Birdís-eye view of terrorism
Reviewed by Nirbhai Singh

Hunting Bin Laden: How al-Qaeda is Winning the War on Terrorism
By Rob Schultheis. 
Pages 229. Rs 295.

The al-Qaeda Connection: The Taliban and Terror in Pakistanís Tribal Areas
By Imtiaz Gul.
Pages x+308. Rs 499.

INTERESTINGLY, both the books have a common theme of terrorism which has fermented between the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan on the North-West regions of Waziristan and Khyber Pass. The first book fixes responsibility of al-Qaedaís terrorism in ISI (Pakistanís military intelligence service) that is funded by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the real powers behind 9/11, continue to receive tens of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, and are totally unmolested."

The truth of the matter is that real Axis of Evil is ISI, leading members of the Saudi Arabian ruling class and the violent extremist Sunni groups. The hijackers of 9/11 were Saudi Arabians and were supported by the Saudi Arabian royal family. Seeds of al-Qaeda were sown by the foreign jihadists in the 1980s. They are fanatics caring the flag of jihad (holy war) against the Christians who are considered by them anti Islam. In reality, the fight is for power domination under the umbrella of religion. The orthodox Muslims are supporting the terrorist movement. The authorís recent visit presents a candid assessment of Bin Ladenís being at large because Pakistan is extending him haven in an impregnable stronghold in the Middle East.

The book, Hunting Bin Laden, focuses on the current global phenomenon of terrorism. Recent terrorist attacks carried out with sophisticated weaponry are meticulously calculated. Sometimes the attacks are suicidal, and sometimes the terrorists escape to their hidden havens. In December 2001, the Americans bombed several hideouts of the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, they could not wipe them out.

The present work pinpoints that the planning centre of attacks is the tribal regions located on the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters took shelter in these regions. These regions did not have strong hold of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Taking advantage of the situation, the militants regrouped here. They recruited youth for suicide mission which inflicted more than 6,000 causalities in attacks in the world over.

In the remote valleys, where law and justice are rare, the Taliban are recruiting younger persons for suicide mission. Burqa (veil) is being imposed on the women folk while education to the girls is proscribed by the Taliban clerics. The Taliban look to the past and majority of them are looking to future. Innocent victims are moderate Muslims. This is crux of conflict inside between the extremists and the moderates.

The author suggests that the US should reach out to the moderate Muslims in Afghanistan and pour in resources and security forces necessary to turn the country into an example of strong progressive Islamic state. Under the given situation, the warring groups need to change their attitude towards each other and develop a sense of sympathy for others. Inter-faith dialogues will pave way for peace and harmony.

In the Quíranic sense, the meaning of jihad (holy war) is to eradicate ignorance (zahalit) and non-believers in the unity of Allah (tauhid). The jihadists are ignoring the contemporary context of the term "jihad". The essence of the Quíran is peace and harmony. Therefore, Dharma Yudha or jihad is defensive violence. The objective of human life is to be peace, truth, and justice. The author rightly sums up that the "war on terrorism is between the United States and Islamic fascism".

The second book, The Al-Qaeda Connection, is written by an eminent Pakistani journalist. It is based on his personal interviews. Being a Pakistani in origin, he could fair to the facts which are prevailing in the regions located between Pakistan and Afghanistan. With informative survey style without critical analysis, he has adopted beaten path with radical information. The author gives authentic information about the regional areas infested with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He has not explained motives and compulsions of the Pakistan state in giving full support to the militants when it is getting aid from the US to fight militancy in the country.

Both the works are informative and interesting. These are useful for the common readers for having birdís-eye view of the global phenomenon of terrorism.