• 06:15
  • Monday ,24 November 2014

How to lose the fight against terrorism?

By Maasoum Marzouk, Ahram Online



Monday ,24 November 2014

How to lose the fight against terrorism?

A friend is one who tells you the truth, not one who believes you regardless. I fear that for some politics means singing the tune the political leadership wants to hear and they can never convey bad news. But it is important to face negligence and shortcomings with courage, because burying our head in the sand will not protect us from imminent dangers.

Under Mubarak, politics was gutted and today there are those who want to sterilise it the same. The president has met with media figures several times, and businessmen as well. However, he did not meet with political parties. Does this mean that decision making will only rely on the media (through propaganda) and businessmen (from past experience we know the outcome of marrying money with power)?
We are all on the side of 30 June, but we sense there is a breach caused by our own mistakes, not just the enemy’s skill in penetrating the national will. Mubarak’s party is circumventing the June 30 Revolution and stirring trouble between its true elements, namely the people who at the core contain the youth, and the national army that stood by the people. The breach reached new limits when members of the state of cronyism and corruption tried to portray 30 June as a counter-revolution to 25 January, and accused revolutionaries of being a handful of plotters.
Since we are in the same camp, we want the roadmap to succeed. However, we are regressing in freedoms under the pretext of confronting terrorism, although a healthy environment of freedoms is the best strategy to confront terrorism. The protest law did not prevent protests, and led to a fracture between revolutionary youth and the regime. This fissure could jeopardise the consensus reached on 3 July on the map that promised a role for the youth, transitional justice, and combating corruption.
It is a lie to say that if the security of the country is under threat, then human rights should go to hell. The former British ambassador to Cairo told me that the British prime minister never said that, as some Egyptian elites are claiming. In fact, he does not dare say that. The statement was taken out of context, which makes sense because the greatest danger facing any society is the loss of human rights. Not properly understanding these rights is a certain recipe to feed the terrorism monster.
The drums of war we hear today demonstrate the predominance of calls for the state to flex its muscles and show its enemies its capabilities and determination to use utmost violence and might. Meanwhile, any attempt at dialogue with terrorists is viewed as weak, or an invitation for terrorists to become more hardline.
The former methods of deterrence are not the only way. A more gradual approach is also an option, because the condition of terrorism means there are several forces differing in understanding, awareness and capacity of deepening and prolonging security havoc. It may be better to try to penetrate these forces and divide their ranks.
Combating terrorism must rely on indispensable elements, most importantly creating a database from broad and accurate investigations, and guaranteeing the support and sympathy of the masses through several means. These include that violent confrontations do not result in human or material losses for them, and that the greatest efforts are exerted to protect them from terrorists. It is important to ensure confidentiality and secrecy, to guarantee proper procedures, including mechanisms for exchange and circulation of information, troop movements and operational tactics. Also, speed is a critical factor, including speed in taking decisions, speed in taking action, and speed in realising mistakes and correcting them. All this must be coupled with resolve — meaning when forces intervene they must utilise the utmost firepower, block escape routes for terrorists, and have no hesitation in opening fire at full throttle at the target. Meanwhile, routine patterns should be abandoned, whether while stationary, mobile or during operations.
While the above are elements of hard confrontation, they must be coupled with soft confrontation, which is no less important than the first approach. By that, I mean intellectual confrontations based on a precise plan prepared by specialists to refute the theoretical and ideological foundations of targeted terrorist groups. This requires intelligent use of the media, seminars, lectures, and mass rallies to intellectually fence-in terrorism and prevent public sympathy towards or membership in these groups. Meanwhile, this soft approach should try to penetrate these terrorist groups by convincing members of these terrorist trends of the bankruptcy of their theoretical bases.
The worst way to handle this criminal trend is launching an Inquisition and a general atmosphere of McCarthyism — named after US Senator McCarthy who spearheaded anti-communist phobia in the US and launched a witch hunt against communists, hurling accusations against intellectuals, artists and average citizens until people of reason finally stood up against this frenzy that threatened to unhinge social stability and security. The frenzy to hunt down political Islam is not dissimilar to McCarthyism and it must be confronted by men of reason before it festers and the fissures increase in society, which gives terrorists more support. Intelligent handling requires reducing numbers on the enemy front and not adding more to their supporters. However, some seem to insist on acting quite otherwise.