The US media has rapidly adopted a new phrase, one that is almost certainly bound to relieve many around the world that finally it is not them who are collectively grouped and maligned after any act of terror by one of their own.
This time around, the bizarre events in the US capital — Washington DC — left no doubt and made many Americans painfully aware that criminals come in all forms and disguises, and many from within. The term domestic terrorism has suddenly become the catchy phrase to describe the assault on the US Capitol on January 6 of this year. Ardent followers of the defeated US incumbent President Donald Trump believed that their leader wanted them to wrest back the government by force and that is what they set about to do.
These were not foreign terrorists. They are home-grown white folk who thought the US presidential elections were stolen and that they better do something about it. They had no intention of healing or unity on their minds and set off to put into action their deviate ideas.
In that they are criminals, there is no question. For what they were planning to perpetuate was an act of violence against innocent people. Six people lost their lives on that crazed day as millions watched in horror as the very essence of democracy and the citadel of government was being breached by these domestic terrorists.
Be it in America or elsewhere, such an act must have a zero tolerable value among a civilised community of nations. The authorities must deal with them swiftly and firmly. And we the public must be supportive of counter-terrorism agencies as well, for indiscriminate violence touches each one of us.
It is refreshing to note that US federal agencies have finally realised that not every terrorist comes in the form of a dark-complexioned, moustached, and swarthy looking individual. No indeed, these Capitol terrorists were your everyday neighbourhood white folk from Middle America.
While terrorism is being exercised often at a large scale against innocent people through state-sponsored mandates that bomb and kill indiscriminately, there is no excuse for those fringe elements who have decided to give light to their grievances through the bodily harm of innocent people who had no part to play in the twisted minds of these violence-prone nuts.
In this part of the world, the regional violence that is being perpetuated today on a daily basis may have contributed to the rise in this perverted way of thinking. It is transforming minds into a hate-filled psyche, phenomena with dangerous consequences. We have seen some of that on our own soil, where extremism and fanaticism had led to some very hostile acts against innocent people.
A line is being drawn where friends and enemies are being grouped. It is the ‘us against them’ syndrome that is disturbing. Who are these ‘we’ or ‘they’, I wonder? Are we not all humans? And should we not address our injustices through legal forums rather than band together and hatch up plots to harm others indiscriminately? Are we not aware that such peaceful precedents were used in our historical past with remarkable results?
Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela battled grave injustices, but they did it not through violence, which would have in turn begat more violence. They did not tarnish their struggle with false claims of religious or cultural fervour. Instead, they mobilised their resistance through peaceful means. And forever they shall remain icons of a civilised world.
Those today that choose to promote their terrorist activities behind the guise of spiritual cloaks are nothing less than criminals, ailing with perverse logic of revenge or power. Theirs is not a cause for freedom or justice or misplaced rights. It is about spreading mayhem and death. In that they resort to target civilians’ areas displays the cowardice behind these bands of thugs.
They should not expect any sympathies from those of us who are simply appalled at the extent these criminals are willing to go to spread their message of terror. There is no end justifying their means, except perhaps a one-way ticket to the gallows. And there will be no reprieve in the hereafter. No religion condones the indiscriminate killing of the innocent. It is time for the rest of us to take a more aggressive policy to denounce and reject the message these fanatics are attempting to spread through their despicable activities. Let us expose them from under whatever rock they dwell.
Let the message reach them loud and clear. We do not condone the means they have employed, regardless of their grievances.
— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena