Arun Shouries Articles

Combating Terrorism -II | May 28, 2008

Arun Shourie
�A State that�s patronising terrorists should wake up to the consequences; in any case its immediate neighbours must�

* Corresponding to the four ��don�ts�� are six ��do�s��: Believe what the ideologues and organisations of the terrorists say. The one thing for which ideologues and organisations can be credited is that they are absolutely explicit about their aims and objectives. The fault — the fatal fault — is that of liberal societies: to this day they continue to shut their eyes to what these organisations proclaim to be their aim: domination, conquest, conversion of the ��land of war�� into the ��land of peace,�� that is the land which is at peace because it is under their heel — exactly as they had shut their eyes to Hitler in the 1930s and to Stalin later. Read their press, reflect over their books and pamphlets, and act in time — that is, before they have wreaked the havoc they proclaim they will.

* To combat a belief-system One must have a thorough knowledge of the scriptures of that ideology: during the early 1980s, propagandists start asserting, ��Sikhism is closer to Islam than to Hinduism;�� how can one counter the poison unless one has deep and intimate knowledge of the Granth Sahib, unless one knows what the Gurus fought for and against whom they fought? Commentator after commentator has been referring to the Taliban as Deobandis, he has been recounting how they were minted at the Binauri madrasa in Karachi. But unless we know what the Dar ul Uloom in Deoband has been churning out we will be easily deflected from grasping what has been forged in those factories of hatred.

* Similarly, unless we have liberated ourselves from the shackles of political correctness sufficiently to broadcast what these religious seminaries have put out, and are putting out to this day, how will we awaken citizens to the danger that faces them?

* Go by what the scripture as a whole says, not by what a stray passage plucked from it says – what will determine the outcome is the mind which the scripture, the tradition creates; and this will be determined by the teaching as a whole, not by a stray passage.

* Go by the plain meaning of the scripture, not by the construction that apologists and commentators contrive to put on it: again, it is by the plain meaning of the scripture that the faithful will proceed, not by the convolutions of some liberal.

* Go by what those who are recognised by that group as authorities say about the ideology — the CPSU in Stalin�s Russia, the ulema in Islamic groups and States; not by what some columnist or retired politician says. Often great effort is expended in securing press statements that support the anti-terrorist campaign — on occasion even a fatwa has been procured to that effect. These are useless.

Those who issue them are dismissed as ��sarkari sants��, their statements are rejected as command performances. This rejection reflex is deeply, and consciously instilled into members of such groups, indeed into the communities themselves. If someone who is not a member of the group — if he is not a Communist, if he is not a Muslim — his critique will be rejected automatically: what else can you expect from that ��agent of imperialism�� in one case, from that ��enemy of the faith�� in the other.

On the other hand, no believer will raise questions of any consequence — neither about the basic approach of the group nor about, to take the current context, the individual act of destruction.

If he does so, his critique will be dismissed as swiftly, and as much by reflex: ��he has crossed the barricades,�� that was the refrain about fellow-travelers who at last spoke up; ��he is an apostate�� — that has been the refrain in Islamic societies for centuries about any believer who has dared to raise even the slightest question that touches fundamentals.

To gauge the true content of that ideology and its potential for evil, see what these authorities do when they are in power: to ascertain what Communism actually means, do not be lulled by the act that Communists have to put up in a free and open polity such as ours; see what their gods did in Stalin�s Russia, in Mao�s China; to gauge what a religion portends, see what their rulers did in medieval India, what Iran went through under Imam Khomeini, what the Taliban have been doing in Afghanistan.

Terrorism is just a weapon, it is just one among an array of weapons. To expect that by killing one band of terrorists, smashing one network, or even by reclaiming one country from the grip of an extremist band, one has taken care of the problem is suicidal. The aim of the terrorist is not to trigger one explosion, his fulfillment is not in carrying out one assassination. The explosion and assassination are instruments. The terrorist is himself an instrument, he sees himself as an instrument — of history in Marxism-Leninism, of the Will of Allah in Islam.

For that reason to think that by giving in over Chechnya, by making concessions to Hamas, by handing Kashmir to them, one will effectively deal with ��the causes of Muslim anger�� is to play the fool. For the believer the ��problem�� is not Chechnya or Kashmir. The ��problem�� is that aeons having passed, the world has not yet accepted his creed.

His object is not the real estate of Chechnya or Kashmir, or Jerusalem. His object — indeed, the duty which has been ordained for him — is to convert the land of war, that is the land the people of which have not yet submitted to that creed, into one in which that creed prevails. The believer cannot remain true to his faith unless he prosecutes the war till this consummation is achieved. Ideologues and propagandists have a well-practiced division of labour in this regard.

The directors of the ideology intoxicate believers with visions of how affairs will be ultimately — of how total domination will be secured over the whole world. The propagandists addressing the rest of the world, on the other hand, focus a narrow beam — on the next, single objective: Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya. The beam is as blindingly intense as it is narrow: the aim is to convince ordinary folk that if only this one concession is made, all problems will cease. This focus and suggestion is accompanied by a systematic campaign — through front-organisations, intellectuals, fellow travelers — that raises an ��intellectual�� debate, and thereby foments doubts in the minds of the victims about the moral rights of the issue.

The assault has two prongs. On the one hand violence and terror: these aim at tiring out the victims by inflicting death and carnage. Simultaneously, doubts are fomented in the victims developed about the rightness of their cause — these ripen into a rationale for capitulation: why not yield a bit on Kashmir?, after all, this one gesture will ensure peace, and we will be free to go our way after that; in any case, the world is not entirely convinced of our case… Victory on that one item in its pocket, the group commences the same sequence on the next target: and doing so is but natural, for the issue — Kashmir, Chechnya — was just an instrument.

BELIEVERS will inevitably come to internalise this mindset — of unremitting violence � whenever the ideology has the following ingredients:

* Reality is simple;

* It has been revealed to one person;

* That person has put it in one Book;

* Every syllable in that Book is divine, it is the ultimate truth; anything that contradicts what is in the Book is not just false, it is a device of the Devil, a device to mislead and waylay the believer; nothing that is not in the Book is of consequence;

* The Book is difficult to fathom;

* Therefore, believers require an intermediary — the Party, the Church, the ulema;

* Once all humans embrace the way of life that the Book prescribes, eternal peace and prosperity will break out; unless all embrace it, that dawn will not break;

* It is, therefore, the duty of that intermediary to invite you to accept the Faith;

* The truth of the message is so vivid that if, in spite of the invitation, you do not embrace the faith, that is itself proof that you are inherently evil; it is, therefore, the duty of that intermediary, indeed it is the duty of every ordinary adherent to put you out of harm�s way: for you are then blocking the march of History — in Marxism-Leninism, you are blocking the Will of God, you and your obstinacy are thwarting the dawn, and manifestly you are doing so because of the evil in you;

* As this is a duty ordained, it is but right that the agent use whatever means are required to ensure that the Cause prevails. Unless the rest of the world has come to consist of docile imbeciles, these propositions inevitably entail violence — the forms of violence that come to mind when we talk of terrorism being just the weapon of choice for a particular circumstance, a particular locale.

THE faith has three further ingredients:

* It forecloses alternatives to inevitable, protracted, indeed eternal, and violent struggle. Allah, for instance, repeatedly declares that unbelievers are congenitally perverse, that nothing the faithful can possibly do will bring them round — for, He says, I have Myself made them turn their faces away from Me; indeed, He tells believers, I have deliberately put them in your way to test you. They have but one aim, He tells believers: to turn you away from your faith, to beguile you into becoming like them, to deceive you into giving up your duty.

* It drugs the faithful into believing that victory is not just inevitable, it is imminent. Recall, the ��imminent collapse of capitalism�� theses that were the staple of Communist pamphleteering.

* But as victory eludes the believers, the Faith provides rationalizations, indeed consolations for failure. It conditions the believer — in this case the terrorist — to persevere in either event, in the face of defeat as much as upon succeeding.

* When he succeeds, he is fortified in the belief that Jehovah in the Old Testament, Allah in the Quran, History in the Marxist texts, is on his side. When he fails, the indoctrination leads him to believe that Jehovah, that Allah, is just testing him — God wants to assess whether his faith in Him will falter in the face of the setback. In the alternate ��secular�� religion, the adherent is conditioned to believe that, as History moves dialectically, the setback will itself create the conditions for eventual success.

Faced with such indoctrination, two things are imperative:

* Know the opiate, broadcast it before hand, and thereby provide the spectacles through which the believer will view the event;

* Having forged the spectacles, do not just sit back and hope that the believers will see events through them. In the wake of the engagement, especially when the terrorist group has been subjected to a setback, show up the hollowness of the rationalizations that the believers had internalised. Of course, the group will have its ways of shutting out the evidence of defeat. But even as it does so, it will be weakening the foundations of falsehood on which its edifice is built.

Till the other day, Pakistani intellectuals and ulema were projecting the Taliban as one of the great successes — of the Army and the ISI who had secured ��strategic depth�� for Pakistan, of Islam — for rulership of pure, idealist youngsters had been established, a rulership that the people loved as it had brought peace, as it had pulled them back from the abyss of immorality and licentiousness.

That was the refrain — day in and day out for years. And then suddenly Pakistan was being told that joining the campaign to crush the very same Taliban was a masterstroke. The somersaults that the Comintern used to execute seemed so clever at the time. Soon, they delegitimized the ideology itself.

The lethal potential of these ideologies is now compounded by the fact that States such as Pakistan have adopted terrorism as an instrument of State policy. Musharraf has said in so many words, ��Jehad is an instrument of State policy.�� For such States this is a particularly attractive proposition: it is war on the cheap. The ideology that goes with adopting such means, the spread of the gun-culture that invariably accompanies such a strategy, eventually boomerangs — as the Talibanisation of Pakistan shows. But in the meanwhile the decision of a State to adopt terrorism as an instrument is certain to inflict enormous costs on its neighbours.

What was said of Mussolini�s goons is doubly true of terrorists: ��they were nothing without the State, but with it they were unstoppable.�� In a shrunken world, all countries are the ��neighbours�� of such a State — as the US has been reminded by the 11th September attacks. The State that patronises such governments or States should wake up to the consequences its patronage will foment. In any case, the immediate neighbours must.

Often a State can end up inflicting grave injury on another even when it does not bear active hostility towards its neighbour. For instance, the intelligence agencies and sections of the Army of Bangladesh are so closely linked to their counterparts in Pakistan that leaders and cadre of groups such as ULFA operate in complete safety from them. Bhutan and Myanmar exemplify a different sort of situation: the administrative grip of these countries over their own territory is so loose that terrorists operating in India are able to carve out their own areas of influence in those countries.

AS important as getting at the State which patronises terrorists is to get at their networks. Terrorists have established numerous fronts: mosques, madrasas, ��research institutions��, ��charity foundations��. The range of persons and organisations against whom the US and other countries had to move after the 11th September attacks — from those that had been involved in managing finances to those who had been providing safe houses — gave a glimpse of how the networks, even of just one brand of terrorism, now spread across the globe. Indeed, one of the devices they have mastered is how to use religion and ��religious bodies�� as fronts: Bhindranwale�s conversion of the Golden Temple into a headquarters for terror, eventually into a fortress; the use of charities in Pakistan for raising laundering funds for jihadi groups; the orchestrated appeals from across the globe that the Americans suspend bombing during Ramzan…

For a society to survive, it must have the gumption to tear these veils apart, expose the fronts for what they are, and demolish them.

Terrorism constitutes a threat to all: what is being inflicted on one country today can be inflicted on another tomorrow. It is worse than imprudent, therefore, for a State to consort with States that patronise, finance, train, arm, give sanctuary to terrorists.

For the same reason, and as the evil are so well knit, States should share their resources, in particular intelligence to combat terrorism. That is what should be. In the real world, a country such as India must remember that no one else is going to fight our war for us. For fighting that war the sine qua non is: when the battle has been won, do not forget those who delivered you — as, to our shame and misfortune, we in India are in the habit of doing.

Part I – What if Osama were caught in India? A debate would explode: should he be tried under evidence act? POTO?

Indian Express
December 19, 2001

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