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Generating ‘high-value targets’

By Dr Khalid Saifullah

Everyone would agree that spotting and eliminating terrorists is highly desirable in today’s world of terrorism. Few would disagree that this goal is inevitably linked with another task, and that is the production of these high-value targets (HVTs). In the good old days of Gen Musharraf, when production of HVTs was at its best, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad used to break the good news of one Al- Qaeda “mastermind” being captured almost every week. This spoke of the high professionalism in Al- Qaeda ranks, that the organisation only consisted of masterminds. Production of HVTs is an absolute necessity, because on this depends our war on terror – the most important war of our times. This is the war of our independence, of our ways of living against those who dislike our values.

Remember what the most original thinker of our times, George Walker Bush, said about our common enemy? “They hate us because of our way of life, our freedoms and our democracy.” We will never succeed unless we make this a part of our faith. If one terrorist is killed he must be replaced by another – this must continue, because if we are short on the supply of HVTs then the war on terror will cease and our commitment to this noble cause will be questioned.

We must have an uninterrupted and unending supply of Osama bin Ladens and Mullah Omars, Hakeems and Mehsuds, Mangalbaghs, Hicks and Walkers. Here we discuss how this goal can be achieved. We have seen that carpet-bombings, daisy-cutters, cluster bombs and unmanned aircrafts have proved very effective in producing terrorists. But there is nothing that can surpass the quality and quantity of terrorism generated by the actual presence of US soldiers. On-ground sight of one US soldier is an impetus for spreading terrorism in that vicinity. Another important thing is to kill innocent people, in particular, women and children.

One innocent killed produces more terrorists than the killing of criminals and killers. This helps our cause greatly. Killing students in Lal Masjid and Bajaur played a pivotal role in giving rise to the whole new movements and formation of new tehreeks. Let us look closely at the lifecycle of an HVT, how he is bred, brought up and developed. First of all, he is selected from a group of people who have an initial acceptance in their community. It may be because of religious reasons, their service to the community or humanity, or simply their opposition to and dissent from government policies. Here the media plays an important role.

It is the media that turns a truck driver, a vegetable-seller, a bikeriding simpleton into a religious leader, a scholar, a wise man or a mujahid. Sometimes he is made to visit Washington to meet high officials to raise his profile. When he gains a considerable and respectable following, a deal, an agreement or a truce is signed with him, where his high value is acknowledged by everyone.

This occasion, where high-level officials are always present, can be viewed as his graduating ceremony. Lo and behold! — now comes the crucial stage — only after a few days, and sometimes only a few hours of the ceremony, this person is declared a high-value terrorist and a head money is announced for him. His existence becomes a threat to humanity and his being struck down imperative for the existence and prosperity of mankind. Then, he is gunned down or bumped off in some other way, and thus a new milestone in the war on terror is achieved. Another important factor is the role of the advanced countries.

Like all other high-value things, HVTs can only be produced with the help and collaboration of technologically advanced nations which have an absolute monopoly over this industry. We have examples of many countries where they could not achieve international standards on their own. On the other hand, some poorer countries have succeeded in producing terrorists of very high quality, because they have worked in close collaboration with advanced countries like the US. While we work hard to increase the number of HVTs, we should beware of the factors which have the potential of decreasing, or even stopping, their production.

One such factor is communication. Never ever talk to a terrorist! This is such a dangerous idea that even a hint that the government is willing to talk to terrorists, or even listen to them, effects our cause adversely. Establishing a dialogue with terrorists will show our weakness and amount to approval of militancy and extremism. We have seen in the recent past that only an impression that the government might be thinking of talking with them drastically reduced the growth of terrorism. Secondly, the effort to sustain turmoil in the country should be encouraged. A terrorist grows where there is unrest and turbulence.

This is something that does not grow in a land of peace. Another pitfall is the call for a definition of terrorism and terrorist. One should beware of elements who insist on defining these obvious and clear terms. Don’t attempt to define extremism and extremists. Don’t be deceived by those intellectuals who call for a deep thinking or understanding of the problem. Beware: they want to distract our attention from the main goal — the war on terrorism. There are some suggestions from a section of the society, in particular the ulema and retired military officers, that we should discuss issues with the terrorists themselves. T

his amounts to strengthening the religious basis for their own designs. Then there are those who maintain that they should be dealt with in accordance with the law of the land. Tell them no, they can’t be. In the time taken by defining this term and then applying judicial procedures against one person, hundreds of them can be killed. They do not deserve trial even in the speedy anti-terrorist courts. Secondly, there is a great risk involved. If after applying these so-called rational and legal procedures the courts end up declaring them poor fruit-peddlers, then what? This will be an irreparable loss to our war on terror.

We must bear in mind that this is an unusual situation and only unusual measures can be taken for unusual results. Bush didn’t fall into the trap of those who demanded to have a definition of terrorist and terrorism before attacking Iraq. He was a wise man and he clearly discerned that, deep in their hearts, people who talk like this and appear to be intellectuals are actually supporters of terrorism. Finally, our present collaboration with the Americans in indiscriminately killing whole families — men, women and children — and destroying their houses, with manned and unmanned machines is certainly a step in the right direction: it assures continuity of their terrorism and our war on terror. This will guarantee the production of HVTs for generations to come.

The writer is a faculty member at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. Email: saifullah

View the original article at Veterans Today

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