Uprooting terrorism

The two Istanbul bombings were a dramatic reminder: First, Islamic terrorism has no moral hang-ups about killing civilians, a fact that facilitates its operations while adding to the political sensation and public insecurity. Second, Washington’s anti-terrorist campaign has only poured more oil on the flames. Blind violence and the cultivation of fear can, by no means, receive political legitimacy. The international community has a vital interest and moral obligation to uproot the Al Qaeda network. However, the Bush administration has used the war on terror as a domestic political weapon and as a pretext for settling geopolitical scores – thus undermining the very cause. The occupation of Iraq allowed the Americans to control the country’s oil fields and gain footing in the heart of the Middle East, but did nothing to eradicate Islamic terrorism. On the contrary, the US played into the terrorists’ hands by providing them with political footing. US action reinforced the (radicals’) image of an evil power that seeks to humiliate Islam while backing Israel against the Palestinians. Iraqi resistance is a bright example, an incubator of avengers. Police investigations and military action are essential but no panacea. No security measures, however strict, can provide full protection against terrorist infiltration. Besides, people in the West – and elsewhere – cannot live in a constant state of fear, or compromise their freedom in the name of a security that cripples democratic rights and individual liberties. The war on terror will only be effective if it is accompanied by political initiatives dealing with the ideological and political factors that breed Islamic fundamentalism – starting with the Palestinian issue. This will stop relentless fanatics from appearing as martyrs in the eyes of the angry Muslim populations.