After Saudi Arabia was shaken by the failed assassination attempt on Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, the man in charge of the Kingdom’s fight against terrorism, it is normal for controversy to arise over such issues such as, what the mistake was, who is responsible, and what is the solution. There are a number of paradoxes to this crime, their boldness has reached its limit, and the quiet from the terrorist front was ended by the ruckus of this assassination attempt, with the perpetrator hiding behind the cloak of a repentant.
The argument is not over the crime itself, because danger is the fate of those working in this vital sector at the time of war on terrorism. The argument is over the cure and the direction in which we ought to proceed. It is an argument over whether it is better to be tolerant toward intellectual extremism that does not contain explosives, bullets, bloodshed, or even fist fighting, in order to absorb it, or it is better to confront it as a necessity for protection at these extraordinary times.
It is an important and necessary argument, because terrorism is a danger to the entire society and not only to the officials. Most of the victims of terrorism are ordinary people, and most of the major conspiracies that have been thwarted were targeting the entire country with its civilian, military, and political institutions. This has reached the stage that the need to combat terrorism is more of a domestic need than it is of an international one, and fighting terrorism will remain an international cause that will not abate until the last suicide bomber is exposed.
First of all, we say that it is natural that the conservative Muslim society should be treated in this way. This is absolutely right. However, how can we describe the conservative Muslim society today? Let us remember that this society has never known violence in a systematic and continuous way except in the past ten years. Thus, what is the new thing that has been introduced in such a society? What is new is not only the violence, but also its consequences, as the innocent hard-line attitude has been placed in the same class as the politicized extremism. We have half a century of experience of hard-line attitude without violence, except in individual cases. Also we have our recent experience, which is colored with intellectual extremism; the most prominent issue of this experience is that as soon as we destroy a terrorism cell, another one is born. This proves that the problem is not in the terrorist individuals, who are always hunted down, and that the danger is not restricted to Al-Qaeda organization, but the more important issue is what we find in our streets, the ideology that produces extremism, and extremism in its turn produces – as if it is an automated factory – the terrorists.
Here, we have the right to wonder: If the security is succeeding in confronting every new terrorist wave, and destroys it, where is the dysfunction? Many of the terrorists have died, the rest have been arrested, and the financiers and callers directly involved have been uprooted; this scene has been repeated several times, but then we have the latest list to shock us all, as it is more dangerous than its predecessors. The list includes qualified young men, who have scientific degrees and are ready to die, and it includes Islamic callers and financiers who are prepared to sacrifice what is dearest to them, their wealth and lives.
Can anyone tell us how a movement that has been killed can be resurrected after only one year? How can it polarize the same type of people one time after another?
These perplexing questions deserve serious dialog and investigation. However, the dialog should not be restricted to asking one group whose main concern is to shake off the responsibility and to put it on the shoulders of another group. Regrettably this extremist group has become the theoretician of anti-terrorism, and naturally it tries to hide its faults, and if someone sees these faults, the group will find excuses.