Counter-Terrorism: Dealing With Diehards

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January29, 2007: Terrorist movements, like wars, are easier to start than to stop. With terrorists, the problem is usually the hardcore believers, who continue to fight on when most of their fellows have given up the struggle. This is what is going on in Iraq, but there are several other current examples of this. The IRA (Irish Republican Army) got going in the 1970s (as a resurgence of the organization of the same name from earlier in the century). After about thirty years of violent attacks, most of the IRA accepted peace offers. But several diehard factions continued to kill. As long as a few of those lads are still out there, the IRA violence won't be over until those holdouts die of old age, or are captured. Another recent example is the ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or Basque Homeland and Freedom). Basque is an ancient language, related to no other in the world, except possibly some in the Caucasus. The Basque people straddle the Spanish-French border, but are mainly in northwest Spain. They are the only cultural survivors of the people living in European before the Indo-European tribes (Celts, Slavs, Latins, Germans, etc) arrived over 6,000 years ago. The Basques are survivors, and the ETA is the latest in a long line of radical separatist organizations. Founded in the 1950s, ETA used terror tactics for decades, until many Basques accepted peace offers from the Spanish government in the 1970s. But, as is usually the case, hardcore members fought on, with even more determination than the IRA. There are thought to be several hundred of them left, and they are still killing people. Like the IRA, old age and more arrests are the only way to stop the ETA violence.

There are several other organizations out there, similar to the IRA and ETA. The current Islamic terrorist organizations will follow the same pattern. This can be seen happening throughout the Arab world over the last half century, as many terrorist organizations get destroyed, only to have some of their ideas, and a few survivors, show up in new outfits. What happened, and is happening, in Iraq is the Baath party (Saddams power base, which started out as a terrorist organization in the 1950s), refusing to give up after Saddam was overthrown in 2003. Joining forces with al Qaeda (which can also trace it lineage back to the 1950s), both tried to convince the majority of Iraqi Sunni Arabs to join with them in their fight against the Kurds and Shia Arabs (80 percent of the population) and the "foreign occupiers, to put Baath back in power. While often described by the mass media as a civil war, the Iraq situation is just another mess created by terrorists trying to fight vastly outnumbered and win. It rarely works. The result, in the Iraq case, is the majority of Iraqis now want to expel all the Sunni Arabs from the country. This has been underway for several years now, and nearly half the Sunnis are already gone. That sort of expulsion is also all too common, and usually involves some terrorism as well. Terrorism is expensive, more so to the terrorists than to their victims.

 


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