DAVOS (Switzerland): Malaysia has made an impassioned plea to the world to be “brave enough” to address the issues that are fuelling international terrorism.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said there was no other way to eliminate the threat and “it is time we get absolutely serious about it.”
“We must be level-headed to deal with the issues that are being exploited by the al-Qaeda, the al-Qaeda network and the al-Qaeda inspired terrorists to gain sympathy and support,” he said during a session on “Terrorism – Understanding The Struggle In Which We Are Engaged” at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting yesterday.
John McCain, the US Republican Senator from Arizona, was the other speaker at the session, where several leaders including Australian Prime Minister John Howard and three foreign ministers – Abdullah Abdullah (Afghanistan), Mian Khursheed Kasuri (Pakistan) and Kamal Kharrazi (Iran) led discussions on the issues raised.
Najib said the world must be serious in identifying the causes of terrorism and neutralising them.
“If the terrorist organisation is strong and grows resilient because it is riding on causes that resonate strongly among the people such as poverty or oppression, we must act on those causes.
“If terrorism flourishes because religious teachings are being corrupted to preach militancy and the massacre of innocent civilians, then we must act against this blasphemy in the name of God,” he said.
He, however, said the world was not serious enough in dealing with the problem because “some of us are loath to address the factors that do not justify terrorism but are driving it.”
“Or, if we do so, we are highly selective. We highlight the factors that suit our interests and conform with our prejudices.
“We refuse to even discuss the factors that might associate our actions with the problem, however remote, or those that conflict with our perceived self-interest.
“Instead, we too often seek to discredit those who call for a close look at the underlying forces that drive those to commit such monstrous acts,” he said.
Najib said adopting a war strategy dominated by a military mindset and approach was the worst form in dealing with terrorism.
“Doctrines based on overwhelming force and deadly air strikes that reduce ancient cities to rubble, that raze innocent people’s homes and that lead to great loss of lives are exactly what terrorists and insurgents want.
“A whole new generation of terrorists and insurgents are created, and the hate and resentment spread far beyond.
“We must take the greatest care not to sow the seeds for wars that would make the current one look like a picnic,” he added.
Najib said the global war against terrorism must be aimed at fighting specific terrorists who might be in the thousands.
He stressed that terrorism could not survive and flourish without the support and sympathy of the people.
Drawing an analogy, he said: “Without water, there can be no fish. If the pond is small, the fish will be few and small.”
He said the campaign against terrorism was really a struggle for the “hearts and minds” – a counter-terrorism doctrine that had been proven on the Malaysian terrorism battlefield in the fifties.
Najib said the struggle against al-Qaeda style terrorism was essentially a political struggle, not military or religious ones.
“We play into the terrorists’ hands if we prosecute a war against Islam and against Muslims,” he said.
He added it was only the al-Qaeda, its associates and the terrorists it inspired who had chosen to debase and distort the teachings of Islam for their own ends.
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