Terrorism is one of the most serious criminal activities and it has greatly jeopardized world peace and safety. Defining terrorism is not very easy and its meaning has been subjected to a lot of debate by many scholars. “Terrorism can be defined as a tactic used by a small set of extremists to fight against an overwhelmingly powerful opponent while surrounded by a large population that mostly just wants peace”.
The use of military is not the only way of dealing with terrorism. It is possible to defeat terrorism through these strategies. “First, it is important to understand how terrorists are kept away in the best case, then how terrorists can fight against this mechanism”. Finally, in order to foil those aims, it is imperative to determine the strategies that can work, and those that cannot.
Terrorism can be defeated if many people in the society can trust the authorities in their work. If people have faith in the authorities, they will inform them about terrorist activities. The Unabomber who killed many people through mail bombs was finally forwarded to the F.B.I. In this case, it was his brother who identified his writings and informed the authorities about his actions.
He took that step because he believed in the authorities. “Terrorist acts can never be totally eliminated, but a cohesive community that trusts its authorities can defeat a continuing terrorist movement”. A more complicated situation in dealing with terrorism arises when a society has not been civilized, and they also do not trust their authorities.
In this regard, terrorists find support from sympathizers, who might not want to be part of the terrorists, but are against the authorities. One of the best tactics employed by terrorists is creating misunderstandings between people and the authorities. Terrorists become stronger when they erode that trust. They do this to weaken the thin blue line. “The ordinary people, or at least some of them, support those they see as fighting for freedom, religious faith, or patriotism against overwhelming odds”.
Strategies for Defeating Terrorism
The important question is how to defeat terrorists after understanding their tactics? When people begin to isolate them as criminals, by reporting them to police authorities, then they have defeated them. What weapons can be effective in fighting them? It would be naïve to think that terrorists can only be eliminated by killing all of them. Such a naïve strategy cannot work in the real world.
In an attempt to find and kill terrorists, many innocent people will either be injured or killed. This can make some of their friends, and siblings to contemplate joining terrorists as away of retaliating. Moreover, this will produce more terrorists than those destroyed. Therefore, if military confrontation is used most of the time, it will lead to genocide, and it will also recruit more terrorists.
“The ‘weapon’ that is need is the trust and cooperation of the general population of the country where the terrorists are based”. Secondly, the authorities dealing with terrorists should avoid using overwhelming power even if they have it. They should try to demonstrate justice, and avoid using massive retaliation.
A good example is the case of U.S troops in Iraq. Terrorists strike them in order to provoke retaliation from them. When they retaliate, they end up damaging people’s properties, and they also cause unnecessary deaths. This weakens the trust Iraqi citizens have in U.S troops.
Terrorists should be handled carefully, but not through the ordinary military tactics. If soldiers have to be used in this process, they should be trained differently so that they can handle terrorists properly. The use of military force requires rethinking because it has largely been abused by the authorities. “The “simple” strategy above for defeating terrorism requires great knowledge, cleverness, and wisdom to put into action”.
Netanyahu, Benjamin. Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists. London: Wiley, 2001.
Sageman, Mark. Understanding Terror Networks. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Scheuer, Michael. Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. New York: Potomac Books Inc, 2004.