With recent counter-terrorist raids in Australia, I thought it might be time to revisit how to fight terrorism. It seems the solution is to fight fire with fire and recognise that guerrilla warfare is the way of the past, present, and future.
A Guest post from Darren Parbs (Amateur Historian) Mid-2005
Well the situation is not different now nor ever before. The use of violence by disaffected political groups to promote their vision of government, nation and creed is as old as the human race.
The new twist here is that Osama bin Laden has instead of projecting a political, economic or national need is using religion as his vehicle of ascendancy. His actions by forming a pan national Islamic movement is something that hasn’t been encountered before, simply because such movements have been localised and then evolved in to national structures such as the Ottoman Empire, Al-Mahad Empire or the Golden Hoard etc. The ability of such a movement to have far reaching and fanatical support was therefore limited.
In the thirties when Hitler, Mussolini, Franco etc took up this form of expansionist extremism they were still limited by communication and their own orthodoxy in political belief as was the later Communist, IRA and Palestinian movements.
The situation now is for the first time in history global communications, unlimited access to them, and the ability of an organisation to operate in a pan national arena of tactical engagement has changed the paradigm of how this action is targeted, planned and the goals of it’s actions.
Al Qaeda has assumed the role of the leader of Islamic resistance to the western hegemony, the global orthodoxy that we enjoy today. In part this is because of a cultural and religious need to influence and convert people to the “divine” word of God as delivered to the faithful by Mohammed.
It matters little if we choose to acknowledge the right of people to espouse the faith, evangelise the faith or even persecute the faith. The fact is that our principles and basis of law, secular beliefs and methods of business and finance are anathema to the teachings of the faith.
To what extent this determines our responses is a matter of cultural and economic orthodoxy, that we share with much of the world, but the risks to the individual are no greater now than in the seventies when the PLO, Ira, Bader-Meinhof, Red banner etc. etc. terrorists acted in similar manner.
The true risk is two fold, the first being that another group may emerge from either a Western or Eastern religious source that may attempt to meet this Islamic movement head on, thus forcing a polarisation or divergence of response. In the end it would be giving legitimacy to the leader and followers of the Islamic resistance.
The second risk which is greater in my opinion is that the use of fear and projection of fear will be projected inward upon the people of the western world, that to protect our way of life and freedoms we will in-fact submit them to ever greater state and global security measures, which will end in our subservience to the state.
In order to prevail in life and in belief you must be prepared to accept the risk failure or death, you cannot succeed without risk. Our society has evolved or allowed itself to evolve in a manner which denies this risk, we legislate protections, we regulate actions we prosecute offence. It has long passed the balance of individual balancing rights and obligation. This is a tragic failing, for by doing so we have fostered a belief that government, nations and alliances can guarantee security, which cannot be guaranteed at all, especially in peak hour traffic.
I hope I am wrong, but I feel that this movement in the Islamic world will continue to spread, I also note the re-emergence of the evangelical Christian right as a response to this. As these two protagonists gain more followers, greater acceptance and legitimacy on the grounds of opposing the actions of each other, the polarity will spread. The issue is not that they will confront each other but that each will strike symbolic and economic targets of opportunity. These actions will naturally have greatest effect on moderate secular community members, who will themselves or by association lead to greater recruitment of the protagonists.
How do you combat this is the most complex problem we now face, but turning our nations into castles or prisons for ourselves is not the answer. Using our economic and military advantage against national or religious targets is also not an acceptable answer, as we then perpetuate the mythology of the resistance. In areas where prosperity, political freedom and economic resource are not present and has no tradition or “orthodoxy” this type of action is exactly the example used by the “resistance” to justify their existence. The use of education, enlightenment and leveraging economic advancement is also not going to work, as the very institutions and ideas are contra to the accepted teachings of elements within the community.
It is my belief that the only way to combat this form of conflict is to regain mobility and the ascendancy of action, the only way this can be achieved is not by public and national use of force, applying overwhelming economic or military pressure. It must be counter insurgency and offensive clandestine engagement. That the nations of the west must use the basic template similar to a Mossad Kidom unit, establish many individual yet concurrently organised operations groups within the projected area of conflict and kill the emerging leaders and radicals either by direct methods or inciting conflict between partisan forces. The greatest problem with this though is the structure of the society in which you wish to operate, clan based, clerically driven and self contained, it would take several years or decades to establish credible and effective groups that would be able to gather the intelligence and suitable background to infiltrate the core areas of activity. It is a long term plan, but has little political gain that could be credited to political leadership or their aspirations and is therefore not seen as a viable option for the current orthodox leadership.