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Dhaka Tribune

Good terrorist, bad terrorist

Update : 02 Aug 2013, 10:05 AM

Whenever there has been violence, there has been terrorism. This is true of any country, since the beginning of history. However, the states across the world have always differentiated between terrorists: good and bad. When I don’t like a terror-monger, he’s bound to become a bad terrorist for me; but when a terrorist serves my interests, he’s surely a good one, whose means of terrorism can then be referred to as “counter-terrorism.” 

The glaring example, for Western powers, was Osama Bin Laden. When he was fighting against the Soviets, he was “our man”; but when he changed his ideals and aimed the gun at me, he was branded as a terrorist, “bad” enough to be killed. Previously, Laden was a terrorist in the eyes of the Soviets.

The same thing happened in 1971 when Pakistan branded the Muktibahini (Bangladeshi freedom fighters) as terrorists. Why?

They were against the Pakistani interests and fighting the war of independence for Bangladesh. On the other hand, the anti-liberation forces – razakar, al-Badr and al-Shams – who, apart from the Pakistani army, were committing most of the terror acts, were regarded as the good ones.

The trend of branding someone as a terrorist and the whole question of terrorism, still remains the same. Someone’s freedom fighters are still termed as terrorists by somebody else, and somebody’s terrorists are still called freedom fighters by others.

Have a look at Syria. This country is markedly divided into good and bad (terrorists) by the Western powers. The government of Syria, and its supporters such as Russia, terms the rebels as terrorists, saying that Western support to the rebels (terrorists, according to Russia) is absolutely unacceptable.

On the other had, the terrorists in the eyes of Assad are good terrorists according to Western powers. Even the media is supporting the respective causes. When the “good terrorists” (the rebels) attacked a university (January 15, 2013) and killed 87 people, the western media kept quiet; they didn’t want to give this incident any prominence, but the Russian and others reported it in-depth.

Presently, there is a “good” al Qaeda, the ones Western powers are arming in Syria; and a “bad” al Qaeda, the ones they are killing with drones in Yemen. Now, how far can you trust the issue of fighting terrorism across the world with this so-called war on terrorism? Not much, right?

We can also read the minds of the French when its military, in a recent operation in Mali, had brought to the fore another example. In Mali’s case, Paris, with the support of London, Berlin and Washington, has committed itself to fight the militants who wanted to use violence in order to establish their power and authority. The French interests were quite simple. They had to defeat, according to them, the “bad terrorists” because, as we understand, France imports huge amounts of uranium from that country for its nuclear plants that generate 80% of its electricity.

It is not because France hates terrorism or terrorists or wanted to save lives in Mali; it simply wanted to maintain its influence in West Africa and parts of North Africa for its own purposes.

But in Libya in 2011, the same international community and their allies in Asia and Africa weren’t very focused on taking the Libyan militant groups along with them while they were unseating Muammar Gaddafi when tens of thousands of people were killed. Tricky, eh?

The Israel-US issue is more interesting. America often condones what Tel Aviv does to the Palestinians and other Arabs, but Washington never dictates any of the actions of Israel. The world silently watches how the Palestinians are suffering due to state-sponsored terror acts.

If we remember correctly, Turkey was fighting against all forms of terrorism for a long time. In 1984, more than 30,000 people were killed because of PKK. That was 10 times more than the casualties of 9/11 attacks, 150 times more than the casualties of Madrid bombings, and 600 times more than the casualties of the London bombings. At that time, most of Europe and the West didn’t help that country.

Having said that, we’re led to believe that the entire question of terrorism actually centres around power. Terrorism has always been a tool for establishing supremacy and hegemony.

The recent global terror scenario also shows that this post-9/11 war on terror hasn’t brought about good results; the great majority of the world population can clearly see that the war isn’t fighting the terrorists; rather, it has now become a tool for nurturing them. It has now added “double standard” to its characteristcs. 

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