War on Terrorism: Important Lessons for the World

  • 1 August 2007

Events taking place in various parts of the world prove that the Global War on Terrorism, which was launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001, is facing a major crisis. Validated by latest statistical figures and reports collected by specialized organizations, this setback comes in spite of enormous resources and capabilities deployed in this war, and sustained efforts made to ensure success.

The main cause for this failure does not emanate from any weakness or slackness in the will to defeat the enemy, or the paucity of security and military resources, but the failure to confront terrorism at an ideological level. The extremist ideology is more potent than any organization or individual that espouses it and translates it into action, for as long as the ideology is not seriously confronted, the threat of terrorism proliferates—in spite of all measures used to confront it at the local, regional and international levels.

Perhaps, what recently happened in Pakistan after the end of the “Red Mosque” crisis provides an excellent example and important lesson in this regard. Soon after the Lal Mosque operation, several Taliban supporters occupied another mosque in a troubled tribal area and called it the new “Red Mosque,” in an act of defiance against the government. This incident validates the argument that as long as the terrorist ideology is not defeated, “Red Mosques” will continue to spawn unabated. Although Pakistan is at the epicenter of the problem, the theory is equally applicable to regions beyond Pakistan’s borders and gives an important lesson to the world in the context of its war on terrorism. The world has waged a huge war against the Al-Qaeda organization in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and has used various methods—military, security and financial—to destroy it and to dry up its resources. However after all these years, Al-Qaeda has managed to spread its tentacles around the world, and its supporters and sleeper cells have become difficult to even enumerate. Reports indicate an increase in the capabilities and dangers posed by these elements. Perhaps, the main lesson to be drawn is that security measures alone, irrespective of their capabilities, cannot be sufficient for formulating an effective and global strategy against terrorism. Confronting the extremist ideology that breeds radicalism and violence is the main challenge for the Global War on Terrorism. As long as the war against the terrorist ideology flounders and is given a low priority, the crisis would continue, and the violence would keep troubling in various forms and names, and would be fed by the one source that the world apparently seems incapable of snuffing out.