Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I was awake in the early hours of Saturday 14th November, worrying foolishly about something really silly- yeah in retrospect, I can say that- when I decided to take my mind away from the situation and peruse Facebook for a bit, to see what new “life-events” my friends were documenting. All of a sudden, something caught my attention: another terror attack in Paris. Over 100 dead. Imagine my shock! Wait, barely how many hours ago were we trying to come to terms with the attack in Beirut...barely how many months ago was it that France went through the Charlie Hebdo massacre? What the heck was happening? So I hastily switched on the TV and tuned to CNN. Anderson Cooper was live. The “breaking news” banner was up, reading 149 dead. Before I could even begin to process that piece of information, Cooper declared that the death toll had just risen to 153 (later, when a proper count had been made, that number would be stabilized at 129 dead with 350+ wounded) and these were still very early hours! I froze! Apparently, multiple coordinated terror attacks had taken place across the French capital.
At a concert, gunmen opened fire sporadically with assault rifles, just shooting indiscriminately into the crowd; another venue was outside a stadium during a World Cup qualifier match between France and Germany, where suicide bombers unleashed mayhem (President Francois Hollande was in attendance, but was safely evacuated); then at a Cambodian restaurant, gunmen opened fire; and on and on in different locations. I saw people running in the streets, pavements covered with human blood, policemen and firefighters in combat gear, paramedics tending to the wounded, numerous body bags being carried away…it was just too much! One of the eyewitnesses, who had been at the concert but managed to escape, spoke with Anderson Cooper. He had gotten a good view of one of the terrorists, and was able to describe him as a young man of about 18 or 19years of age…certainly not older than 20. My goodness, a bloody child, killing people ruthlessly as though they were Birds! How can one’s humanity become so corrupted and vile that satisfaction from living and the feeling of standing on the cusps of destiny now comes from adherence to an evil and warped ideology that basically teaches that the path to glory is by the slaughtering of “infidels”? How did we all become prey for radical Islamist movements? How did a religion become so corrupted…so polluted…so tainted with lies? And how did this adulterated version become so appealing to so many?
Ever since September 11th 2001, the world has become much more dangerous. Much more unsafe. Al-Qaeda created the blue-print for modern day terror attacks and mass murders (execution style) that would now be replicated by various other jihadist movements that would come after it. And come, they surely did. But none has been as deadly as ISIS. The rise of ISIS has delivered to the world, a group so intensely evil in its operations and so erratic in its mode of behavior, that they are difficult to predict. Their propaganda arm works in overdrive…bloodthirsty individuals putting out all manner of sordid materials that portray their psychotic, dastardly acts in some sort of “pseudo-messianic ” manner, intended to sway the minds of so many who watch these clips- especially the gullible young- and convert them to their deranged ways of thinking. And so far, it has worked! The trouble with the fight against ISIS is that it is basically a fight against an ideology; and ideologies don’t die easily- Adolf Hitler knows all about this! The young men who make the journey from different corners of Europe (and elsewhere) into the bloody jungles of Iraq and Syria are somehow made to believe that they are fighting a battle for “Allah”. And since “Allah” is “God”, who cannot be defeated, then theirs is a battle already won- as they see it! They see themselves as “holy warriors”, fighting for a just cause…one that they are even prepared to die for. These young people are so completely hypnotized and indoctrinated that they have no value for life, and no fear for death…and a man who has no fear for death is an extremely dangerous man! Most of these people are confused. These are people who largely had previously questioned their existence…ISIS gave them something higher to believe in…ISIS gave them a purpose…thus, their allegiance to the caliphate is firmly cemented. How did we allow this to happen?
As I took my gaze momentarily away from the TV screen and took my pen to write this article, I could still hear Anderson Cooper talking to various terror analysts to get their opinions on the still unfolding situation. Everyone agreed that ISIS was becoming increasingly sophisticated in their overseas attacks. Everyone agreed that sleeper-cells, through which jihadists returning back into Europe and elsewhere would plan and then randomly unleash mayhem on soft targets, were only going to increase. In the immediate aftermath, France had shut down its borders and French police were cordoning off entire streets and interrogating people house-to-house…the way I saw it, the country was effectively on “Code Red”. And as I struggled to listen while also writing, my brain also began to ponder, “What can the world do”? Ironically, these attacks are becoming more indiscriminate: ISIS supporters are killing not just non-Muslims like me, whom they regard as “worthless infidels”; but they are also killing the Muslim faithful as well! How can the international community effectively police the thousands of terror cells that are springing up all over the world? Is that even possible?
We can respond to these attacks by killing these cold-blooded murderers- as we very well should! We can respond to these attacks by tightening airport security and border controls, and looking out for the minute tell-tale signs of radicalism- as we very well should! We can respond by increasing surveillance of suspected terror cells and increasing intelligence gathering (and sharing) amongst nations- as we very well should! We can respond by sustaining the aerial bombardment of ISIS locations in Iraq and Syria, and by arming the moderate rebels and the Kurds (especially the Kurds) to wage war against ISIS- as we very well should! We can do all these and much more…anything and everything that decimates the fighting capabilities of ISIS (and indeed ALL OTHER terror groups)- as we damn bloody well should! But if we are going to strike at the heart of ISIS and destroy this putrid cancer from within, we must also start to effectively combat this unholy ideology. We must reveal it for the farce…the “fake version” of Islam that it really is. We must counter ISIS propaganda everywhere, with our own message- a message of religious tolerance, a message of respect for all humanity, a message of peace and peaceful co-existence. We must give our young people a reason to believe in a different path- a path away from violence. Every Imam who stands in a mosque must preach this message. Anyone who preaches violence must be exposed and punished. People must be called out when they teach distorted versions of Koranic verses. We must defeat ISIS at its own game. We must strike at its evil heart. We must not allow its ideology to thrive. We must turn this tide in our favor. We have no other choice.

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