Terrorism in the Age of Globalization


Terrorism in the Age of Globalization

Dr Rajkumar Singh

Terrorism, which has been motivated by ideological, religious and national reasons, has added to its concern issues like inequality, injustice, dissatisfaction and antiglobalist movements, due to development and technology in the world. In order to clarify this shift in the policy, the concepts of terrorism and globalization are first explained as distinct issues. Terrorism has been globalized because of modernization, developments in technology, communication and the ease in transportation. Thus, globalization has started to serve terrorism, while with its positive effects it became helpful in the fight against terrorism.

Iraqi Shiite men who have volunteered to join government forces and militias in the fight against jihadists from the Islamic State group, take part in a training session in the central city of Hillah on October 18, 2014. The Islamic State group led a sweeping offensive in June that overran much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland. AFP PHOTO/ HAIDAR HAMDANI        (Photo credit should read HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

In present context, globalisation has let loose the forces of uncivil society and accelerated the transnational flows of terrorism, human and drug trafficking, organised crime, piracy, and pandemic diseases. Terrorism continues to be to be generated by recurrent social crises, arising from the increasing fear of marginalisation of some sections of society caused by the indiscriminate spread of capitalism and the free economy, through much publicised globalisation which may be perceived another dimension of religious fanaticism. Despair caused by social marginalisation, economic deprivation, and political defeat is another cause of this modern phenomenon. When the situation is thus monopolises by global power, when one deals with this formidable condensation of all functions through technocratic machinery and absolute ideological hegemony, what other way is there than a terrorist reversal of the situation. It is the system itself that has created the objective conditions for this brutal distortion. By taking all the cards to itself it forces the other to change the rules of the game. And the new rules are ferocious, because the stakes are ferocious. The terrorist groups are not ordinary

PositionPaper_Anti-Terrorism_BIGcivilians or some misguided youth but the paramilitary organs of militant extremism such as LeT, Naxalites, and the like who believe in the culture of extreme violence and whose objective is destruction of the established social system and structures, that is, the whole way of life of free societies. This virus does not take long to infect homegrown products and soon enough local criminal gangs get drawn into the terrorist’s web.


Combating today

Globalisation also cast a dark shadow on the governing pattern and civil society of the nation state system. The growth in transnational flows has not been matched by an equivalent growth in global governance mechanisms to regulate them. And yet the very nature of the structure of globalised network, which intertwine global actors and interests, ensures that no single power is able to maintain its position within the newly emerging global disorder without making compromises with other global players. The transfer of state functions to supranational forms of regional governance could enhance the capacity of individual states to combat uncivil society. The sharing of expertise, institutions, policy tools, personnel and other resources can go a long way in stemming the tide of unwanted activities. In this context justice is one of the strongest pillars for the Parliamentary democracy. Justice is truth in practice. Rule of law provides citizens a sense of protection and self–confidence. We should not forget that denial of justice breeds terrorism.  It is not terrorist or terrorism who divided Ireland nor caused Israel-Palestinian problem. Terrorists did not separate India and Pakistan neither they carved out Bangladesh. As a result of the injustices and inequalities, a different kind of challenge is faced by countries of the world in general especially the developing and underdeveloped.

In combating terrorism three distinct functions are involved. They relate to pre–empting and preventing; containing and managing; and investigating and prosecuting. The fight against terror is larger and more complex than the challenge of dealing with terrorists. The former requires more of statesmanship and good governance. The latter demands legislative and administrative reforms to plug loopholes in criminal law and the criminal justice administration. In addition, timely, accurate intelligence and up-to-date databases on terrorist elements are essential to evolve strategies to counter terrorist activities. This requires multi–agency coordination and time–bound action which only an empowered central body with regional and local field officers with instant connectivity can accomplish. Similarly, a dedicated team of highly motivated, well–trained and fully professionalised officers supported by adequate resources, equipment and authority alone can take timely action to combat terror. In most of the cases of terrorism, regional cooperation can be an effective instrument for the suppression of terrorism. The external support is often found in every operation of terrorist acts in any part of the world whether in the context of interconnection between a group and its rival group, a group and its enemy state, or a state and its unfriendly state.

Precautions in dealing

In the age of global terror nations targeted by terrorist campaigns find themselves in a difficult situation: they feel tremendous pressure to respond in some way to respond terror attacks, but there is no obvious correct response. Passively absorbing continued attacks on civilian targets is not an attractive policy option, particularly in democracies where public dissatisfaction is a major input into government decision–making; but the alternatives to passive victimhood are often controversial, expensive, and inconvenient and sometimes ineffective as well. Governments in democracies have constantly to balance the citizens’ right to live their lives in freedom, with minimum interference with their privacy from the security agencies, against their responsibility to protect their citizens from harm. In the fight against terrorism the strengths of a free society are also its weaknesses. Terrorists use the rights and liberties inherent in a democratic society to operate with comparative freedom and then use the democratic laws to circumvent or evade the consequences.


The countries of South Asia in general are facing the problem of terrorism and insurgency and the both required a different approach in handling. Terrorism needs a top–down approach while insurgency required a bottom-top approach. For an insurgent movement to flourish, it must have support of a segment of the population whereas terrorism can be effective with just a few sympathizers’ and supporters amongst the population. In tackling an insurgency, it is a fight for the hearts and minds of the people and the people have to be addressed and won over. With terrorism, the leadership or perpetrators of terrorism need to be targeted. Insurgency usually has rural roots while terrorism has an urban bias. The most valuable sources against terrorism are human beings, long–term penetration agents, who will stay in place for a long period and work their way into positions where they can provide key intelligence. Thus human and technical intelligence taken together must be backed up by long–term investigation and assessment, to understand the terrorist organisation, its people, its plans and its methods.

Schools of thought on terrorism

The present thinking on terrorism can be divided into two schools of thought. One school of thought places the terrorist beyond the pale of civilized society and considers him anathema to civilisation and stigmatises him as a plain murderer who needs to be eliminated. The second school of thought encourages an in-depth study of, and a systematic approach to understand and eradicate, the reasons that bring about such upheavals. The rational political, social and economic aspirations of peoples which when frustrated continuously give rise to full blown terrorism of modern day, must be sifted out of the process of terroristic actions and looked at separately. Those political aspirations must be addressed honestly and seriously.

A State sponsoring terrorism or instigating violence in another country has long term strategic or political agendas and state–sponsored terrorism when used as a foreign policy tool translates into an unconventional war. Generally no-solid evidence can be mustered against a state that is sponsoring terrorism as they use proxies and mercenaries instead of employing its own army or Special Forces. Determining the threat posed by international terrorism whether state-sponsored or otherwise is a difficult and complex task. This kind of terrorism has attained dangerous dimensions both in South and Central Asia. It constitutes a serious threat to regional and international stability. Therefore, terrorism is a phenomenon which must be condemned, fought, resisted, controlled and, eventually, eliminated at all levels–national regional and international. Conditions necessary for wiping out terrorism must, accordingly, be cultivated and strengthened nationally, regionally and internationally, and unilaterally, bilaterally or multilaterally. Terrorist acts confronted by a state cannot be eliminated by the affected states alone because of the international linkages of the terrorist groups. It is, therefore, clear that all the nations must form a common front to fight terrorism. If the much needed spirit of international cooperation in the required degree is not properly established, the world would become a dangerous place to live.




Defining Terrorism in Pakistan

The political, ideological, moral, social, and emotional connotation of ‘terrorism’ makes its definition challenging in any legal system. Our legislature was also confronted with this difficulty. The legislature provided different definitions of terrorism under different laws. But, the definitions of terrorism under these laws either focused on the magnitude of an offence or its terrorizing effect on the society or the nature of the weapon used while committing an offence. These shifting definitions resulted in conflicting judgments by our courts. The cases of terrorism kept on shuttling from one court to another due to the imprecise definition of terrorism.

CJP Asif Saeed Khosa took this challenge and constituted a larger bench of the SC to define ‘terrorism’. The SC has examined all the relevant cases decided so far and noted that, in some cases, only those actions constitute the offence of terrorism which are accompanied by the ‘design’ or ‘purpose’ specified in Section 6 (1) (b) (c) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (Act).

In another category of cases, the SC observed that the “fallout, consequences or effect” of an action weighed upon the courts to decide whether an action was terrorism or not.

After a thorough analysis of the anti-terrorism laws and judgments, the SC has concluded that only those actions fall in the definition of terrorism where the ‘use or threat’ of such action is designed to achieve the objectives specified in Section 6(1)(b)(c) of the Act. Clause 6(1)(b) envisages those actions which are designed to “coerce and intimidate or overawe the government or the public or a section of the public or community or sect or create a sense of fear or insecurity in society”.

Clause 6(1)(c) stipulates the purpose advancing “a religious, sectarian or ethnic cause or intimidating and terrorizing the public, social sectors, media persons, business community or attacking the civilians, including damaging property by ransacking, looting, arson, or by any other means, government officials, installations, security forces or law enforcement agencies”.

The SC clarifies that effect of an action, howsoever “grave, shocking, brutal, gruesome or horrifying” it may be, cannot be made the basis to label an action as terrorism, if such action is not carried out to achieve the objectives mentioned in Section 6(1)(b) (c) of the Act. In other words, the SC explained that the crimes committed in the context and background of personal or private enmity or revenge do not fall in the definition of terrorism.

For further clarity, the SC has recommended that parliament should provide a succinct definition of ‘terrorism’ focusing on ‘violent actions’ aimed at achieving “political, ideological or religious objectives”.

Given the challenging nature of terrorism, the UN should eliminate or minimize sectoral treaties and proactively negotiate a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It would help states to legislate in line with the international perspective of terrorism enabling national law-enforcement agencies to handle the terrorism cases effectively.


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