Terrorism – A Threat to Global Peace
Nowadays, no one seems to be saved in the world. Terrorism, an ugly development which has compelled the world leaders as well as the public figures to spend millions of dollars beefing up their security, has become a global threat. Amidst this seemingly tight security and threat, thousands of innocent souls have lost their lives to the annihilation called terrorism.
Statistically, it has been proved that no country of the world is exceptional to terrorist attacks. Pius Odiaka writes on the palpable fear pervading world following the series of bombings in some countries. He declares in the Guardian Newspaper, Friday, July 29th, 2005, (page 24) that “No part of the world has been left without terrorist bloodshed. From Kenya, Algeria, Egypt in Africa to many countries in the middle East and the Gulf; Indonesia, Philippine, Pakistan and India across Asia; Washington and New York in America; Spain and now London in Europe, many innocent souls have been sniffed out of existence.”
The paper will present how terrorism is a threat to Global Peace. It will enumerate the category of acts of terrorism. It will also examine the causes and implications of terrorism in human advancement especially in the area of peace building and keeping. Above all, it will provide recommendations by referring to the United Nations recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy. It concludes by affirming that the global peace can only be achieved if the world- the leaders and the followers-condemn terrorism in all forms and ramifications, and act unconditionally and justly in their quest to providing everlasting solutions to peace, as it constitutes one of the most serious threats to global peace and security.
In human history, terrorism is widely recognized as the world most famous enemy of mankind. As history itself will admit that terrorism is annihilation with far-reaching and destructive effects, it is the cruelest of crimes against humanity. Its remains have turned neighbours into enemies and have made our societies and the whole world unsafe for living. Its aims and applications are global and uncompromising. Neither terrorism nor is perpetrators are new. Even though it has been used since the beginning of recorded time, not history itself can keep, with precision, the number of lives and properties lost to terrorism.
No doubt, terrorism with its destructive power has reshaped the world we live in. We now live in the world characterized by rising violence and conflicts. This, in turn, has led to the world of growing mistrust, fear, division and represents a significant new threat to international justice, peace and security. This ugly development thus made Amnesty International to observe in its 2004 Report the lasting effects of the crime on humanity.
This report and others provide a valid point on how terrorism or terrorist acts have made the world unsafe and how it has threatened global peace.
Historical Background of terrorism
It is pertinent to recall that forms of society and governments in the past differ from what they are today, when describing the history of terrorism and the use of terror through time. Not until 1648 (Treaty of Westphalia), there was nothing like modern nation-states. More recent is the state’s monopoly on warfare or interstate-violence. The absence of central authority gave many more players opportunity to participate in the game of warfare. However, this did not make the use of terror a method of affecting a political change. In contrast to the modern era, where only nations go to war, the involvement of players such as religious leaders, mercenaries, mercantile companies, national armies and many more was considered to be lawful and normal.
Terrorist acts or the threat of such action have been in existence for millennia. So, in narrating the history of terrorism, it is important to talk about the various types of terrorism and terrorist individuals and groups. Below is the summary of the history of terrorism.
Political scientists see the radical Sicarii offshoot of the Jewish Zealots as one of the earliest forerunners of modern terrorism. Like modern terrorists, they intended their actions to suggest a message to a wider target audience: in this instance, the roman imperial officials and all pro-Roman and collaborationists
The Hashshashin (also Hashishin, Hashsshiyyin or Assassins) were an offshoot of the Isma ili sect of the Shiite Muslims. After a quarrel about the succession of leadership in the ruling Fatimide dynasty in Cairo around the year 1090, the losing Nizariyya faction was driven from Egypt. They established a number of fortified settlements in present day Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon under the charismatic leader Hasan I Sabbah.Persecuted as infidel by the dominant Sunni sect in the Muslim world; they sent dedicated suicide murderers to eliminate prominent Sunni leaders whom they considered “impious usurpers.” The sect was decimated by the invading Mongols, their last stronghold being flattened by Hulegu Khan in the year 1272.Many scholars believe the term Hashshashin, a name given to them by their enemies was derived from the Arabic “hassasin(hashish user),which they are alleged to have ingested prior to their attacks, but this etymology is disputed. The sects referred to themselves as al-da-wa al-jadida, which means the new doctrine, and were known within the organization as Fedayeen.
Gunpowder Plot (1605)
On November 5, 1605 a group of conspirators, led by Guy Fawkes, attempted to destroy the English Parliament on the State Opening, by detonating a large quantity of gunpowder secretly placed beneath the building. The design was to kill King James1 and the members of both houses of parliament. In the resulting anarchy, the conspirators planned to implement a coup and restore the Catholic faith to England. However the plan was betrayed and then thwarted.
1.Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty were an underground group opposed to British Rule in the colonies, who committed several attacks, most famous among these was the Boston Tea Party. No one was killed or seriously injured by any action that was taken.
2.The Terror (1793-1794)
The Reign of Terror ( September 5 1793- July 28 1794) or simply The Terror ( French: la Terreur) was a period of about eleven months during the French Revolution when struggles between rival factions led to mutual radicalization which took on a violent character with mass executions by guillotine.
The victims of the Reign of Terror totaled approximately 40,000.Among people who are condemned by the revolutionary tribunals, about 8 percent were aristocrats, 6 percent clergy 14 percent middle class, and 70 percent were workers or peasants accused of hoarding, evading the draft, desertion, rebellion, and other purported crimes.
Anarchists was the most prolific terrorists of the 19th century, with the terroristic tendencies of both nationalism and political movements of Communism or fascism still in there infancy. The disjointed attacks of various anarchists groups lead to the assassination of Russian Tsars and American Presidents but had little real political impact.
In Russia, by the mid-19 th century, the intelligentsia grew impatient with the slow pace of Tsarist reforms, which had slowed considerably after the attempted assassination of Alexander II of Russia. Radicals then sought instead to transform peasant discontent into open revolution. Anarchists like Mikhail Bakunin maintained that progress was impossible without destruction. With the development of sufficiently powerful, stable, and affordable explosives, the gap closed between the firepower of the state and the means available to dissidents. The main group responsible for the resulting campaign of terror-‘Narodnaya Volya’ (people’s will) (1878-81) – used the word ‘terrorist’ proudly. They believed in the targeted killing of the ‘leaders of oppression’; they were convinced that the developing technologies of the age-symbolized by bombs and bullets- enabled them to strike directly and discriminately.” People’s Will”, possessing only 30 members, attempted several assassination attempts upon Tsa. Culminating in the assassination of Tsar Alexander II on 13 March 1881, killing the Tsar as he was traveling by train.
3. Irish Republican Brotherhood
In 1867, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a revolutionary nationalist group with support from Irish-Americans, carried out attacks in England. These were the first acts of “republican terrorism”, which became a recurrent feature of British history, and these Fenians were the precursor of the Irish Republican Army. The ideology of the group was Irish nationalism.
4. Nationalist terrorism
The Fenians/IRA and the IMRO may be considered the prototype of all ‘nationalist terrorism’, and equally illustrate the (itself controversial) expression that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’. At least one of these groups achieve its goal: an independent Ireland came into being. So did an independent Macedonia, but original IMRO probably contributed little to this outcome. Some groups resorted to the use of dynamite, as did Catalan nationalists such as La Reixa and Bandera Negra.
5. John Brown
John Brown was an abolitionist who advocated armed opposition to slavery. He committed several terrorist attacks and was also involved in an illegal smuggling of slaves. His most famous attack was upon the armory at Harpers Ferry, though the local forces would soon recapture the fort and Brown, trying and executing him for treason. His death would make him a martyr to the abolitionist cause, one of the origins of American Civil War, and a hero to the Union forces that fought in it.
6. Ku Klux Klan (1865)
The original Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was created after the end of the American Civil War on December 24, 1865, by six educated middle-class confederate veterans from Pulaski, Tennessee. It soon spread into nearly every southern state of the United States. The Klan has advocated for what is generally perceived as white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Catholicism, homophobia, and nativism. They have often used terrorism, violence and acts of intimidation such as cross burning to oppress African Americans and other groups. The name ‘Ku Klux Klan’ has been used by many different unrelated groups, but they all seem to center on the belief of white supremacy. From its creation to the present day, the number of members and influence has varied greatly. However, there is little doubt that, especially in the southern United States, it has at times wielded much political influence and generated great fear among African Americans and their supporters. At one time KKK controlled the governments of Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma and Oregon, in addition to some of the southern U.S legislatures.
Suffragette, Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand (1914), KKK(1915),Irgun (1936-1948), World War II, Nationalism and the End of Empire,Cold War proxies,,IRA,,ETA, Aum Shinrikyo (1984-1995), Achille Lauro Hijacking (1985), Lockerbie bombing (1988), Umkhonto we Sizwe (South Africa 1961-1990), PLO (1964-c.1988), Columbian terrorist groups, Munich Massacre (1972),Matsumoto incident(1994), Sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway(1995),and Oklahoma City bombing (1995) are types of terrorism and individual terrorists and groups that operated in the twentieth century.
The well-celebrated September 11 (2002) attack and the Beslan school siege are recent terrorist attacks of the twenty-first century.
Terrorism: Definition of a Phenomenon
As clearly stated above, terrorism has established itself as a world phenomenon before 1648. But then, it becomes imperative to look into the true meaning of the term.Although providing a definite definition for it has been accorded with series of controversies, etymologically, the term emanates from Latin, “terrere”, meaning “to frighten” via the French word terrorisme, which is often associated with the regime de la terreur, the Reign of Terror of the revolutionary government in France from 1793 to 1794.The Committee of Public Safety agents that enforced the policies of “The Terror” were referred to as ” Terrorists”.
The English word “terrorism” was first recorded in English dictionaries in 1798 as meaning “systematic use of terror as a policy”. The Oxford English Dictionary still records a definition of terrorism as “Government by intimidation carried out by the party in power in France between 1789-1794.
The controversial issue is that the vocabulary of terrorism has become the successor to that of anarchy and communism the catch-all label opprobrium, exploited accordingly by media and politicians.The difficulty in constructing a definition which eliminates any just cause for terrorism is that history provides too many precedents of organizations and their leaders branded as terrorist but who eventually evolved into respected government. This has applied particularly to national liberation movements fighting colonial or oppressive regimes, engaging in violence within their countries often as a last resort. Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya spent years of his life lobbying the British government before his involvement with the Mau Mau rebellion. Nelson Mandela, a hero in his continent and beyond, is another convicted “terrorist” belonging to this class.
Before making a valid point, it is important to say that this piece would like to consider further statements and criticisms on the issue and recognized that there are other valid arguments on these controversial issues. However, they are not within premises of this paper.
Arriving at a universally accepted definition of terrorism which narrows down to a specific method of conducting violence instead of “all its forms and manifestations” or which makes it possible to refer terrorist acts to an international court, as for genocide and other war crimes or which makes it impossible for individual countries to outlaw activities they choose to classify as terrorism perhaps for their own political interest is a great challenge in the study of terrorism.
While the United Nations has not yet accepted a definition of terrorism, the UN’s “academic consensus definition,” has been put forth for consideration. And they are available for public evaluation.
In final analysis, although, it is not clear the actual number of definitions of terrorism; but it is clear that terrorism does not have respect for human lives and values. It has claimed thousands of lives of innocent souls, rendered millions of people homeless and economically handicapped. Alas, it is clearer that terrorism has turned our world into a place conducive for its existence and spread.
Effects of terrorism on global peace
Indisputably, terrorism is a threat to global peace. As it thrives well in a world such as ours- where violation of human rights, rising violence and conflicts, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, socio-economic marginalization and extreme ideology, dehumanization of victims are prominently in practice, it has succeeded in disregarding human lives and values, launching war on freedom and peace, multiplying violence and conflicts, and posting challenges of solving the problem of injustice, insecurity and declining economy.
In accordance with the United Nations in a report titled: Uniting Against Terrorism-Recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy, this paper hereby presents the following recommendations;
(1)All stakeholders-the leaders and the followers, individuals and institutions must dissuade people from resorting to terrorism or supporting it.
(2) All stakeholders, in all ways and at all levels, must deny terrorists the means to carry out an attack by:
– denying terrorists financial support.
-denying terrorists access to deadly weapons, including weapons of mass destruction.
– denying terrorists access to travel.
-denying terrorists access to their targets and their desired impact.
(3) All stakeholders, in all capacities, must deter States from supporting terrorists groups.
(4) All stakeholders must develop State capacity to prevent terrorism by:
– promoting the rule of law and effective criminal justice systems.
– promoting quality education and religious and cultural tolerance.
– countering the financing of terrorism.
– ensuring transport security.
– preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological
materials, and ensuring better preparedness for an attack with such materials
-improving the defense of soft targets and the response to their attack.
– promoting United Nations system-wide coherence in countering terrorism.
(5) All stakeholders, collectively, must defend human rights in the context of terrorism
and counter- terrorism.
Even though my recommendations are fashioned out of United Nations recommendation for a global strategy, they represent a holistic and realistic approach to fighting or countering terrorism. However, if these recommendations are given the opportunity to operate or if implemented and executed properly and continuously, they are effective strategies of countering terrorism and, at the same time, ensuring a world free of violence and conflict, violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, and socio-economic marginalization
As you will agree with me that terrorism affects all of us, our approach to fighting or countering terrorism and ensuring a safe and peaceful world must be collective. However, it is worth noting that the world leaders, followers and stakeholders have vital roles to play in the fight against terrorism and in achieving our goals of global peace and security.
For the world leaders and stakeholders, these roles transcend attending or organizing world summit, conferences, seminars, e.t.c on the topic, and consenting to Global strategy to counter terrorism on papers. They need to commit more resources, at all levels, to the cause, be more sincere and objective in their judgments, more practical in their approach, and create enabling environments conducive for justice, conflict resolutions, human right protection, equality, stability, unity, prosperity, tolerance, peace and security.Above all, they need to promote and support ultimately because that have respect for human lives and values.
For followers and individuals, we need to carry out the message beyond conferences that terrorism is inexcusable and unacceptable. We need to engage in one- to -one education or group discussions enlightening ourselves on the devastating and destructive effects of terrorism on our lives and values, and emphasizing that terrorism is not an effective way of championing a cause, whether political, religious or otherwise. We must recognize that peace is the most precious need of humanity.