12 Sept 2010

Yesterday,the world joined Americans in remembering the 9/11 terrorist attacks which left scores dead and many others injured.The aftermath of the attacks has completely transformed global politics and rekindled hostile relations between the West and the Muslim world.Is the US,and the world in general,safer from further terrorist attacks?Is there a possibility of another 9/11 in the future (God forbid)?

Despite varying opinions on the subject,it is fair to conclude that terrorism remains the main threat to mankind to-date.Unfortunately,some of the actions taken by the Americans after the 9/11 attacks have somehow served as recruitment tools for future terrorists.The Iraq invasion,for instance,had little to do with 9/11 although George Bush and his fellow neo-cons tried their best to sell the idea,and eventually failed.Of course,it was necessary to bring an end to Saddam Hussein's evil rule,but, arguarbly,not at the cost the world is likely to pay.The invasion has most likely acted as a huge recruitment tool for terrorist in the Gulf region.Presence of the US troops in the country became an instant pull factor for terrorists from different parts of the world.

Although the US invasion of Afghanistan could be justified,mainly due to the fact that the Taliban offered a safe haven for Osama bin Laden,the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks,there are growing signs that the war would ultimately be concluded without a clear victory,just as the case has been in Iraq.Worse still,Osama is still at large,and his capture-if it ever happens-would probably be by sheer luck than the US military and intelligence might.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks escalated the West-Muslim world relations, already uneasy,to  more confrontational stance.The US and other Western countries were willing to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of national security.As a result,the minority Muslim population in these countries became even more alienated as they became the prime targets of some draconian anti-terror legislations.Scores have since then been arrested and put into detention with most denied access to legal representation.The mere existence of the Guantanamo facility is a clear evidence as to how a nation many tend to turn to for global  leadership of the free world is in fact abusing civil liberties.

However,intelligence and security matters are quite complex.Actually,speaking from a professional point of view,the fact that there has never been another terrorist attack in the US should certainly be perceived as quite a success for the various organisations entrusted by the Americans to keep them safe.While such organisations are required to be vigilant 24/7,a terrorist needs only a minute if not seconds to succeed in their evil mission.

All in all,for the world to be such a nice place to live,the threat from terrorism needs to be eliminated at least to a maximum level.Unfortunately,the future does not look so promising.In some way,the West is still not doing enough to address what some objective observers regards to be the pull factors in Islamic radicalisation.I will mention a few with Tanzania being a specific case.

Many studies on Islamic radicalism have shown that poverty plays a crucial role in attracting secular Muslims to turn into Islamic extremists.My own research has so far pointed out that one of the major factor for the rise of Islamism in Tanzania is,putting it bluntly,poverty.During my fieldwork,some respondents who supported the Islamist cause in the country confirmed that their participation in various Islamist groups in Tanzania was a way to protest against the State.Such groups offered them a platform to address social and economic problems facing the country.

Tanzania has emerged as "darling of the West" despite rampant corruption and inherent social injustices.The current regime under President Jakaya Kikwete who is vying for a second term in the coming elections in October has wrecked the fragile economy while trading in dangerous grounds by promising unrealistic solutions to the grievances by the disgruntled Muslim population e.g. promising re-establishing Kadhi courts and joining the OIC.Five years later,such promises which were given during the 2005 General Election campaigns are yet to be realised,putting the country in a compromising position for possible troubles in the future.

Ironically,Kikwete has been showered with praises for his leadership,with the latest coming from the UN Secretary General,Ban Ki-Moon wishing him victory in the forthcoming election.He was also the first leader from Africa to meet President Barack Obama since he got into the White House.It is widely known in the security circles that the American interest on Tanzania is in their effort to contain a growing terrorist threats posed by various Islamist groups in Somalia.The West has turned a blind eye to what is currently happening in Tanzania just because their strategic interest in the country are far more important than the welfare of the majority of Tanzanians.Undoubtedly,Kikwete and his party will portray themselves to voters as being trusted by the West,and therefore try to win some cheap votes.

It is fair to say that the huge share of Africa's stolen wealth is in some Western financial institutions.It also makes no sense at all to see the West pouring aid to African countries when some part of such aid is either used to oppress democracy at a local level or strengthening corrupt regimes such as Tanzania's.As a result,the majority poor would readily fall victim to religious fanatics who promise heaven to them while doing their best to fill the vacuum caused by the State in provision of basic social and economic needs.

I am not calling for suspension of aid but what Africans need is transparent and responsible aid.For such aid to be effective,donor countries have to make sure that the money they offer benefit the whole population and not just a clique of corrupt politicians.The same strictness that some Western governments have shown towards recipients of stimulus packages in their countries should be applied to recipients of their aid.

Finally,as this year's 9/11 commemoration was overshadowed by  the crazy threat  by a Florida-based "twisted pastor" Terry Jones that he would burn the Holy Koran,it is worth reminding all peace-loving people of the world that replicating what the terrorists are doing will only give them further excuses to continue with their evil acts.A blank hate towards all Muslims would only encourage even those who are totally opposed to religious extremism to join forces with terrorists.

Let's work together,regardless of our faiths, to keep the world a better place to live.


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