Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Global fight against terror

Five years after 11. In the September attacks, it is clear that Osama bin Laden has managed to unite the world in the fight against terror.



[terrorist camp] Berlin, 24. August: "I am pleased that this form of international cooperation is so successful."

That's how German Foreign Minister, a happy Frank-Walter Steinmeier, formulated himself to the world press a few weeks ago: Lebanese intelligence had then arrested three suspects behind the failed bomb attack on a passenger train outside Cologne 31. July this year.

Last weekend, a fourth suspect was arrested after Lebanon's military police captured the call when he called home to Beirut. Barely the war attacks from Israel were over before Lebanon managed to solve Germany's terror riddle.

The fight against terrorism has since 11. The September attacks against the United States half a decade ago became international, unpolitical and cross-religious. The effect of Al Qaeda's terrorist attack is that the world is now united against terrorism like never before.

Baghdad, 2. September: Iraqi security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie proudly announces that Al Qaeda's deputy leader in Iraq, Hamed Jumaa al-Saeedi, has been arrested in Baquoba, north of Baghdad. It happens "after an operation carried out by Iraqi security forces supported by US troops". Nearly the same site, notorious Abu al-Zarqawi was killed 7. June.

It is not only in controversial Iraq that counter-terrorism takes place through transnational intelligence. Only a few countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea now stand outside this cross-border cooperation.

Islamabad-London, 10. August: "We have been monitoring the suspects for a long time in collaboration with British anti-terror police," Pakistan spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said. She explained how 21 suspects in England were jailed because they planned to blow up ten planes on their way to the United States with the help of jelly and MP3 players.

The efforts of Pakistani police caused the British to strike before the alleged attack. Then President Pervez Musharraf got a phone call from George W. Bush: Bush stated that Pakistan's role in the fight against terror is now "formidable" and that the efforts are "highly valued".

Like calling the war

Since terrorism is hitting the global stage, the fight against terrorism has become more international. Of near 3000 deaths following the attack on the World Trade Center in the US, 250 were foreign nationals from an 40 number of countries, including Bangladesh, Israel, Sweden and Malaysia.

Both the terror and the war of terror show that the world does not face a "civil conflict" but an international fight against a global threat. US Prime Minister Samuel P. Huntington, who launched the concept of civilization, quickly pointed out the following to The Washington Post after 11. September, however, without being heard: "The terrorists do not represent Islam ... Correctly defined, this is a struggle for civilization."

The posterity gave him justice. After 11. September 2001, 26.620 lives have been lost in terrorist actions around the world. 7633 of these have been killed in suicide attacks, according to the database of the organization The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (Mipt). Although all the media reports would indicate otherwise, terrorism has to a small extent affected Europe or the United States. 331 people have been killed in terrorist attacks in Western Europe in recent years. Most were killed during the Madrid 11 terror attack. March 2004 and London 7. July 2005.

Many terrorist actions have been averted, and larger actions may be on the way. But so far, the statistics are striking: 98 percent of all terror victims since September 2001 have lost their lives outside Western Europe and North America.

Worst hit is Iraq, which has over 60 percent of all the world's, and 90 percent of the Middle East, terror victims. The one with the most lives on the conscience is the recently assassinated al-Zarqawi and his "Al Qaeda in the land of the two rivers". In addition, countries such as Egypt, Russia, Jordan, India and Indonesia have been hit hard by Al Qaeda-linked terrorist attacks.

This is how today's hot terror war (2001-) has a parallel to the Cold War (1945-1989): In both cases, the worst battles take place outside Western Europe. At the same time, Americans and Western Europeans are characterized by the fear of Al Qaeda, not unlike the fear of the "post-war" nuclear bomb. Therefore, we should put today's terrorist threat into a larger global perspective.

Terror in the 70's

Al Qaeda alone does not account for more than a tenth of all terrorist casualties during these five years. For example, the Nepalese Maoist guerrilla has been responsible for more than 500 terrorist attacks over the past five years, much like the Lords Resistance Army in Uganda. Organizations such as the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and the "Self-Defense Group" in Colombia are responsible for roughly 100 terrorist attacks each.

Just over 400 organizations worldwide are listed on Mipt's list of terrorist groups, which carry out organized violence against civilians and others for the purpose of creating fears of achieving political goals. And several of them have been active for decades. Terrorism

From 1968 to 1973, 132 people were terrorized in Western Europe: The continent was at the top of the world as a terrorist terrorist in the world, with active terrorist groups such as Baader Meinhof, the IRA, ETA and the Japanese Red Front. At the end of the 80 century, nearly as many terrorist attacks in Western Europe were killed as it has been since 11. September.

The last five years have thus been more a return to the European state of terror from the 1970 and 80 centuries than a transition to something fundamentally new. But the Al Qaeda terror seems to strike more arbitrarily and has a greater potential for harm than the old European terrorist organizations. And even in Scandinavia, the fear of being hit is growing, as this week's arrests in Denmark are signs.

At the same time, new terrorist groups are emerging on the outskirts of Europe, concealing all the attention around Al Qaeda. 21. bombs were placed on an immigrant-dominated market east of Moscow in August. Eight people of Asian origin were killed. The backers are suspected to be the emerging Neo-Nazis, who, in the wake of the global terror against the majority population, carry out their terrorist activities against selected minority groups.

Indonesia's success

But while Russia struggles to capture such terrorists, terror-stricken Indonesia has taken offensive action. 12. October 2002 202 people were killed when Al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah detonated a bomb on Kuta Beach, Bali. After six months of investigation, four people were sentenced to severe penalties. Also guilty of the suicide attack in a restaurant on Kuta 1. October 2005 was tracked by Indonesian authorities.

The person responsible for finding the culprits for the 2002 bombing was then Security Minister Susilo Bambang. Two years ago, he was elected President of Indonesia, and now he has launched a number of new anti-terrorism measures, such as the registration of anonymous mobile phone numbers.

Mobile surveillance has become very central in the fight against terrorism. An example: 11. April 2002, Polish Al Qaeda member Christian Ganczarski called the head of Khalid Shaik Mohammed's mobile in Karachi, Pakistan. There were only a few rings, but Swiss, American and Pakistani investigators still managed to track down Mohammed one year later. In April 2003, Indonesian and Saudi police used the information from these mobile calls to blast each terrorist cell. Later, Ganczarski's call means that in January, 2004 could arrest eight Al Qaeda suspects.

Terror has become global. It also characterizes the fight against terror.

STELL ATTENTION: Terrorist actions in the US and Western Europe dominate the headlines, but they account for only a fraction of the total death toll over the last five years. Heathrow airport in London was paralyzed in August after Pakistani and English police revealed a possible attack. Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico, Reuters / Scanpix

Dag Herbjørnsrud
Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

You may also like