The Thing We Call Terror

It would seem that the notion of terror used by the West generally refers to violent acts committed by Muslims. The Norwegian mass murderer of 77 people, Breivik, for example, is hardly ever mentioned in talk of terror. The use made by early Israelis of violent murderous actions in their battle to free themselves of British rule is generally not referred to when terror is discussed.

The president of the North American behemoth’s removal of innocent civilians from the planet (dare we call it murder? In this age of free speech?) in Pakistan and Jemen by drone attack is not included in discussions of terror action.

Talk of terror never includes state terror committed against citizens of countries outside the West. The American destruction of the state of Iraq could be a jewel in that point. Whatever the state of that country was prior to the U.S. invasion, the citizens had running water, electricity, health care and were seldom carrying on decimating wars against each other.

But no one speaks of George W. Bush in the hushed tones of awe and terror that we, at least we in the West use when speaking of those organizations we call terrorists. although perhaps citizens not in the West referred to W. in tones of awe and terror, along with maybe mirth.

John Feffer presents a sane picture of the situation in Charlie Hebdo: Middle East Blowback?.

Feffer cites Patrick Cockburn, writing in the Independent:

“It was culpably naïve to imagine that sparks from the Iraq-Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year, would not spread explosive violence to Western Europe,” warned Patrick Cockburn in The Independent after the Hebdo attack. “With thousands of young Sunni Muslims making the difficult journey to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis, it has always been probable that some of them would choose to give a demonstration of their religious faith by attacking targets they deem anti-Islamic closer to home.”

Feffer writes that the narrative established specifically around the Charlie Hebdo killings

…elevates what might otherwise be a solitary act of terrorism — like the assassination of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam in 2004 or the massacres in 2011 in Norway by Anders Breivik — into the latest skirmish in a larger war.

Such a narrative serves the purposes of IS and al-Qaeda, which both seek a global battlefield to raise their status and boost recruitment. But it also meets the needs of those in the West who seek a rationale for the build-up of the national security state or who want to promote a civilizational conflict against Islam more generally.

He goes on to address the increasing hardline measures being employed towards people returning from fighting in Syria and Iraq. Returnees seems to be the word applied in this case, although soldiers from NATO countries who return from fighting in Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan are never treated in a hardline fashion.

Such returnees are not a priority at all in the countries that send them off to fight Muslims and often receive inadequate mental health care and wind up as unattended suicide statistics.

Feffer writes:

But jails are the worst place to send these fighters. Those not yet radicalized can come under the sway of persuasive proselytizers. The already convinced, meanwhile, treat prison as a meet-up group to plan future ventures and collaboration.

He points to Denmark which is employing other methods to deal with these returnees:

Denmark, however, has adopted a different approach. It is offering counseling and assistance for returnees to reintegrate into mainstream society. The program is based on the methods used to deal with neo-Nazis, a threat that has largely faded in Denmark. “What we are doing seems to be working,” according to the chief of police in Aarhus, where a number of Syrian fighters have returned.

Wise words. Which will probably be dismissed. There are too many people with too many economic interests invested in ‘fighting terror’ and there are too many people who use the so called war on terror to advance their own political and/or ideological interests for anyone to act to stop this particular bout of greedy imbecile pubescent insanity.