Post Mortem

Terrorism – the misreading

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/24/2019 12:10:18 PM IST

 It is a well-known fact, one of the serious threats facing our world today, among many others, is the threat of terrorism which has terrorized people’s mind. It has instilled fear and apprehension in people’s daily activities which is a huge threat towards peaceful co-existence, and a challenge more especially in achieving world peace and stability. 

However, the concept of terrorism as a threat today has been viewed very narrowly and one-sided. The idea and presupposition that terrorism can be defeated by killing terrorist or people who are involved in terror activities, which is often described as “counter-terrorism” or “war against terrorism” is largely a misconception. While it cannot be explicitly denied how counter-terrorism measures through use of arms and ammunition, has played a vital role in protecting people’s live in the immediate time-frame of the conflict, yet if we takes the longer aspect of combating terrorism, the use of armed forces is a side of a story which explains a very small part in combating terrorism. And the other side, which should form a much bigger portion of our understanding about terrorism, is often largely missing.

Terrorism can be defined in many ways but derivatively, the root of the word “terrorism” comes from the Latin term which means “To frighten”. Therefore literally, terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation to instill fear, against certain group of people, intended to demand or fulfil certain interest. 

Just like there is a saying, war did not really start with guns and missiles but by hatred, hate speeches, one nation hating another, and one religion despising the other, terrorism as well, did not start with suicide-bombers, hijacking planes or killing innocent children in schools. It started with false/erroneous philosophy and religious teachings, ignorance of the so-called civilized citizens, the government and bureaucrats being unable to pay heed to the needs of the less fortunate, politicians being insensitive to those living in poverty blurred by ego and self-promotion, society labeling one person as lower class and the other as higher class, and every tagline that has to do with every kind of division failing to realize that we are all humans before anything else – before caste, before class, before religion and before any division. Terrorism per se, without options, emerged not necessarily intended to inflict evil and to torture people out of hatred, but an inner urge, a quiet voice deep inside, roaring in disguise, whispering for fairness, equality, compassion, love, kindness, egalitarianism and an inner desire to be heard and understood. 

Terrorism, if seen in the longer lens, beyond why we ordinarily think why terrorism exist today, most of which points to religious extremist teaching, it can be much deeper and beyond religious philosophy. While not denying the fact that religion and intolerance has played its part, there are as well vast ocean of other factors which can be the cause of terrorism and which makes one easily fall into the prey of being a terrorist. The notion and idea of terrorism can be influenced by poverty, depression, failure of morality, etc. 

If the popular notion of combating terrorism was to end by killing terrorist, it should have seen a decline of terrorism, at least if not faded, when Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda was killed by the US Navy SEAL and buried in the sea. But quite in contrary, after years of Osama bin Laden’s death, it is said terrorism has increased threefold today. Therefore, it’s worth pondering, “Was the use of arms and ammunition worth it all?” The answer bends halfway towards ‘No’. 

If we are fighting against terrorism, we are to fight the root causes of it, and not necessarily the end result. And when we say the root causes, it is the lack of education, it is the lack of proper upbringing at home, it is the lack of compassion in the society, it is the inability of the civilized ones to look after the less fortunate, it is the idea that one religion is somehow above the other, driven largely, by radical extremist religious philosophy. And therefore, it is important that we up-root the root of terrorism and not cut its stem frequently which in itself will only grow back. 

The radical philosophy of religious extremism overlooks the basic principle of religion in itself because religion is never a tool or a baseline to fight another person. If it was anything, men invented it and somehow pulled the adage of religion towards it. 

Consequently, killing the terrorist doesn’t contain the threat or ‘terrorism’ cannot be defeated by killing terrorist. It may contain the threat for a short period of time but in the longer run, it definitely doesn’t contain the threat or put an end to terrorism. If we keep fighting with arms and ammunition against terrorist, the war with terrorism looks like a plan to fight for forever. It has long been said, fire cannot be contained with fire, hatred cannot be contained with bigger hatred. They need alternate solution. Fire can be contained with solutions like water, and hate can be contained with love and compassion. 

In this regard, the path towards combating terrorism needs a course correction from its conventional means. First, to root-out the inner terrorist inside the mind of people involved in terror activities through rigorous education. Second, to look at religion in a more liberal perspective rather than from extreme fundamentalist point of view, so as to respect another person’s faith. Third, to strive ceaselessly towards an inclusive and fairer society through ethical means, driven by care for the less fortunate. If for anything that we know, we know that the world would be a better place if we could bring out the better side of each other.  

Therefore, it is the self within the person that we need to fight against, stronger than the external ones with guns and bombs. We need to fight with the tool of Education. We need to educate the hearts and minds of the younger generation with compassion, empathy, love and kindness. Let us fight against the deeper idea and concept of terrorism not the terrorist if we can draw a line between it. 

(The writer hopes that the write-up is understood not as a summary explanation of Counter-Terrorism but more as an opinion and a perspective of looking at combating terrorism)

P. David Ndang, Kohima, (


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