Terrorism Update
Show/Hide Search
    Click to Enlarge

Press Release
October 29, 2001

New Delhi, October 29, 2001: Dr. L. M. Singhvi, distinguished jurist and Member of Parliament, commenting on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA and the subsequent developments in South Asia, stated today that General Pervez Musharraf was no longer in charge of public opinion in Pakistan. Musharraf, Dr. Singhvi said, "leads a state, he leads a military coterie, but he does not lead the opinion of the people of Pakistan.

Dr. Singhvi was speaking at an international seminar on "The Global Threat of Terror: Ideological, Material and Political Linkages" organised by K.P.S. Gill's Institute for Conflict Management. The Institute constitutes a major forum for research, data and analysis on terrorism and low intensity warfare in South Asia. The Seminar was convened at the India Habitat Centre.

Dr. Singhvi observed that it was not possible to "reason with a terrorist" because he is a person "who has lost faith in every system of conflict resolution." He added further that it was not guns and bombs alone, but the supporting ideologies that constitute the greatest threat of terrorism, and it was necessary to address the problem of the breeding grounds of these ideologies. Dr. Singhvi emphasised that it was necessary to study and understand the causes of terrorism, but cautioned that such intellectual enquiry should never be allowed to become the condonation of terror or an excuse for terrorism.

On the idea of a "moderate Taliban" propounded by Pakistan and the US, he said that the very concept was ridiculous and a contradiction in terms. Emphasising the need to "overcome the fanaticization and politicization of religion," Dr. Singhvi said that the battle for freedom is the battle against terrorism. Terrorism as an ideology, he said, challenges the ideology of freedom. He remarked further that "Many of us rose mistakenly to the defence of terrorists because we believed - again mistakenly - that these were cases of violation of human rights. But terrorism is the greatest violation of human rights."

Dr. William Maley, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Politics, University College, University of New South Wales, Australia, noted that perhaps most arresting aspect about the circumstances surrounding the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, is that despite the large number of people involved, in at least four separate groups, not a word leaked about what was planned. He expressed the opinion that bonds of fraternity within terrorist groups were deliberately kept at high levels of intimacy, and would have had some role to play in this remarkable achievement. He noted, moreover, that at least some of the killers in this case seemed to differ from the typical socially marginal 'Islamikaze' with poor self-esteem.

Commenting in the context of Taliban regime, Dr. Maley said that the notion of 'state power' is itself elusive, since the state in Afghanistan is currently little more than a set of symbols rather than an administrative apparatus. In a case such as this, he observed that religion becomes an indispensable device for symbolic legitimation of power through an appeal to a "higher power".

Dr. Maley observed that the Indian political system has proved exceedingly vigorous, and survived the 1975-1977 'Emergency' primarily due to the considerable power of socialisation. Pakistan, by contrast, has had considerable difficulty in this sphere, partly because of tensions over the substance of national identity, and partly because of the weakness of the education system and mass media which have provided opportunities for sectarianism to develop.

Dr. Reuven Paz, Academic Director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Israel, speaking on the first day of the 3-day seminar said that the development of new and larger bases of Islamist radicalism and terrorism or political violence in Muslim communities in the West - mainly Europe, and North and South America - were occurring under the consolidation of two relatively new Islamist doctrines: One is the globalization of the Islamist struggle in the form of the solidarity of global Jihad as a religious duty, against what they perceive as the global conspiracy against Islam as a religion, culture, and way of life. The other is the emergence of a new Islamist trend and doctrine of the "Non-Territorial Islamic State".

In his opinion, a significant example resulting in the globalization of this ideology is the spread of suicide terrorism in recent years - from Lebanon to the Palestinian arena, to East Africa, Kashmir, Chechnya, the Yemen, and the United States.
Dr. Paz observed that in many cases, Islamist activists have an influence on parts of the Muslim public whose religious knowledge is poor. He added that as a consequence of social pressures, they tend to adopt motives that often violate religious rules or norms and emphasise social and political confrontation. The radical perception of basic Jihad as ordered by the Prophet is therefore more attractive and appealing to many of them. He indicated that US prosecutors claimed that this element has been used by Bin Laden and his allied groups through international companies and relief organizations. These "front organizations" were used for recruitment, and communications through fax, satellite phones, the internet and coded letters.

Islamic and Islamist movements and groups have succeeded, according to Dr. Paz, over the past three decades in planting in Arab and Muslim societies the notion that they represent the true contemporary interpretation of Islam.
The Islamist "terrorist culture", Dr. Paz said can be sketched as a pyramid -- in the bottom and base of it there is the large-scale activity of the Islamic moderate and non-violent groups, associations, institutes, and projects of all kinds. At the head of the pyramid there is the radical and pro-terrorist activity. In the middle there are various processes that refine certain social elements into hatred, revenge, the search for power and violence.

Commenting in the western context, he noted the growing alienation between many Muslims settled in Western nations, and the surrounding Western societies. The attacks in the United States, may consequently be the first stage in transferring Islamist terrorism into the heart and centers of the Western world.

Pointing out response mechanisms, he said that the solution in the fight against the Brotherhood of Global Jihad lies in creating the Brotherhood of Global Counter-Terrorism and maximum co-operation in intelligence and legislation.

The Ambassador of Egypt, Mr. Gehad Madi, while challenging Mr. Reuven Paz's account of the roots of terrorism, said that terrorism in West Asia commenced in the 1940's with Jewish terrorism. While emphasising the root causes of terrorism, the Ambassador opined that occupation is the worst form of terrorism. According to him, in order to deal with cycles of violence and counter-violence, one has to address the issue of Israeli occupation. He blamed the increase in suicide terrorism attacks by Palestinians as the desperation that arose out of the overwhelming use of force by the militarily strong Israel.

Mr. Mahmoud Mourad, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram, Egypt's leading Arabic Newspaper, said in his presentation that that Osama bin Laden had a special status among the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and they considered him a leader. He spoke of the history of bin Laden's co-operation with American Intelligence Agencies, and the large quantities of modern weapons he had received from these sources. Mr. Mourad indicated that bin Laden had emerged gradually as a 'famous figure' in the Afghan theatre, not only through public appearances, but by consolidating his organizational structures over time, and at this stage the United States and other European countries took no hostile notice of these developments, and refused to take a position against these evolving organizations and their symbols. On the contrary, they gave them protection and the right of asylum and residence in these countries for many reasons, including a strong relation between these intelligence and these organizations, and the existing relation between Arab Afghans and the CIA, as also an old relation between British Intelligence and other organizations.

Mr. Mourad condemned terrorism as a "foolish devil without homeland or identity." According to him, terrorist groups join forces and co-operate with mercenaries to secure the assistance they need in committing their crimes. In his perspective, "Politics is the reason behind the burst of terrorism in all its forms and colors. It is an organized crime but also a political one, from the point of view of motives and aims. Without the political factor, terrorism will be just an ordinary crime and its perpetrator would be a criminal, whether he is an individual, a gang or the Mafia."

Speaking at the same forum, B. Raman, former Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, debunked the "larger than life" images of the Taliban and Mullah Omar. He said that little of their actual war against the Russians had been documented, as the efforts of other mujahideen groups in Afghanistan had been. Very little was known about Mullah Omar, and it is not clear that he has actually expressed the ideas attributed to him. There is, he asserted, a "brain trust" that is manufacturing and projecting these false images. This process, he alleged, has resulted in the creation of a synthetic charismatic leadership that has nothing to do with the real activities and capabilities of these individuals. It was futile to target Mullah Omar and the Taliban without locating and acting against this "brain trust".

The Seminar will continue through four sessions between 09:45 and 17:30 on October 30 & 31, 2001. Shri George Fernandes, Minister of Defense, will deliver a special address at 11:00 on October 30, 2001. K.P.S. Gill will present an assessment of current developments in counter-terrorist policy and practices at 15:00 on October 31, 2001. The Valedictory Address of the International Seminar will be delivered at 16:00 on October 31, 2001, by Mr. Arun Shourie, Minister for Disinvestment and the Department of Development of the North East Region.

Working Paper

List Of Foreign Participants

October 30,2001
Press Release

October 31,2001
Press Release






Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved.