Thursday 22 February 2018

Terror threat is now greater ten years after 9/11

THE 10TH anniversary of 9/11 has passed with an emotional outpouring of collective grief in the United States and in other country's affected by the world's worst terrorist outrage in which almost 3,000 innocent people lost their lives.

Despite the tragedy there is pride too that in the face of such a terrible and catastrophic event, people came together to rebuild from the ashes - that they were bloodied but unbowed. And that is the way it should be.

But what has changed since 9/11. Have those in power since then lived up the expectations of their people? We were promised a new beginning, a new dawn. George W. Bush declared war on ' terrorism' to make the world a safer place, but a decade on is the world any safer?

The Taliban, then in power in Afghanistan, facilitated Al Qaeda in its terrorist training camps. Led by the United States, the Taliban were defeated and driven from power.

But the sense of relief at this dramatic change, from dictatorship to the green shoots of democracy, was relatively short. Afghanistan is more unstable now than it was in the immediate aftermath of the fight against the Taliban, who are now resurgent and seemingly able to bomb and maim at will despite the presence of many thousands of mainly Western troops propping up the fractious government in Kabul.

As in Iraq, what will happen when the foreign troops depart is almost to unpalatable to contemplate.

In the past 10 years, Pakistan, part of the global war on terror, has suffered more than any other country from terrorist outrages committed by its own homegrown Taliban and other groups misguidedly claiming to be Islamic holy warriors.

At the same time, terrorists based in Pakistan have killed many hundreds of people in attacks in India and have trained and inspired those involved in bombings and attempted bombings in the West.

If anything, we face a bigger threat than we did 10 years ago and not just from Islamic fundamentalists as was seen by the horror of the recent attack by an equally misguided Christian fundamentalist in Norway.

While a decade ago those involved in the attacks on the twin towers were committed ' foreign' terrorists, the main threat against us now is that of home-grown terrorism from those who are inspired to commit atrocities in the name of their ideology or at least under its umbrella.

Is the world safer now than 10 years ago? I think not and while Al Qaeda may be increasingly irrelevant in the wake of the assassination by the US of its leader Osama bin Laden, there are many more of his ilk waiting in the wings for their opportunities to kill.

The task facing us now is how to turn those swords into ploughshares. Perhaps the Arab Spring shows the way forward and starkly illustrates that oppressed people can bring about change for the better themselves without the tenet of fundamentalism, of whatever ilk, and its accompanying acts of terrorism.

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