Who is The Terrorist?

Guest Blog by Zeeshan Khan

She crouches in a corner of her humble abode
Fear writ large in her light brown eyes
In her heart she cries out to the world,
“How much more will we be terrorized?”

There has to be something about the term ‘Terrorism’ which makes it the most misused term in recent history in my opinion. Whoever feels like it, picks it up, chews it into a thousand particles and spits it out to be then picked up by another and abused likewise.

Many debate and articulate what “terror” means? Can we, with our safety-bubble lifestyles even come close to understanding what it means? You switch to the news everyday, witness scenes of “blood curdling horror” and human limbs scattered on pavements like nonentities. You shake your head in pity then switch the channel to find out who is the latest “American idol”!

Ask the little girl crouched in a corner, palms pressed tight against her ears to muffle out the screams and firing. Ask the young woman who stares defenselessly at the approaching group of bulky men. Ask those people what terror is, who jumped off the World Trade Center on the ill-fated morning of September 11. My point is that without knowing the essence of this all-encompassing term, great powers, intellectual giants and so-called religious bodies alike use it to promote their own vested interests.

It has been almost a decade since Pakistan got engulfed in this wave of terrorism or Islamic terrorism. It lost its soldiers and citizens while battling to safe-guard its own people and also to stop the spread of it on a global level. How ironic is it when you read sentences like these in reliable sources of information, “At present, the International community has been unable to formulate a universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition of terrorism.” Yet, this term took on a whole new meaning ever since the unfortunate 9/11 attacks. That shaking incident unleashed such an intense wave of apprehension amongst people at large, that in the eyes of all, everyone is a potential terrorist. May be they were justified in forming opinions but generalization took over rationality when deciding. Overnight, the world was divided into two groups, “either with us or the terrorists.” Suddenly, there was a universal air of intolerance and hatred. The world today has come a long way from that regretful day. Today, more divisions have been made but by large religious inclination and geographical location are two very easy attributes to label someone as a terrorist.

The question on what triggers a normal mindset to transform into a terrorist mindset has escapes the conventional sets of inquiries. Some hold poverty and social inequality as the basis for someone turning into a terrorist. Others believe its religious fundamentals who lure a common man to be a fighter or Jihadist in the name of God. The latest addition in the list of terrorists is Faisal Shahzad, the alleged bomber of Times Square in NYC. Faisal does not fit in to any of these definitions or popular notion or standards of being labeled as a terrorist. He is not poor and hails from a privileged social background. He did not look like an ‘American or Pakistani psychopath”. He was married and was living an ‘American Dream’ in my opinion. Much has been written about Faisal Shahzad but no one has tried to make the connections from the past. To me he in some ways resembles the alleged suicide bombers of 7/7 in London. Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, Germaine Lindsay and Hasib Hussain, all were born, raised and educated in UK, a liberal, secular and developed society. Before they turned radicals, excluding Germaine Lindsay, it was proven that all three visited Pakistan. Upon their return, they were completely changed human beings with a strong ‘Islamic spirit’ in them. The same has been reported in case of Faisal Shahzad. He visited Pakistan, got infected by the radicals and turned into a terrorist. The question which baffles me here is that all these men, directly or indirectly received the training to be liberal, law-abiding and peaceful citizens, they have no ‘Criminal record’ before their terrorism attempts. So how can years of training be washed away in weeks or even months? The ‘Islamic Clerics’ can lure a rather peaceful and liberal man to be a warrior in the name of God but the liberal forces are having a hard time convincing a militant to give up his arms and become a peaceful man.

Rehabilitation can be an important step in this war against terror. But how remains the questions? Efforts are under-way but they still have to produce the expected results and may be its too soon to comment on the results achieved so far.

Yet the question remains, who is the terrorist? Why don’t we for once forget geographical boundaries, racial differences and religious preferences? Why don’t we look beyond the bearded, gun-swinging “Jihadists” or political bigwigs using common man as a tool to achieve their own agenda? To those who are terrorising the world today, it does not make any difference whether you’re a dark-skinned Arab or a blue-eyed blonde “Yankee”. If it is the common innocent man who is suffering across the globe, then the common man in question should also think beyond the obvious. To make things even more complicated, how do you explain terror attacks in our country? What would the notorious “terrorists” achieve by killing many innocent people with ideological views similar to theirs?

This brings me to another cliche’ of this time, “a terrorist follows no faith or race”. Well, if that is the case, why don’t we act like we actually believe this statement and stop pointing fingers like everyone else? Meanwhile, the powers-that-be will continue to use the weak to further their own purposes, and at the end of the day no one suffers but the common man. The very famous assertion that it’s “Islam” which has put young minds on the road to terror, needs to be reevaluated. I believe it’s not ‘Islam’ or any other religion which would compel young minds to revert to terrorism but the need to change whatever is going in their surroundings. When they can’t find a peaceful or conventional way of inducing change in the society, they end up taking things in their hands thus leading to violence.

Instead of indulging our empty minds in the mindboggling “conspiracy theories” of the higher-ups, we should instead apply our energies in encouraging a tolerant and apprehension free environment. Terrorists don’t fall from the sky. They are a product of all the negative aspects of our society. In a country where the rich have egos that touch the sky and every man gets hyped about being over-taken on the road, it’s no wonder people look for ways to give vent to all their angst, some even turning to inflicting terror. While everyone is out to look for the “terrorist”, have we ever stopped to think of the intangible terrorists living amongst us? Ignorance, intolerance, inflated egos, suspicion etc and the list goes on. We are so busy pointing fingers at others, that we conveniently overlook our own faults.

Do I still need to ask, “Who is the terrorist”?

The writer is a Development Practitioner based in Islamabad.



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17 responses to “Who is The Terrorist?”

  1. Sular Avatar

    Please come on and say the truth, "TRUTH FEAR NO FALL". Terrorist terms used by the super power and their agencies to fool the peoples and get their own benefits to creat suspicion among the public. Electronic and print media are their main tools. But who is supporting the latest weapon and finance them? Some incident terrorists had used NATO weapons???Now a days their is nothing sectret for a long time. Various TV talk show exprecess far and against terrorisum and main supporters which was amazing.

    After getting the 1 trillion natural sources in Afghanistan H Clinton express that sitution in Af is becoming normal. How it is, last eight years what they were doing AF. USA, UK intruder there and make a drama war of BIN LADEN, Taliban, Terrorist, Pakistani or Punjabi Taliban, Hindu Taliban, then there are different wing just to fool the world. Now USA Taliban and UK Taliban, Head of state their agancies are supporting them drug mafia is also involved anti social activities. What USA & UK has did in Iraq in the name of WPD. Did they find any thing?? Bush and Tony has admitted their mistake and accept they got the wrong information form CIA and other agencies.Bush admit that he was lier about 500 times in war of WMD.

    Conclusion is "As you so so shall you reap". Time has come now USA will face such cook and bull stories. Amarican Taliban will traped by some agencies just like Time sqare case. It is just to hard time to Pakistan. Time will prove you who is behind it. He was innocent and mad terrorist.

    This scenario will continue till we give up greedness and over power other countries and destablize them. India and Israel is among them. God sake stop it help the human being other wise we all will be suffer after some times. It is natural LAW, "Tit for tat"

    1. Jonh Avatar

      GAZA (Reuters) — Israeli warplanes bombed a half-dozen targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, wounding a 7-month-old girl and a Palestinian man, medics in the coastal territory said.THERE's the anwer: ISRAEL is the TERRORIST.



  2. Fatima Saleem Avatar
    Fatima Saleem

    "Terrorists r a product of all the negative aspects of our society" -true.

    And that eventually defines Terrorist for one, but freedom fighter for another.

  3. khalid humayun Avatar

    To the blogger: If you come out of your poetic world you would know all about terrorism and terrorists. Terrorism is a well flourishing industry. Million of dollars change hands. It deals locally, it deals globally. Benazir Bhutto was eliminated by powers behind the curtain on payment of millions of dollars to Baitullah Mehsood. Out of the mainstream of terrorism there have surfaced mushroom of local terrorists groups. A decade back or so, narcotic drugs trafficking was No.1 underworld business. No more. Today, gun running is No.1. Amazingly, from where these arms,ammunition and explosive material are pouring in, we do not know and intelligence of the world is silent. In spite of drones and spy satellites, we could not break the supply line of Alqaeda and Talibans.

    The demon of terrorism can not be killed by painting a helpless picture. Face and reality, keep your eyes and ears open and try to be a matter-of-fact person.

  4. Aamir Mughal Avatar

    “Who is The Terrorist?” [Zeeshan Khan]


    TERRORISM: THEIRS AND OURS By Eqbal Ahmad (A Presentation at the University of Colorado, Boulder, October 12, 1998)

    In the 1930s and 1940s, the Jewish underground in Palestine was described as “TERRORIST.” Then new things happened.

  5. Aamir Mughal Avatar

    Eqbal Ahmad "Terrorism, Theirs & Ours" Pt 1

    Eqbal Ahmad "Terrorism, Theirs & Ours" Pt 2

  6. Raheel Afzal Avatar

    Those teenagers who are involved in suicide attacks of similar activities are not responsible for their act because these teenagers are brain washed by the "so called" Islamic groups. These groups called their activities as Jehad, its not Jehad, its terrorism.

  7. SahraNashin Avatar

    You have said it yourself that poverty and social inequality is responsible for extremism and militancy. And Faisal Shahzad is not an exception to this rule. You have taken a narrow view of the term “social inequality.” Social inequality is not all about material wealth. It is also about being treated as an equal. The West does stresses upon the values of equality and tolerance but it’s not that easy to be tolerant towards others in a heterogeneous society. Group-identity and enfranchisement is also important in this context. Liberalism, secularism and pluralism are good principles that promote equality and tolerance but actions speak louder than words. Peace will always remain elusive until we narrow the gulf between our words and our deeds. Without social equality and social justice, within states and between states, there is no hope of redemption.

  8. Nazia Avatar

    In our case state policies adopted by corrupt people are the main reason of our vulnerable trends of people toward terrorism like activities.

    As Pakistani soil and weather are rich is all kinds of energies to provide benefit to its inhabitants same our human resources have huge potential to act and react as per system's response toward their way of survivals.

    Since the creation of Pakistan it is seeing that corrupt and stronger by use and show of power are getting more and more benefits from state treasures and resources, this trend has been set and now being followed by all classes identified as strong powerful class to lower working class.

    Complete demarcation of state living styles under the guild of fake status quo is becoming obvious with passage of time giving more frustration to young free minds roaming in our surroundings.

    So when state forgets to stimulate this energy toward some goals but actually deposit more sludge of mismanagement on their frustration, people are feeling comfortable to act like terrorist.So it is actually violence coming from human frustration which is creating scenes ranging from highly organized terrorism to random intimidation resulting from emotional upset of deprived locals.

    Terrorism is kind of negative energy of inhabitants of any state who intentionally neglected its sheer responsibility for its majority class.Mafia groups channelize this human energy as per characteristics of natives of toward weakening of state infrastructure affecting the true working class whose creative attitude and performance are crushed between state inabilities and terrorism like activities.

  9. Nazia Avatar

    Who is real terrorist in our country.

    Some glimpses of efforts of state to facilitate terrorism by providing cover and propaganda of religious extremism in our soil.

    -Agosta deal kickback confirmed


    -Who murdered Major General Faisal Alvi of SSG?

    Who killed General Amir Faisal Alvi? Was General Alvi about to expose the secret alliance between the ISI, Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba?

    Major-General Faisal Alavi, a former head of Pakistan’s special forces, whose sister Nadira is Lady Naipaul, named two generals in a letter to the head of the army. He warned that he would “furnish all relevant proof”.

    Aware that he was risking his life, he gave a copy to me and asked me to publish it if he was killed. Soon afterwards he told me that he had received no reply.

    “It hasn’t worked,” he said. “They’ll shoot me.”

    Four days later, he was driving through Islamabad when his car was halted by another vehicle. At least two gunmen opened fire from either side, shooting him eight times. His driver was also killed.

    This weekend, as demands grew for a full investigation into Alavi’s murder on November 18, Lady Naipaul described her brother as “a soldier to his toes”. She said: “He was an honourable man and the world was a better place when he was in it.”

    From the desk of masters and controllers:

    The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations

    from unofficial resources

    End of war on terror in coming days

    there is an aircraft carrier parked in the Arabian Sea, just outside Karachi harbor, with General Petraeus on board. One of these days the Pakistan Army will fly Mullah Omar in a helicopter to the aircraft carrier, where he will receive the document of surrender.

  10. Rashid Saleem Avatar
    Rashid Saleem

    The need today is to define the ways how we want to achieve peace. I will agree with what Sahra Nasim has said above that the bridged between our speech and act needs to be bridged.

  11. Amna Zaman Avatar

    Excellent article. The terrorist present in Pakistan is not freedom fighters at alL! Which freedom are they fighting for? They are only terrorizing the people for greed of power and this is condemned.

  12. Farukh Sarwar Avatar
    Farukh Sarwar

    A mutual agreement between different right wing and left wing groups against terrorists will certainly help in curbing this problem forever.

  13. Sadia Hussain Avatar
    Sadia Hussain

    Zeeshan has raised some very valuable points, we hear so much of root causes of terrorism yet there is little to prove. The root causes are often over-lapping and they cannot be termed as definite. We have to look beyond the acts of violence and figure out what has forces these individuals to resort of violence, what makes a society radical? Why as a nation are we so in tolerant?

  14. SahraNashin Avatar

    I agree with Nazia that even though there are many root causes like social inequality, injustice, disenfranchisement but the kind of highly organized terrorism that we are witnessing is a result of the wrong policies of our state. Even though it changes the diagnosis of the problem but the treatment is still the same. Our policies of sponsoring terrorism in the past were wrong but despite that if we look for the solution we wouldn’t be able to find a short-term military one. We are hard-pressed by the foreign powers to take immediate and forceful action. But it is a myopic approach and in the long run it will alienate the population and more importantly it entails colossal collateral damage. The only solution, in my opinion, has to be a gradual dissociation, negotiations, political settlement, economic benefits, and a limited military operation with defined objectives as a very last resort. But for that one has to be earnest and do something in one’s own national interest instead of appeasement of the imperialists.

  15. dr jawad khan Avatar
    dr jawad khan

    i believe the right question is who is more stupid.

  16. Sincere Pakistani Avatar

    Who is terrorist…..?

    We can't stop terrorist who is going to blast & finish his life, but we have to destroy that "Factory" where these terrorist are being produced. We have to stop the production of these so called terrorist.

    Who has given the license to build such Factories ?

    Actually the first license was given under pressure by Gen Ayub who was blackmailed & pressurised by some groups of Mullahs/Moulvees along with Late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to accept their demands. After getting the license of this factory Gen Zia provided full support to these Factories for their production.Unfortunately the owners of these factories were illiterate,lack of Islamic knowledge & having no sense. They started the full production of these terrorists who were used against Russians in Afghanistan. The raw marerial (ammunition & weapons)was coming from Usa which was deliberately supplied to these factory owners, and some part of that material being in transit,was hold in Pak under the full willingness of Gen Zia & ISI who was playing a major role in that drama.When Gen Musharaf came in to power he played very diplomatically in this terrorist drama production. On the one side he asked aid & financial help from USA & Europe to finish these factories but on the other hand he was pressurised by the owners of these factories not to take action against the destruction of these factories (producing terrorists).Due to the full financial and moral support of Gen Zia these factory owners become so powerful & strong that they start exporting their products (Terrorists)in foreign countries/USA.The factory owners produced their product in Afghanistan to use against Russia and ultimately Russians were defeated due to these products (Terrorists). After this war the production must have been stopped by these factory owners become greedy of wealth and they started black mailing those countries who informed them to close their factories.

    These factory owners exists in Pakistan and become so powerful that they even entered in our Assembly & Parliament. They joined hands with our leading political parties to come in to power. The present govt needs their help for their continuity, if they threaten to with draw their party from Govt's coalition, the govt at once bend their knees before them and accept their irrelevent demands. This drama is going on and how long it will continue, GOD knows better, but this is the reality. Present Govt is fully responsible for these terrorists, because these terrorists are their demand. On the bases of this terrorism they are asking aids & financial support from western countries/USA to fill their bank balances. Pakistan is suffering from present corrupt Govt & terrorism.

    What will be our future…? GOD knows, but the nation is suffering very much.