The consequences of harbouring religious extremism
By Rooshanie Ejaz, HRS
(Islamabad): After a lead received by the American intelligence last year, Osama Bin Laden was traced to a heavily guarded and fortified villa in the city of Abottabad, in the Hazara district of Pakistan. His family members were also arrested from this compound. A decade has gone by since September 11, yet celebrations were rife in all major cities of the U.S.A after president Obama today announced Bin Ladens death. The American people took to the streets in celebration.
In Pakistan, my Facebook feed was filled with mixed feelings from Pakistanis regarding the death of the leader of Al-Qaeda. Most Pakistanis residing abroad were hopeful and pleased by the news with exclamations like “One down, the rest to go” or “This is a great day, Obama’s speech could not have been better”.
On the other hand, a large percentage of news feeds from Pakistani friends exhibit open scepticism regarding the authenticity of the news. From “Obama’s Osama Drama!” to “is wondering why the pictures of dead Osama look like a younger person than the last old videos of Osama… Botox?” there are some stark reactions which show the mistrust of a large group of people towards the media and the US led war on terror. They simply do not believe that the US is fighting a fair war and that this is a convenient strategy to increase Obama’s popularity under America’s current political climate.
Some people are very concerned. They fear the repercussions of such news from Islamist terrorists residing in Pakistan. Pakistan has been a hub of terrorist recruitment activities in recent years. From Karachi to the Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, terrorist training camps have been identified, when one is shut down another springs up in its place swiftly. The reasons for this are plenty, and range from corruption to the basic inability of the Pakistani Government to stand by secular principals by reforming Sharia derived laws which are still in effect in the country’s courts.
There are even reports of “jihad rehab”, centres that have been set up by Pakistanis in the Northern areas which rehabilitate boys as young as 10 and 12 years who have been brain washed from such a young age to appreciate rewards in the afterlife for giving their bodies in the name of spreading Islam through suicide bombing. These are few, and are constantly under threat from militants in the area. As are any leaders in the North of the country who deny the militants.
Pakistan has suffered hundreds of suicide bombings with over 5500 lives lost so far as a result of Islamist terrorism in the country. Sometimes it seems nothing is safe, from bombs going off at a crowded mosque during Friday prayer and equally crowded Sufi shrines like Data Darbar to a busy intersection in Karachi; terrorism has become a tragic reality of life in Pakistan.
This has indeed sparked resentment in the average Pakistani towards anyone that can be blamed, mostly the scourge of terrorism, but not forgiving the US for its alleged attacks on Pakistani soil, namely drone attacks in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan. So reactions like “Will the US stop murdering the innocent people in Afghanistan and FATA now? I don’t think so! When they get ‘attacked’, the blood of the ‘innocent’ flows. When we get ‘attacked’ the blood of the evil flows! It’s just a shame is all I can say”, are to be expected.
Other reactions include “So glad he’s gone!! I hope everyone leaves us alone now!!!” And: “After almost an entire generation of searching for Osama, there is no sense of an end of an era, as promised. In the search for Osama, many enemies were made by America, many more terrorists born. So, the war continues – the world still hasn’t change.”
It is important to note that in the last decade, organized terrorism has gained great momentum and there are newer, smarter leaders governing these activities at the moment. Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen who resides in Yemen is responsible for the propagation of the ‘self help terrorist’, encouraging Muslims living in the west to take up arms against the west. Known as the Osama Bin Laden of the internet due to his use of the internet in spreading his militant ideals, Anwar al-Awlaki is just as influential in his war on the west and liberal values – and there are many others like him.
The death of Osama Bin Laden might be a milestone, but it certainly isn’t the end of the Jihadist militancy that has taken over events in so many locations in the world.Top of Form