Surviving Terrorism: The Power of Memories

Today, the world is commemorating the fifth International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. It occurs when the world is limping out of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling with inflation and supply chain disruption worldwide. At the same time, victims of terrorism continue to experience ambiguity and apprehension as armed conflicts, violent attacks, and terrorist acts around the world endure to make headlines and perhaps exacerbate or trigger their traumas.

Recollecting the moments and paying tribute to victims of terrorism are vital in signifying their status as victims are respected and recognized. The International Day commemorates and upholds victims’ self-esteem and propagates the benefits of international harmony in ensuring that victims are not forgotten, and the fight against terrorism is strengthened.

Key Trends in Global Terrorism Index 2022 report: Global terrorist attacks increasing to 5,226 in 2021. The Russia-Ukraine conflict will likely drive a rise in traditional and cyber terrorism. Terrorism in the West has declined significantly, with attacks falling by 68%. Sub-Saharan Africa is responsible for 48% of worldwide deaths due to terrorism. The Sahel is home to the world’s fastest rising and most-deadly terrorist groups. Islamic State (IS) replaced the Taliban as the world’s deadliest terror group in 2021, with 15 deaths per attack in Niger. In the West, politically driven terror attacks overtook religious attacks, which declined by 82%. There were five times more political attacks than religious attacks. Terrorists use more advanced technologies, including drones, GPS systems and encrypted messaging services, for their clandestine operations.

According to the statistics of South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Institute of Conflict Management, New Delhi, the total incidents of terrorism from 6 Mar 2000 to 16 Aug 2022 were 23,672. In the same period, civilians killed were 14,132, Security Forces personnel martyred were 7413, and terrorists eliminated were 23,573.

The term ‘terrorism’ is derivative of the Latin words ‘terrere’ and ‘deterre’, which means ‘to tremble’ and ‘to frighten’. Thus terrorism means to harm people, so they are so frightened that they start trembling. It is a strategy to achieve its objectives through the systematic use of violence. In the past, when rulers failed to redress the people’s grievances, violence was resorted to achieve their political overtures. Violence is the only means to achieve the ends for the terrorists. As per the United Nations Organization (UNO) a record 48 million people have been displaced internally due to various conflicts and acts of terrorism.

Terrorism emerged on the world stage with the 1972 murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics to end the Israeli occupation of their territories and establish a Palestinian homeland. The most feared group, the Abu Nidal organization, which split from the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1974, had approximately 500 hard-core members.

On 9/11, international terrorism crossed all its limits and became an unrecognizable face following the terror attacks in the US. With the force of the attack, the targets chosen, the technology involved and strategic planning, shattering all accepted conventions and traversing the boundaries, terrorism posed a new kind of threat to humanity. It projected the power for injuring and killings thousands of people.

Now, terrorism is no longer merely a local phenomenon to be dealt with by one nation or another. Instead, it has become an unprecedented danger to world peace, resulting primarily from inimical societal elements and has spread worldwide. In this face of serious danger, the world stands muddled and polarized. Most people aren’t aware of the danger’s severity and have a deficiency in the skills to fight a new variety of terrorism.

Terrorism in India can be broadly categorized and classified into three parts: Cross border terrorism in J&K, terrorism in the hinterland and extreme violence and terrorism as an integral part of the ongoing insurgencies. The fundamental reasons for terrorism and insurgency in India are political, religious, ethnic, ideological, identity-driven, linguistic or socio-economic grievances.

India’s encounter with terrorism and violent extremism is rooted partly in the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 based on the two-nations theory, which tore apart the Indian society. The Indian subcontinent remained a mute spectator to the most shocking ethnic riots in modern history, which were witnessed by acts of extreme violence and terrorism. After the partition, Maharaja Hari Singh of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir decided not to join Pakistan or India. Since J&K was a Muslim majority state, Pakistan decided to annex the state by force and launched attacks all along the state’s borders. The tribals who attacked J&K  had the support of Pakistan. When they reached the outskirts of Srinagar, Maharaja Hari Singh signed an instrument of accession with the govt of India on 26 Oct 1947. Indian Army landed in Srinagar on 27 Oct 1947, pushing these tribals back. UNO intervened, and a ceasefire was declared on 01 Jan 1949. Pakistan is still occupying the areas of J&K illegally. Since then, India has been suffering from cross-border terrorism.

Self-styled terrorist organizations based in Pakistan and braced by the state have an explicit anti-India program. It remains real credence among these terrorist organizations that India must be ruined; unfortunately, these views are also endorsed by the state. Gen Zia-ul-Haq gave form to Z A Bhutto’s promise of a thousand-year war in a sinister, well-thought-out strategy to bleed India through a thousand cuts. The provocative statements of both Bhutto and Zia are not mere rhetoric; they comprise the core of Pakistani ideology and are the rationale for its existence. Zia’s policy took shape after he deposed Bhutto in a coup in July 1977.

The dramatic rise of terrorism during the past few decades has produced political, psychological and social impacts. The terrorist phenomenon is reported almost daily in the media worldwide, and its innocent victims can be found in every section of societies across nations. Terrorism, like the revolution, has been cast in the domestic and international mould. With every passing generation, new forms of terrorism are being thrown up.

The primary goals of the counterterrorism strategy should be to avert terrorists from persuading the national agenda and reserve the psychological resilience of the civilian population. Over the past few decades, Israel and India have successfully developed numerous measures to prevent terrorist attacks or mitigate their effects. Joint international collaboration is very required to fight the menace of terrorism.

Terrorism is considered to aggravate shared terror and ambiguity. This fear can blow out speedily and is not restricted to those experiencing the event directly. Other affected people are family members of victims and survivors and people fed through the broadcasting of narrations and pictures. Psychological suffering is generally more prevalent than physical injuries from terrorism. Understanding these psychological consequences is critical to the nation’s efforts to develop involvement strategies at the pre-event, event, and post-event phases that will check the harmful psychological effects of terrorism.

Terrorism continues to damage people’s lives and imposes sufferings on its victims and their families. The International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism is the day to warrant that the victims of terrorism have a voice and freedom of expression and are not forgotten.

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.
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