Contrary to common belief ignited by some Western media outlets, the West is not alone in its fight against terrorism. Muslim and Arab countries are among those affected as well; the whole world is being devoured by this evil phenomenon.
A Brief History of Terrorism
Terrorism began a long time ago, for example the Jewish Sicarii group, who worked to assassinate its enemies to expel the Romans from the land of Palestine in the first century AD.
In the late 11th century, the Hashshashin (a.k.a. the Assassins) arose, an offshoot of the Isma’ili sect of Shia Muslims. Led by Hassan-i Sabbah and opposed to Fatimid rule, the Hashshashin militia seized Alamut and other fortress strongholds across Persia. Hashshashin forces were too small to challenge enemies militarily, so they assassinated city governors and military commanders in order to create alliances with militarily powerful neighbors. The Hashshashin also carried out assassinations as retribution.
The Reign of Terror (Sept. 5, 1793 – July 28, 1794), or simply The Terror, was a period of 11 months during the French Revolution when the ruling Jacobins employed violence, including mass executions by guillotine to intimidate the regime’s enemies and compel obedience to the state. The number killed reached approximately 40,000, and among the guillotined were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Putting an end to the Terror, on July 28, 1794 Maximilien Robespierre, its most well-known leader, was guillotined by other members of France’s ruling National Convention.
It is worth mentioning the assassination of Egyptian president El Sadat in 1981. It was during a military parade held in Nasr City, Cairo on Oct. 6, 1981 in celebration of the victory achieved during the war of October 1973.
On Dec. 21, 1988, a suitcase bomb exploded on the New York-bound Pan Am Flight 103, killing all 259 passengers and crewmembers, along with 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.
On 17 November 1997, The Luxor massacre occurred where 62 people were killed, mostly tourists, at Deir el-Bahri, an archaeological site and major tourist attraction across the Nile River from Luxor in Egypt.
Perhaps the most memorable terrorist attacks were in the United States. On Sept. 11, 2001, a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks, where four passenger airliners operated by two major U.S. passenger air carriers were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. The attack was attributed to the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $US 10 billion in property and infrastructure damage.
It is worth mentioning that Osama Bin Laden, the late leader of AL-Qaeda, was part of the Mujahideen resistance in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Under CIA’s Operation Cyclone from 1979 to 1989, the United States and Saudi Arabia provided $US 40 billion worth of financial aid and weapons to almost 100,000 Mujahideen and “Afghan Arabs” from 40 Muslim countries through Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency.
Moving on to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is a terrorist group which gained prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq, followed by its capture of Mosul.
One of the main reasons to the formation of ISIS in the region is because of the US-coalition invasion of Iraq, another main reason was because of the dissolution to the Iraqi army after the invasion. The invasion greatly destabilized the area and the dissolution of the Iraqi army led to the displacement of many soldiers to terrorist organizations.
Terrorism in Egypt
Terrorism in Egypt have targeted government officials, police, tourists and the Christian minority. There have been six attacks during the 2000s, and another nine attacks since 2010 till now.
The last attack was on May 26, 2017, masked gunmen opened fire on a convoy carrying Copts from Maghagha in Egypt’s Minya Governorate to the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, killing at least 28 people and injuring 22 others.
Terrorism in Saudi Arabia
Terrorism in Saudi Arabia has targeted foreign civilians, and Westerners affiliated with its oil-based economy, as well as Saudi Arabian civilians and security forces. Anti-Western attacks have occurred in Saudi Arabia dating back to 1995.
Terrorism in Europe
There has been a period of increased Islamic terrorist activity in Europe since 2014. The rise in attacks is variously understood as spillover of the Syrian Civil War and linked to the rise of the ISIS.
About 28 terrorist attacks on Europe from 2014 till now, the latest attack happened on June 19, 2017, when a van was driven into pedestrians in Finsbury Park, London, injuring at least ten people. This occurred near the Muslim Welfare House, 100 yards (90 m) from Finsbury Park Mosque. A group of Muslims had earlier performed Tarawih, nightly prayers held during Ramadan, when they came across a man who had collapsed at a bus stop. While rendering first aid they were rammed, and ten were injured. The man who had collapsed died at the scene.
It is obvious that Terrorism does not differentiate between anybody when it comes to killing innocent people, whether it is Europe and in the US or in the Middle where you will find a large number of terrorist attacks
Muslim Population vs Muslim Terrorists
Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. There were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world as of 2015 – roughly 24 percent of the global population – per a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.
Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims.
Most Muslims, 62 percent, live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.
Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, but Pew Research Center projects that India will have that distinction by the year 2050 (while remaining a majority-Hindu country), with more than 300 million Muslims.
According to an article by the CNN, that if we round up the low and high estimates for all terrorist groups, we can begin to have a sense of the total number of terrorist militants that are part of formal organizations around the globe. They found that on the low end, an estimated 85,000 men are fighting in these groups around the world; on the high end, 106,000. So, out of 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, there are about 106,000 terrorists. Do the math.
We must stand Together
Terrorism is affecting us all. It is threatening all of us and our way of life; it is affecting Muslims as well as Christians and it is affecting Middle-Easterners as well as Westerners. We are all victims of this evil phenomenon. Terrorists kill regardless of age, sex or religion, that is why we must stand together to confront this existential danger, it is the not the West against terrorism, nor the Middle-East against terrorism, it is humanity against terrorism.