Counter-Terrorism: Faith Based Terrorism Is Everywhere

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October 23,2008:  Violence in the name of religion is still, after thousands of years, one of the most common causes of  terrorism. Arguably, communism, which professed to be against all religion, was the biggest offender of all, having killed over a hundred million people in the last century. Communism was faith based, and demanded blind obedience from its followers, had a complex theology, holy places (the tombs of founders, where worshippers still flock) and a fondness for mass murder ("for the greater good.") But even the more traditional religions still have their zealots, and these guys (they are nearly all men) are still at it.

At present, Islamic terrorists are the most well known, and responsible for most terrorist deaths in the last few decades. There are many Islamic sects that operate mainly within Islam, and are little known to outsiders. Shia Islam has several of these, usually ones who are violent in their efforts to trigger the return of the Mahdi (a long dead Islamic leader killed in an Islamic civil war), a holy warrior that is to one day come back and set things right. Fanatic followers of the Mahdi pray, fornicate and fight among themselves to make this happen.

Moslems are hardly the only religion to suffer from this malady. Jewish zealots in Israel are becoming more active, and murderous. One of their main objective is the establishment of a "greater Israel" (including the West Bank and parts of neighboring countries), and the expulsion of non-believers. Christian zealots have focused of late on abortion, and several medical personnel associated with that procedure have been murdered as a result. There have been some Christian cults that have killed, but usually among themselves. Hinduism, generally one of the more mild mannered and tolerant of the major world religions, has its homicidal fanatics. Their rage is currently directed at Moslems (seen as a centuries old threat), and Christians (mainly for converting Hindus). Even Buddhism has created some fanatics. The Aum Shinri Kyo, a radical Japanese group seeking to trigger a planetary apocalypse, were the first terrorists to use nerve gas in attacks. This group was denounced by all other Buddhist sects, and its terrorist members rounded up and jailed in the 1990s. But the group is still out there.

There are also pagan (what the more modern religions call all the older ones) sects that terrorize and kill. These often practice what is called magic. Literally, it is the use of incantations, sacrifices (including some using humans, even children) and appeals to the supernatural for favors. These sects kill hundreds, perhaps thousands, each year. Mainly in Africa, but this sort of thing also shows up in Asia and the Americas.

Prayer and faith are powerful tools and motivators, but sometimes the faith is misplaced, and amped up to the point where many die. These old ways are with us still.

 

 


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