Sunday 19 May 2019

Shona Murray - Sowing division will not stop lone-wolf jihadists

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Shona Murray

US President Donald Trump says he is "starting the process of terminating" the diversity lottery programme in response to Tuesday's terror attack in Lower Manhattan.

His actions play right into the terrorists' hands.

While defiant New Yorkers insisted on taking their children trick-or-treating as planned, Trump used it as an excuse to pull America further away from its values as a nation built on immigration and opportunity. "President Trump, instead of politicising and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be bringing us together," Senator Chuck Schumer said.

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov (29), originally from Uzbekistan, mowed down and killed eight people, injuring 13 others. He did not have an extensive criminal record pointing to him aligning with jihadist terrorism. Yet his attack bears the hallmarks of the attacks Isil has been calling for all over the world.

While Isil has suffered substantial military defeat in Syria and Iraq, resulting in the collapse of its Islamic caliphate, it still wields significant influence, particularly among willing jihadists who bear both a strong desire to avenge "injustice" and also become martyrs.

Saipov's modus operandi was the type of terror attack that is very difficult to prevent through forceful means. It requires an approach to counter-terrorism that deals with communities and prevention of radicalisation before it occurs.

Unlike "micro-managed" attacks which are orchestrated and managed by senior commanders of Isil, including financing, training of attackers, choice of date, time, targets and location, such as the one Paris in November 2015, this involves a person acting largely alone. He or she pledges allegiance to Isil right before they commit their attack in order to be accepted as a martyr, according to terror expert and former member of M15 and M16, Aimen Dean.

They use crude methods such as a vehicle as a weapon, to kill as many people as possible. Part of Isil's radical ideology involves the intent to cause harm to the daily life of proud New Yorkers and others; by instilling fear and disrupting and dividing communities; in particular separating Muslim communities from the rest of the society they live in.

Mr Trump is also considering sending the suspect in Tuesday's attack to Guantanamo Bay prison. And so he reopens old wounds, reminding the world of the grave mistakes made by the Bush administration during the early days of the so-called 'War on Terror', when barbaric torture practices were legally sanctioned on many innocent detainees.

On legitimate suspects, such as the 9/11 attacker Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the long-term ill-effects of the torture on mental and physical health is one of the reasons why trials so far have been unable to proceed.

President Obama tried to close 'Gitmo' down as he said it "undermines" national security because terrorists use it as a propaganda tool to attack the US. If Trump refills it with more, it'll sow even more division.

Irish Independent

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