Terrorism, that pervasive and singularly frightening phenomenon, is a distinctly difficult entity to define. Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, has attempted to define terrorism as “the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change.”
This instilling of fear and intimidation is not a modern occurrence – but a global media, interconnected world and growing social networks mean that the impact of terrorist acts has never been greater. The “ripple effect” of an event on the other side of the world can be felt within moments.
If we just take a look back at March 2016, a total of 101 terrorist incidents have been documented. 296 lives were lost and 1259 people injured. Amongst many atrocities around the world, an airport and Metro station were targeted in Brussels, a park full of children bombed in Lahore and a busy shopping street in Istanbul was reduced to chaos.
“Terrorism aims to drive a wedge between us… However, humanity must defeat the terrorists by overcoming this urge.”
Terrorism can take on many forms, from the purely secular to that cloaked in the garb of religion. One thing is for certain: the aim of terrorists is to propagate their cause through coercive intimidation. It is this latter effect that helps them achieve their goal – whatever it may be. Intimidation leads to fear and fear brings about changes in thinking and behaviour, both on a personal and societal level. Governments and policy-makers may capitalise on this.
Terrorism aims to drive a wedge between us. Terrorists want to create a climate of panic, suspicion and mistrust. Knee-jerk responses and insularity are only natural reactions. However, humanity must defeat the terrorists by overcoming this urge. We should stand united through criticising terror in all its forms, supporting one another and upholding those universal values that help us aim towards becoming a better society. Only together can we defeat the monstrosity of terrorism.
Hussain ibn Ali’s life was defined by how he dealt with extremism. Selfish and single-minded autocrats dogged him every step of the way. But at the battle of Karbala, he refused to let violent terrorists be victorious. We must have such resolve.