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Opinion: Franchising terrorism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi security force members and civilians gather at the site of a car bomb attack in front of a crowded popular restaurant in Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, May 20, 2013 (AP Photo/ Nabil al-Jurani)

Two days ago, the Nigerian authorities announced the arrest of a terrorist cell affiliated with the militias of the Lebanese Hezbollah party. According to the authorities, the cell was prepared to carry out a series of bombings there.

It is not odd anymore that we see such systematic spread of Hezbollah’s franchise after it has opened branches across the world in a flagrant manner. Everyone is aware that the party has strong presence in the Lebanese state, yet we must acknowledge that the party has active offshoots in Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and Sudan. The party had also attempted several times to plant a cell to gain a presence in Egypt prior to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, yet the Egyptian authorities uncovered the cell and arrested the Lebanese coordinator (however, the individual disappeared following the eruption of the January 2011 revolution and the subsequent spread of utter chaos, and no explanation was provided regarding his disappearance or his current whereabouts).

Following the Arab Spring, North African states, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, announced they discovered dubious cells affiliated to leaders in Lebanon who are adherents of Hezbollah. Hezbollah also has links with activities in Indonesia, Latin America, the Arab Peninsula, and has some limited presence in Europe, as was manifested by the recent operation conducted against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The spread of the party’s across the world reminds us of Al-Qaeda organization, which, as everyone knows, now has offshoots in the Arab Peninsula, Africa, Sinai, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, and has indeed become the biggest franchise for terrorism.

The franchise is a modern concept, the product of the “globalization” of ideas, and relies on the simplification of its essential points in order to spread itself among as large a group of people as possible. This is exactly what these different terrorist groups aspire to achieve, something that attracts people in a systematic manner and binds them to itself.

Today, the Arab world has become a strange arena for an abhorrent sectarian struggle, one that has shifted the aspiration idea of freedom of expression into the freedom to kill anyone who entertains a dissenting opinion. Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda are the ugly face of extremism and the abhorrent hardline trend that has befallen the region throughout history. Each time terrorism occurs, the safe slogan of “sedition” is put on it, and so sound medication is always neglected.

There must be no room for these groups or for their adherents in a region that seeks to live in peace and to plan for a safer and prosperous future. Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Hezbollah militia, exposed his stance when claiming that he entered Syria in order to champion the regime against the “Takfiris.” In fact, this is the same kind thinking as the terrorist Al-Qaeda organization, that divides the world into two camps: good and evil, and right and wrong according to their own viewpoints.

The franchise for terrorism today is the latest form of the that is the terrorist mindset, which is usually confined to a handful of characters, and something that reflects their of political and intellectual naivety. The terrorist franchise mindset that we see today is not new. The Nazi and the communist movements have spread widely across the world, although they have faded away in their own motherlands. However, these movements continue to hold a powerful attraction to rebellious youths who are eager to see radical change.

Arab youth are no longer convinced by the speeches and stances of Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. The true nature of these terrorist groups have been exposed, and now there is no way to conceal their political or intellectual sins. These groups have exploited modern tools to spread their extremism and to reach the largest number of people possible. These same tools, however, have exposed them and are being used to undermine them at a growing rate and will ultimately destroy them, which would be a great accomplishment for the entire region and its future.