October 29, 2001
New Delhi, October 29, 2001: Dr. L. M. Singhvi, distinguished jurist
and Member of Parliament, commenting on the aftermath of the September
11 terrorist attacks in the USA and the subsequent developments in South
Asia, stated today that General Pervez Musharraf was no longer in charge
of public opinion in Pakistan. Musharraf, Dr. Singhvi said, "leads
a state, he leads a military coterie, but he does not lead the opinion
of the people of Pakistan.
Dr. Singhvi was speaking at an international seminar on "The Global
Threat of Terror: Ideological, Material and Political Linkages"
organised by K.P.S. Gill's Institute for Conflict Management. The Institute
constitutes a major forum for research, data and analysis on terrorism
and low intensity warfare in South Asia. The Seminar was convened at
the India Habitat Centre.
Dr. Singhvi observed that it was not possible to "reason with a
terrorist" because he is a person "who has lost faith in every
system of conflict resolution." He added further that it was not
guns and bombs alone, but the supporting ideologies that constitute
the greatest threat of terrorism, and it was necessary to address the
problem of the breeding grounds of these ideologies. Dr. Singhvi emphasised
that it was necessary to study and understand the causes of terrorism,
but cautioned that such intellectual enquiry should never be allowed
to become the condonation of terror or an excuse for terrorism.
On the idea of a "moderate Taliban" propounded by Pakistan
and the US, he said that the very concept was ridiculous and a contradiction
in terms. Emphasising the need to "overcome the fanaticization
and politicization of religion," Dr. Singhvi said that the battle
for freedom is the battle against terrorism. Terrorism as an ideology,
he said, challenges the ideology of freedom. He remarked further that
"Many of us rose mistakenly to the defence of terrorists because
we believed - again mistakenly - that these were cases of violation
of human rights. But terrorism is the greatest violation of human rights."
Dr. William Maley, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Politics, University
College, University of New South Wales, Australia, noted that perhaps
most arresting aspect about the circumstances surrounding the attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, is
that despite the large number of people involved, in at least four separate
groups, not a word leaked about what was planned. He expressed the opinion
that bonds of fraternity within terrorist groups were deliberately kept
at high levels of intimacy, and would have had some role to play in
this remarkable achievement. He noted, moreover, that at least some
of the killers in this case seemed to differ from the typical socially
marginal 'Islamikaze' with poor self-esteem.
Commenting in the context of Taliban regime, Dr. Maley said that the
notion of 'state power' is itself elusive, since the state in Afghanistan
is currently little more than a set of symbols rather than an administrative
apparatus. In a case such as this, he observed that religion becomes
an indispensable device for symbolic legitimation of power through an
appeal to a "higher power".
Dr. Maley observed that the Indian political system has proved exceedingly
vigorous, and survived the 1975-1977 'Emergency' primarily due to the
considerable power of socialisation. Pakistan, by contrast, has had
considerable difficulty in this sphere, partly because of tensions over
the substance of national identity, and partly because of the weakness
of the education system and mass media which have provided opportunities
for sectarianism to develop.
Dr. Reuven Paz, Academic Director of the International Policy Institute
for Counter-Terrorism, Israel, speaking on the first day of the 3-day
seminar said that the development of new and larger bases of Islamist
radicalism and terrorism or political violence in Muslim communities
in the West - mainly Europe, and North and South America - were occurring
under the consolidation of two relatively new Islamist doctrines: One
is the globalization of the Islamist struggle in the form of the solidarity
of global Jihad as a religious duty, against what they perceive as the
global conspiracy against Islam as a religion, culture, and way of life.
The other is the emergence of a new Islamist trend and doctrine of the
"Non-Territorial Islamic State".
In his opinion, a significant example resulting in the globalization
of this ideology is the spread of suicide terrorism in recent years
- from Lebanon to the Palestinian arena, to East Africa, Kashmir, Chechnya,
the Yemen, and the United States.
Dr. Paz observed that in many cases, Islamist activists have an influence
on parts of the Muslim public whose religious knowledge is poor. He
added that as a consequence of social pressures, they tend to adopt
motives that often violate religious rules or norms and emphasise social
and political confrontation. The radical perception of basic Jihad as
ordered by the Prophet is therefore more attractive and appealing to
many of them. He indicated that US prosecutors claimed that this element
has been used by Bin Laden and his allied groups through international
companies and relief organizations. These "front organizations"
were used for recruitment, and communications through fax, satellite
phones, the internet and coded letters.
Islamic and Islamist movements and groups have succeeded, according
to Dr. Paz, over the past three decades in planting in Arab and Muslim
societies the notion that they represent the true contemporary interpretation
The Islamist "terrorist culture", Dr. Paz said can be sketched
as a pyramid -- in the bottom and base of it there is the large-scale
activity of the Islamic moderate and non-violent groups, associations,
institutes, and projects of all kinds. At the head of the pyramid there
is the radical and pro-terrorist activity. In the middle there are various
processes that refine certain social elements into hatred, revenge,
the search for power and violence.
Commenting in the western context, he noted the growing alienation between
many Muslims settled in Western nations, and the surrounding Western
societies. The attacks in the United States, may consequently be the
first stage in transferring Islamist terrorism into the heart and centers
of the Western world.
Pointing out response mechanisms, he said that the solution in the fight
against the Brotherhood of Global Jihad lies in creating the Brotherhood
of Global Counter-Terrorism and maximum co-operation in intelligence
The Ambassador of Egypt, Mr. Gehad Madi, while challenging Mr. Reuven
Paz's account of the roots of terrorism, said that terrorism in West
Asia commenced in the 1940's with Jewish terrorism. While emphasising
the root causes of terrorism, the Ambassador opined that occupation
is the worst form of terrorism. According to him, in order to deal with
cycles of violence and counter-violence, one has to address the issue
of Israeli occupation. He blamed the increase in suicide terrorism attacks
by Palestinians as the desperation that arose out of the overwhelming
use of force by the militarily strong Israel.
Mr. Mahmoud Mourad, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram, Egypt's leading
Arabic Newspaper, said in his presentation that that Osama bin Laden
had a special status among the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and they considered
him a leader. He spoke of the history of bin Laden's co-operation with
American Intelligence Agencies, and the large quantities of modern weapons
he had received from these sources. Mr. Mourad indicated that bin Laden
had emerged gradually as a 'famous figure' in the Afghan theatre, not
only through public appearances, but by consolidating his organizational
structures over time, and at this stage the United States and other
European countries took no hostile notice of these developments, and
refused to take a position against these evolving organizations and
their symbols. On the contrary, they gave them protection and the right
of asylum and residence in these countries for many reasons, including
a strong relation between these intelligence and these organizations,
and the existing relation between Arab Afghans and the CIA, as also
an old relation between British Intelligence and other organizations.
Mr. Mourad condemned terrorism as a "foolish devil without homeland
or identity." According to him, terrorist groups join forces and
co-operate with mercenaries to secure the assistance they need in committing
their crimes. In his perspective, "Politics is the reason behind
the burst of terrorism in all its forms and colors. It is an organized
crime but also a political one, from the point of view of motives and
aims. Without the political factor, terrorism will be just an ordinary
crime and its perpetrator would be a criminal, whether he is an individual,
a gang or the Mafia."
Speaking at the same forum, B. Raman, former Additional Secretary,
Cabinet Secretariat, debunked the "larger than life" images
of the Taliban and Mullah Omar. He said that little of their actual
war against the Russians had been documented, as the efforts of other
mujahideen groups in Afghanistan had been. Very little was known about
Mullah Omar, and it is not clear that he has actually expressed the
ideas attributed to him. There is, he asserted, a "brain trust"
that is manufacturing and projecting these false images. This process,
he alleged, has resulted in the creation of a synthetic charismatic
leadership that has nothing to do with the real activities and capabilities
of these individuals. It was futile to target Mullah Omar and the Taliban
without locating and acting against this "brain trust".
The Seminar will continue through four sessions between 09:45 and 17:30
on October 30 & 31, 2001. Shri George Fernandes, Minister of Defense,
will deliver a special address at 11:00 on October 30, 2001. K.P.S.
Gill will present an assessment of current developments in counter-terrorist
policy and practices at 15:00 on October 31, 2001. The Valedictory Address
of the International Seminar will be delivered at 16:00 on October 31,
2001, by Mr. Arun Shourie, Minister for Disinvestment and the Department
of Development of the North East Region.
List Of Foreign Participants