In the light of the growing interest over whether the United States Administration is faulting with the rights and freedom of several hundred unlawful combatants still detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it is imperative to critically evaluate if the notion of “jihad” has been overhyped by policy makers, the media and other stakeholders interested in the fight against global terrorism, and if majority of the detainees still held in the facility are indeed radical extremists or disaffected and confused men.
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The knowledge that many of detainees still held in Guantanamo bay are Islamic terrorists focused on carrying out “holy war” under the banner of “jihad” is in public domain (Aaron, 2008).
To comprehend the US Administration’s attitude in the Guantanamo Bay case, one only needs to remember the brute and unwarranted killings of innocent civilians in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Since that date, the U.S. considers itself to be in a constant state of war against international terrorism which is largely perpetrated by jihadis and other terrorist organizations. To therefore assume that the notion of jihad has been hyped is to miss the point.
The jihadis have avowedly sought “…the destruction of western democracy and the conversion of the world to their concept of Islam” (Aaron, 2008, p. 1).
It is important to note that not only do the jihadis perpetrate their murderous killings based on a largely misplaced notion of the ‘holy war’ as described in Islam (Aaron, 2008), but it is increasing hard for the U.S. to wage war against a common stateless enemy scattered throughout the world.
In addition, jihadis are extremely dangerous since they come from a culture and religious orientation that is largely incomprehensible to the U.S., not mentioning that they do not speak with one voice (Aaron, 2008).
Consequently, all necessary measures need to be put in place to guard against these extremists and to stress the real dangers posed by these stateless groups.
On this account, it is strategically wrong and politically irresponsible to assume that the concept of jihad has been overhyped since this amount to conferring on jihad terrorists’ greater legitimacy and will to attack than they already have.
There exist many reasons and influences as to why many unsuspecting young Muslims leave their homes and volunteer to join jihad.
Indeed, Curcio (2005) cites influence of imams, devotion to Islam, indoctrination with untenable religious beliefs and unemployment as some of the factors that influence young men to join the movement.
But however much one would want to sympathize with these unsuspecting minds, the damage they cause cannot escape mention.
What is perplexing is the fact that the adherents of jihadism believe that they can achieve their goals, especially the creation of a global fundamentalist Islamic State, through violent means (Aaron, 2008).
It is therefore of immediate necessity to put in place strong measures to quell this utopian line of thought, which is in essence not supported by mainstream Islam. In this perspective, the question of hyping the notion of jihad does not even arise; states must at all times be prepared about the possibility a terrorist attack.
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Due to increasing globalization, jihadis are now able to plan and implement suicide bombings from the confines of Sovereign states if real-life accounts of some terrorists recorded by Aaron (2008) are anything to go by.
It is important to note that whether these terrorists are accepted by Sovereign states that sponsor terrorism or whether they impose themselves on the sovereign territory as was the case with Taliban in pre-9/11 attacks, it is impossible to dissuade these entities from striking a perceived enemy since they have nothing to lose and are effective in concealing the origin of their attacks.
On the contrary, the attacked states have everything to lose as was demonstrated by the sharp decline of the U.S. economy immediately after 9/11.
The situation is further worsened by the fact that no individual can negotiate with the jihadis since in most cases they are not interested in compromising with the perceived adversary, but its annihilation (Aaron, 2008).
In this regard, adequate preemptive measures are necessary to curb any eventuality of a terrorist attack. It cannot therefore be said that the notion of jihad has in any way been hyped.
From the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it is evidently clear that terrorism has assumed a new dimension. Today, more than ever, instances of international terrorist networks of a military nature, including some that claim to perpetuate the “holy war” under the banner of jihad, have been on the increase (Aaron, 2008).
To therefore argue that these terrorist networks have been overhyped in policy forums and in the media is tantamount to creating a new frontier for them to strike at will.
In my view, the U.S. Administration and other like-minded partners need to come up with additional and more stringent instruments that could be used to counter these new and real threats to international peace and security.
It is unwise to buy the claim suggested by Curcio (2005), that majority of the detainees held in Guantanamo Bay are a bunch of merely disaffected and confused people, not radical extremists.
The reasons that made the young Muslim men to rally behind the call to join Jihad are, in my view, valid; but the author needs to realize that the indoctrination and training that commenced afterwards are more than enough to change young innocent minds into killing machines.
Additionally, it can be argued that the author’s findings are largely subjective based on the fact that he relied on information gathered from the incarcerated lot. Such opinions cannot in anyway be relied upon to guide policies that aim to guard against the very people who provided the opinions.
Real life experiences as demonstrated by Aaron (2008) reveals that these indoctrinated minds will go to any length to kill and maim their perceived enemies.
As such, buying into the notion that these detainees are not in fact radical extremists is to provide a framework through which all efforts aimed at curbing terrorism will be defeated. Rigorous examinations and assessments, rather than mere opinions, need to be undertaken before buying into Curcio’s idea.
Aaron, D. (2008). In their own words: Voices of jihad. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation. Web.
Curcio, S. (2005). Generational differences in waging jihad. Military Review. Web.