When I looked up the Wiki link for 'Ajmal Amir Kasab' the only sole surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attacks, who has been reportedly singing like a bird to the Indian authorities (and the FBI??) I was revealed to a new dimension of his personality. I wish to present two interesting aspects that he has supposedly revealed during interrogations.
1. The first excerpt from the wiki page Ajmal Amir had but a limited understanding of jihad, based on the statements he made to authorities. He told interrogators "it is about killing and getting killed and becoming famous." "Come, kill and die after a killing spree. By this one will become famous and will also make Allah proud," is what the suspect said when police asked him what he understood about jihad........."When we asked whether he knew any verses from the Quran that described jihad, Ajmal Amir said he did not," police said. "In fact he did not know much about Islam or its tenets," according to a police source.
2. The second excerpt from the same page He shocked police through his readiness to switch loyalties now that he was apprehended....."If you give me regular meals and money I will do the same for you that I did for them," he said.
These reports seem to suggest that although Ajmal was a terrorist he wasn't a religious extremist. Till recently the two personality traits of being a terrorist and that of being a religious extremist has been juxtaposed in many minds, often equating the two. 26/11 has seemed to suggest a possible de-linking of the two. This looks to be a silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud of terrorism. Its easier to handle and curb terrorism, if the roots are political, economical or even ideological. The job gets difficult if the desire to perpetuate terrorism stems from a religious cause.
Whether we curb terrorism or not , the first consequence of this de-linking, will be an increased tolerance towards people who may share a religious identity with those who perpetuate terror. After 9/11, the world over has seen the development of a social polarisation on the lines of religion. People who had completely contrary ideals to those of Al Khaeda, but still shared first names or sacred texts with the members of the infamous organisation, have been at the receiving end of a serious social discrimination. The statements of Ajmal should necessarily reverse this trend.
Terrorism has caused profound damage to lives and property of innocent individuals world over. But it has also shocked he world with its seemingly inexplicable ways of taking 'normal-seeming' people into its folds. With unexpected arrest of a MNC employee in Bangalore, accused of having links with the world of terror, and with similar such incidents world over, the rationale of thinking behind these well educated, financially satisfied minds have been in question. It has puzzled many a people that religious sentiments could be such a strong motive for individuals to walk the board and kill innocent lives.
The statements of Ajmal on the contrary are more comforting. It is nice to see that terrorists like Ajmal are willing to switch loyalties in return for socio-economic benefits . One can only hope that Ajmal is a good representation of the average terrorist from a poor family in Faridkot or any other impoverished part of the world.
I want to conclude with a very old but relevant piece of writing by Zaigham Ali Mirza in the Khaleej Times dated December 2005 (Read: Religious extremism to be major concern). It says that the real concern for the nations of the world in the next 10 or 20 years will not really be terrorism, but religious extremism. it is worth observing that terrorism is merely a symptom and not a disease . The real disease could be poverty, social discrimination, ideological difference or religious extremism.
Stringent security establishments, increased intelligence and air strikes over terrorist camps are merely attacking the symptom. It is like eating aspirin for a headache. But the headache could be caused by something as small as a viral infection or something as serious as a brain tumour. Our real problem is the brain tumour, not the headache by itself.