Friday, January 07, 2011

Terror techniques & their counter-measures

Sultan M Hali, Pakistan Observer

There are various techniques in vogue by terrorists, which are being employed to subvert the uneducated youth and different methods are being utilized to infiltrate communities / masses to gain their support during planning and execution phases. How does a single individual go from standing on a street corner to flicking a switch and blowing himself up? The question is apparently simple. The answers are not. The religious extremists and harbingers of hate follow a rigid curriculum in brainwashing young men to become suicide bombers. It is not easy to replace an individual’s intrinsic love of life with death worship, propelling him on a path that ultimately ends up with him in a suicide jacket ready to become a gory statistic. The methodology is described here. The indoctrination lectures progress from the general to specific.

Throughout these lectures, the teachers convince the young recruits, of whom there is no dearth in the impoverished region they come from, that their religion is the most superior in the universe; that theirs is the only true religion with all the rest being false or erroneous. And that the adherents of those other religions are actually an impediment in the total spread of the one true religion. These initial lectures are rendered with the “fire and brimstone” method of rhetoric and to emphasize the veracity, misquotes from the Holy Qurân are freely used.

Next, through daily teachings of hour’ long sessions, it is instilled in the recruits’ minds that the path they have chosen i.e. the propagation of this one true religion and the subjugation of all the rest, is essentially struggling in the cause of God. That this struggle (jihad), though difficult, is ordained by Allah. They are constantly bombarded by “relevant” verses. They are told that heavens and its untold pleasures is the reward for those who die while fighting in the cause of God.

This first indoctrination step, acting as a foundation for what is to come, is relatively simple. The students, who have been born in Muslim families, are already convinced of everything that is told to them and the fiery lectures act as reinforcers for their supple minds. Soon afterwards they are introduced to the implement that will launch them on that one-way journey to the heavens—the “suicide jacket”. Starting from the trigger mechanism to its contents and effects, with painstaking thoroughness, the children are taught about a suicide jacket. They are taught that it usually consists of several pockets filled with plates or sticks of explosives. The explosive is surrounded by material for fragmentation effects. The resultant shrapnel is responsible for most of the bomb’s lethality i.e. about 90% of all casualties caused by an exploding suicide jacket. A “loaded” jacket may weigh between 5 to 20 kilograms, with 60-40 ratio of explosive to shrapnel material and may be easily hidden under loose flowing garments. For excellent shrapnel effects, any small metal pieces could be used but the best are ball bearing, nails, screws, nuts and metal wire. The most dangerous and widely used shrapnel are ball bearings that are 3 to 7 millimeters in diameter. In the evenings further indoctrination classes are held. In a mellifluous tone, the teacher explains to the children that modernity and secular culture of the West are abominable sins. The import of Western culture is leading the devout astray from God. The unbelief of the West is so grave a sin that it merits death whenever it becomes a hurdle to the spread of the one true religion. It is imprinted on the impressionable minds that the current miserable plight of the recruit’s nation is because of wandering away from the chosen path.

By the end of these lectures, the recruit is usually filled with a feeling of utter humiliation and blinding rage. A consuming hatred for infidels and their local lackeys (no distinction is made between the two) comes as a natural accompaniment of course. At night the children are made to sleep cuddling their suicide jackets to get used to a garment they will be wearing till they go into heaven. They are filled with dreams of entering the pearly gates of heaven in full glory. The cycle of lectures and practical drills goes on for months. On the last day of the training, they are taken to a special hall. Painted on the walls of which are beautiful images of lush green vistas, dotted with fruit laden trees, interspersed with streams of milk and honey. In attendance in the images are lovely dove-eyed females that are beaming inviting smiles at the onlookers. Here the recruits are told that their training is over and they now have to wait for the calling—a proposition almost unbearable for some of the impatient ones.

They are issued with certificates authorizing them to enter paradise. Two last instructions are given: 1. Not to feel guilty for the victims. The suicide bomber is carrying them to the heavens with him. They will in fact be waiting at the gates of heaven to greet him with garlands.2. To look down while pulling the handle on the suicide jacket. This will ensure that their faces are blown into a million little pieces. This not only guarantees that the infidels cannot track down their identities to this training institution; others’ chances of ascension to heavens are also preserved.

This then is the method to the madness, which needs to be countered. There is dire need for the resumption of local community vigilance system, coordination with police and monitoring of children’s activities by their parents. We need to promote the need for cooperation of public and activation of community vigilance system as it will enable law enforcing agencies to deliver more effectively and efficiently. Communities and the masses need to learn the techniques used by the terrorists to subvert their targets and motivate them to offer cooperation to the community leaders and the law enforcing agencies to counter the threat / menace of terrorism.