Caught between anti-corruption hypocrisies and pre-election manipulations, we are failing to notice the gathering clouds of a new kind of terrorism. Many perspective observers had commented that America's “war on terror” would in fact inflame terrorism instead of containing it. Is that happening already?
It is clear that hatred of America has intensified among those who were targeted by the war on terror. In spite of the civilian government handpicked and installed by the US in Baghdad, Iraqis are known to be seething with anger against the Americans. Not all of Hamid Karzai's clever foxtrotting has prevented Afghans from looking at Americans as persecutors instead of saviours.
Pakistan is the outstanding example of the failure of American policy. Successive American administrations spent hundreds of millions of dollars to sustain both the governments and the military forces of Pakistan. Despite some humming and hawing, the lifeline supplies continue. Yet, the Pakistani establishment heartily dislikes America. Public anger often spills out into the street with venemous slogans and threats highlighting anti-American demonstrations. Despite all efforts by America to dismantle terror camps in Pakistan, the outfits that sustain terrorism have only grown in strength and reach.
Obviously India is a victim of this expansion. While spectacular events like the Mumbai terror attack hit headlines, more sinister is the sustained effort to subvert the economy and simultaneously fund terror modules in India by circulating vast amounts of fake currency. Eleven Bengali construction workers were arrested in Hyderabad a week ago with ten lakhs worth of fake Indian notes. A few months ago fake notes worth 2 lakhs were seized from a lodge in Kerala. Now Mumbai police has tracked down large quantities of counterfeit American dollars made in Pakistan.
According to the National Investigation agency, rupee notes printed in Pakistan are flown to Bangladesh, then taken by carriers who walk across the border into Bengal from where migrant labourers take the lot to southern states, targeting small shops in small towns. The damage this does to India is self-evident. That currency traffic focuses on Kerala is also significant. Kerala recently figured as a recruiting area for terrorist work in Kashmir. Some of the men arrested in that connection created such a ruckus inside their jail that prisons along the coast have been put on special security alert. Such is the power of terrorist cells and their international backers.
Maldiveans visit Kerala fairly often; they can stay in India for 90 days without visa. Maldives has lately seen Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba establishing new active modules. Fundamentalist groups have come up in the country staging protests against the perceived tolerant attitude of the Government. These groups are well funded.
Perhaps the scariest manifestation of newfound terrorism is in Nigeria, known hitherto as an economic frontrunner in western Africa firmly anchored in its oil wealth. For weeks now it has been witnessing violent battles between Muslims and non-Muslims. Some parts of the country have been put under a state of emergency while borders with some neighbours have been closed.
To know the virulence of the hate wars under way, we only have to look at the name of the group that spearheads it in Nigeria. The name is Boko Haram (short form for Jama'atu Ahlet Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, meaning People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad. In a local dialect Boko Haram means “western education is sin”).
Founded in 2002, it took to war only by 2009. Was this transformation connected to the thesis promulgated by Ayman al-Zawahiri, chief of the post-Bin Laden Al Queda, that instead of focussing on countries like US, jihadists should concentrate on reinforcing Islamic commitments in Muslim-majority countries and in countries that 'traditionally belonged to Muslims', whatever that means?
The moral is again what perceptive observers had seen long ago – that the Bin Ladens of the world may be taken out, but that would not snuff out terrorism. Greed sparked yesterday's wars. Hatred sparks today's. Wars go on because greed and hatreds go on.