Terrorism is one of the major keywords that define our 21st century. Whether we turn on the TV, listen to the radio, browse the internet, or even check out social media platforms, terror seems always to be the center of discussion. It has sadly become a normal sight to see or hear about terrorism victims all over the world on a daily basis, so normal, that we count our dead by numbers, and we are seldom not sensitive to the numbers displayed.
The initial question that anyone would ask would be:
For starters, terrorism is the act of using violence and threats to intimidate or coerce. While examining the definition of terrorism, we can deduce that the story of humans is in fact filled with examples of terror, as blood always seemed to be the way people tried to win against each other throughout the years. For centuries, countries tried to rule over their people by using violence against anyone who opposed the regime. For hundreds of years, people were using violence to “tame” slaves and force them to do unpaid work.
Looking back at it, even parents sometimes feel the need to terrify their precious children to gain something in particular. For instance, a parent would convince a child that if they don’t sleep by a certain hour, a monster was going to come and devour them, leaving the child in utmost terror but getting them to sleep before that precise time. Strange as it sounds, terrorism is by no means a foreign concept to us, it has existed for as long as we did exist, and is still happening under different circumstances.
20th-21st Century Terrorism
The form of terror that we see in the news on a daily basis lately has, in fact, emerged in the 20th century. Terrorist acts became a way to shake the political, religious, and social norms of countries. While it has now propagated all over the world, it started in South Asia, more specifically, Pakistan. The prominent group “Harkat-ul Mujahideen” were able to put their hands on an airplane directed to India, changing its trajectory and taking hostages.
The attack was a first of its kind and took the world by storm. Little did we know, it was a first of many of its kind such as the devastating 9/11 attacks. It has even been communicated later that the original plan involved a series of attacks that should’ve started in India and would have moved on to Los Angeles, Aden, and Amman, which luckily never happened.
Following the small attacks happening in the east, a major game changer was the 9/11 attack. An attack that truly took the world by storm, and changed the way our lives go on forever. The attack involved the terrorist group “Al Qaeda”, their plan was meticulously executed, and to the disbelief of many, they were able to access a total of four airplanes to use them to attack the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and an attempt to attack the U.S Capitol.
That day, the whole world witnessed a significant change in the way we handle terrorism. For starters, strict security measures were applied on all airports, shopping malls, and anywhere susceptible to future attacks. Moreover, fear started penetrating people’s minds, and since the attacks were planned and executed by individuals who claimed Islam as their religion, the press slowly convinced many that Muslims are the root of terror. It was a difficult situation for everyone; citizens started doubting each other for the first time. For many westerners, the safe world they were convinced to be living in suddenly collapsed at the sight of countless losses, blood, and so much frustration. Sadly, frustration and anger have never been the way to handle a delicate situation. The 9/11 attacks soon gave birth to a Global war on terror.
The War on Terror
After the fact, the Americans led many investigations trying to find clues about the attacks. Under the leadership of President George W. Bush, they targeted Iraq because they were convinced infamous Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to the attacks, and that is exactly how they first started preparing for the Iraq invasion.
While Americans were determined to find the root of al Qaeda and eradicate it for good, several attacks were happening the following years all over the globe, making the situation even messier. Bin Laden even appeared in a video shared to the public right before the 2004 presidential election as a warning that more attacks were to happen in the future, spreading even more terror into people’s hearts. Worse was to come. Several wars, thousands of dead civilians and soldiers, and several other more devastating attacks followed.
It was only in 2011 that Bin Laden’s hideout was finally found. American President Barack Obama decided to send special US forces to take care of him. With Bin Laden’s death the whole world finally took a breath of relief, assuming that with a dead mastermind, the terror wave would finally stop. However, it was indeed wishful thinking as the nightmare was still happening. Pakistan was still in the heart of the terrorist movement as it held the most number of terrorist in the whole world. It was, in fact, the area where new terrorists were formed. What is more, several wars against terror have in fact gave birth to more anger and thus, more terrorist groups.
The Birth of ISIS
ISIS (or ISIL) stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or the Levant). It is one of the major terrorist groups that is threatening the world today, and it came to be from the 2003 US Iraq invasion. War only brings out more terror and killing. After the infamous invasion, Iraqi civilians suffered from several losses: human, economic and political.
A major wave of anger and frustration reigned over the country as especially the youth had spent their lifetime witnessing blood on a daily basis. They saw their family members killed, raped, and die from hunger which easily put them in bad hands as Al Qaeda quickly recruited thousands of civilians under the promise for a way to avenge their losses.
The Iraq based members were active from then. However, it was only after the Arab spring and the uprising against Bashar al-Assad that Isis was officially created from those same left members. With ease, the group moved to Syria, merged with Syrian allies and connections, and took the name of ISIS separating itself completely from Al Qaeda.
Over the years, the newly established group started gaining more ground. It grew stronger on a daily basis and recruited much more people. Several other established groups like Nigerian Boko Haram started announcing an alliance to ISIS, making the group even stronger and more connected than ever. The entire world started witnessing videos of public executions through violent methods, female abduction, and several other terrifying attacks that officially introduced the group to the world. ISIS was no longer a small movement; it had grown into a monster that was now publicly threatening our well-being.
In short, ISIS or Daesh was the child that fed on war and terror in the middle east and South Asia. It is a monster built on blood, frustration, and growing anger.
Daesh is now ruling over many territories; the group is in fact still attracting several new members from all over the world on a daily basis spreading its tentacles endlessly. Governments are relentlessly trying to both find leads that would allow them to eradicate this movement, strengthen security to protect civilians and stop as many attacks as possible in the time being. While we can’t exactly stop gathering in crowded spaces, governments all over the world are warning people not to go into these places. What is more, it is now necessary to keep a vigilant eye on the people around us at all times, which further separated people and especially alienated Muslims all over the world.
In fact, out of fear, Muslims are even denied access to some places like cafes or restaurants because of their religious practice which is a saddening view to see in the 21st century.
Terror has always lived in the human world, however, what we see today is one of the most extreme forms of terror that humanity has ever experienced. It is slowly destroying trust between us and building up for more devastating wars to come. Wars that will involve some of the deadliest weapons that could, in fact, end humanity. Therefore, while terrorist groups are still growing and trying to divide us further to gain political, economic, and social control, it is not the time to alienate specific groups from our societies, creating more hate as a result. It is necessary to start building a strong alliance between us; there is a need to restore trust and ally against this terror movement. Because the sun always rises after a dark, cold night. It is still within our capability to turn the events around and eradicate the anger together.