Public Security and Terrorism
Terrorism has been defined differently in various contexts but the bottom line is that it is often unnecessary violence against innocent civilians. When considering the factors that have led to the formation of about all the known terrorist groups, it is easy to see a pattern where the group is formed to draw attention to the grievances or end a bad regime. From this perspective, it can be argued that terrorists are often other people’s freedom fighters and heroes. The idea, in this case, is often noble except for a few instances when the group is formed to satisfy some sadistic urges and unjustifiably selfish desires. Basing on the statement that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, this paper will take on an antiterrorist perspective with consideration of the causes of its appearance. However, the causality concept used herein will not at any point seek to support the acts of terrorists but rather to ascertain that there is no justification for the actions perpetrated against innocent civilians under any circumstances. In the paper, the implications of the perspective for the anti-terrorism legislation both locally and internationally will also be examined.
There are over 60 designated terrorist groups according to the US database. The most common, or rather infamous ones include Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, Hamas and Hezbollah as well as the Boko Haram. All of them have a specific reason for their activities and, in most cases, the war is more religious than political. However, there are instances where the cause is purely political, and the religious angle is only employed for the convenience purposes.
For instance, Al-Qaeda was formed to strengthen the followership of the Sharia law and establish pure Islamic states free of infidels and deserters of the Quran. The members of the organization believe that the Muslim brethren are guaranteed a place in the heaven after accomplishing the work of Allah on the earth. For the group, this stand justifies the use of jihadist strategies to fight governments and overthrow regimes that are presumed to ally themselves with infidel states or self-proclaimed Muslims who do not follow the Holy Laws. By setting themselves up as the protectors of the Islam and law enforcers with the obligation of ridding the world of the bad elements, this organization has taken on the role of ‘God’. However, it is clear that they have no right whatsoever to decide who is righteous and who is not, or who is a pretender and who is a legitimate believer. They have also waged wars against governments that they claim are leading the Muslims astray by tolerating ideals that are not embedded in the Holy Scriptures showing their willingness to infringe on the rights of the people in a bid to protect their religion. The strictness of this group with regards to implementing the Sharia law somewhat gives them an air of authority that misleads them into thinking that they own the world and are, thus, responsible for the kind of people who live in it.
Hoffman notes that the problem with this perspective of the world is that it encourages murder on the basis that one is not a Muslim. Moreover, even if they are Muslims, they can be killed in case they are not faithful to the teachings of the Holy Book. Considering the international construction of morality, there is absolutely no context in which murder is justifiable except for the death penalty that is regarded as acceptable in very few and really extreme cases. No matter what the basis or concept of causality that motivates the formation of a terrorist group is, the fact that their ideals go against the social norms of the larger international community makes their actions inexcusable. They must be able to fit in with the general global population, and their ability to justify and even encourage murder puts them completely on the wrong side of the law. The Al Shabab and the Boko Haram have similar ideologies with respect to enforcing Sharia laws and rooting out infidels as well as the pretentious Muslims who have no strict loyalty to the laws.
It can, thus, be stated that none of these organizations are freedom fighters. Taking into consideration the fact that there is absolute religious freedom in most countries around the world, the Muslims can practice Islam as they see fit without having to impose their beliefs and practices on non-Muslims or forcing the believers to live strictly by their religious teachings.
Another category of the terrorist groups are the ones formed with a sociopolitical motivation like the Hezbollah and the Hamas. The Hezbollah is an anti-Israeli organization set out to dominate Israel and eliminate the Jews. For years, they have been dedicated to the idea of establishing a region that is free from the western influence considering that the West is consistently supporting Israel in the Gaza war. The Hezbollah started out as an organization fighting against Israeli presence in Lebanon, where they actually won with the help of Iran in terms of both military training and funding as well as moral support. The idea may be viewed as noble taking into account the fact that the Israeli army has taken on an offensive stand. However, they have extended their grievances and are currently committed to eliminating the westerners allied to Israel. Considering that their problems were with Israel at the time, they should have concentrated on the Israeli issue up until it was solved. At first, this organization may have been a freedom fighting one for the Lebanese people, but, presently, they are as unjustifiable and selfish as any other purposeless formation.
The Hamas, on the other hand, wants the expulsion of the Jews from Israel. This demand may have a basis in history considering the biblical description of Israel as a country, but it is as unfounded as the concept of demonizing an entire nation just to justify the killing of Israeli nationals.
Looking at all these organizations, Hoffman argues that it is clear that even when the intentions start out as pure, the terrorism aspect comes in when the group is willing to sacrifice innocent lives in order to attain their goals. History shows that the real freedom fighters were actually willing to give down their own lives in order to protect others, but not to endanger their own lives to kill others as seen with the suicide bombing trends of these terrorist groups. The Israeli occupation of Lebanon does not justify the murders of innocent civilians; neither does the need to impose strict Sharia laws excuse the bombing of Christian locations and places where the ‘pretentious’ Muslims are most likely to be found. The idea of fighting for freedom is to ensure that people can live freely, and that whatever they do is in accordance to what they really want. The mentioned organizations actually impose their own rules on the people, thus, eliminating the freedom aspect.
Implications for Antiterrorism Legislation
Having established that regardless of the circumstances terrorism is a wrong act, it should be highlighted that there are absolutely no justifications for perpetrating acts of terror that often include violence against the innocent masses. The implication for local and domestic anti-terrorism legislation is that terrorism would and should be considered as a very serious crime and often charged on account of the number of lives lost, people injured, livelihoods disturbed and property damaged by the act. It amounts not only to murder but also to physical and psychological assault on innocent individuals who deserve a right for justice. Currently, there is an ongoing war against terror that aims to eliminate terrorist groups and end their attacks on innocent people. Once convicted, the terrorists must be held accountable for the damage they cause. Thus, making the laws even more stringent is the only option. Consequently, the countries have to allow the extradition of terrorism suspects to the countries in which they are wanted to enable the administration of justice for the victims.
Terrorists are a breed of individuals often aggrieved in one way or another. The Al-Qaeda, for example, was formed by an individual who felt that their religion was not as pure and respectable as they had envisioned it. They felt corrupted by the non-believers and the partial believers that inspired them to take arms and try to clear their faith. This cause may justify the formation of the group, but the method they use to enforce their aims puts them on the wrong side of the moral line. Fighting for the idea is only legitimate if the struggle does not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. Thus, the terrorist is a freedom fighter only if on the path to their liberty, they do not end up limiting or taking away the independence of other people. In addition, if their intentions are the only motivation for their actions, the outcomes should be as expected and not catastrophic as the attacks usually are. Finally, it must be noted that terrorism is not in any way justifiable regardless of how noble the cause is.