December 28, 2001
RELIGION AND TERRORISM
The world is filled with different religions and different ideologies formed around governments and political organizations. The problem that arises from not separating church and state issues is that the government tends to force the citizens of the nation to worship as the administration deems fit. Within these religious groups are extremist, and these members can be the deadliest of all the parishioners. Acts of religious terrorism are the responsibility of devout extremists that commit acts of horror in the name of many different religions. While many terrorist actions are committed in the name of religion, there is not one religion that is responsible for all spiritual acts of terrorism.
Islamic extremists, like Ramzi Ahmad Yousef, pose a large threat of religious terrorism and are very difficult to identify. These types of militants are very hard to trace, due to the fact that the Islamic faith does not sponsor the act of terrorism, but it is the individuals inclination. In February 1993, Ramzi Ahmad Yousef was found to be responsible for the explosion of a massive van bomb in an underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York, which killed six and wounded over 1,000 (Combs, 120). This would later turn out to not be the only attack on the World Trade Center. Unlike the interconnected terrorist groups of the past, for example the Provisional Irish Republican Army, many of the Islamic militant members are individuals who do not owe allegiance to any particular association, making identification and trace checks very difficult because not every member of the Islamic faith is a terrorist.
Muslim terrorists are often Mujahadeen (religious fighter), devoted to Islam and committed to jihad (Holy War). One particular Muslim that has received a lot of attention lately due to the second attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001 is Osama bin Laden, leader of the militant group al Qaeda, based in Afghanistan. Although bin Laden was suspected of master-minding other terrorist acts, like the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, the United States has had problems finding this individual due to the Taliban (the ruling religious faction in now only a small part of Afghanistan) has been providing a safe-haven for the villain. Although the Muslim faith does not endorse mass-killings and persecutions, like the actions committed by the Taliban and bin Laden, the extremists under the claim of jihad have justified these acts. The reason that makes Osama bin Laden such an extraordinary example, is that he is more dangerous by virtue of his immense wealth, personal capabilities, and charisma.
Extremist militants of other faiths also have an involvement in terrorist violence and must not be ignored. Christian religious groups, such as the Aryan Nations or the Ku Klux Klan, are active in North America, and are becoming more closely associated with the Militia Movement. This group has found roots in the Protestant Christian Religion and has even dreamt of political aspirations (Simonsen, 40). Although the basis of Christianity is not prejudice and intolerance of all other religions, this group of extremist has justified a right to terrorize and suppress African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and even white civil rights workers. This organization has violated the civil rights of the citizens of the United States since the 1920s with harassments, slandering, and even lynch mobs that would conduct public hangings.
Around the world and even within the United States, the religious extremists of many different organizations threaten the security of everyone through terrorism. These different religions stem from not separating political views from religious views. Every organization should be allowed to practice religious beliefs without the fear of being persecuted by another religious sect.
The problem that the religious extremists of the terrorism scene today are building is the extreme dislike from the rest of the world against the very thing they are trying to protect. Acts of sacred terrorism are the responsibility of devout extremists that commit acts of horror in the name of many different religions. While many terrorist actions are committed in the name of religion, there is not one religion that is responsible for all religious acts of terrorism.
Combs, Cindy C. TERRORISM IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY.
Second Ed., Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall, 2000.
Simonsen, Clifford E. & Spindlove, Jeremy R. TERRORISM
TODAY: THE PAST, THE PLAYERS, THE FUTURE. Upper Saddle
River: Prentice-Hall, 2000.