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Jihadi Terrorism  

Dr. Babu Suseelan

Throughout its recorded history, fundamentalist Islam tried to establish an ontological form of Islam through Jihadi terrorism.  

For centuries, Jihadis (religious warriors) have resorted to mass murder, oppression, intimidation, torture, terrorism, assassination and forced religious conversion all in the name of fundamentalist belief system. And so it is today. Only the threat, the methods, and the goals differ. 

Now, Jihadi terrorism is one of the greatest single threats to the existing world order. Modern day jihadi terrorist groups as Hamas, Hizbullah, Lasker-E-Tobia, Al Bader, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Tehreek-E-Jihad, Hizbul Mujahidden virtually ensures that Jihadi terrorism will be with us for many years to come.  

Recent Jihadi terrorist attacks in the U.S, Israel, India, Turkey, Kenya, and Indonesia have proven jihadi's proclivity for terrorist destruction. Jihadi terrorism in Israel and India is unabated and continues to claim thousands of innocent lives each year. All over the world, Jihadi terrorism is a serious threat to peace, security, liberty and democracy. No country in the world is immune from the deleterious effects of this heinous crime. Jihadi ideology in its most extreme form is fraught with dangerous consequences for the entire world. Its committed, hard-core adherents, as distinct from a larger body of the more traditional Muslims are thought to account for some 20 to 25 of the population. Recently, they have acquired an influence, disproportionate to their numbers. It is fundamentalism of a very special ethnocentric and dangerous form, with beliefs and practices that are more extremist. It is the most deadly totalitarian system ever invented.  

Jihadi terrorists are irrational, extreme xenophobic, hostile, and blinded by their dogmatic, fundamentalist faith. The basic premise of Jihadi terrorist is that their violent acts stem from feelings of rage and hatred reinforced by their belief system. Jihadis think and behave differently. They are selfish, impulsive, calculating and act out of their own selfish interest with no regard to the responsible members of society. Whatever their ideology, religious sanction, Jihadis are cunning, intelligent, self-seeking, aware of their criminal acts and incapable of guilt and empathy. Several patterns of thinking drive the Jihadis terrorists, including:

  • Rationalization

  • Indifference

  • A sense of entitlement

  • Super optimism

  • Lack of Guilt

  • Shallow emotions

  • Lack of remorse

  • Egocentricity

  • Grandiosity

Ideas expressed in the Koran provide all the justification necessary for Jihadis to carry out deadly terrorist activities. Jihadi terrorists are primarily afraid of freethinking, liberty, pluralism, secularism, and co-existence. They are defensive, capricious, and conditioned by their outdated irrational fanatic religious dogma.  

They reject civil laws; have no fear, anxiety or shame about their dangerous behavior. Commitment to their rigid reductionist paradigm is non-negotiable for the jihadis. Jihadi terrorists espouse many beliefs supporting terrorist activities. For Jihadis, future is the past, and ensuring the brutal past is vital for their existence. Their future and brutal past curve into each other and direct their present anti-social behavior. A spiritual and holistic worldview, systemic thinking, and tolerance are not part of their tradition. Their worldview is myopic and dangerous.  

How do we, then, combat Jihadi fanaticism and terrorism? What efforts should be made to address the root cause of Jihadi terrorism? How do we force Jihadis to freedom and systemic, rational thoughts? How do we address and eliminate predatory offenses by the Jihadi criminals?  

There is, in fact, a great ignorance of or indifference to, this whole subject in democratic societies. This is due at least in part that general reluctance of the mainstream media to subject to Jihadis to a searching scrutiny it deserves. The ignorance or indifference is all the more remiss in that Jihadi terrorism is not, and cannot be, just a regional issue. Jihadis has always had a built-in propensity to gravitate towards its most extreme violent _expression.  

A frequently followed practice by political leaders has been to practice the deceptive art of denial. It is an attempt to avoid direct confrontation with the ideology of Jihadis. Denial is an unrealistic hope that the problems created by the Jihadi terrorists are not serious, and they will go away by appeasement and surrender. Denial is an attempt to cover up their dreadful experience and ease the discomfort by a subtle and ingenious twist of attention. Total denial of the heinous Jihadi terrorism and their irrational thought system, in fact, is symptomatic of inadequate thinking on the part of politicians. The practice of denial increases the risk of greater destruction and death and financial loss. Fanatic Jihadis will not go away by themselves just because we do not want to face their dysfunctional thought system head on. Denial is deadly and can endanger our very survival. 

Prevention efforts are our first line of defense against Jihadi terrorism. Such efforts hold out the promise of terrorism before it starts and sparing death and destruction. Psychological warfare is a valuable tool in combating Jihadi terrorism and its ideology. We need to force these terrorists from their closed, false belief system. We have to help young terrorists construct a New Thought Map: how to change what they think and how they think. Thinking is what direct terrorists to do violent acts. These faulty maps are the pathways to terrorism and criminal acts. Create new thought maps will take effort, but over time it will save the world. We need structured, forceful, directed, comprehensive strategies and actions to force them to rational thinking.  

In the end, there is no single formula to combat fanaticism and terrorism. To eradicate Jihadi terrorism, we need a reformulation or, more ambitiously, a fundamental redefinition of the assumption and practices that guide our policies. The absence of our assertiveness and the inability to confront Jihadis has obscured our efforts and operations against fanatic Jihadis.  

Our combat strategy should focus on the Jihadi organization (i.e., the relationship between Jihadi groups and their external supporters) and their internal structure, goals and values. The act of terrorism should be viewed as a collective criminal act. We, therefore, need to address the psyche and social defects of the jihadi community. We need to force them to freedom, secularism and pluralism. Our assertiveness and confrontation will evoke changes in the direction of our shared norms, values and civilization.

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