Why terrorists do what they do?

Why we don’t ask why?

rn

A few questions are going around and around in my head about the arrest of 17 "home grown terrorists."

rn

1. Why don’t more people ask why terrorists do what they do (in this case, plan to do)? In a prevailing atmosphere of near panic in Canada, it makes us feel almost unpatriotic to ask such a question. I would have thought that it is a common sense to ask "why" criminals do what they do, if you want to prevent recurrence. Though efficient law enforcement is of utmost importance (please, no more episode like the bungling CSIS at the time of Air India bombing it alone can never be effective deterrent. You have to find the root causes, and eliminate them.

rn

2. Of course, terrorists should be treated like criminals. But you have to realize that many of them resort to terrorism out of their profound sense of disenfranchisement. I suspect that it’s not caused just by poverty amidst affluence (many "terrorists" come from the middle class it is by sense of alienation culturally and spiritually in the society they have made their homes. You can not stop terrorism if you don’t understand that. Strict law enforcement alone without addressing the root causes drive them to underground.

rn

3. Terrorists are criminals, hence they should be treated according to the normal process of the fair Canadian justice system. Extraordinary measures taken by some western governments including ours with instruments like Guatanamo or "Security Certificates" only discredit our democracy, and hatch hatred and resentment. Hatred begets further violence. I am increasingly distressed to see our county beginning to look like South Africa during the Apartheid days: indefinite detention without charges, torture, stigmatizing decent people as "subversive" simply because they belong to the same group where terrorist suspects happened to come from, etc.

rn

4. Most religions preach sanctity of human life, and teach believers to hate evil not persons. So killing innocent lives by terrorist acts is an act of heresy of worst kind. However, many religions do have extremists who advocate such heretical deeds as noble acts of committed believers. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikh can not escape from those heretics within. But we don’t compare Timothy McBey with Christianity. Air India bombers are apostasy of Sikh religion. A Jewish extremist who massacred Muslim worshipers in a mosque in Hebron was a criminal in Israel and does not represent Judaism. We should not think of al Qaida as representative of Islam. They are all heretics.

rn

5. Many religious extremist groups who resort to violence gained power as they were coopted by democratic governments for their convenience. Osma bin Laden and al Qaida began its work in Afghanistan as they were armed by the United States so they would fight Soviet Union invasion. Again the United States armed Sadam Husein during the Iran-Iraq war, because Iran was at the time worse enemy than Iraq. Hamas was helped by the Israel earlier, in order to weaken PLO under Yesser Arafat.

rn

6. Information gained from torture is unreliable. Speaking with my South African friends who were former detainees, many felt defeated that they told what torturers wanted to hear, truth and false, just to get out. I was detained also only for two days at Johannesburg Airport. But I am still distressed to remember that I was ready to say anything just to get out of the situation. Then, why do they continue to use such useless methods today? It only makes sense if you want to humiliate and intimidate them.

rn

7. Canada is a multi-cultural country, where diversity is respected. We welcome all nations around the globe to join us if they are willing to build up a tolerant society. Let us not make any segment of Canada an "enemy within" just because some people resort to violent actions.

rn

June 15, 2006

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