Daily, hundreds and sometimes thousands are made target of terrorist activities around the globe. Armed attacks and bombings are the most common means through which terrorists impose their violent motives.
According to the Global Terrorism Index report of 2017, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan are the top five countries when it comes to terrorist activities. In the last decade, around 21,000 people have died annually due to terrorist activities, says a report by Our World in Data.
The Middle-East is the hub of terrorist activities in the world as it witnesses maximum attacks and deaths. Home to many Islamic countries, the Middle-East is often linked to the home of most terrorist activities in the world. Leading terrorist organisations viz ISIS and Hamas have come out of this region. The other primary region for terrorist activities is the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which houses Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkr-E-Taiba, etc.
According to a report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), there are three primary reasons for terrorism, viz. psychological, ideological and strategic. Among these three, the most destructive reason has been the ideological one.
According to Mark Juergensmeyer, former president of the American Academy of Religion, there has been a global rise in religious nationalism after the Cold War due to the rise of globalisation and a post-colonial collapse of confidence in Western models of nationalism.
Various terrorist organisations rebel against the existing power either to enforce themselves or to spread their ideology. The history or motivation relating to this ideology goes back to the religious scriptures of Islam that mentions jihad as self-sacrifice for Islam.
According to the Global Terrorism Index of 2016, a staggering 74% of all deaths from Islamic terrorism was caused by the Islamic terrorist groups ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The targets of these attacks are not only non-Muslims but also Muslims. The extremism in the name of religion (jihad) is both directly and indirectly taken into consideration from the Quran, Hadith and Sharia law.
The use of terms such as shaheed and qurbani has been extensively used to lure young and blind minds into practicing terrorism. Young Muslims as well as non-Muslims are enticed by the tactics and practice suicide bombings only to die for the sake of their religion. A common idea that revolves around their minds is that suicide bombers, as they would be called martyrs (shaheed) to the cause of jihad against the enemy, will receive the reward of paradise for their actions.
According to the International Business Times, in October 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) released a five-point justification of its right to take non-Muslims hostage, and decapitate, ransom or enslave them. According to the Clarion Project, British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary says that kidnapping and beheading hostages is justified under Islam.
Terrorists who own up to their acts often interpret their actions sourced from the knowledge of various religious scriptures. Christian terrorist groups include paramilitary organisations, cults and loose groups of people who might come together to terrorise other groups.
Ku Klux Klan was formed after the Civil War in the USA as a social group. In their initial years, the group was only a club with social elements, but later, it took violent turns when members started lynching, causing murders, rapes, tar-and-feathering, whipping and voter intimidation.
The Klan wore white robes to symbolise “purity”, burned the cross to signify “the Light of Christ”, and picked selective scriptures from the Bible to preach white supremacy. According to Hate in God’s Name, a report published in 2017 says: “The members of Ku Klax Klan believe that white Christians are morally and spiritually superior to other races.”
The country with the largest population of Hindus (followers of Hinduism) in the world is India. Over the years, India has been a target of many religiously motivated violent attacks by the Saffron army.
Saffron Army is the phrase given to followers of Hindu nationalism who perform violent acts. Most of the army personnel belong to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is a Hindu right-wing organisation. Citing its main motivation to make India a Hindu Rashtra (nation), members of the RSS have been involved in many acts of unjust violence.
Among the various acts of violence by the members of the RSS, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi is the most impactful. Other violent acts by members of the RSS are:
The RSS runs and maintains many affiliated and student organisations viz.:
Students organisations of the RSS play a vital role in forming a new breed of Hindu sevaks who work their hearts and soul to propagate Hinduism.
Khalistan Movement (1970s to 1980s)
The Khalistan movement was a Sikh separatist movement to obtain freedom from Punjab and establish a sovereign state for Sikhs. The movement that began with no noise turned rebellious and violent, and resulted in many terrorist activities in Punjab from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was the leader of the militant Sikh organisation Damdami Taksal, led the Khalistan movement. The movement resulted in mass murders and violent acts over the years. The two primary political parties that were involved in the various whereabouts of Khalistan were the Indian National Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal.
The movement destroyed property and lives, and was suppressed after the assassination of the then India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.