Terrorism without end? Weak states need to take stronger actions

Credit: Mstyslav Chernov/CC BY-SA 4.0

By Dimitra Stefanidou

Gandhi said that, “terrorism and deception are not weapons of the strong, but of the weak”. And that is a fact. However, the value of this truth doesn’t weigh easily against the successive terrorist attacks taking place around the globe in recent years.

In 2016 alone, more than 20 terrorist incidents were conducted by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also known as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh. More than 733 innocent people were killed and more than 1,710 were injured.

The most recent incident, of the 4th of July in Medina, had quickly followed the attack of the 28th June in Istanbul, the attack of the 1st of July in Dhaka, and the bombings of the 3rd of July in Baghdad. The list goes on without end. Who will ever forget the attack on the World Trade Center on the 11th of September 2001, the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris last November, or any of the other bloody incidents that resulted in so many losses?

And our own Southeast Asia is not without damage in this campaign. Malaysian police have just confirmed that so-called Islamic State have carried out their own first successful attack in the country on 28 June, throwing a grenade at a nightspot near Kuala Lumpur. While there were no fatalities but eight people were injured. And so, add the name of Malaysia to Indonesia and the Philippines to the roll-call of terror targets.

Attacks without distinction

So far, terrorists have made no distinction. All the attacks took place in random places such as streets, stadiums, airports, bars and cafeterias. They attack anyone, anywhere, depriving innocent people of their lives for an unnecessary cause; the spread of their understanding of Islam around the world and the extinction of the “infidels”. Public opinion remains shell-shocked after these serial attacks and people wonder and worry; is the spread of terrorism so vast that it can no longer be restricted or controlled?

States are trying to take certain measures to eliminate terrorism and they struggle together with other friendly states or neighbours to implement efficient anti-terrorism measures. The measures deal, among other things, with the huge wave of refugees that have been trying to get away from their countries that suffer from terrorism, such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

There are now border controls and ways to thoroughly scrutinize identities and travel papers in order to prevent terrorists from entering into other states. Additionally, states are obliged not to give asylum to refugees that have participated in any way in a terrorist action.

However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that there are more than 60 million refugees around the world. This is the largest number of refugees reported since the Second World War. Therefore, even if the controls are indeed thorough and strict, it is very difficult to deal efficiently with such a huge number of refugees coming into a state and make sure that no terrorist is among them.

Effective measures

More effective and adequate measures must be taken in order to tackle the root of the problem and eliminate terrorism and its results. Free and accessible education is one of the most important measures to be taken as this will prevent young children from being recruited to terrorist organizations.

Also, actions to effectively combat poverty and unemployment, which make people turn to alternative solutions in order to make a living, would shield them from turning into pawns in the hands of terrorists.

There is also the matter of injustice, which is dominant in developing world countries. This must be eliminated in order to make people trust the authorities of their countries and deter them from turning to terrorism for the security and shelter that the terrorist organizations’ leaders guarantee.

All of the above could be successfully accomplished with a truly effective fight against corruption and the appointment of capable leaders which will make people from every social stratum feel free and safe again.