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March 25, 2016

Buying into the Terrorism Industry: How and Why?

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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As the world once again reels in shock and revulsion following this week's coordinated attacks in Brussels that killed 31 innocent people and injured nearly 260 others, a chilling reality is emerging - terrorism has become an organized industry.

Like any 21st-century industry, terrorism requires some essential components: a demand for its “product,” smart leadership to identify and build that demand, supplies and financing to sustain it, a labor force to produce it, coordinated training to use it effectively, savvy marketing to promote it, political and mass media endorsement – and above all, religious justification for its heinous acts.

Repugnant as it may be to most of us, global terrorism in 2016 has checked all the boxes.

To stem the tide of carnage, or at least slow its frequency and impact, it is no longer effective to focus solely on individual areas of this huge multinational entity; the only way to achieve its demise is to target all of these elements. And that requires massive collective political will.

Terrorism is a horrendous crime that mercilessly engineers the mass killing of innocent people for political gain.

No country is immune – from almost-daily strikes in Egypt’s Sinai region, to attacks in European capitals, to onslaughts in both Canada and the United States, and numerous vulnerable areas worldwide where daily life is torn apart. There is no justified or excusable degree of terrorism: all terrorist attacks should be condemned by every state, as well as by the United Nations, no matter where they occur.

And it’s time to stop masking it under acceptable labels as the US is doing by calling Syrian terrorists “rebels.” Nor should they be given political cover, as happens in Egypt. And why are Western countries still knowingly dealing with states such as Turkey and Qatar who financially back terrorists outside their borders?

It should be made clear throughout the international community that terrorism is a crime against humanity, regardless of the causes it claims to support.

No government should ever stoop to negotiating with terrorists or provide them safe passage to other countries.

Only when the US and NATO members, including Canada, stop supporting so-called “good terrorists” will the world have any hope that the terrorism industry will bow to pressure caused by less demand for its “product.”

We also need to move past the traditional blame-game that is played out in both political and media circles whenever a deadly attack hits close to home: that young disaffected Muslim males, motivated by the teachings of Muhammad, the Madrasa, Wahhabism, etc., use terror to make political statements.

Similarly, Muslim apologists try to shift the blame squarely on Western policies, both past and present.

But both views are wholly unacceptable on historical grounds.

Those who fall into the trap of pointing to single agents behind a complex web of issues see no need to examine the interwoven elements of the terrorist industry.

Their simplistic approach ignores the importance of identifying who provides those young Muslims with training, financing, weaponry, coordination, technology, social media accounts, and the distorted religious teachings that brainwash them into believing they are killing to defend their faith. These are the issues that must be addressed.

It is not enough to place the entire burden of responsibility, accountability and solution onto the collective Muslim community, especially Western Muslims.  This is a wrong thesis which serves only to impede progress, not further it.

Until the present era, the Muslim community at all levels – ordinary believers, scholars, activists and leaders – always managed to diffuse and eliminate every wave of fanatical madness. This time, in a world made so much smaller by advanced communication technologies and social media crowd-hysteria, they need help.

The clear fact remains: those Muslims who, for whatever cause, choose terror tactics to advance their ideologies were and still are rejected by the Muslim majority.

But at the same time, that Muslim majority – especially Western Muslims like me – cannot afford to ignore how they are raising their own families. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that our children become fully participating adults in Western society, while fully practicing their faith.

We pray and act in the hope that our next generation will close the marketplace so that industrial terrorism no longer attracts customers for its deadly products.

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is Emeritus Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

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On July 7, 2024 in Toronto, Canada, Dimitri Lascaris delivered a speech on the right to resist oppression.

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