The Point in Terrorism We Are Missing -By Olalekan Waheed Adigun

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Olalekan Waheed Adigun

Olalekan Waheed Adigun

 

Terrorists think in ways we don’t think in conventionally; they do things we don’t ordinarily do; their understanding of human nature and experiences differs remarkably from ours. They are not the ghosts or spirits they want us to believe they are, neither are they the overrated beasts we take them to be. They are mortals with fears too, who are only playing on our own fears and spreading their fears through us.

On June 26, 2015 the world watched with horror, shock and disdain the unprovoked terrorist attacks claiming the lives of about 50 people and leaving many others injured in three countries – France, Kuwait and Tunisia. This deadly act came a few days after Jens Stoltenberg, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) scribe spoke on CNN concerning the bloc’s policy on containing the Islamic State – the group that has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The confidence with which Jens spoke could have lulled one to sleep with both two eyes closed, if not for the attacks on the French factory. Can we assume we are then missing the point?

There appears be an assumption among many anti-terrorist analysts that since the Islamic State fighters are “mainly Muslims” they will honour their earlier “ceasefire” agreement during the Ramadan fast. Apart from the group’s attack on a Kuwaiti Mosque negating this misguided view, we appear not to be learning from history.

The United States military got everything right in Vietnam until a ridiculous tactical blunder in 1968. The US military had erroneously assumed that the Vietcong – North Vietnamese militia – would, in fact, honour the “ceasefire agreements” during the Tết Nguyên Đán – a day highly revered in Vietnam, when it is traditional to declare a truce during war. Needless to say, it was on that day that the Vietcong shipped in arms, using the Tết holiday as cover, to South Vietnam – an area then under full US military protection. The rest, as they say, is history. This same mistake we still make today.

One should be amazed if we cannot see a progressive return to the Cold War era. The only difference this time is that it is not between the world’s super powers or ideologies, but between world’s deadliest terrorist groups.

The Islamic State, which has since claimed responsibility for these most recent attacks on the three countries, could be seen as acting in direct response to the Al Quaeda Islamic Magreeb (AQIM)-linked al-Shabab recent attacks on the African Union (AU) base in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Garrissa University, Kenya attacks in April and others in East Africa may just be a direct response to the rising profile of Boko Haram’s (an Islamic State ally) notoriety in West Africa. One needs to see the patterns of these attacks as battles for control of “spheres of influence” between two dangerous groups. In parenthesis, during the Cold War era, Africa was really a battleground.

To further confirm how far we have missed the point, we are paying lesser attention to the timing of these attacks. One of the issues that traditionally dominate every US presidential election is foreign policy. Shaping the US foreign policy is global security and terrorism. We must not forget that the two leading parties have been at loggerheads over what is responsible for the rise of global terrorism. While Democrats have been quick to point out the George W. Bush administration’s tactless invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively as responsible for the rise in world terror, Republicans have provided the counter-argument that Barack Obama’s indecision to prevent the spread of the “Arab Spring” is the reason for the rise of a notorious group like the Islamic State (ISIS). Irrespective of which side of the divide one belongs, these terror groups have much interest in US elections than most people may think.

The Vietnamese fighters or Vietcong, with their poor training and orientation, understood the simple fact that 1968 was a US presidential election year. With that knowledge, they acted promptly and took full advantage by doing all they could to shape and shift US public opinion, going into the election. This remains an error President Lyndon B. Johnson (who was defeated in that year’s Democratic Primary in New Hampshire by the anti-war campaigner, Senator Eugene McCarthy) will never forget.

It is more than mere coincidence that the attacks came on the day the US Supreme Court handed its judgement in favour of “marriage right” (another way of describing homosexual, gay or same-sex marriage right). Again, this is perhaps one of the hotly debated issues in US politics presently. The Islamic State fighters are known to have murdered those they identified as “homosexuals” and “infidels” with impunity. Being an issue that is sure to generate much heat as the presidential campaigns heats up, one just needs to look well to see the connections. These attacks may not be unconnected with parts of the terrorists’ intention to shape the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

We are either overrating or underestimating terrorists. It also appears that we lack proper diagnosis of their intentions. We need to divest emotions from our analyses of terrorism and the activities of terrorists if we are really serious about winning the war against terror. Terrorists think in ways we don’t think in conventionally; they do things we don’t ordinarily do; their understanding of human nature and experiences differs remarkably from ours. They are not the ghosts or spirits they want us to believe they are, neither are they the overrated beasts we take them to be. They are mortals with fears too, who are only playing on our own fears and spreading their fears through us. This is the point we are missing.

Olalekan Waheed Adigun, political strategist and researcher, can be reached on [email protected], [email protected], or Twitter: @adgorwell

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