The oft repeated cliché that terrorists have no religion borders on boredom specially when emanating from those who find themselves in a bind. The obvious stares on our faces; The perpetrators use religious scriptures to justify or explain their violent acts or to gain recruits, their cleric figures are their role model and provide leadership and they use antediluvian disaster images of destruction to justify their acts. Religion is not innocent; barring a few most of the religious scriptures were formally written and accepted after the demise of their Prophets and do get ‘lost in translation’ for various reasons. Even those holy books that contain the words of the Almighty to the Prophets and authenticated by the Prophets and his followers during their lifetime, are conveniently interpreted to derive and sustain the sphere of interests of those who wish to create division and destruction.

In USA the Ku Klux Klan has advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, nationalism and anti-immigration. Since the mid-20th century, the KKK has also been anti-communist. The current manifestation is splintered into several chapters with no connections between each other; it is classified as a hate group and is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members as of 2012.Conflict in Northern Ireland is primarily a religious conflict, its economic and social considerations notwithstanding. It is argued that some acts of terrorism were religious terrorism… – in these cases Christianity, others on account of religious fundamentalism, such as killing of intellectuals, journalists for speaking and writing that the terrorists do not like. In July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik was arrested and charged with terrorism after a car bombing in Oslo and a mass shooting on Utøya island. As a result of his attacks, 151 people were injured, and 77 killed. Hours prior to the events, Breivik released a 1,500 page manifesto detailing that immigrants were undermining Norway’s traditional Christian values, and identifying himself as a “Christian crusader”. Analyses of his motivations have noted that he did display Christian terrorist inclinations.

A basic problem is whether religious terrorism really differs, in its character and causes, from political terrorism; defenders of religious terrorism typically reason by applying commonly acknowledged moral principles. But the use (or misuse) of moral arguments does not in fact distinguish religious from nonreligious terrorists, for the latter also rely upon such arguments to justify their acts. The moot cases are the regular and devastating terrorists attacks in the Middle East and North African countries. In the former it is the Muslims Killing Muslims and in the latter the ethnic cleansing for political gains. The conflict with Israel is at a different level. Whether or not one uses ‘terrorist’ to describe violent acts depends on whether one thinks that the acts are warranted. To a large extent the use of the term depends on one’s world view: if the world is perceived as peaceful, violent acts appear to be terrorism. If the world is thought to be at war, violent acts may be regarded as legitimate. They may be seen as preemptive strikes, as defensive tactics in ongoing battles, or as symbols indicating to the world that it is indeed in a state of grave and ultimate conflict. Such is also the Afghanistan script of woes and is gradually slipping over to neighboring Pakistan.

Some consider that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions. A study purported to have been conducted of 315 suicide attacks carried out over the last two decades, concludes that suicide bombers’ actions stem from political conflict, not religion. This could be considered seriously as a number of terrorist groups have portrayed their causes in religious and cultural terms, which is often a transparent tactic designed to conceal political goals, generate popular support and silence opposition. Cross border terrorism harming us in India is from such groups.

How do we engage and counter terrorism? Read the books and ask the experts; enough is written and known and in some countries effectively applied and strengthened.  Perhaps that which romanticizes the imagination is the recent models that have had successes; search and destroy operations by the Israelis and the famous Bin La Din raid by the US marines. We have identified the likes of Bin La Din who are actively perpetrating terrorist activities on our soil. I personally would want to seek and destroy them and their supporters. I suppose most of us would wish the same. I am however not certain if I can stomach the retaliatory collateral damages, especially if it spills in my own courtyard!

Quo Vadis friend ?