18 May, 2024


Global Terrorism Threatening Democracy Should Be Tackled At Global Level

By W.A. Wijewardena –

DR. W.A Wijewardena

Enemies of Democracy – Part 2

Call for rising above narrow prejudices or biases

The gruesome killing of unsuspecting civilians in Sri Lanka by an extreme Islamic group connected to Islamic State or IS last week has been roundly condemned by local – religious, political, and civic – as well as global leaders.

The message delivered by all of them had one common plea: This is the work of an extreme group and it should not be used to castigate a particular religion or faith. In other words, everybody expected the masses to behave rationally and act beyond narrow personal prejudices and biases. This is in line with common characteristics which we all inherit.

Man has divided himself artificially

We, Homo sapiens or Men the Wise, are same everywhere genetically. Thus, unlike animals of different groups, they can merge and reproduce offspring that are fertile and capable of reproducing themselves. Nature has no division of human beings. It is humans who have divided themselves artificially into different groups.

Ethnically, people have divided themselves as white, black, yellow or brown. Culturally, Eastern or Western. Faith-wise, Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists. Thus, the whole world is a diverse society and when one lives in such a society, one has to accept, appreciate and understand different practices which others are following. If one group tries to impose its systems on others, it leads to conflict, conflict to suspicion, suspicion to hatred and hatred to aggression.

Destruction of man through implosion and explosion

When a society fails to check the boiling aggression, the inevitable result is man attacking man in numerous ways. First, it may be at a psychological level where people of other ethnicities or faiths are condemned in public. Then, it can spread to physical levels causing physical harm to them. Both these attacks are destructive.

The psychological attacks convert man into a subdued being by forcing him to suppress his intellectuality. It leads to destroy man from within causing implosion. The physical attacks destroy him by setting a process of explosion from outside. Sri Lanka had witnessed both these types of attacks being hurled by one community against another with total impunity.

The latest has been what it went through last week where some extreme Islamic elements had gone into action causing bloodshed and mayhem.  Whoever who is causing such mayhem, it is a threat to democratic coexistence by denying right to live and right to prosper peacefully.

Man has always been battling with himself

But throughout history, mankind has been destroying each other on these lines. In the middle ages, there were battles between Islam and Christianity. Each side wanted to finish the battle by annihilating the other. Of them, the most gruesome was the battle for Jerusalem, which was claimed as the seat of faith by both parties. As documented by Oxford educated historian, Yuval Noah Harari, in his Sapiens, in some instances, the carnage made by battling humans was so gruesome that the streets of Jerusalem had been flooded ankle-deep with human bloods.

But with the general economic prosperity created by the advent of the industrial revolution, the focus of battle got shifted from religion to economics. Both the first and the second world wars were fought not for religious supremacy but for economic supremacy. However, in the recent past, while economics is still the main cause, the focus has shifted to ethnicity and religion. Accordingly, the extremists belonging to all religions have begun an all-out war against other believers.

It’s a global terrorism today

When these wars have spread from a centre to faraway places on the planet, they have become globalised terrorism. One such group which has taken terrorism to global level in the recent past has been the Islamic State or IS aspiring to convert the whole world into a single Islamic State on the line of the Caliphates that existed many centuries ago. Though its military power has been checked by counter military attacks in Iraq and Syria, its seat of administration, it seeks to show its strength by conducting isolated terrorist attacks in other parts of the world. Thus, the recent terrorist attack orchestrated by IS in Sri Lanka has been in line with this strategy. All it had to do was the use of its financial strength and ideological concoctions to recruit local agents to carry out the attacks.

Resemblances with economic globalisation

Thus, in many respects, it bears a close resemblance to economic globalisation. Both have origins in a foreign land, involves fund flows, recruit local workers and produce an output for the global market. The only difference is that economic globalisation produces a desired output called a global good, while global terrorism produces an undesired global output called a global bad. While the global good adds to the welfare of people, the global bad does the opposite. Hence, the latter has to be forced on protesting consumers by using terror tactics.

Willing and unwilling followers

What do global terrorists want? They have brewed an ideological concoction unique to them and want to send that bitter mixture down the throats of others by using coercion. First, they come up with verbal threats and those who yield to their threats willingly are hailed as their own brethren. Then, they target the unwilling. This group is coerced to accept their line of thinking and the worldview they have painted at the threat of causing physical harm. This group forms the unwilling followers.

Terrorist edict: Destroy who don’t obey

Thus, even the followers have two different class statuses, the willing always getting precedence over the unwilling. All others are vilified as enemies deserving to be destroyed. A lot of human efforts, talents and financial resources are then spent to plan and execute the destruction. The modus operandi usually takes the following form.

First, the foot soldiers who are to carry out the destruction on the ground are indoctrinated with an extreme religious ideology. They are often told that there is only one religion which is true in the world which is theirs. When others practice different faiths, it prevents them from attaining the ultimate goal of going to heaven. Thus, they are told, those obstacles have to be removed.

That is the greatest service they can perform for God from whom they have got everything in life: livelihood, success at examinations, career advancement, family life, intelligent and super children and so on. Hence, it is morally correct to destroy all others who practice different faiths. Then, the deadly schemes are funded out of moneys raised globally for the purpose. Weapons and explosives are acquired, foot soldiers are lined up and the final assault on those who stand in their way to reach heaven is carried out.

No dearth of voluntary foot soldiers

On earth, those who have sacrificed their life in the hope of going to heaven are hailed as martyrs. Though there is no evidence that they have reached heaven as expected, those on earth continue to believe so. Hence, when one person has sacrificed his life, there are many more to take his place. As a result, there is no dearth of volunteers willing to sacrifice their life for the sake of their faith. Thus, carnage continues and since it is directed from foreign lands, national governments fail to eradicate it.

Mistrust is a threat to democracy

Democracy thrives in an environment where people trust each other. At an individual level, a person should trust his neighbour, his employer, businessmen who supply his needs, teachers, religious leaders and so on. This trust is needed to build personal human relations as well as numerous economic relations which a person has to have. But the fear with which everyone gets inflicted due to terrorist attacks, because it is his or her life which is at stake, causes them to mistrust everyone. At every corner of the street, he will see death approaching him. Therefore, he will not step out of the house. Even when he is inside the house, though it may be fully protected, he runs into unexplainable fear if he is disturbed by the slightest noise coming from outside. As the proverbial Sinhala saying says, he will see a terrorist even in a water basin in the kitchen.

Reinforcing fear in people

Once a person is inflicted with fear, the first casualty will be the rational thinking and sanity. Friends, relatives, media personnel, politicians, religious leaders, knowingly or unknowingly, contribute to reinforce fear in him.

Immediately, after the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, I continued to receive messages, posters, short audio clips and videos which all asked me to be careful and to be on the alert because there are all kinds of Sri Lanka’s enemies who are at work to destroy this beautiful island. It appeared that the objective of the senders of these unsolicited messages was to drive fear into me. When one examines them carefully, one would soon find that the messages conveyed or stories narrated do not stand to reasoning. Yet, the gullible people swallow them without subjecting them to any critical inquiry or background checking.

Without stopping at that, they re-forward these fear-striking messages to their contacts as if they are doing some service them. But, knowingly or unknowingly, they help terrorists to achieve their goal: striking fear into their target group.

The fallacy of a strong man

The fear that is built in the minds of people and the consequential irrational thinking then become a fertile ground for the appearance of person in the guise of a saviour but with some dictatorial ambitions with him. This is the biggest danger to democracy as I have argued in the previous article in this series. The danger with such saviours is that at the time they get power, they appear to be fully docile and well-intentioned. But sooner or later, after they have tasted the power, they become monsters making it impossible for people to remove them resorting to normal democratic processes. The authoritarian rules that are created in those countries, as I have argued, tend to suppress freedoms of people in the name of national interests.

To get the people’s support for the repressive actions, feelings of nationalism are aroused among the citizens. Once they are intoxicated with nationalistic feelings, they are presented with a host of enemies threatening the very existence of the nation. All repressive and authoritarian actions are justified on that ground. Hence, without due checks and balances in place, it is inappropriate to call a strong man to assume power simply to eradicate the menace of terrorism in the country. The post-2009 period in Sri Lanka is a testimony to this.

Global origin of the present terrorist attack in Sri Lanka

The present terrorist attack in Sri Lanka has a global origin. IS has set up a terrorist cell in the country in order to destroy the targets of its choice as and when it chooses to do so. They have funded the cell, supplied it with explosives and provided training to foot soldiers. Sri Lankan armed forces will be successful in apprehending the local agents and bringing them to justice. But it will not end the threat of terrorism, since its global masters are still at work.

What this means is that global terrorism should be tackled by global action and not merely by national action. This is because global terrorism is a global bad like global warming affecting all the nations in the globe. Today, it is in Sri Lanka. But tomorrow, it will be in another country. Hence, these incidents are not isolated ones confined only to national borders of a country. The terrorists will continue to fight their war with the global community since they have the necessary ideological backing, funding and a continuous supply of foot soldiers to fight their war.

Thus, the global community should get together in order to fight this war. For that purpose, a global action programme should be drawn with common funding, intelligence sharing and joint collaboration. Without this, any action taken by individual states to eradicate terrorism with a global origin will not be a success.

It is therefore time for the global community to work together.

*W.A. Wijewardena, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 1

    Sri Lanka be alert. When you say global….RAW and CIA might want SL all to themselves. Play this very carefully, we musty find the solution to this issue from inside. We do not want outside “help”. Those that come with sweets will then elect or regime change later.

    Stay alert.

    • 1

      We cannot fight India, remember President JR was going to fight to the last bullet but advised not to do so. I am glad he did not. We cannot fight the CIA. We are not united anyway, with RW being so pally with the Americans who just have half a billion dollars to us because they are assured of a bright future in Sri Lanka.

      So my advice to sit down and negotiate, oil tanks is a good start, Trinco harbor is another prize. What else? We are too close to China.

      Buy American. The dollar is up but I think we can still trade our freedom.

      • 0

        very true. hope the idiots in Colombo’s corridor’s of power understand this much.

  • 2

    DR. W.A Wijewardena – you are again talking absolute bullshit. and contradicting yourself…

    you say and I quote “…The present terrorist attack in Sri Lanka has a global origin…”

    and then you go on to say and i quote ..” IS has set up a terrorist cell in the country ..”

    how the hell can IS set up a cell in the country …without local support at country level….?

    and how can we tackle the the collusion at local country level at global level?

    do you want American troops and ammunition here is Sri Lanka and turn Sri Lanka in to a Syria…..bombed without recognition….only rubbles?

    or are you trying to defend My3 Shitsena…

  • 0

    This is in addition to what RAJASH has written.
    GLOBAL TERRORISM is a Good Propaganda word and excellent for weapon sales. Because, they can not sell ships, helicopters, Remote sensing equipment, heavy weapons and sophisticated weapons every time. But, it is Terrorism it is easy to sell small weapons.
    ISIS is no longer active, they are gone now months. Besides, ISIS is unemployed arabs and arab muslims or middle eastern muslims.
    If ISIS is successful in the middle east, in arab lands, successful in Africa,then we can think about ISIS coming to Sri lanka to build their caliphate.
    IF not it is just Propaganda for some other purpsoe. what is it ?
    See where the wars are; Asia becuas eof the PEarlof String problem and China is friendly to Srilanka, Pakisthan, Myanmar and thailand.
    Then Africa becuase both China and the west are competing for the mineral resources, GOLD, Platinum and for business.
    then the middle east because they want cheap oil.
    So, set Srilanka onfire based on this less than 200 Dumb ISIS cell.
    then in order to stop the infiltration via the sea, buy reconnaissance ships, patrol ships, helicopters,fighter jets, Remote sensing equipment and then give some lands to the incoming troops and some ports to stop their ships.
    I heard they want Even the KELANI river mouth, probably to purify and get water for their ships.
    Is this article for UNP ?

  • 0

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  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 1

    There is an excellent analysis of the terrorist’s mind here; a follow-up from evaluations done after 9-11 etc although the reasons for terror in the Mid East or Muslims in the West are totally different in rationale. Getting together as one global entity is fraught with many obstacles; there are big players who will want to base their activities in third world countries; there will be a pecking order and poor nations simply follow their leaders; lives being cheap and expendable in poor countries (a notion that is shared by rich countries too) very few resources will be allocated to poor Sri Lanka; bombs will still go off periodically and the western mainstream public will soon forget those as being “just another day” in a poor country. No, the solution lies squarely in SL; our people must be sincere and diligent in their duty to protect the citizens. Rascals who quibble about political supremacy should be booted out, legal procedures instituted and hopefully imprisoned for lengthy terms. Law enforcement and intelligence work should proceed unhindered by these parasites.

  • 1

    I think local Muslims showing sympathy towards their counter parts in all over the world.They just started more attacks to be followed soon.Local Muslims think they can do whatever they want here.To overcome this menace at very inception we have to isolate them. first step may be boycott Muslim’s businesses.At least 25% of profit they earn may be utilized to Strengthen their pet boys activities here in collaboration with their principle ISIS group in middle-east. As such we should not indirectly finance them giving businesses to local Muslims.All suicide bomb culprits found in Colombo are children of wealthy businessmen. That means None believers financed them heavily to get ourselves destroyed. As such we should start Boycotting & Isolating Muslims community as first step. Otherwise This trend may continue & more & more unwanted fingers will be stiring our society. That is globalization. We must act past & start Isolation of Muslims by boycotting their businesses.We should remove it by using our nails before it become harder to be used by axes.

  • 0

    Local Muslims are not so much a problem as local CIA operatives, please wake up.

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