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Opinion: Stop Them Before They Don Suicide Belts - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Many crimes have been committed in Europe by the same perpetrator. Between November 2015 and today, we have seen a series of crimes. 130 people were killed by terrorists in November in the bloodiest attack in the history of the French capital since the end of World War II. The blood from the football stadium, the concert hall, and the neighbourhood full of restaurants made Paris seem like a battlefield. After that, they attacked Brussels and killed more than thirty people and wounded three hundred; a significant and bloody figure for the Belgian capital.

The attacks continued and the most horrific and terrifying of them was carried out by the gunman who drove a truck through a crowd of people and ran over 84 people and injured hundreds of people returning from celebrations in the city of Nice. Attacks also took place in Germany this month where five terrorist operations took place. This included a pregnant woman who was stabbed and the killing of passengers on a train. Horror returned to France when a priest was killed in his church that is situated in Normandy.

The crimes are utterly vile and the countries that have been targeted by extremists are our friends and are close to us. France has politically supported the Syrian people against the Assad regime more than any other country and it backs Arab countries against Iran. Germany, likewise, received a million refugees, almost all of whom were Muslims, with hugs and blankets!

Anger will not be extinguished at the end of a news broadcast and there will be more internal and external political crises. In addition to this, no one will pay any attention to the flimsy justifications and excuses offered by some of us. Why should the west ignore the identity or religion of a perpetrator? We are facing a large terrorist war that is being fought by one group that claims to carry the banner of Islam. Instead of explaining an individual crime here or there, we must stand with these wounded societies. Just like France, Germany and Belgium, we suffer at the hands of the same group. Together, we have to pursue the perpetrators who advocate extremism and defend it.

We must also move beyond the stage of denial and stop searching for excuses. The world is tired of justifications that only contribute to covering up the actions of perpetrators.

At the beginning, they justified terrorism with poverty, and they were told that their leader Osama bin Laden was a millionaire. Then they used ignorance and a lack of education as an excuse until they were told that there were professors and engineers in the ranks of terrorist groups, and that their leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was a doctor. Then they blamed political persecution in their areas even though some of their leaders like Al-Awlaki came from free countries like the United States.

They also tried to associate terrorism with Israel’s occupation of Palestine but no one believed them because Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Al-Nusra Front have not carried out a single operation in Israel. They also linked terrorism to the American presence in Iraq and were told that Al-Qaeda began operating seven years prior to the invasion and continued to do so for six years after the Americans left.

Now they are justifying their terror in Europe with racism and mistreatment, but we see millions of Muslims wanting to go to Europe to escape the miserable conditions of their countries, and they forget that Muslim countries bear most of the brunt of terrorism. A long series of denials is no longer convincing and we must confront the cause and the effect.

The French priest’s killer is 19 years old and most terrorists like him are young. They were children when 9/11 took place and therefore they are not from the generation of bin Laden’s video tapes. Rather, they come from the Twitter and Facebook generation. The means are different but the reason is the same. Both generations are the product of the same extremist ideology which later qualifies them for employment within Al-Qaeda in Yemen, ISIS in Iraq, Al-Nusra Front in Syria, or for a position as an intelligence officer for Iran somewhere. Those who brainwash children and young people should be held responsible before those who assign these young people with their final mission.

Some advocates of extremism may not understand what they have done to their countries, families and the world. They plant the concepts of extremism and exaggeration into the minds of the youth. Almost all of those who have been involved in carrying out operations joined terrorist organisations only after they had become intellectually ready, and they did not study extremism at the hands of ISIS. Only those who have been incited and are ready join the ranks of the terrorist organisation.

Its guidance in Raqqa is the last stop and it only specifies countries and targets on a map. This is assuming that the electronic reporters really belong to ISIS or Al-Qaeda, but no one knows whether the messages are sent from Raqqa, Tehran or elsewhere. Clearly this does not matter because the crime has reached a final stage. It is only when the advocates of incitement and Jihad stop, or are stopped, that recruiters will no longer be able to find someone to wear an explosive belt.