrorism." By its very nature, every
authoritarian colonial or racist or religious state is inclined towards
state terrorism in different forms.
What are the techniques of terrorism?
Anti-regime terrorists work in small groups and in great secrecy. They use
and need simple or small tools that can cause certain limited amount of
destruction because terrorists don't aim at conquest. Terrorists can
function on low budget. The terrorists heavily depend upon intelligence and
espionage sources for deciding upon targets and on determining the tools and
techniques necessary. A very important qualification for terrorists is the
capacity to melt into a crowd or the community.
Finally, the terrorists have to pick a target that is least expected or that
will attract maximum attention. That is, surprise, drama and terror-creation
are important considerations in selecting targets or victims.
The 11th September terrorist attacks did exhibit the elements of simplicity,
minimum investment of men and money, surprise and shock. That 19 hijackers
equipped with simple knives have successfully terrorised millions of
American civilians, have challenged the mightiest of mighty states, and have
frightened all the major powers on earth, is indeed a superb plan of the
most successful undertaking of terrorism. The terrorists paid only one
What makes the terrorist?
First and foremost, the terrorist is fully prepared to die. Let there be no
mistake-the terrorists are not hired assassins. They are motivated by the
martyr complex; they welcome and even seek death. Why?
Normal human beings, driven by the instinct of self-preservation, do not
resort to suicide. However, total alienation and hopelessness can drive
individuals to a state of mind that looks at life as a living death. Such
desperation and hopelessness could be the product of dehumanization caused
by unending violence, political persecution, economic suffering, religious
or racial oppression, ethnic cleansing or neo-colonialism.
What are the goals of terrorism?
One obvious and immediate goal of terrorism is to shock and scare the
authorities and citizenry. Terrorism also seduces the opponent to overreact.
Such overreaction is sure to victimize the innocent bystanders. The innocent
victims naturally start identifying and empathizing with the terrorists. The
anti-terrorist authority should therefore react with a great amount of
patience and balancing of pros and cons.
The deep-rooted goal of terrorism could be either to avenge the sufferings
of the terrorists and their communities, or to ventilate their deeply felt
grievances in order to draw the attention of the world.
Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban
The United States authorities are pointing out that muslim terrorists who
attacked the U.S.A. were working under the guidance of Osama Bin Laden. If
this were true, are the muslim terrorists seeking revenge? For What? If they
are ventilating their grievances, what grievances and whose?
The muslim terrorists in the world have different agendas. Some of them want
to draw the world's attention to the plight of the Palestinians who have
been suffering at the hands of Israel and who believe that the U.S. is
pampering Israel. Some terrorists seek relief for the Iraqi men, women and
children suffering under the U.S. bombs and harsh economic sanctions. Some
muslim terrorists work for the Islamic fundamentalists of Iran that is still
being penalized for the ousting of the Shah of Iran, an important protégé of
the United States. Some terrorists are sympathisers of Sudan that was
wrongly bombed by the U.S. to avenge terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassy
in Kenya. The Egyptian terrorists are being suppressed by Mubarak's
government, another protégé of the United States. Pakistani dictators,
allies of the U.S., have produced muslim terrorists to destabilize the
Indian state of Kashmir.
The fanatical Taliban regime of Afghanistan has been harbouring Bin Laden
and training mujahedeen. Who are the Taliban?
Taliban literally means students. The Taliban, a fanatical Islamic movement,
was created by Pakistan in its religious schools (madrasa). The Taliban were
also given military training in Pakistan and have been equipped with
American arms that were supplied to the Afghans to fight the Russians. Until
recently Pakistan has been supporting the Taliban regime diplomatically,
militarily, and by providing secret services, oil and food supplies,
finances, etc. The Taliban are training mujahedeen and sending them to fight
in various countries, from Kosovo to Kashmir. India submitted to the U.S.
hard evidence on Pakistan's support to terrorism. The C.I.A. corroborated
this evidence before the Congress, but the U.S. administration has refused
to brand Pakistan a terrorist state, because Pakistan was a U.S. ally during
the Cold War and Pakistani dictators have been good customers for American
weapons. But the U.S. government has had no difficulty in labelling Cuba,
Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as "sponsors of terrorism."
Ironically enough, the U.S.A. and Pakistan are now confronting the very
Taliban they have created and armed!
Anti-Americanism is the strong force behind Islamic terrorism. I'll discuss
this in the next article.
ANTI-AMERICANISM: HOW TO END IT?
Chairman, Dept. of Political Science
(Brandon Sun, scheduled publication date Sat. 29 September 2001)
Most Americans are innately kind and friendly people. The United States is
the biggest donor of foreign aid. Why then is there such intense
anti-Americanism in the world?
The genuine goodwill of the American people is not always reflected by the
U.S. government which is run, as pointed out by President Eisenhower, by the
"industrial-military complex." This complex has its own agenda-profiteering
Foreign aid is not free-giveaway of money or food. More than 80% of the aid
is in the forms of loan, barter and investment. During the Cold War, a major
proportion of foreign aid was military aid. As an economic transaction,
foreign aid is beneficial to the United States.
American arms manufacturers have been sponsoring and sustaining autocratic
rulers who become big clients for weapons. These rulers indulge in
exploitation and repression of their citizens. Alienated masses become
resentful of the rulers and the U.S. that supports them. Among such rulers
were the Shah of Iran, King Faizal and later Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
Pakistani generals-Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia-ul Haq, Diem and Thieu of
South Vietnam, Sukarno and Suharto of Indonesia and Latin American dictators
like Batista, Noreiga and Pinochett. Support for such dictators was
justified by the U.S. in the name of American "national interests," even
while proclaiming that the United States is committed to human rights and
democracy. Sooner or later the dictators fall as anti-Americanism rises.
Interestingly enough, all the rulers and movements that are openly
anti-American today, were in the earlier days befriended and armed by the
United States, e.g., Saddam Hussein, Noriega and the Taliban. The Taliban
movement was created and supported by Pakistan, a close military ally of the
U.S. The Islamic fanatics were equipped with American weapons to fight
Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; the same fanatics are now sponsoring
anti-American terrorism round the world.
Lending agencies like the World Bank, of which the U.S.A. is a major
shareholder, have been imposing harsh conditions on the borrowing nations.
Developing countries and Western youth have been condemning the
neo-colonialism of the American corporations.
The most direct source of anti-Americanism is military intervention by the
United States in many parts of the world. During the post-war decades, the
U.S. waged wars in Korea, Vietnam and Persian Gulf. The United States also
invaded Cambodia, Cuba, Grenada, Kenya, Laos, Libya, Panama, Sudan, and
Yugoslavia. Indirect intervention by the U.S.A., took place in many places
like Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Congo, Somalia, and in almost all Latin
American countries. Victims of American military actions have developed
A major source of anti-Americanism among millions of Arabs and muslims is
the blind and total support that the U.S. provides for Israel against
The FBI and CIA investigations so far have pointed out that Osama Bin Laden
and his network (Al Qaida) are the "primary suspects" for the recent
terrorist attacks, though no hard and public evidence has been produced so
far. President Bush wants Bin Laden "dead or alive."
President Bush wants the Taliban regime to surrender Bin Laden to the U.S.
What will Bush do with Bin Laden has not been spelled out. All indications
show that U.S. is preparing for an invasion of Afghanistan.
Invasion of Afghanistan raises another serious problem-what will happen in
Pakistan? The Taliban movement has become Pakistan's Frankenstein.
Pakistan's fundamentalists, mobilized by Pakistani dictators for their
anti-India campaigns, have already started their agitation in support of the
Taliban and anti-Americanism. Let us also remember that Pakistan has some
nuclear weapons; these could fall into the hands of Pakistani or Taliban
mujahedeen. The mujahedeen have been threatening to use the nuclear weapons
against India. A nuclear attack may (cause) India to retaliate in the same
Could that lead to a global nuclear war?
Anti-American terrorists are faceless; they live and move in shadows; they
work in secrecy; they are committed to martyrdom; they have many
nationalities. By capturing Bin Laden will the United States be able to wipe
out anti-Americanism and muslim terrorism? In their thousands the muslim
terrorists are living or hiding in more than 30 countries. One, two or 10
individual terrorists can again attack American interests within and without
the United States.
President Bush has already declared that the U.S. will hunt them down. But
how will he punish the states that help or harbour such terrorists? Not
clear. The U.S. may use secret services, economic sanctions, diplomatic
boycotts and military threats to punish dozens of states that assist the
terrorists. But will these measures reduce anti-Americanism? Should
terrorism be fought with terroristic techniques? We may kill the terrorists,
but we can't kill terrorism. Nor can counter-terrorism end terrorism. What
then can be done to solve the basic problems that produce the Islamic
1. First of all peace must be established in the Middle East by establishing
and protecting the Palestinian state as a viable, stable and secure entity.
2. The economic sanctions against Iraq should be ended while disallowing
Iraq weapons of mass destruction.
3. Iran should be rehabilitated into the community of nations and the U.S.
should pay back all the money the Shah regime left in American banks.
4. Pakistan should be provided economic assistance, not military arms, on
the condition that it will stop organizing or encouraging Islamic terrorist
groups, and that it will be democratized soon.
5. Medieval kings of the Middle East, and the modern dictators everywhere
should be prevailed upon to democratize their countries guaranteeing civil
6. The United States should stop exporting weapons to all dictatorships
especially to the countries that are engaged in civil wars in neighbourhood
7. Most of all, corporate greed and neo-colonial exploitation of the
developing countries should be stopped immediately. Development assistance
should be multilaterized, and focused on ending dehumanizing poverty.
Anti-terrorism demands both security against and sympathy for the desperate,
both precaution against and compassion, for the alienated. Will the U.S.
rise up to such wise leadership?