2012: the year al Qaeda staged a comeback
Somewhere, out there on a dust-ridden road of Somalia a fighter of al Shabab is walking around, Ak-47 clutched in his hands, keeping a lookout for government troops. While hiding in charred and mangled remains of a building in Idlib in Syria, a sniper from Jabahat al-Nusra is calmly scanning the battlefield, looking for Syrian Army troops to show up.
Meanwhile somewhere in Mali, a fighter belonging to AQIM (al Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb) stands over the ruins of some destroyed tomb of a saint. Destroyed, because according to the creed he has been taught, worshipping and paying respects to the shrines of saints is apostasy.
Somewhere in the badlands of FATA, in Pakistan, a suicide bomber is hitched up and dressed for a bombing mission on a Pakistan Army check post. The bomber belongs to Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan, to him Jinnah is an apostate and he believes that strict Shariah law should be enforced in Pakistan.
All organisations that I have just mentioned have one in thing in common –apart from fanatic obsession with Jihad- and that is al Qaeda. Yes, there are 14 such other al Qaeda affiliated organisations, around the world. In 30 countries to be precise – within 11 years there have been two invasions and hundreds of drone strikes down the road.
Perhaps, this is what the US led war on terror has achieved.
Both sides and their allies have fought and numerous deaths have resulted, but the ones who have suffered the most are the ordinary men, women and children whose lives remain desolate, bleak and unchanging. The only change they experience is, either an American Humvee coming to town or the arrival of a pickup truck carrying masked and turbaned henchmen.
2012, has proved to be the year when al Qaeda managed to stage a comeback under the nose of the American and Turkish supported rebellion against the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s Baathist regime.
From the reports coming in, Assad’s regime seems poised to sink anytime, while its adversary Jabahat al-Nusra, under the umbrella of FSA (Free Syrian Army) continues to attract recruits in thousands.
Fighters are coming from all over the world and some are even being channelled to Iraq to lead a campaign against the Shiite Iraqi government. On the other side another al Qaeda affiliate, TTP, is also continuing its attacks on Pakistani security forces. Recently it had the gall to offer peace talks while shooting at least 20 kidnapped Pakistani paramilitary personnel in a line.
While in Yemen, al Qaeda continues to blossom, despite the death of its main leader Anwar al Awlaki in a drone strike, and it is in control of many towns in the south of Yemen.
Despite many drone strikes and covert operations, al Qaeda and its off shoots are spreading around.
One has to question the strategy that is being employed by USA and its allies.
If terror were countered with terror, it would achieve nothing, but create ground that is more fertile for breeding ‘terrorists.’ Countries that are suffering from the Islamic Fundamentalist terror scourge, lack in providing proper education for their populace, their economy is in tatters due to bad policies, even without the extremists chipping in, and the governments of all these countries rely on corruption of biblical levels while begging Western countries for more economic support. Exactly where does this economic support go?
As has been suggested by many people before, the way to tackle fundamentalism and war is to have a dedicated group of leaders who can initiate proper educational, economic and industrial policies.
Bad economic conditions will definitely lead to disgruntled youth looking for alternative ways to achieve something in life, something that would lead only to their deaths and of countless others.
Another way to tackle extremism is to make justice available to all levels of society. In Pakistan’s case, the judicial activism of the Supreme Court will not be influential if the lower courts continue to employ corruption and be influenced by political parties.
This war on terror has proved that war is certainly not the solution.
If peace can be achieved through negotiations then pursue it, and utilise that time to offer jobs and education to young militants. Deprive terrorist leaders their crop of potential fighters and devoted suicide bombers.
If justice, education and economic benefits are provided to citizens then there is no way extremism can flourish. Pakistan and other US allies need to fix their economies first and then think of tackling extremism.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.