The barbaric mass shooting in Las Vegas in the US by a fatic reportedly wedded to the caliphate-dictated doctrine of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), when a sea of innocent humanity was watching a country music concert and had its toll of 59 lives and more than 500 injured at the time of writing this, reminds us of the true face of terror. The attacker has been identified as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired chartered accountant who opened indiscrimite fire from the 32nd-floor room of Mandalay Bay Hotel where he had been lodged since September 28. What is indeed astonishing is that 23 weapons were recovered from his room after the horrendous attack, the worst of its kind in recent US history. Immediately after the attack, the ISIS was quick to claim responsibility for the gory bath, saying Paddock, a tive of Mesquite, Nevada, had converted to Islam some months back, though it did not furnish any evidence, which then had investigators wondering whether the ISIS’s claim was indeed true or a mere propaganda.
Not Frustration but Ideology
There are two eminent theories as to why terror should have its genesis in this world where all religions in essence preach peace. One school of thought clings doggedly to the fact that frustration stemming from neglect and a persistent sense of discrimition among a people has among them a group of youth going berserk and resorting to violence against the ruthless power that the state symbolizes in its desperate bid to assert its authority. This school is more often than not into the business of intellectualizing the root causes of terror. Such intellectual votaries of non-state actors have in their minds frustrated youth taking to violence to ventilate their ire against the state that has failed them and their people. Maoism in India is perhaps the best example, with the theory holding the ground that a people as repressed and discrimited against, despite the democracy in place, as the poor and backward Adivasis really are, have no option but to take to guns to prove their point. In fact here violence is romanticized to a very large extent. Thus we have no deficit of Left-leaning intellectuals whose discourse on violence hovers over a total regime crisis that engenders violence spontaneously; democracy is seen as a mere pretence for what is best described as a totally failed ba republic. Even the violence that the country’s northeastern region – no doubt the hinterland most neglected in the country – has witnessed is often described as a tural outburst of people being a consequence of the myriad militias taking to violence to assert their unique past and thus to champion their cause of autonomy or total independence outside the ambit of the Constitution. There is no deficit of such intellectuals in the Northeast too, who overtly or covertly nurse sympathies for militants.
The other school of thought is not so much of the intellectual kind, or not so much populated by romanticists who see violence as a tural manifestation of frustration stemming from neglect, discrimition, poverty and the attendant backwardness all these bring. This school has had its voice quite clear: that violence as is being perpetrated by the likes of Pakistan-based terror groups (such as Lashkar-e-Toiba or LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad or JeM), the Taliban, Al-qaeda and, more recently, the most barbaric of all perhaps – the ISIS – has nothing to do with frustration resulting from factors like neglect, but a direct consequence of an absolutist ideology they hold on to and with which they singularly want to preside over the destiny of the whole world either by subjugating other faiths to their religious fiefdoms or by elimiting other faiths (non-believers as these are called) altogether from the face of the earth. Take for instance the dastardliness of terror unleashed by LeT and JeM on the innocent people of the Kashmir valley and elsewhere too in the rest of India. How on earth can any sense of frustration, neglect, discrimition and their concomitant aspects of poverty and backwardness explain such terror when many of such terrorists are from well-to-do families and highly educated? The Al-queda, on the same line, has to its notorious credit a whole lot of highly educated and IT-savvy young men in their rank and file, with many of them being educated in the West too. Even the ISIS, the latest avatar of diabolic terror that has gained far more expertise in beheading non-believers and their opponents in their own religious faith, has in its rank and file a classic matrix of educated young men fully indoctrited in the jihadi brand of Islam so that they may even resort to the smartest of cyber crime to establish an Islamic caliphate not just in war-torn Syria and Iraq, but also in the rest of the world, so that there could be just one religion in this world at its absolutist best, absolutely intolerant of any other religious faith. Here the role of ideology comes in, not any frustration and neglect – an ideology of absolute hate against other faiths that must either succumb to that ideology by accepting it or must simply perish; there is no other option here. Anti-terror experts who have studied such brand of terrorism have no second story to tell us.
Therefore, if this devil called Stephen Paddock was indeed a recent convert to Islam and one of the most ardent champions of Islamic terror perpetrated by the ISIS, it is clear that terrorism of the second kind that we have just discussed – that based on propagation of hate based on an ill-founded, cancerous ideology – is the biggest threat to the very existence of mankind. A strong resolve of the governments concerned, such as the US, some European countries, and of course India is the need of the hour so that they come together and form a joint intelligence grid to elimite such terror from the face of the earth rather than the other way round. There is no room for leniency here, absolutely not.