ByÂ Tong Niu:
Increasingly violentÂ terrorist attacks have rattled us all. And though more and more people are associating these attacks withÂ Muslim groups, terrorism is not limited to a single religious belief or by one specific region’s borders. Terrorism, as defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is simplyÂ “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”
While the news has been flooded with suicide bombings, car bombings, and assassination attempts, terrorism is not a creation of the 21st century. It has been used since the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror in 1795, when suspected opponents of the Jacobin political party were caught and executed. Terrorist groups are usually radical parties who employ terror to physically and psychologically force opponents to surrender to their will. They act independently and unpredictably, making it difficult to track their activity and stop their plans. Their power derives from mass hysteria and paranoia. And because usually their actions are fuelled by radical beliefs, it’s nearly impossible to reason with them or control their activity.
Though there have been many terrorist attacks in the past decade, the most horrific attack was that onÂ the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001; and theÂ Mumbai terror attacks of 2008. With millions of viewers watching the fall of the Towers on TV; and the attacks on hotel Taj, CST terminal, Nariman House, etc., respectively, this incident marked the turning point where terrorism became the number one enemy for most of the world. Since then, other attacks, including the most recent suicide bombing on December 25, 2010 at a United Nations food centre in the Bajaur region, have raised alarm. Who will stop the rising power and influence of terrorism? What is being done to prevent this?
Though not well-publicized, European countries and the U.S. have been taking steps towards combating terrorism. The European Council has taken a three-pronged approach, according to their June 2008 pamphlet,Â “The fight against terrorism.” They plan to approach the issue in three steps. First, to strengthen their legal action against terrorist activity, the European Council will equip each nation with the proper tools to combat it, crack down on money laundering and cyber-crime, and provide compensation for victim. Then, to safeguard fundamental human values, they will make sure that during the fight against terrorism, no human rights are violated. And finally, to address the cause of it, they will ensure the protection of minorities and fight the social exclusions, racism, and intolerance that lay the foundation for terrorism. Conventions have been held to discuss methods of suppression of violent activities as well as ways to alleviate the damage done to victims.
The Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) have also gathered and documented the policies of different nations on terrorism. These country profiles include their legal framework regarding terrorist acts and their cooperation efforts with international organizations (such as NATO, OSCE and the United Nations). These international organizations have developed plans for combating the terrorist movement and promoting a more tolerant community in politically unstable nations.
Of course, not all actions against terrorism have been successful. There are many critics of the UN’s anti-terrorism action plan and its inefficiencies. These critiques aren’t unfounded, however, when combating something as volatile as terrorist groups, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Despite some failures, these international agencies are heading in the right direction. By addressing the root cause of terrorism, providing the necessary tools to deal with its damages, and forming a cohesive body to fight against it, we are on our way to stopping terrorism for good.