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No End to War


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In No End to War, Walter Laqueur deals with the new elements in contemporary terrorism, why terrorism came so suddenly, and why it is so often and so thoroughly misinterpreted. Terrorism has changed over time and so have the terrorists, their motives, and the causes of terrorism. During the 1990s, a new factor arose that became the most prominent component of world terrorism: Islamic terrorism, especially from al Qa’ida under Osama bin Laden.


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No End to War

  1. 2. NO END TO WAR Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century AUTHORS: Walter Lacquer PUBLISHER: The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc. DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2003 288 pages
  2. 3. FEATURES OF THE BOOK In No End to War , Walter Laqueur examines the roots of terrorism and explores terrorist incidents in the past, but warns readers not to extrapolate too much from history.
  3. 4. THE BIG IDEA No end is in sight to the activities of Islamist groups. The combination of paranoia, fanaticism, and extremist political or religious doctrine is the reservoir from which the terrorism of today and tomorrow attracts its followers.
  4. 5. INTRODUCTION Terrorism has become the subject of a great deal of study, comment, debate, and controversy. There has been an enormous amount of debate concerning the roots of terrorism and how to deal with it. Unfortunately, these debates have been distinguished more often by passion and emotion, rather than knowledge and insight.
  5. 6. UNDERSTANDING TERRORISM Toward the end of the 20th century, religious and political unrest in the Muslim and Arab world became the most prominent component of world terrorism. Its origins were embedded in a call for a return to fundamentalist Islam, and its followers wanted to impose their aims by force. The main agent in the rise of fundamentalist Islam was the Muslim Brotherhood, which spread over the years to many countries, although it was never a monolithic group. Over time, the Muslim Brotherhood changed its tactics and even some of its doctrine, engaging in educational, political, social, and terrorist activities. Laqueur primarily addresses the terrorist activities of the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots.
  6. 7. EGYPT, THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, AND BEYOND The Muslim Brotherhood began in Egypt in 1928 in response to the actions taken by the then ruler of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to secularize his country. Initially focused on promulgating propaganda and organizing youth athletics, the Brotherhood eventually spread further throughout Egypt and became more political and radicalized. By the late 1930s, a “special unit” was formed to carry out assassinations and attempt a political coup. Decades later, one of the members tried to assassinate Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, whereupon 4,000 members of the organization were arrested and a select few were executed. Thousands fled from Egypt after this, and the Brotherhood was essentially broken. For the next fifteen years it had very little influence inside Egypt.
  7. 8. EGYPT, THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, AND BEYOND Nevertheless, terrorism continued in Egypt. Mostly unorganized, terrorist acts tended to be random acts of violence against fellow Muslims and the Coptic Christian communities living in Egypt. The violence was characterized by sadistic acts of torture, rape, and killing without much motive for reforming society. Terrorism in Egypt ended for the time being in 1999 with an appeal from Mustafa Hazan, the leader of the largest existing terrorist group. He called for a stop to all violence on Egyptian soil, condemned his group’s previous extremist acts, and conceded that no practicing Muslim should be considered an enemy. Radical Islamism and terrorism then shifted to other places, becoming a truly global phenomenon in the 1990s.
  8. 9. IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, AND THE RISE OF THE TALIBAN The previous decades before the 1990s were not a good time for Muslim and Arab radicals. One beacon of hope for these groups was the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the coming of power of Khomeni and his supporters. Radicals were excited that at last a country was being ruled by the laws of Islam. Iran was the most active country at the time as far as the export of violent religion and terrorism was concerned. However, Iran practiced the “wrong” type of Islam: Iranians were Sunnis and their differences with the Shi’ite sect were too deeply rooted in history to make close cooperation possible.
  9. 10. IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, AND THE RISE OF THE TALIBAN For the first time in history, an international terrorist organization, however loosely organized, had come into existence. Among its members, there was no party discipline or monolithic ideology, except to subscribe to the doctrine of jihad. The organization grew spontaneously without a rigid bureaucratic system. Each cell retained great freedom of action as far as terrorist acts are concerned. Thus, the organization was not particularly sophisticated in its structure, which has made it difficult for its antagonists to understand and effectively combat.
  10. 11. IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, AND THE RISE OF THE TALIBAN Suicidal acts of terrorism have become an important tactic. Suicide terrorism can spread panic, at least momentarily, among the “enemy,” and it can cause substantial financial damage. Suicide terrorism is also a useful tool in the battle for public opinion outside the country directly involved. The state, in contrast, is not permitted to retaliate effectively; it has to stick to rules and conventions.
  11. 12. ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS The policy of Israeli governments concerning Jerusalem and the territories after 1967 played into the hands of the Islamists. Israelis could argue a thousand times that Mecca and Media were far more sacred places for the Muslims than Jerusalem and that Jerusalem hardly every appeared in the Koran. From an Islamist point of view, this argument was wholly irrelevant; what counted was not what was written in the holy books but what the present generation of Islamists felt. They felt that Jerusalem should be theirs and the Jews should be killed or forced to leave.
  12. 13. GATHERING INTELLIGENCE The issue intelligence failures has been very publicly analyzed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the past, terrorist groups have virtually never kept their existence and their intentions secret; though they did not make known when and where their next blow would land. Intelligence gathering is not strictly the purview of the government. The roles of the media, experts in regions where terrorism occurs or originates, and academics who study terrorism should also be considered. Although the CIA was aware of bin Laden’s activities since the 1990s, certain warning signs were not heeded. If there was an intelligence failure in 2001, it had many reasons.
  13. 14. GATHERING INTELLIGENCE Those specializing in the field of terrorism studies were aware that terrorism had changed, and that terrorism’s potential had greatly increased, but they did not have any information as to when and where it would strike. The obvious lessons to be learned from the 9/11 intelligence failure are that preemptive intelligence is the key, and that it is always dangerous to underestimate terrorist intent.
  14. 15. REACTIONS TO TERRORISM Terrorism has always provoked violent and often diametrically opposed reactions among a public baffled and shocked by sudden attacks. The history of terrorism shows that those motivated by nationalism have a greater reservoir of sympathy from the public than other types of terrorists.
  15. 16. REACTIONS TO TERRORISM While the great majority of Americans reacted more or less instinctively to the attacks, among the literary intelligentsia there emerged a school of thought that America had it coming and it must have been its own fault. As the focus shifted in 2002 from war against terrorism to war against Iraq, the opposition increased as people could not connect the terrorism of bin Laden with the dictatorship in Iraq.
  16. 17. BATTLEFIELDS OF THE FUTURE Although political violence has been endemic on the Indian subcontinent for a long time, over the last decade there has been a transformation of the conflict between India and Pakistan as a result of the rise of religious fundamentalism (Islamism and Hindutva). The spillover of events in Afghanistan has added fuel to a situation which was already explosive, since both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and weapons of mass destructive might fall into the hands of terrorists.
  17. 18. BATTLEFIELDS OF THE FUTURE Society has become much more vulnerable as a result of urbanization and technological progress. Arms have become more lethal, and the targets have become much softer. The use of terrorism as a substitute for warfare has increased, due to the fact that old-fashioned, conventional warfare has become much more risky and expensive.
  18. 19. BATTLEFIELDS OF THE FUTURE At this point, there is no end in sight to the activities of Islamist groups who believe that the only way to achieve their mission is through armed struggle. The attraction of radical Islamism in Europe and in other parts of the world continues to be substantial. The terrorism of the future will also find support from a variety of other quarters, including small, both political and religious. Even in the unlikely case that all political, social, and economic tensions of the world vanish, this will not necessarily be the end of terrorism. The combination of paranoia, fanaticism, and extremist political and/or religious doctrine will find new outlets. It is the reservoir from which the terrorism of today and tomorrow attracts its new followers.
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