Standing up to ISIS
Terrorists have struck again in Tunisia, following attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Beirut, Paris and Bamako. The ominous spectre of terrorism hovers over Brussels, which has been brought to a virtual standstill.
It does not make any difference whether these acts of terror were committed by the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda or another murderous group. The jihadist soldiers of death share a common desire to inflict the highest number of casualties on innocent people. The toll has been high: In the past few weeks, hundreds of civilians of many nationalities, faiths and creeds have died senselessly in terror attacks on three continents.
The jihadists’ killing frenzy has been driven by a desire to shock and seize the world’s attention, as well as to project power after a series of battlefield setbacks, the latest being in Sinjar, Iraq. Another objective is to radicalise and recruit potential sympathisers, both in the region and abroad.
Despite the renewed resolve by the international community, the war against ISIS is far from being won. Efforts to dry up the terrorists’ financial resources — a prerequisite in the fight against them — have been late in coming.
While jihadists come from Muslim backgrounds or claim to be converts, the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject their aberrant interpretation of the faith. Many jihadists, in fact, know virtually nothing about Islamic theology. Despite what they may claim, they are driven by hatred, not by the Quran. And the vast majority of their victims have been Muslims — including the pious and devout.
There has not been enough progress in countering the jihadists’ narrative and their unscrupulous abuse of modern communication technologies to enroll members and exploit the desperation of lost youth. Insufficient action on the ideological front is the Achilles heel of the global fight against terror. In many places, backers of religious fanaticism are tolerated and continue to practice their hate-mongering trade, laying the ground for new bloodbaths.
In reality, there is no “us” and “them” in this kind of war. Jihadists are the enemies of civilisation as we know it. They are the enemies of Arabs and Muslims just as much as they are of the West, Christians and Jews.
The sons and daughters of the murdered Tunisian presidential guards feel the same pain and horror as do the friends and relatives of the innocent victims of ISIS atrocities elsewhere. The mourning of Tunisians, Egyptians, French, Lebanese and all other victims will only stiffen the resolve of the international community to stand up to this modern-day scourge.