Poverty is not the root cause of terrorism

art.tutu.afp.gi-thumb.jpgArchbishop Desmond Tutu has gone on record in an interview with CNN to say:

“”You can never win a war against terror as long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate — poverty, disease, ignorance, et cetera.

He said the disparity between the rich and poor in parts of the world causes instability and insecurity, but added that he was hopeful the relationship between the two was becoming clear.

In which world is Desmond Tutu living? There is poverty is many regions of the world from where terrorism doesn’t originate. There are many ways in which impoverished people have tackled their poverty – by immigrating to foreign shores or raising the overall economic development of their countries.

Terrorism in our age has been fueled by Osama, who is wealthy, and perpetrated by Islamists who are educated and well-to-do.

Africa is one of the poorest continents in the world – strife with poverty, disease, and ignorance. How many terrorists has it produced?

Forget the fact that terrorism needs an inordinate amount of wealth – those weapons and the educated sophistication cannot come without it – terrorism cannot thrive without an ideology behind it.

It is the fundamentalist, extremist, Islamist ideology that is fueling terrorism, not poverty. And Mr. Tutu, until leaders like you fail to recognize this, we will continue to suffer from it.

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  • Shefaly

    The distinction between “poverty” and “disparity” as contributory factors to terrorism needs to be clear; they are not tautological.

    One has an absoluteness to it, the other is relative. Relative poverty or “disparity” creates desire and dissatisfaction, and inspires actions – legal or otherwise – to acquire, to possess and to retain.

    Somebody, please get Bishop Tutu – and others – a dictionary!

  • Perhaps you may be defining terrorism in narrow, and current terms. Would it be correct to propose that terrorism is really a kind of warfare that has its roots in guerrilla warfare? It is used by a side when it is out-matched or does not have the infra-structure to carry full scale conventional warfare. In Africa, look at the # of civil wars over the years, and look at the techniques each side uses and perhaps you had “terrorism” all along.

    Today, Islamic fundamentalists certainly use terrorism – but does that mean terrorism never existed before extremist Islamic fundamentalism? And that from now on terrorism is solely associated with it?

    But I do think you have a point. Bishop Tutu (I think) is indeed referring to terrorism today and from that angle, I also think his point is not entirely correct. But I am not sure you can pooh-pooh his point like you have done. I do think poverty can provide an “turbo-charge” for terrorism. But there is no question that it is still only “side-ingredient” to the main-ingredient that is narrow ideology (not JUST Islamic).

    But why/when does narrow ideology have so much traction? What fuels it (besides poverty IMO)? Why? Understanding that would be the first step towards solution IMO. I don’t think the “level-headed”, “rationalistic” (dig intended but as a friendly one!) west has any patience for all that. Simply saying “It is narrow Ideology – silly!” – seems naive and simplistic.

  • //Perhaps you may be defining terrorism in narrow, and current terms. Would it be correct to propose that terrorism is really a kind of warfare that has its roots in guerrilla warfare? It is used by a side when it is out-matched or does not have the infra-structure to carry full scale conventional warfare.//
    Terrorism differs from guerilla warfare in the kind of victims it targets. Guerilla warfare targets specific, regional, opponents, terrorism targets anyone and everyone. If you think this is defining terrorism in ‘narrow’ terms, ask any of the civilians from New York to Hyderabad whether this is a ‘narrow’ definition. Guerilla warfare has a specific opponent – what is the specific opponent in terrorism? Please enlighten me!

    //In Africa, look at the # of civil wars over the years, and look at the techniques each side uses and perhaps you had “terrorism” all along. //
    Regional conflicts are distinct from terrorism. Civil wars are distinctly different from terrorism.

    //Today, Islamic fundamentalists certainly use terrorism – but does that mean terrorism never existed before extremist Islamic fundamentalism? And that from now on terrorism is solely associated with it?//
    Give me one example of terrorism without Islamic fundamentalism, then I can respond. And, I’m not saying terrorism is soley associated with it – did I say so?

    //But I do think you have a point. Bishop Tutu (I think) is indeed referring to terrorism today and from that angle, I also think his point is not entirely correct. But I am not sure you can pooh-pooh his point like you have done.//
    I am indeed going to “pooh-pooh” his point, since I think that it is not only completely irrelevant, but it is side stepping the real issue at hand. And more, for a world leader to completely miss the point entirely is evil! If you want to focus on world poverty, don’t use terrorism as leverage…it is pathetic!

    //I do think poverty can provide an “turbo-charge” for terrorism. But there is no question that it is still only “side-ingredient” to the main-ingredient that is narrow ideology (not JUST Islamic)./
    In a way, you’re agreeing with me. Poverty can be used as an enabler for inspiring people to terrorism, but cannot be the root of it. That is what I mean. Yes, it can be used by clever rich folks to ideologically manipulate people. The ‘turbo-charge’ you mention can be used by rich and wealthy people to brainwash other people. It doesn’t mean that poverty is the root of terrorism. And that is what my post is about.

    //But why/when does narrow ideology have so much traction? What fuels it (besides poverty IMO)? Why? Understanding that would be the first step towards solution IMO. I don’t think the “level-headed”, “rationalistic” (dig intended but as a friendly one!) west has any patience for all that. Simply saying “It is narrow Ideology – silly!” – seems naive and simplistic.//
    It is not poverty that fuels such ideology, it is fundamentalistic religion. It is not ‘besides poverty’, but completely independent of it. You are right – understanding it would be the first step. However, we fail to understand it. Why? It is not the failure of the ‘level-headed’, ‘rationalistic’, ‘west’, that has no patience. You are right – simply saying “It is narrow ideology – silly” is indeed naive and simplistic. The reality is that it is not silly, nor simplistic. It is Islamic fundamentalism. It is the root cause of terrorism!

  • mahendra – If terrorism is pushing your agenda even at the cost of sacrificing innocent-citizens (and thus terrorizing them), then regional conflicts have used those techniques for a long long time. To simply separate the two and saying “regional conflicts is separate from terrorism” – I cannot agree with it as it simply is ignoring facts.

    > Give me one example of terrorism without Islamic fundamentalism
    1. Peru.
    2. Tamil Tigers.
    3. Naxalites in Andra Pradesh.
    4. The Ku Klux Klan (different form but still very much terrorism)
    5. Maoists in Nepal, North-east India
    6. (Ok – a bit controversial) Some freedom fighters. They did blow up police stations, officials in the “government”. This has even happened during our independence struggle. I don’t know if the term terrorism existed then – but they would have been labeled as exactly that.

    I am sure there are many more in history :). Terrorism is old and it will continue even if Islamic fundamentalism is somehow tamed. The fundamental problem is NOT Islamic fundamentalism, it is fundamentalism itself – i.e. the basic idea that “your way” is the only way for all, and you are willing to do anything, and sacrifice anyone to remove obstacles in your path.

    Btw, I am not disagreeing with you. I think your point is valid – just not entirely valid. I think you are ignoring issues (too) and given that the tone of your post and judgments gave me discomfort.

  • You see a higher crime rate stemming from the lower class of a non existent yet existent cast system in the U.S. yet why no radical riots? In their eyes they are poverty stuck, that don’t have a chance b/c whitey has the upper hand (This is still in their eyes) With that said i don’t believe that poverty is the backbone of Radical Islamic Outrage. I read a superb article on Terrorism and the upcoming election http://www.2008presidentialpoll.com/political-article/terrorists-go-ga-ga-over-hillary-clinton/

  • Well Said Arunk.

  • Farthel

    well, not only Islamism, but any type of fundametalism will casue war.

  • Mahendra, would you consider US foreign policies and secretive CIA plots over the past 50 years in Central America and South America (to begin with – there’s plenty more) that caused deaths of thousands of innocents as terrorism? Check out September 11, 1973 in the history books wrt Chile. The perpetrators of those crimes were never brought to justice. BTW, I do agree that Islamist fundamentalism is a huge concern and I do think that poverty is not a root cause of the terrorism you are referring to, though it is touted as such by some politically correct people.

  • With the exception of Ku Klux Klan (I am surprised that the Holocaust was not included in that list; perhaps, the millions of innocent Jews that Hitler and the Nazis gassed to death in Auschwitz don’t count?), the example organizations given by Arunk, do not target civilians, almost exclusively, as the Islamic terrorist do. Of course, as all statements on human and social behavior, there are always exceptions to this, too, but those are exceptions.

    How many restaurants, schools, and commuter trains have the Shining Path guerillas blown up? Naxalites blowing up trains and buses is a very recent phenomenon; probably, they are taking a cue (and more) from their new-found friends! It is childish, to put it mildly, to point to a couple of LTTE suicide bombers blowing themselves up, along with a handful of their political opponents, every time the Islamic terrorists butcher hundreds of innocent men, women, and children.

    Besides, the avowed objective of the Islamic terrorists is not alleviation of poverty of the Muslims. It is the establishment of a religion that has been historically (from its very inception) rooted in murder and mayhem, and its cruel and inhuman derivative, Sharia. And, as I have pointed out in one of my recent posts, Either Or, Islam has not reformed its ways even one bit.

    Mahendra is right. Islamic terrorism is neither about poverty, nor about disparity in wealth. If Tutu wanted to see disparity in wealth, he should visit one of those palaces in Jeddah and then the slums of Dhaka, before blaming the United States, Infosys, or Bill Gates for Islamic terrorism. Why is Al Qaeda not blowing up the the Saudi Sheikhs, the Kuwaiti Emirs, or the members of a handful of clans that rule and own Pakistan?

  • The Rational Fool,

    Per what I explained earlier in that post as to what I viewed as terrorism – all those count. My listing was NOT to say that every example is as bad as here (i anticipated this interpretation as a counter argument) – but to point at a common strain of thought in those people that led them to such actions. In my opinion – that is the real problem for.

    Sure we can define terrorism with certain parameters and certain scale such that only today’s Al Qaeda qualifies – and declare that if we get rid of Islamic fundamentalists you get rid of terrorism. I would just say we would be simply deluding ourselves. Note however that I am not at all implying to ignore the problem, or dismiss it as “just another example”. I am just saying that we should not think it as one anomaly, aberration in human history. It is definitely a big flare-up – but a flare-up of an old demon.

    And about Nazis killing jews – there is a a much more horrific term than terrorism called “genocide” I would think that applies there. Of course it was carried by a government. But did they terrorize the jews? Absolutely. Was it out of fundamentalistic thought? Absolutely. Should it be treated as much disdain as terrorism? Absolutely. Should we wish we can rid of human behavior that leads to genocide? As much if not more than for terrorism – I say! If the same Al Qaeda happened to be a government, they would not be just terrorists, but genocidal.

  • Mahendra,
    In my earlier comment, I forgot to close the anchor tag after the title of my post, “Either Or”. Will you please edit my comment, and close the tag, for better readability? Thanks.

    Arunk,
    About genocide and terrorism, Islam permits little or no distinction between the state and the religion. Please read the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, if you have any doubt about this. The only multi-national organization of states based on religion today is the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). Targeted elimination of infidels is not any different from genocide, whether al Qaeda or LET governs a state or not.

    I am not saying that if we get rid of Islamic fundamentalists we’ll get rid of terrorism, if we define terrorism as targeted killing or assassination of one or more innocent citizens (btw, I agree with that definition). We will not, because conflict, rivalry, and predation, is part of nature, and there will always be a few mad men and women who’ll deviate from or take law into their own hands and destroy other lives.

    Scale and frequency are not something to be scoffed at, though. They help us to identify and evaluate patterns of behavior, and formulate effective counter-measures and laws to mitigate them. Laws against rape and child abuse are not guaranteed to eliminate them, but we have them, so rape and child abuse will be isolated, and not rampant.

    Unreformed Islam is the most important threat today to the progress that humanity has made towards a civil society. It should reform itself or be trashed into the “ash heap of history”.

  • I would partly agree with you Mahendra…. poverty may not be the reason behind terrorism, but it sure is a catalyst… its easier to brainwash poor people than educated ones because the poor are already upset with the govt and look at it as the rich man’s stooge…. yes but the originators or terrorism (osama/al zawahari), thats a different story…. they are madmen

  • I’d add that not necessarily poor, but anyone who is angry at the system (government, society etc.) because of perceived or real injustices to him or his kin. Such people are easy to brainwash.

  • I have not read all the comments, but I read the last two and I agree with Oemar. There are multiple reasons why terrorism grows and thrives. Poverty, dissatisfaction with govt, dictatorial regimes, past history, etc and I am sure I have not listed all the reasons!
    I have lived in Africa for many years and I have seen that Africa is not as bad or starving as people assume. We see images of subsaharan africa but in tanzania for instance you will see even poor people tall, wellbuilt and well fed. I was surprised myself. their population is small, their land fertile…
    even when we lived in Nigeria I did not see that much malnutrition as we see in India. no skinny stunted people which is a common sight even in Indian cities.
    I have been to Kenya and the same there. In the slums there the people seem to be strong and tall, and even fat, unlike the slums here.

  • one more thing – what they lack in Africa are other things that development brings – proper houses, good clothes, machines to run their homes, consumer goods, yes even watches are something that the poor there will not have! Its really sad.

  • Shefaly

    Well on KKK, Ronald Fryer and Steve Levitt have an explanation that they were just a social organistion.. Too much in a haste to transpose URLs, but it is on my blog under a post on academic freedom.

    Whether someone is a terrorist or not is very much a case of the framing of the issue in current political, social and ethical paradigms. Much discussion above is on definitional boundaries which are meaningless if not temporally located in their right context.

  • Arun: Like Shefaly has wisely pointed out in her latest comment, our discussion is meaningless until we define our definitional boundaries.

    //If terrorism is pushing your agenda even at the cost of sacrificing innocent-citizens (and thus terrorizing them), then regional conflicts have used those techniques for a long long time. To simply separate the two and saying “regional conflicts is separate from terrorism” – I cannot agree with it as it simply is ignoring facts.//
    If your concern about ‘terrorism’ includes all the violence and crime in the world – I share your concern, but not your definition.

    As RTF pointed out, none of your examples (with historical exceptions) target innocent civilians worldwide. In each of your examples, a victim would have been able to identify why he/she was targeted – even for the most ridiculous reason that he/she happened to be there in a specific geographical region. If you’re concerned about regional conflicts, that is outside the scope of my post. You seem to be viewing terrorism as a ‘technique’ of pushing your own agenda: in that sense, I can understand you. However, more important to me than the technique, is the worldwide phenomenon of terrorism today. The terrorism I’m talking about, is when innocent people worldwide:

    – worry if a bomb is going to blast in a local train they’ve boarded in Mumbai
    – have to go through humiliating security checks in airports worldwide
    – read about Indian doctors in UK being suspected of being terrorists
    – live under a government controlled “threat level” in the most free nation in the world
    – have no idea why, for no rhyme or reason, are they being targeted today

    This terrorism is different from the one you’re talking about. This is what is experienced today by all human beings on this planet, irrespective of their race, religion, nationality, region/state, economic level, occupation, or age. This is fundamentally different from all your examples. As I said before, I share your concern about the crime and violence that has specific regional agendas, but that is not what is generally understood as terrorism today.

    And precisely for this reason, Desmond Tutu’s statement angers me. If you are pointing out that I’ve ignored facts, why don’t you accuse Desmond Tutu of ignoring facts, too?

    //to point at a common strain of thought in those people that led them to such actions. In my opinion – that is the real problem.//
    The common strain of thought that I believe you’re pointing out is that of fundamentalism. You are right. I am focusing on Islamic terrorism as it is a much greater concern to all of us than any other ‘kinds of terrorism’ that you’re referring to. Precisely because, as RTF points out, scale and frequency are of utmost concern!

    //I am just saying that we should not think it as one anomaly, aberration in human history. It is definitely a big flare-up – but a flare-up of an old demon.//
    Islamic terrorism in the world today is significantly different from all other kinds of terrorism, crimes, and violence in history. A big flare-up, not of an old demon, but a completely new and different demon. That is the core of my post.

    // there is a a much more horrific term than terrorism called “genocide”//
    RTF: // Targeted elimination of infidels is not any different from genocide, whether al Qaeda or LET governs a state or not.//
    Do you get the point? Islamic terrorism is not any lesser horrifying than genocide. It is just that the Holocaust genocide is over and we all know the facts and figures, whereas Islamic terrorism is just in its infancy.

  • Swanny: //With that said i don’t believe that poverty is the backbone of Radical Islamic Outrage.//
    Well said!

    Farthel: //well, not only Islamism, but any type of fundametalism will cause war.//
    Agree! And I’m not talking about war at all.

    Amit: //Mahendra, would you consider US foreign policies and secretive CIA plots over the past 50 years in Central America and South America that caused deaths of thousands of innocents as terrorism?//
    I’m not very knowledgeable about these, but no, I would not consider those as terrorism. Those foreign policies did not affect me or my family when I travelled to Europe or US, unlike how Islamic terrorism does today. I am not justifying those actions of the US – they may have been very wrong and immoral, and led to lot of innocent civilian deaths, but they did not affect civilians globally.

    //I do think that poverty is not a root cause of the terrorism you are referring to.//
    Thanks!

    Nita: I said Africa is one of the poorest continents in the world – is that a false statement? I’m sure there are well-developed regions within Africa as well, but if you compare continents, isn’t Africa considered one of the poorest?

  • RTF: A special comment response exclusively for you 🙂 Thanks so much for elucidating on this topic, probably much better than I ever could have!

  • Oemar/Nita/Amit and everyone who thinks that poverty acts as a “side-ingredient”, catalyst, and that it is easy to brainwash poor people:

    1. I challenge you to go get a few hundred or thousand poor people, and brainwash them into giving up their lives by acting as suicide bombers, without mentioning or using religion or God. If you can brainwash and get me one poor person willing to give up his life in order to destroy other’s lives, without using religion, I am ready to renounce my atheism, and do penance!

    2. Read the title and my post carefully again.

  • Arun: One last comment. Forgetting the differences between our definitions of terrorism, and considering your definition as true, do you think poverty is the root cause?

    //to point at a common strain of thought in those people that led them to such actions. In my opinion – that is the real problem.//
    Is the common strain of thought poverty? I do not see poverty being the root cause of violence and crime in any of the examples you cited.

    If you agree, now tell me why I should not pooh-pooh Desmond Tutu’s point?

  • Mahendra, I guess Africa as a continent as compared to Asia is certainly much much poorer. But people generally club africa together, and that is why I mentioned the countries. Actually even south africa is not that bad in terms of enough food for its people, nor egypt…and if one has to see whether the majority of the countries in africa are poor or not, I guess they are. but even the word poverty can differ in its meaning, that is why I mentioned the food vs the goods. i hope i am making sense. I just see this subject to be very complicated.
    and i don’t think i said specifically that it is easy to brainwash poor people, I would never agree with any such generalization. I did agree iwth oemar’s statement overall – that poverty can act as a catalyst and often does.
    other factors have to be present (which I admitted I could not recount all) and therefore I am unable to answer your challenge about the religion! I don’t think I ever said that poverty is the root cause of terrorism so I am not sure what you mean. Also, you will always find conscienceless people who will kill for money, whether religion is used or not. About how many, or whatever, I cannot answer. I am sure you will agree that there are people like that.

  • //i don’t think i said specifically that it is easy to brainwash poor people, I would never agree with any such generalization. I did agree iwth oemar’s statement overall – that poverty can act as a catalyst and often does.//

    No, you didn’t say so specifically – I assumed it because you agreed with Oemar, who said so. Neither did I specifically attribute it to you! 🙂

    //Other factors have to be present (which I admitted I could not recount all) and therefore I am unable to answer your challenge about the religion! I don’t think I ever said that poverty is the root cause of terrorism so I am not sure what you mean. Also, you will always find conscienceless people who will kill for money, whether religion is used or not. About how many, or whatever, I cannot answer. I am sure you will agree that there are people like that.//
    Poverty may act as a catalyst in helping to recruit people, but the point of my post is that without fundamental, extremist, Islamic ideology, terrorism would not have been what it is today. I’m not talking about conscienceless people who will commit crime for money and I agree with you that there are people like that in all parts of the world.

    But they’re not united with a common ideology. Poverty may act as a catalyst. A catalyst is by definition, something that accelerates a chemical reaction, not cause it. The catalyst, taken by itself, doesn’t cause any reaction. That is the subject and topic of my post.

    When you mention other factors – think about which of them is the one most responsible? What is the root cause? Yes, there are several factors involved, but try removing them one at a time and think whether terrorism can exist without it. Once you’ve examined all the factors in this fashion, let me know what you think is the one factor that terrorism cannot survive without.

    I fail to understand Oemar’s comment that he agrees with me “partly”. My post and stand is that poverty cannot, by itself, be the cause of terrorism. This is what Desmond Tutu is claiming and I refute it vociferously. No one is talking about contributory factors here, nor denying them. The whole point of my post is that if you ignore the fundamental driving force, the main ingredient, of terrorism, you’re going to continue to delude yourself and others. It is appalling that a leader like Tutu is claiming that poverty is the core reason responsible for terrorism.

    The comments on this post so far (except RTF) seem to indicate exactly the very evil that Tutu’s statement can perpetrate. Focus on ‘contributory’ factors, and ignore the core, real, driving force behind terrorism: Islamic fundamentalism. If we continue to sidestep the root cause, we will continue to suffer.

  • I am afraid I am not sure whether Islamic fundamentalism is the root cause of terrorism. Terrorism exists in the north east too, I mean naxalites.
    an organized form of terrorism that you are referring to can exist in organized crime (underworld, and money is the objective), and also an organized idealogy, any fantatic idealogy, it can be religious or political like that of ULFA’s.
    in fact I believe that even the islamic fundamentalists who perpetuate terror have political ambitions. they simply use religion for their nefarious purposes.
    I don’t think one can isolate a core like you asked, at least I don’t think so. it depends on many factors.

  • @Mahendra
    //I challenge you to go get a few hundred or thousand poor people, and brainwash them into giving up their lives by acting as suicide bombers// Your answer is LTTE, IRA etc…. they dont use religion to get people charged up… just a simple brainwahs saying that they will be doing a great good by killing the evil men and stuff… max number of innocent life’s have been taken in the world for land…. including ww2
    //I fail to understand Oemar’s comment that he agrees with me “partly”. My post and stand is that poverty cannot, by itself, be the cause of terrorism// I agree with you that my coment may not be in sync with your post title… but I gave that comment so that we dont completely sideline poverty as a cause….

  • @Mahendra
    The tokyo sarin gas attack wass also not in the name of religion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarin_gas_attack_on_the_Tokyo_subway

  • So how was “God is not great” by Christopher Hitchens? 😉

    2. Read the title and my post carefully again.

    And I invite you to re-read (or read for the first time) the last line of my comment # 8 carefully. 🙂

    My other comment was “I’d add that not necessarily poor, but..” – how you read that to mean “poverty is a factor in Islamist fundamentalism” I’m not sure.

    I’m glad you’ve started on this journey and I’d invite you to dig some more and find out which parties were responsible for Al-Qaeda coming into power in the first place. Or maybe the “9/11 Commission Report.” I’ll assume that you have already read Mary Shelley’s classic book. Islamist fundamentalism is indeed a huge threat, but the picture is much bigger than that, and if you focus on and isolate only one part while ignoring other factors and players, it’s an incomplete analysis.

    Also, US foreign policy impact has been responsible for innocent lives lost in Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Philippines, East Timor. I’d think that’s global enough.

    Yes, you are talking about a specific threat (and a narrow definition of terrorism that affects you), and I fully agree with you on that. And yes, in this particular instance of terrorism, it’s the ideology that is responsible, and not the poverty or illiteracy.

  • Nita: Would it be rude of me if I requested you to read the comments above? Naxalite violence doesn’t affect people in Africa or Europe. Underworld crime doesn’t have death and destruction of masses of ordinary civilians around the globe as its primary motive. It is besides the point that none of these examples have poverty as their root cause either!

    Oemar: if your answer to my question is the LTTE, IRA, then you’re proving my point in a way, because none of these organizations or their acts are motivated by poverty!

    //max number of innocent life’s have been taken in the world for land//
    Yes, and those are precisely regional conflicts that are distinct from terrorism as we’re experiencing in the world today.

    //I gave that comment so that we dont completely sideline poverty as a cause//
    Give me one example of terrorism that has poverty as the root cause. Not land, not religion, not politics. I still fail to understand how you ‘partly’ agree with my post.

    The Tokyo sarin gas attack that you’ve linked to is first of all another instance of a regional, and domestic attack. Second, if you look at the group that carried out the attack, Aum Shinrikyo, tell me whether it was primarily a religious group or not. Where was poverty involved?

    Amit: I’ve specifically responded to your comment in specific terms so please do not think that I have not read it!

    And I apologize for clubbing your name among the other commenters who are touting poverty as another contributing factor. I apologize sincerely.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Al-Qaeda coming into power”, but yes, I have read the 9/11 Commission Report. I haven’t read Mary Shelley’s book.

    //if you focus on and isolate only one part while ignoring other factors and players, it’s an incomplete analysis.//
    I’m not offering a complete analysis in my post. If world leaders ignore the primary factor and players, it is disturbing to me. That is what my post is about. I am not purporting to offer any complete picture, perspective, analysis, whatsoever. Islamic fundamentalism is the root cause of terrorism in the world today and unless we recognize, realize, and accept this, we’re failing to get the complete picture. That is all I’m saying!

    The only thing I wish to comment on regarding the US foreign policy evils that you’re pointing out is the fact that it is not random. It may have affected several regions in the world, that have been specific targets of the foreign policy involved. It is not global in the random sense that Islamic terrorism is.

    Regarding talking about a specific threat, and using a narrow definition of terrorism:
    My whole point is that Islamic terrorism has no specific threat. It can affect innocent civilians worldwide, there’s nothing specific about it. As regards it being a narrow definition that affects me, you may be right – it is a global phenomenon today that affects everyone everywhere – is that narrow? The definition may be narrow, its implications, repercussions, and consequences are worldwide, global, and universal.

  • Mahendra, no apologies necessary. 🙂
    The book is “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. It’s about creating a monster that bites the creator in the ass (so to speak). To criticize the monster for all ills without including the motivations and actions of the creator is incomplete, IMO. You may have a different perspective, and that’s fine.

  • Mahendra,

    Thanks for the compliments.

    Let’s get one thing straight. Terrorism cannot be laid at the feet of its poverty stricken foot soldiers, nor at the feet of their rich generals. It’s not a means resorted to by a handful, bucketful, or a barnyardful of misguided Muslims, to redress their perceived or real grievances. Terrorism is the result of an ideology, a collection of loathsome and unfounded ideas, that asserts that those who do not subscribe to it do not have the right to live freely, or live at all. As Mahendra wrote, talking or writing about the contributory or collateral factors may win laurels for political correctness, but distracts our attention from the ideology of Islam. It has but one goal: Islamization of the world.

    As for the “Frankenstein” and other blow-back theories, bin Laden, al Qaeda, Taliban, LET, SIMI, Jemaah Islamiyah, and countless other Islamic terrorist groups around the world are ephemeral, and not central to the problem of Islamic terrorism. It is not a matter of much doubt for the people from the sub-continent, where or what Mohd. Gazni, Mohd. Gauri, and Aurangazeb, and their marauding armies, originated from, is it? If one were desperate enough to assign blame to more than one cause, a good candidate will be the smell of oil, that woke up this dormant monstrosity a.k.a. Islam.

    I beg to differ with you on one point, Mahendra. What we have here is not a new demon. It’s a very ancient demon. This month of Ramadan, it’s precisely 1397 years old, if we were to believe the sources that claim that Muhammad existed, and received his revelation from his god in the year 610 CE. Since then, he and his followers have spread his ideas by the Sword of Islam, killing, terrorizing, and forcibly converting millions of innocent people around the world.

  • Shefaly

    Mahendra: I think there will never be consensus on this issue.

    Depending on perspective, one man’s terrorist is another man’s ….. (choose from: freedom fighter/ martyr/ champion/ lobbyist/ many other descriptions of other kinds of interests).

    Terrorism in my view is as much a philosophical choice of the perpetrator as of those affected by it/ terrorised by it.

    How many of us in India stopped using trains because there were bombs on it?

    In London, the day after the July 7, 2005 bombings, people got on buses and into the tube and went to work.

    In Bombay, where I did my summer internship in 1993, the summer of the mega-bombs, everything was normal and nobody looked scared or untrusting.

    The day after IRA tried to kill Maggie Thatcher in Brighton, she refused to call off the Tory party conference and spoke at it to standing ovation.

    On the contrary, even now many in the US are scarred by the September 11, 2001 episode.

    It is not just the action, that makes a terrorist, it is also the reaction.

    PS: The Fryer-Levine paper I referred to is worth reading as an example of terrorism as social framing.

  • nice observation

    i think that a terrorist has closer relation with a hasishin rather than a guerrilla.
    it involves indoctrination,to terrorise is to put fear in the mind of a common man.

  • Had terrorism been a function of poverty, we wouldn’t have had people from educated and well to do families joining or sympathizing (which according to me is equally bad) with the terrorists. A right point you make Mahendra. And as TRF says, thats the way Islam has traditionally been spread.

    PS: The comment box is partially hidden in this theme. I’m on Firefox 2.0, Ubuntu Linux.

  • @Mahendra
    Well I think its my turn to say “read my comments carefully”….
    //if your answer to my question is the LTTE, IRA, then you’re proving my point in a way// I never said that poverty is the motivational force behind these acts… I always maintained that it is a catalyst, not a root cause… fanaticism is the main cause and I have never disagreed with it (refer to the last sentence of my first post)… moreover, LTTE suicide bomber recruits are from very poor background who are already upset with the govt, so the fanatics find it easier to brainwash them. So again, catalyst.. not root cause. Tamil businessmen in Sril Lanka are not involved in bombings.. at least I have not heard of any..
    //Yes, and those are precisely regional conflicts that are distinct from terrorism as we’re experiencing in the world today// how does it make it different when innocent lives are being lost in both the cases?
    //Give me one example of terrorism that has poverty as the root cause// Again, I never ever said that poverty is the ROOT cause…. refer to all my comments above…
    //if you look at the group that carried out the attack, Aum Shinrikyo, tell me whether it was primarily a religious group or not// Religion was not the cause here.. it wsa politics..
    The prosecution said that it was an attempt to bring down the government and install Shoko Asahara, the group’s founder, as the “emperor” of Japan. The most recent theory proposes that the attack was an attempt to divert attention from Aum when the group obtained some information indicating that police searches were planned (though contrary to this plan, it ended up leading to mass searches and arrests).
    Again, every act of terrorism may not have poverty as catalyst… its not a 2-way relation ship and definitely not a root cause.
    One more thing – I am really confused with your comment //another instance of a regional, and domestic attack// about Tokyo Sarin gas incident… how is terrorism defined – a mass killing of civilians of one country by militants of another country?? I think whether domestic or internaitonal, incidents where innocents lose there life is one category – Terrorism…. I may have misunderstood this line but that is the message being conveyed by this line… hope I am wrong!

  • Correction to the above comment: “fanaticism is the main cause and I have never disagreed with it (refer to the last sentence of my first COMMENT here, NOT POST)… “

  • Excellent post and equally interesting discussion.
    1.//Poverty may act as a catalyst.//
    2.//Even the islamic fundamentalists who perpetuate terror have political ambitions. they simply use religion for their nefarious purposes.//
    3.//Anyone who is angry at the system (government, society etc.) because of perceived or real injustices to him or his kin. Such people are easy to brainwash.//
    4.// There is a a much more horrific term than terrorism called “genocide”//
    5.//Terrorism is old and it will continue even if Islamic fundamentalism is somehow tamed. The fundamental problem is NOT Islamic fundamentalism, it is fundamentalism itself – i.e. the basic idea that “your way” is the only way for all, and you are willing to do anything, and sacrifice anyone to remove obstacles in your path.//
    I agree with these observations.

  • RTF: Point noted and accepted!

    Shefaly: You’re probably right. It’s difficult to get a consensus!

    //It is not just the action, that makes a terrorist, it is also the reaction.//
    Interesting viewpoint, worth exploring further…thanks again for the info.

    Oemar: thanks for further clarification! I don’t think we’re disagreeing here, except with respect to focus or emphasis. I understand your interpretation of terrorism, as any violent acts against innocent civilians, whether domestic or international. I wouldn’t disagree with your interpretation, but I choose to focus on the worldwide terrorism being perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists today.

    Prerna: thanks and what a nice way to comment! 🙂 My earlier responses to those would suffice I think. Thanks for stopping by and reading through all the comments!

  • Mahendra:

    For an instance of ‘one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” see this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7009742.stm

  • Shefaly – I was almost going to blog about this! 🙂

    I’m glad there was just protests and not any violence in this incidence…

  • well, look what you got 🙂 bn followng this, wd come back to see wht happns…to this poor guy here too

  • //If terrorism is pushing your agenda even at the cost of sacrificing innocent-citizens (and thus terrorizing them), then regional conflicts have used those techniques for a long long time. To simply separate the two and saying “regional conflicts is separate from terrorism” – I cannot agree with it as it simply is ignoring facts.//
    If your concern about ‘terrorism’ includes all the violence and crime in the world – I share your concern, but not your definition
    It is not just the action, that makes a terrorist, it is also the reaction.//
    Interesting viewpoint, worth exploring further…thanks again for the info.

    Oemar: thanks for further clarification! I don’t think we’re disagreeing here, except with respect to focus or emphasis. I understand your interpretation of terrorism, as any violent acts against innocent civilians, whether domestic or international. I wouldn’t disagree with your interpretation, but I choose to focus on the worldwide terrorism being perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists today
    Let’s get one thing straight. Terrorism cannot be laid at the feet of its poverty stricken foot soldiers, nor at the feet of their rich generals. It’s not a means resorted to by a handful, bucketful, or a barnyardful of misguided Muslims, to redress their perceived or real grievances. Terrorism is the result of an ideology, a collection of loathsome and unfounded ideas, that asserts that those who do not subscribe to it do not have the right to live freely, or live at all. As Mahendra wrote, talking or writing about the contributory or collateral factors may win laurels for political correctness, but distracts our attention from the ideology of Islam. It has but one goal: Islamization of the world.

    As for the “Frankenstein” and other blow-back theories, bin Laden, al Qaeda, Taliban, LET, SIMI, Jemaah Islamiyah, and countless other Islamic terrorist groups around the world are ephemeral, and not central to the problem of Islamic terrorism. It is not a matter of much doubt for the people from the sub-continent, where or what Mohd. Gazni, Mohd. Gauri, and Aurangazeb, and their marauding armies, originated from, is it? If one were desperate enough to assign blame to more than one cause, a good candidate will be the smell of oil, that woke up this dormant monstrosity a.k.a. Islam.

    I beg to differ with you on one point, Mahendra. What we have here is not a new demon. It’s a very ancient demon. This month of Ramadan, it’s precisely 1397 years old, if we were to believe the sources that claim that Muhammad existed, and received his revelation from his god in the year 610 CE. Since then, he and his followers have spread his ideas by the Sword of Islam, killing, terrorizing, and forcibly converting millions of innocent people around the world.