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The Most Ardent Efforts Are Not Enough to Suppress the Omnipresence of Terror

ET Online

As the United States reels from its most recent atrocity- the cruel murder of 49 innocent lives in an innocuous nightclub- the West once more finds itself stumped by a question that has constantly rebounded in recent decades: what is the most effective method of quashing Islamic extremism? The chilling events that have unfolded in Orlando- in an environment that should have been convivial and cheerful- is nor the first, and certainly not last, attack perpetrated by Islamic extremism in an attempts to destabilize the West and impose a fundamentalist and ethnocentric ideology. International state ministers scramble for potential solutions to quell the spread of terror throughout the Middle-East - though despite their best efforts, they will prove to be in vain; deep-set, unalterable ideologies and the strong, pervasive influences of Islamic fundamentalism within the Middle-East and the entire world will almost undoubtedly breed terrorism for years to come.

Potential suggestions to counter terrorism are abundant in the U.S. as they are abroad. The British government's recent plans to bolster online surveillance of the public (whilst simultaneously encroaching upon the privacy of its civilians) highlights the gravity with which it treats the situation. Divisive though the United States Patriot Act- established in 2001 to bolster surveillance of potential extremists- may be, it too has been conducive in monitoring terror suspects: in 2011 Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari was detained by the FBI after placing an order for the toxic chemical phenol. Private emails later revealed that he created a list of locations to bomb, including nuclear power plants, military targets, and a nightclub. The life-saving effects of the Act (despite the de trop side-effects of privacy invasion) are doubtlessly conducive, though act only as a single barrier in the face of the giant waves of terror. Irrespective of political allegiances, the majority of MPs in Britain have suggested a restriction on immigration levels to curtail extremists- Labour have highlighted the desire to deploy an extra one-thousand border control personnel. A more comprehensive, 'grass-roots' operation that examines mosques, schools and Islamic establishments has also been instigated by Home Secretary Theresa May in order to root out developing radicals. Although these measures have shown efficacy- an estimated fifty deadly terror attacks have been stopped in the United Kingdom since the 7/7 bombings- these too provide only temporary resistance against the inevitability of terrorism.

Today, ISIS is estimated to have up to 200,000 militants in the Middle-East; that this is only the presumptive 'official' number and excludes the drones of unregistered members and recruited child-soldiers makes for a worrying reading of the definite number. The Islamic State continues to exert its influence and extreme ideology onto ordinary Muslims; 1,600 Brits have now left the United Kingdom to join its ranks. Oftentimes statistics pertaining to the relative harmlessness of Islamic terrorism are cited: the statistic that less than 1% of Muslims worldwide propagate fundamentalist beliefs does little to supress peoples' unease, despite the almost universal good nature of Muslims worldwide. Indeed, a proportion of one percent is more than enough to inflict monstrosities on countries- the past two decades have regrettably demonstrated this. The tentacles of extremism have also reached beyond Asia: in Africa, Boko Haram inflict death on an almost weekly basis. The counterinsurgency methods deployed by the UN and NATO only tackle the tip of a colossal iceberg; young men vulnerable to indoctrination and yearning a 'purpose' in life are radicalized with ease by the mass presence of roaming preachers in Asia and Africa, something that the West have not been able to restrain.

No matter how strenuously the international order attempts to curtail extremism, valiant and commendable efforts will be prove to ultimately be futile. Philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli's observation- that evil is a condition inherent in man - is as pertinent as it is correct, and this will forever exist within particular people. The belief of a person indoctrinated is so blind and resolute that nothing will deter them from committing terror: arguments about American gun laws, deeply flawed though these regulations are, are situated at the periphery rather than focal point of this scenario, and serve as a microcosm of the attacks that religious fantasists perpetrate throughout the international sphere. Gun laws in the U.S. do require reform, though multiple terrorist attacks on nations with far stricter gun laws- such as Belgium and France- evidences that terrorists' desire to obtain arms and inflict damage will supersede the strictest of gun laws. The Madrid and London attacks a decade ago catalysed the strengthening of security from international state leaders- despite this, terrorist attacks have only continued; The Global Terrorism Index recorded almost 18,000 deaths last year, a jump of about 60% over the previous year. Historical trends thus display a patent, and bleak, foresight for what the future holds.

After Sunday's addition to mounting number of attacks recently exacted on the West, a perturbed friend exclaimed 'The world is ending'. This is perhaps an over-exaggeration. But the world as we know it is about to change- and significantly so.

Thomas Smith