How to fight multi-faceted modern day terrorism

Posted in Terrorism | 01-Jun-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

New York, September 11, 2001:A murderous attack changes the world

The modern day terrorism, multi-faceted and worldwide in its spread, has become the new scourge of mankind. Its many different faces come from different regional, ethnic, political, social and extreme religious sources. There is no central organisation. Even Al Qaeda seems to be a kind of “terror holding” giving a lot of autonomy to decentralised acting groups. Al Qaeda might be providing those groups with basic training, money and technical know-how, but Osama Bin Laden obviously does not push the button in New York, Djerba, Bali or Madrid. The various autonomous groups do not know a lot about each other, but they follow the same philosophy. They aim for a “big bang” with broad follow-on media coverage. They do not refrain from killing thousands of innocent people. Their target is the “Western Civilisation” – especially the “Jews and the crusaders.” These terrorist groups exploit the weakness of democracies who have limited capabilities to prevent acts of terrorism, given their open and free nature. The terrorists also use actual political conflicts – as the Israeli/Palestine one - to recruit misled young people to become “suicide attackers.”

The World Security Network is pleased to offer an exclusive analysis by Walter Laqueur, one of the world’s best known experts on terrorism. In his view, the complex threat by various kinds of worldwide terrorism needs a comprehensive strategy – a “Grand Strategy.” For Walter Laqueur the worst has yet to come: Weapons of Mass Destruction in the hands of terrorists. Even with a sophisticated “Grand Strategy,” he does not foresee a “final victory.” In his view, “the goal of all governments is, and will remain, to reduce terrorism as much as possible and to make terrorist operations more difficult.”

This is not a question of soft or hard power – we need both. The fight against terrorism is not just a task for the police and the military. The swamp, in which terrorists live, prepare and execute their attacks, has to be dried. There should be no “safe havens” for terrorists.

What has to be done? According to Walter Laqueur, “We need to undertake a modification of the international laws of war” and certainly national laws. Laqueur is very sceptical whether democracies – even the USA – will be able to create the necessary countermeasures in the absence of an existential threat to nations. “For this politics of “wait-and-see” we may have to pay a heavy price”

What has to be achieved?

Western democracies have to find the right balance between the protection of individual rights and freedoms and the protection of their populations from the new global terrorism.