Terrorists and Militants

They are coming closer to achieving their goal.

Danny Hershtal

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Arutz 7

Those of us who have worked in Israeli hasbara (public relations) often cringe when foreign media (and some of our own) refer to terrorists as "militants". "Terrorist" has a universally negative connotation of someone who harms indiscriminately in order to advance a political cause through fear. This is clearly what the Arab terrorists in Israel have repeatedly done. They have used violent tactics against average Israelis to pressure Israel's government into offering more concessions. On the other hand, the word "militant" has more of a positive connotation of someone
The hotel bombing looks like classic terrorism.
using violence in fighting for a cause. This word is intentionally used by Israel's detractors to connote a moral equivalence between the homicide bomber and his innocent victims.

In my own hasbara efforts, I have tried to avoid using the term "terrorist" because it is usually redacted automatically by press agencies like Reuters and AFP to the less charged and less accurate term of "militant". It was for this reason that I used the more descriptive term "homicide bomber" in 2001, and eventually had the term adopted by President George Bush and his spokespeople.

However, the mainstream media is sometimes willing to use the word "terrorist", ironically, in a situation where "militant" may be the more appropriate term.

The bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan killed dozens of people and was roundly condemned as a despicable act of terrorism - by the USA, by the EU and even by Iran. The media took up the terminology of terrorism in this case to make it seem as if there is some group using random acts of violence to disrupt Pakistani life.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The perpetrators of this attack were not seeking revenge against Pakistan's government, and they were not protesting Pakistan's help in America's military exploits in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have been fighting a civil war for control of the country, and week after week they come closer to achieving their goal.

From a casual glance, the hotel bombing looks like classic terrorism. A high profile target, mainly innocents killed, and an unconventional method of attack. However, the difference lies in the motivation. For example: the September 11 attacks on the USA were devastating in terms of loss of life, but no one in al-Qaeda really assumed that they would allow Osama Bin-Laden to conquer America and convert everyone to Islam. Similarly, terrorist attacks in Israel are not meant to actually destroy the Zionist State. However, the ever-increasing violence in Pakistan is "militant" in nature.

Islamists (be it al-Qaeda, the TTP or any other amorphous Islamist group) have been creating disturbances in Pakistan in slowly encroaching circles around the capital. This attack, in the heart of downtown Islamabad, will cause Pakistan to reign in its army from outlying provinces to protect its major centers of power. In the coming weeks, I suspect we will see greater autonomy in Pakistan's FATAs (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and attempts to expand their boundaries. An additional bonus will be achieved if, after the Pakistani army redeploys, more rural Pakistanis see the conflict as one between devout Muslims and the US army. This will bring the Islamists further recruitment and support.

Terrorism is often used as a tool in an ideological war, but the ongoing Islamist rebellion in Pakistan must be seen as a traditional war, meant to replace the current regime and conquer the territory. The unconventional means used, such as truck bombs, only attest to the Islamist realization that they cannot take on the Pakistani army on an open battlefield. However, the successes that Islamist soldiers have had so far may indeed shift that balance in the very near future.

If Pakistan becomes an Islamic state, Sunni Islamists may control a nuclear bomb even before the Shiites in Iran are able to do so. Pakistan's extremists have never been as obsessed with Israel as are Iran's current leaders; however, if an Islamist,
If Pakistan becomes an Islamic state, Sunni Islamists may control a nuclear bomb even before the Shiites in Iran.
Taliban-like group were to take over a large country like Pakistan, Islamists worldwide would be energized and a possible export of the revolution could spread to other Westernized Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Yemen.

Also, the nuclear umbrella of an Islamist Pakistan would support increasingly bold terrorist activities against India and Israel, and would no doubt accelerate the nuclear development in Iran and possibly Saudi Arabia, as well. In short, a worldwide disaster will ensue if Pakistan falls to Islamist rule.

Meanwhile, the story is buried by leftists who don't want America fighting a wider foreign war, and by rightists who are ashamed to admit to the resurgent strength of Islamism despite America's efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Governments avoid any mention of this potential for global calamity by covering the Islamic revolution in Pakistan as if it is a series of discrete incidents: an internal problem for Pakistanis to sort out for themselves.

The other, more frightening reason that the violence in Pakistan is not seen as a civil war may be that the Western powers have still not adjusted their thinking to twenty-first century warfare. Today, billions of dollars can be poured into hi-tech military machinery and Special Ops training. However, the Islamist enemy has identified that by following the rules of Brazilian terrorist Marighella every "little warrior" or "guerrilla" becomes the equivalent of a Delta Ranger. If today's superpowers can't spot a war when they see one, and adjust their tactics to the new reality, then there is little chance that the forces of freedom will be able to triumph.

At the moment there is only one force tipping the balance in favor of a Westernized Pakistan - the United States Army. The US has been stepping up activity in the FATAs and making important captures and kills. However, as the Pakistani army recedes and the US army advances, the extremists gain support from the local population, who see aggressive US military behavior as an invasion of their country and the Islamists as their defenders. Recently, calls have been made from within the US government to hold back the army in order to allow Pakistan's new, fragile government to gain the people's confidence. This is a big mistake. As in Israel, Islamic extremists only understand the use of force. Propping up "moderates" is only seen as weakness.

Whether it is militants in Waziristan or terrorists in Gaza, enemies must be confronted ruthlessly for the sake of our civilians and for the sake of the entire world.