Straight Talk about Terrorism

Nice essay that lists ten "truths" about terrorism:

  1. We can't keep the bad guys out.
  2. Besides, the threat is already inside.
  3. More surveillance won't get rid of terrorism, either.
  4. Defeating the Islamic State won't make terrorism go away.
  5. Terrorism still remains a relatively minor threat, statistically speaking.
  6. But don't relax too much, because things will probably get worse before they get better.
  7. Meanwhile, poorly planned Western actions can make things still worse.
  8. Terrorism is a problem to be managed.
  9. To do this, however, we need to move beyond the political posturing that characterizes most public debates about counterterrorism and instead speak honestly about the costs and benefits of different approaches.
  10. We need to stop rewarding terrorism.

Nothing here will be news to regular readers of this blog.

Posted on January 7, 2016 at 7:00 AM • 112 Comments

Comments

WooJanuary 7, 2016 7:12 AM

11. We need to stop labelling every minor incident or attack as "terrorism" to prevent further weakening/diluting that word.

John January 7, 2016 7:41 AM

1- Invest in first response. Pays dividends way beyond reacting to the very rare terrorist event.
2- Invest in great police. The beat cop is respected and trusted in the community, again useful well beyond a terror related event. The beat cop is like Santa, they know who's naughty or nice.
3- Real life is now emulating online life. or so it appears. People, don't feed the troll. Every thoughtless or ill intended statement from politicians or other talking head does not need to be elevated to a frenzy. Get a life, turn off the TV. If we stop consuming this crap eventually they'll stop trying to sell it to us.

Bruce SchneierJanuary 7, 2016 8:23 AM

@ John

Intelligence, investigation, and emergency response. I've been saying it since forever.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 7, 2016 9:11 AM

Number 10,

    We need to stop rewarding terrorism.

Is one that is a very real issue that has been committed by statesmen since time began.

The idea has been expressed in the past as,

    My enemies enemy is my friend.

And even Niccolo Machiavelli had a few words on the subject.

However it had to wait to the 20th Century to become the tool of choice by Super Powers, where direct action under the MAD doctrine, gave us the full madness of the notion of Proxie Wars / Actions. This included state sponsoring of aircraft hijacking and other equally obscene ideas.

But those coming up with these ideas inventive though they might have thought they were, failed to ask two questions,

1, What happens when my Enemy is nolonger my Enemy, or has been defeated?

2, How do we defend against these same ideas we've come up with when they are turned against us?

As we have seen the answer to the first is that often the "friend" rather quickly becomes a replacment enemy, but rather more knowledgeable about how to hurt us. Further now realising they have been "used, abused and disgarded" are now driven by a very much increased desire to use the knowledge and act upon it as revenge.

As to the second question, the answer is that we can not defend against these ideas and not become a non functional fully issolated failed state, worse than North Korea. After all the fact they can not be defended against by a functioning state is the reason people came up with them ideas in the first place.

All the rest of the thoughts in that list can be shown to come from that tenth item, and it's the reason that those who thought up Proxie Wars / Action should be considered "War Criminals" --which legaly they are-- and should also be considered "Traitors" because of the harms they have committed or caused to be committed and the subsiquent actions such as 9/11 that have resulted.

WinterJanuary 7, 2016 9:11 AM

We wills start thinking rationally about terrorists when we have a new scapegoat.

The terrorist of today has the same function as the drug traffickers of yesterday, the communist of yesteryear and the heretics and witches of centuries past.

BobJanuary 7, 2016 9:16 AM

@John, no sense throwing more wasted money at police when you're giving them impunity for violent crime. The armored anti-terror Santas of the NYPD just wind up lynching lots of Eric Garners. You want to be safe, stop wetting your pants about terror and prosecute crime when cops do it same as when terrorists do it.

AlanJanuary 7, 2016 9:19 AM

The problem with "invest in first response" and "invest in great police" is that you always wind up with a few power-tripping types in the police department, who turn everything into an excuse to haul out the SWAT gear, bust down someone's door and shoot the dog.

They are a minority, but they poison the relationship of the police with the population.

SoWhatDidYouExpectJanuary 7, 2016 9:20 AM

Your reference web site with the essay is absolutely horrible. It won't let a viewer (non-registered) read the content without overloading the page repeatedly with sign-up dialogs (popups of a type).

GideonJanuary 7, 2016 9:26 AM

...this list totally missed the the most important Truth -- what CAUSES this Islamic terrorism (??)

The fundamental cause is foolish, violent, massive and criminal intervention into Islamic nations by U.S. and European politicians over many years.

This current era of "terrorism" is entirely a result of predictable BLOWBACK. You can't solve a problem without identifying its true cause.

DavidJanuary 7, 2016 9:45 AM

With all due respect Bruce, the West will not be able to cope with terrorism if it uses politically correct words to define the problem. Problem that is not properly articulated articulated is unsolvable. Political correctness of words spills over into (in)action. Unfortunately, your presentation of the subject suffers from the same plague.

1. There is no such thing as abstract "terrorism" today. With a couple of minor exceptions (eg what can be arguably called Kurdish terrorism in Turkey), 99% of terrorism today is ISLAMIC terrorism. Call a spade a spade, otherwise any discussion is useless.

2. "We can't keep the bad guys out" - without getting into racist Trump-style rhetorics, this is not true. While you cannot keep ALL of them out, allowing indiscriminate immigration borders on criminal stupidity. Since 100% of the terrorists are coming from Muslim countries, and since ISIS have explicitly stated that they are going to infiltrate the West with terrorists, asylum seekers from Muslim countries must be scrutinized individually, whatever it takes. And if it results in difficult and slow immigration process, so be it. Believe me, agencies know how to do it given proper instructions and having their hands untied. There was no reason to let the Boston murderers into US. There was no reason to let the murderous wife of the SB murderer in; a simple background check on her Facebook posts would suffice. We CAN keep them out.

3. "Terrorism still remains a relatively minor threat, statistically speaking". You seem to be comparing acts of terror to road accidents. The impact 14 people murdered in SB attack on the country and society was profound, with repercussions for years to come. The impact of 14 people killed in a road accident would be relatively negligible.

4. "We need to stop rewarding terrorism" - terrorism does not flourish because we are rewarding it, we don't, so there is nothing to "stop". Terrorism stems from the nature of Islam, one of the BASIC, overarching tenets of which is that every Muslim is under a lifelong obligation to wage Jihad. The majority of Muslims are peaceful people, no doubt. But the violent minority, which takes islam literally - as they must, according to Islamic scriptures - is the one that counts (see point 3). Whether you reward them or not, Islamists will wage Jihadistic terrorism against you.

JohnJanuary 7, 2016 9:54 AM

@Allen & @Bob. I totally understand how easy it is to assume that any authority given will be abused. I feel (very viscously) the lack of accountability prevalent in many of our "un"civil societies institutions. I'm a jewish guy from NJ married to a muslim women from SE Asia. We have a 6 year old who wears the hijab to public school. I get it.

I will not, however, abandon the possibility that we as a society can do better.

Ross ThompsonJanuary 7, 2016 10:06 AM

"99% of terrorism today is ISLAMIC terrorism."
"100% of the terrorists are coming from Muslim countries"
Dylan Roof, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Wade Michael Page and countless other terrorists did not come from Muslim countries and were not engaged in Islamic terrorism. I really don't understand what you mean, unless you're implicitly defining "terrorism" as "violence commited by Muslims", in which case, call a spade a spade, otherwise any discussion is useless.

"since ISIS have explicitly stated that they are going to infiltrate the West with terrorists"
Yes, they've said that. And plenty of people have speculated that their reason for saying that is to ensure that refugees cannot leave their sphere of influence; if that's the case you're advocating playing right into their hands. "Rewarding them", if you will. America's background checks for refugees is already very thorough, taking several years to get from initial application to entering the country (and refugees don't get to decide which country takes them), and there have been a total of zero terrorist attacks committed by refugees, so maybe just stick with the system we have until there's some evidence that there's a problem to be fixed?

jordanJanuary 7, 2016 10:08 AM

@Alan

It might just be another instance of the Dilbert Principle / Peter Principle in the context of a police department. I don't know that we as a society have a long term solution to either of those situations though.

@Gideon, @David

From the article, in the middle of point (4):

> Since 2006, more than half of all deaths in terrorist attacks in the West have been caused by non-Islamist “lone-wolf” attackers

You might have explained nearly half of it, but you'll still have explained less than half of it.

> The impact of 14 people killed in a road accident would be relatively negligible.

... except that ~30,000 people die in road accidents. Just in the US. Every year.

@SoWhatDidYouExpect

No such problems for me, but I block the javascript.

Ross ThompsonJanuary 7, 2016 10:10 AM

Also, let's not forget that the majority of terrorist plots in the US are devised, planned, funded, and armed by the FBI who then arrest the guy they paid and crow about stopping another attack.

qwerttyJanuary 7, 2016 10:18 AM

@David

1. Call a spade a spade, wether it is blue or green doesn't matter. Call terrorism terrorism, the faith/ethnicity/nationality of does who committed it doesn't matter.

2. The attacks in France (both Charlie and those from November) where committed mostly (if not entirely) by french citizens, born in the country, who where "radicalized" later in life.

3&4. The impact terrorism has on society is the reward it is seeking. The backlash of society against a whole group of people (either because of their faith, their ethnicity or their nationality) because of what a minority of that group did, makes it that much easier for extremists to find new recruits, and erodes the fundamental values which our democracies are supposed to defend. Not rewarding terrorism means showing solidarity with those people against whom populist politicians a la Trump lash out. And let's not forget that the vast majority of victims of terrorism in the last decade where actually muslims.

Jim LippardJanuary 7, 2016 10:49 AM

David: Your analysis reducing all terrorism to Islamic terrorism, and identifying terrorism as a fundamental part of Islam is, IMHO, a huge part of the problem. Others have pointed out that there is more terrorism than Islamic terrorism, I want to point out that there is more Islam than terrorist-supporting Islam; the latter tends to be a subset of Salafism, which is in turn a subset of Sunni Islam. (Which is not to say that there are no Shia terrorists; of course there are.) If you lump a billion people into one group and call them your enemy, that is more likely to backfire and to some degree become self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anyone who attributes the primary cause of terrorist activity to theological doctrine* should really read Scott Atran's work (especially _Talking to the Enemy_) as well as the recent George Washington University paper on _ISIS in America_ about the recent tactic of recruiting in the west via social media. Most of that recruitment has failed to produce successful attacks, and the majority of the failures have come about because relatives have turned in the plotters. A strategy that says, like Trump's comments about taking out the families of Muslim terrorists, that relatives should be considered part of the problem, undermines the main method by which such attacks have been stopped and fertilizes the soil in which successful radicalization occurs.

Divide and conquer the problematic subset is a much smarter strategy than lumping together everyone associated with an ideology (religious or political) under one tent and branding them the enemy to be stopped.

* I'm inclined to think Atran errs by saying that core theological doctrine is semantically meaningless and plays no role at all, but I think he's right that it plays much less of a role than other factors that he identifies.

CallMeLateForSupperJanuary 7, 2016 12:13 PM

@SoWhatDidYouExpect
"Your reference web site ... won't let a viewer (non-registered) read the content without overloading the page repeatedly with sign-up dialogs (popups of a type)."

While that page did load so slowly here that I had plenty of time to wonder if any text would ever appear, it finally coughed up the article ... and then STFU. No pop-ups; no begs of any kind.

Perhaps one or both of the following measures account for this:
1) Pop-ups is set to DISABLED in my browser (Firefox)
2) The browser extenson NoScript is always active. No exceptions.

And no, I am not a subscriber to ForeignPolicy[dot]com

tryggthJanuary 7, 2016 12:47 PM

Sadly, I put

Nice essay that lists ten "truths" about terrorism
into the same category as 'why buying Lotto tickets is stupid'. All good info, but won't "reach" those who can use the info.

CzernoJanuary 7, 2016 1:51 PM

@David : from someone who is neither
a Muslim nor a Jew - nor supporting "terrorism" - Please stop the stupid Sionist propaganda and hate talk against Muslims! they are persons you know ?

Politics, racial or religious opinions are not the subject matter of this blog, esp. when it comes to pouring pure propaganda that by definition cannot be argued.

I hope I am not mistaken if I am adding that
Moderator and Owner Bruce Schneier won't accept harsh, offensive, extremist statements like those you have made. Not to restrict your freedom of speech, there are other venues for your, IMO, strongly inappropriate comments.

ModeratorJanuary 7, 2016 2:31 PM

@Czerno: Agreed, broad generalizations about adherents to any religion are non-contributory, as are inflammatory comments about the "nature" of any religion. @Ross, may I add to your list Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Christopher Dorner, and Anders Behring Breivik. @David, spare us the drive-by bigotry and hysterics; they are not welcome here.

k15January 7, 2016 3:06 PM

Hey, experian.com says it's not secure ("uses an obsolete cipher suite"). We should be happy and use it anyway, right?


jdgaltJanuary 7, 2016 3:08 PM

This was surprisingly good and non-naive despite coming from the publishers of Foreign Policy. About the only fault I could find with the article is that it pays attention only to right wing threats within the US and Europe while ignoring those on the left such as Earth First! and animal-rightists, thus encouraging law enforcement to do the same.

I do believe that some groups commit more terror than others, thus some profiling is justified, but at some point enforcers do need to think before they kill. US police seem to have much more of a problem doing that than European ones.

The best ways to stop rewarding terrorism would be to abolish the TSA and all internal checkpoints in the US (including those of ICE), and to encourage media to refuse to broadcast the names, group affiliations, agendas, or demands of any terrorist until after he is in custody.

@Clive Robinson: The problem with assuming "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is that if government adopts it as policy, then a reasonably competent false-flag attacker can use that government as his tool to attack innocent targets. This may be why the US has created ISIS and continues to transfer weapons to them.

k15January 7, 2016 3:13 PM

When someone's playing cutesy "we own you" games, is there someone whose job it is, to help people extricate themselves?

GT5January 7, 2016 3:24 PM

Excellent moderatorial additions to Ross' list in Nichols and McVeigh, who are classic examples of government provocateurs provoking each other to a frenzy until CIA picks one to be the patsy; and Christopher Dorner, who denounced police brutality and was radicalized by police department retribution.

So jdgalt is right: to restate David's premise, the overwhelming majority of terrorism is US-government instigated, directly to induce public demand for repressive capacity, or indirectly as part of government-defined divide-and-rule factions at home and abroad. You want to cure terrorism, you have to drain the US government swamps.

K15January 7, 2016 3:35 PM

Ok, I have a question about Uncle Sam, our citizen interface to U.S. govt: why is he off cowering in a closet in an undisclosed location?

CallMeLateForSupperJanuary 7, 2016 3:45 PM

Glaringly missing: examination of how we got here. If our own actions played a significant role in that, wouldn't it be to our advantage to recognize that, make it a lesson learned, and stop making the same mistakes? Well, as GHW Bush said (in a different context), "Not gonna happen. Not gonna happen." We Americans are very bad at calling mea culpa, and we proudly wrap ourselves in entitlement. Through those flaws and others, we undermine our security.

A timely (WRT this thread) article from The Intercept:

"Even in those cases where religious extremism rather than anger over Western violence seems to be the primary cause — such as the Charlie Hebdo murders, done to avenge what the attackers regarded as blasphemous cartoons — the evidence is clear that the attackers were radicalized by indignation over U.S. atrocities in Iraq, including at Abu Ghraib. Pointing out that Western violence is a key causal factor in anti-Western terrorism is not to say it is the only cause."

https://theintercept.com/2016/01/06/the-deceptive-debate-over-what-causes-terrorism-against-the-west/

PoFJanuary 7, 2016 4:42 PM

There was a remarkable talk (in english) at 32c3 last week in Hamburg, Germany:

Ten years after ‚We Lost The War‘

The future does not look much brighter than ten years ago. What comes next, and what can the hacker community do to make things better?

The talk „We Lost The War“ was presented at Congress ten years ago, causing quite a stir. It was a prediction of a dark future that did not sit well with many people, but unfortunately many predictions have come true meanwhile. This talk will try to address what comes next, as well as what the hacker community can do to make things better.

https://media.ccc.de/v/32c3-7501-ten_years_after_we_lost_the_war

ChrisJanuary 7, 2016 5:16 PM

This is totally naive. Number 8 (terrorism is a problem to be managed) becomes impossible once the terrorists get nuclear weapons.

Gary FoxJanuary 7, 2016 5:31 PM

Just one general comment:

"terrorism" as we know it is dishonest propagandistic language. You are letting your world views be defined by establishment propaganda.

Who killed 1+ million Iraqis? We did. OK, we didn't put a bullet in all of them, but according to the following "Nuremberg principle" we are certainly responsible for more than 1 million deaths:

The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which followed World War II, called the waging of aggressive war "essentially an evil thing...to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

So, will you have the decency of applying the principles that were applied to the Nazis to yourself? I hope you believe in the universality of moral principles, or you need a wake-up call.

Until our newspeak is cleared up, there will be no change. It's no secret that the USA government has taken and keeps taking action to INCREASE the threat of their-terrorism-against-us.

To counter one silly argument: I do distinguish between "crazy baby killers" and "noble American heroes fighting to save the world". However I don't buy into this ancient propaganda. One feature of all empires throughout history is that everything they do is good and noble by definition, while the enemy can be destroyed without impunity - the question of right and wrong need not even arise.

Ask yourself, what would the US gov't have to do in order for the action to qualify as 'terrorism'? The USA by definition can't commit terrorism right? That's hypocrisy. Why, because we are 'noble'? We are good, they are evil? That is a fat Hollywood-media-military-industrial-complex lie.

Either you all read Noam Chomsky or run around in circles the rest of your lives; it's your choice. Meanwhile I walk away from this meaningless uninformed debate. Don't worry, I won't be back.

Thank you and wish you a happy new year.

WaelJanuary 7, 2016 5:47 PM

@CallMeLateForSupper, @David,

examination of how we got here

Point 7 is significant, I would guess.

Meanwhile, poorly planned Western actions can make things still worse.

"poorly conceived" is more descriptive, though. That is, if you want to change things, and not merely "hide actions".

@David,

Problem that is not properly articulated articulated is unsolvable.

Impress me with articulating the following "properly"...

British special forces caught dressed as Arab 'terrorists' (obviously to stir up trouble and civil war), Targeting Iraqi scientists, doctors, assasinations, Dr. Moustafa Moharafa... How would you "articulate" the Lavon affair?

Messing with natural resources don't help either.

And this was the "Cliff's notes" version. Easier to blame a religion, I guess.

I say point 10. But replace "rewarding" with "growing".

tyrJanuary 7, 2016 6:47 PM


The mad rush to classify certain criminals as "terrorists"
diverts the attention from the fact it is a law enforcement
problem into some woo woo land conflated with war and thinly
disguised religious bigotries.

Using this blanket to cover everybody we don't like because
(insert specious reasoning here) just leads down the rat
hole to unsolvable self created problems.

Learning to think critically about what you hear should be
taught in school but that would ruin the society of the
consumerist shlockmeisters. Spinning elaborate fantasy
about criminal behaviors isn't going to fix real crimes.
Neither is using the military to attack the victims of
the minority criminals under some dubious war on terror
pretext. Bruce is correct we are not going to emo into
a solution until we start thinking correctly about the
problem.

Mr. WeissJanuary 7, 2016 8:06 PM

@David:

While "100%" is too great a proportion (there are individual examples of non-Islamic terrorism and within living memory there was even organized Irish terrorism), you are essentially right about Islam. I believe that Mr. Schneier's insistence on egalitarian dogma is quite counterproductive, but this is his space. I think you'll find that Gates of Vienna is a community where you'd be welcome, and could participate in productive discussion of the problems facing the West; American Renaissance may be another such community.

May God bless you and protect you.

-- Mr. Weiss (not my real name)

Deus vult!

dsdJanuary 7, 2016 11:38 PM

The word "terrorist" is anachronism. In the future the so-called "terrorists" will rule the world. You may call it New World Order if you prefer.

dsdJanuary 7, 2016 11:59 PM

Terrorist organization is just a group of people who fight for their ideology. Yes, they use "terror tactic", but that doesn't mean they just killers. I think even small group of people can form some sort of government in their region. If they willing to defend their territory, they will be recognized.

Also, look in the history countries we have today. You will see they all have blood history. Al-Qaeda, ISIS etc is just a bunch of nubs compared to them.

WaelJanuary 8, 2016 12:51 AM

@Mr. Weiss,

you are essentially right about Islam.

I normally don't comment on opinions. Opinions are just that, and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Me, I prefer those three opinions:

This one is from Kurt Gödel, and I didn't just go on the internet searching for others who "support" my view. @Clive Robinson introduced me to him a while back. And I'm still reading his work since. I also got one of his books. I didn't finish it yet.

Describing religion(s) in general, Gödel said: "Religions are, for the most part, bad—but religion is not". According to his wife Adele, "Gödel, although he did not go to church, was religious and read the Bible in bed every Sunday morning", while of Islam, he said, "I like Islam: it is a consistent [or consequential] idea of religion and open-minded". -- Kurt Gödel

This is what an agnostic Jew thinks.

This is what Rabbi Weiss thinks. And that, unlike yours, is his real name! How ironic :)

I believe that Mr. Schneier's insistence on egalitarian dogma is quite counterproductive

I'm sure you can find others that support your view. I think the way forward is through understanding, communication, and treating everyone as an equal. A concept which, evidently, you don't subscribe to!

Happy new year to you too, and give my regards to the crew on the other two "communities" you recommended. Tell them to tone it down, or I'll pay them a visit ;)

Better ListJanuary 8, 2016 1:48 AM

Straight Talk About (US) Terrorism

[channeling Chomsky]

1. The US is the world's leading terrorist state.

Every president since WWII is arguably a war criminal.

Consider the arming, funding, training and support provided to vicious rebels/militia/dictators/insurgents across several decades, resulting in millions of citizens being murdered, tortured and repressed in order to advance US capitalist interests.

The list is never-ending e.g. Syria, Angola, Nicaragua, Cuba, Panama, Chile, Brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Iran etc.

2. The US willingly multiplies its enemies

The drone program is simply an unlawful and extreme terrorist program. Executive orders from the Dear Emperor to kill people who 'may' harm the US one day (and those unlucky enough to be near-by, without a trial) deserves to have Obama and his cronies in the dock.

Internal government reports confirm the disastrous nature of this program in killing far more innocents than 'bad guys' and undermining US security in the long-term.

3. Terrorism is the new bogeyman

The US is always looking for new means to undermine the birth of true social democracy in nation states that dare to not bow to US imperialist interests.

The end of the Cold War necessitated the 'War on Drugs' which has now morphed into the 'War on Terrorism' to provide the necessary pretext to: interfere/meddle in all things globally, crush domestic citizens rights and nascent protest movements, and further enlarge the military welfare state.

4. US terrorist support is the root cause of ISIS

Military propaganda insists we are 'going after ISIS'. This is a lie. As per decades of prior form, the US has recently (and actively) supported terrorists to achieve their end-game in smashing Syria and fragmenting Iraq.

Both ISIS and Al Nusra are protected by the Western military alliance. Both Al Qaeda entities are used to destroy Syria and Iraq. The air campaign allegedly against ISIS does not target ISIS, it targets Syria and Iraq, schools, hospitals, factories, residential areas, government buildings, roads, bridges, etc.

Both Al Qaeda affiliated entities are being used to destroy Iraq and Syria as nation states.

The terrorists are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance.

US-NATO-Israel are state sponsors of terrorism, providing training, weapons and money to various terrorist formations.

5. We can't keep the bad guys out - they're inside (the White House)

Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it.

The US needs to stop playing world cop and pretending occupants of far-flung, oil-laden areas they covet pose any threat to the US homeland.

It is obvious that the oligarchy only cares about maintaining control over oil; a consistent US foreign policy in the Middle East since the end of WWII. Compliant, brutal dictators are preferred or general chaos from which they benefit.

Under no circumstances will the poor be allowed to plunder the rich in those areas or share in the vast resources to raise the livings standards of the local population.

6. 'Terrorism' is a magic word for domestic population control

What better way to control those domestic citizens who get too uppity than monitoring their electronic movements wholesale for an entire life-time? Need an excuse to enlarge the domestic Stasi regime - look no further...

Labour union leader or sympathesier? "Terrorist"
Care about the environment? "Obvious terrorist"
Think wealth/income disparities need to be addressed? "Clear and present danger"
Are you an intellectual who can see through government bullshit? "You're on the no fly list" etc.

7. Terrorism is a problem to be (stage) managed

At all times, statistically insignificant events are to blown completely out of proportion. Fear and loathing must be encouraged, preferably via racist, xenophobic statements from 'political leaders' feeding into the ignorance of the masses. A state-compliant media must reinforce these messages daily.

8. More surveillance won't solve terrorist problems - only terrorize the public

The government's real enemy is the people who may divert wealth and privilege from the elite. Therefore, blanket surveillance will be used to terrorize any threats before they can take root.

Unrepresentative governments - serving corporations and the ultra-rich - will simply not tolerate dominant and rich segments of the population sharing their ill-gotten (publicly-subsidised) hoard with the unwashed masses.

9. We need to stop rewarding the one-party state

The US is really a one-party state (two flavors available) aka 'the business party'. Having successfully transitioned to a militarized, totalitarian feudal state, the government has gone rogue and is unyielding in using propaganda and necessary illusions to manufacture consent.

Unless the apathetic US public awakes, military adventurism abroad will only increase in scale, leading to further atrocities in the West.

10. Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a "war against terrorism."

The US has so much blood dripping from its hands that it takes the gold medal for hypocrisy.

Resorting to violence as the default mode in the global arena is the perfect way to escalate the problem. In effect, the US ideological system is pure Orwellian doublespeak, since the targets of homeland aggression are often identified as the primary source of terrorist problems today.

Wesley ParishJanuary 8, 2016 4:15 AM

A few years ago I was reading a book titled "Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?" by the Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm. Most of the book is purely inspirational: I won't comment on that. But in one "chapter" he describes how the Thai monarchy of the 1970s. during the Vietnam War, dealt with Thailand's own insurgency.

Points he mentioned:

  • the Thai king of that time chose to focus on the development issues of the Thai interior, matters like roads to transport produce to markets, etc;

  • Apparently the Thai refused to segregate themselves into rigid parties for and against, so that the insurgents were never left cut off from Thai society: they could give in their insurgency and rejoin the rest of Thai society without lifelong penalties;

  • Apparently also the king treated the insurgency as a proving ground to testing young people's strength of character and conviction, and rewarded those who had shown such strength of character with responsibilities.

Naturally, these I suspect aren't the full story; but apparently the insurgency fizzled out of its own accord.

What impressed me the most was the focus on facing up to the underlying issues and taking responsibility for them. I would love to see such farsightedness in the tawdry grandeur of Washington, London, Paris, and wherever.

I can dream, can't I?

CuriousJanuary 8, 2016 4:58 AM

I balked the most at the sentence "Terrorism is a problem to be managed". I think the word "terrorism" is a failed metaphor, or an impossible metaphor even, because what meaning would this word otherwise convey, if not simply leaving you alone to merely revel in the perhaps endless ideas of terror. I guess in a way one could perhaps argue that talking about terrorism could be thought of as mediating terrorism, perhaps no wonder why there seem to be this parallel public encouragement in so called western countries to not being intimidated, and if they aren't saying that, they are presumptuous and simply stating that "we" are not giving into fear. How convenient to have this word "terrorism", both to enact political agendas and also for sort of explaining away the consequences of the unfortunate misgivings of any would-be-terrorist, as the work of evil doers. Presumably "evil" is a failed metaphor as well, with no correlation to any supernatural being, and with vile things typically associated with abnormal behavior, however war and terror seem normal these days. How convenient to have this word.. (etc).

Uh, onward to what I was about I wanted to write. I have to say that: Things out there in the world couldn't possibly be 'problems' in themselves, or problems as such. Not people, not natural disasters, not a house on fire. 'Problems' are simply intellectual considerations.

So, this notion of "managing the problem of terrorism", would be an insincere one, as it obviously alludes or hinting to there being ONE problem, or perhaps for understanding (whatever goes for "terrorism") in one way, or as if someone had a privileged understanding of whatever goes for being terrorism.

I'd also argue that the use of this word 'terrorism', with this -ism as a suffix, is obviously counter productive to be some kind of label or description of anyones intent, motive or action, because of this word's detachment from reality, with "terrorism" obviously being prescriptive and highly selective.

The following is my translation to English of something I either read, or maybe heard, or possibly something I ended up misquoting, which I've since found interesting; because upon realizing that a so called "problem" is an intellectual yet here more importantly a specific consideration and making you realize that obvious lack of specifics in turn obviously void said problem after the fact (understanding that something couldn't possibly be true): "It is an act of acknowledgement, when you think you believe you have solved a particular problem, that you come to realize that the problem never existed." Basically, reinventing a particular problem, becomes a philosophical impossibility.

Who knows, maybe early Ludvig Wittgenstein perhaps hinted at the same thing, by having said: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." (Translated to English ofc).

Note: There was an early and a late Wittgenstein, the early one was a positivist, and the late an agnostic questioning the meaning of things.

DavidJanuary 8, 2016 6:00 AM

A fully expected wave of righteous indignation, suggestions for application of Western humanistic values, accusation in ”Sionism” (sic) by @Czerno, invitations to Tea Party style gatherings, suggestions of Kim Jong Un style censorship of this blog and factually incorrect statements.

In my post I pointed out technical aspects of Mr Schneier's incorrect, IMHO, presentation and lack of proper articulation of the problem which necessarily leads to a inane solutions. Please leave the political correctness out of it. I know it is difficult. For example, every decent security professional will tell you that profiling airline passengers – a politically incorrect mode of operation - is vitally important to airport security.

@Tom Dick & Harry: I do not buy the conspiracy theory of CIA infiltrating terrorists into US. Believing this is, however, your constitutional right.

@Ross Thomson: Your statement “America’s background checks on refugees are already very thorough” is not borne out by reality: all they needed to do to prevent entry of the SB murder wife into US is check her Facebook account. Is that what you call “very thorough background checks”?

@jordan: Your statement “Since 2006, more than half of all deaths in terrorist attacks in the West have been caused by non-Islamist “lone-wolf” attackers” probably refers to the Western suburbs of Buffalo, NY, not to THE West. FYI US accounts for no more no more than 20% of the population of West (=Western democracies). Moreover, the infiltration of US by Islamic terrorists has just started, whereas in Europe it has reached a full blown scale already. So your statement shows a very narrow view of the world and is definitely factually incorrect. I repeat: 99% acts of terrorism in the world today are performed by Islamists.

@qwertty: “Call terrorism terrorism, the faith/ethnicity/nationality of does who committed it doesn't matter” – wrong. If we want to fight terrorism we must understand its causes including precisely these factors: faith/ethnicity/nationality, among others.

@Jim Lippard: “I want to point out that there is more Islam than terrorist-supporting Islam” – nothing new here, I pointed it out myself when I said that there is no doubt that the majority of the Muslims are peaceful people. But the majority is not calling the shots in the Muslim world, the violent minority does. Ignoring this will cause the defeat of the West by the Islamists.

@GT5: accusing US government in homegrowing terrorism is naïve. Granted, it behaved stupidly when it destroyed Iraq and unleashed the Islamic terrorist forces that were bubbling underneath suppressed by Saddam’s fascist regime. It should have left Saddam alone and the world (outside Iraq) would be a better place now. But accusing the government of fomenting terrorism is just the good old conspiracy theory.

@CallMeLateForSupper: Your statement that the fanatical, bloodthirsty Charlie Hebdo murderers were radicalized by US invasion of Iraq is factually incorrect. Half the attackers came from the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek and from Paris, and were never in Iraq or in the Middle East. Two of the 10 attackers were sent by ISIS and INFILTRATED EUROPE THROUGH GREECE AS REFUGEES. Check the facts before you type.

@Gary Fox: your statement that US killed 1+million Iraqis is – mildly put – factually incorrect. The official stats are that 1 million Iraqis were killed in the bloody 8-year war between Iraq and Iran, while the US invasion did not result in even 10% of the casualties that you claim. And definitely not all of them were caused by US. So much also for the rest of your “facts”.

@dsd: “Terrorist organization is just a group of people who fight for their ideology” – this is a false definition much favored by the terrorists themselves. No. Terrorism is properly defined as indiscriminate bloody attacks against uninvolved civilian population, not as “fight for ideology”

@Wael: “I think the way forward is through understanding, communication, and treating everyone as an equal”. What a wonderfully practical formula. I presume that “everyone” includes ISIS. Go ahead - understand ISIS, communicate with them, and treat them as equal. Good luck.

Tom Dick & HarryJanuary 8, 2016 9:27 AM

@David How nice for you that you do not 'buy conspiracy theories' as defined in CIA Doc. 1035-960. This is a tribute to your patriotic purity, since evidently you also resist the urge to read any books that could show CIA intervened 3 dozen times to infiltrate and protect terrorists despite reliable warnings of imminent attack. Do you reduce all factual matters to abstract questions of belief, like some religious fanatic, or do only profess faith in the stuff that CIA specifies in 1035-960?

WaelJanuary 8, 2016 9:27 AM

@BoppingAround,

What made you uncomfortable in Gödel's writings

At the time, Two main things:

1) Logic based on Axioms isn't necessarily "true". This made me uncomfortable because it breaks the way I think about cause and effect. @Clive Robinson used Kurt Gödel to counter my "principle" based and "axiom" based logic. Slick @Clive Robinson also uses Kurt Gödel's work to prove that no system can "vet" for its correctness (a Turing-complete machine, for example), and that's a justification for his Prison architecture.

2) It was hard for me to read his book and listen to lectures about his incompleteness theory, etc... I'm mathematically inclined but his work seemed a little alien to me. But I'm getting there slowly.

WaelJanuary 8, 2016 9:56 AM

@BoppingAround,

It's been a long night. I may have not captured what really made me uncomfortable. At the foundation of it, given a set of Aximoatic "truths", inference, deduction, and induction based on them may not hold true (that was my initial understanding at the time.) This actually challenges what I have learned throughout my education, and my belief in the existence of God. That's when I looked at Kurt Gödel's life, his belief, and interactions with others in addition to his writings.

Dirk PraetJanuary 8, 2016 10:05 AM

@ David

For example, every decent security professional will tell you that profiling airline passengers – a politically incorrect mode of operation - is vitally important to airport security.

You're stating the obvious. The subject has been discussed on this blog more than once. Look it up some time.

Your statement that the fanatical, bloodthirsty Charlie Hebdo murderers were radicalized by US invasion of Iraq is factually incorrect. Half the attackers came from the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek and from Paris, and were never in Iraq or in the Middle East. Two of the 10 attackers were sent by ISIS and INFILTRATED EUROPE THROUGH GREECE AS REFUGEES. Check the facts before you type.

You are confusing the Charlie Hebdo attackers with the November 13th gang. Check the facts before you type.

I repeat: 99% acts of terrorism in the world today are performed by Islamists.

Please be so kind as to substantiate your claim with factual references or statistics. For the EU, and in the period 2010-2014, it was 2%. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on US soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94% of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. A 2014 study by University of North Carolina found that, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered. Check the facts before you type.

The official stats are that 1 million Iraqis were killed in the bloody 8-year war between Iraq and Iran, while the US invasion did not result in even 10% of the casualties that you claim.

Various scientific surveys of Iraqi deaths resulting from the first four years of the Iraq War estimated that between 151,000 to over one million Iraqis died as a result of conflict during this time. A later study, published in 2011, estimated that approximately 500,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the conflict since the invasion. Check the facts before you type.

I presume that “everyone” includes ISIS.

You would be doing yourself a favour if you assumed less, took some more time to look stuff up and think it through before typing.

Ross ThompsonJanuary 8, 2016 10:36 AM

"@Ross Thomson: Your statement “America’s background checks on refugees are already very thorough” is not borne out by reality: all they needed to do to prevent entry of the SB murder wife into US is check her Facebook account. Is that what you call “very thorough background checks”?"

1) Tafsheen Malik was not a refugee but entered the US as the spouse of a US citizen, so what background checks were or were not done is not relevant to the question. Spouses / fiancees undergo significantly less scrutiny than refugees.

2) The idea that she posted to Facebook about ISIS or jihad has been debunked. Maybe you should do some background checking of your own?
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/12/san-bernardino-shooting-update.html

WaelJanuary 8, 2016 11:05 AM

@David,

I presume that “everyone” includes ISIS. Go ahead - understand ISIS, communicate with them, and treat them as equal. Good luck.

Is that all you got from my comment? Pity! I'm not impressed[1]. Treat them as equal to others of the same "kind".

No offense, @Tom, Dick & Harry! You're just a collateral accident of friendly fire :)

[1] Impress me with articulating the following "properly"... You've got to be consistent. What's good for goose is good for gander!

DavidJanuary 8, 2016 11:05 AM

@Tom Dick & Harry please be specific: are you saying that the Islamist Boston murderers and San Bernardino Jihadist murder wife were infiltrated into the United States by the CIA?

CzernoJanuary 8, 2016 11:41 AM

@All, Re: David

Nuff's enough, please, don't feed the troll ! Moderator has spoken.

@David : now, stop arguing ! puhlease.

CallMeLateForSupperJanuary 8, 2016 11:46 AM

@David
"Check the facts before you type."

I suggest you read more carefully. The content to which you apparently object was a quote from the Intercept article. You might want to register your objection with the author, Glenn Greenwald.

Terrorists are the new CommiesJanuary 8, 2016 12:34 PM

This essay is written in context of the framing provided by State, certain commercial, and media propagandists. And that frame is the War on Terror™.

IMHO, the points this essay makes are obvious to anyone paying even modest attention. A much more on-point essay would explore the following questions:

1) In terms of money/power, who directly benefits from a prolonged War on Terror™?
2) For those who directly benefit, what is their relationship to those making the policy decisions regarding the response to the terrorist threat?

An important first step in moving the topic of terrorism towards meaningful solutions is to stop discussing it in terms of the nonsensical framing served up to us.

tyrJanuary 8, 2016 7:55 PM


@Wael

Godel is hard stuff for everyone to swallow. Almost every
previous thinker had mathematical certainty to fall back
on as the foundation of their thought process. Godel has
proved mathematically that there is no mathematical
certainty using basic arithmetic meaning certainty is built
on a foundation of vaporware. That means there is no closure
it is all a willow the wisp, you have to fall back to the
Wittgenstein concept of "true enough" while discarding
Truth with a capital T thinking. I make it sound far too
easy when it unravels thousands of years of treasured bits
of erroneous thinking and conclusions.

If you think that is tough to swallow find Palle Yourgrau
book on Godel, A World without Time.

What is hilarious is he can't even be condemned as a godless
atheist for overturning their ideas and proving it.

WaelJanuary 8, 2016 9:26 PM

@tyr,

Godel has proved mathematically that there is no mathematical certainty using basic arithmetic meaning certainty is built on a foundation of vaporware. That means there is no closure

I haven't formulated an opinion on this yet. I don't want to repeat the "Monty Hall" thing.

If you think that is tough to swallow find Palle Yourgrau book on Godel, A World without Time.

Great! Another book to add. Just got it. The kindle version, mind you! "A World without Time" is definitely more readable than On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems which is only $5.99

Philosophical Investigation isn't available in electronic format. Not into philosophy anyway...

Clive RobinsonJanuary 9, 2016 12:54 AM

@ Wael,

I haven't formulated an opinion on this yet. I don't want to repeat the "Monty Hall" thing.

Godel is usefull, but also a rabbit hole for the unwary.

The history of mathmatics shows a disturbing trend to mental instability and fatal madness occuring in those who contemplate the deeper meanings of infinity and uncertainty.

Similar effects are seen in those that have developed a strongly held belief system that becomes questioned in their own mind or in other ways taken away from them. It's why excommunication was seen as such a powerful weapon by those in Rome and we still see this with people taken from or forced out of cults etc.

It has been seen as becoming the equivalent of an outcast from the social herd, of "carrying the mark of Cain" etc.

Just over a hundred years ago Physics suffered a tectonic change in their fundemental understanding when contemplating what we now glibly call "quantum physics". A study of what went on at that time shows what can happen when fundemental abstract foundation ideas come into question.

As I've said in the past mathmatics and the underlying logic are based on assumptions "that are held to be true", finding out those assumptions are incorrect for some reason can be earth shattering for those that have held them to be fundemental tennents. In some respects physics had it easy because it was a young field of endevor and always seen as impure more as the work of the devil than the purity of maths and logic that philosophy gave the feeling of being the work of god. Thus physics had already undergone a separation from the church orthodoxy, that even in the late 19th Century still held sway on university level teaching.

As I've said before for reasons we do not understand mankind has curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Often with it goes a belief in something better than one's self and a strong striving towards being personaly better. The question is what "form" does this "something better" take. For many it is $DEITY for others it's a belief in mankind it's self (humanist views). I personaly don't need there to be a $DEITY and likewise I do not need there to be a $CREATOR in the same way I don't need there to be an $AFTERLIFE. The reason is that when I was in my formative years I looked at many contemporary religions and found them all lacking in many respects. Because I'm a curious creature and my mother was a historian, I looked into the history of religions. What I found amongst other things was that man kinds $DEITIES evolved with his understanding of the physical world mankind inhabits. Thus at one point mankind had $DEITIES of good and bad fortune in every essential aspect of their life for water / food / shelter / fire etc. That is anything that could not be explained at mankinds maturity / knowledge point was explained away as being the work of some superior being. Thus the worship of the sun as the "giver of life" $DEITY, has paradoxically gone effectivly full circle as although we now do not believe in the Sun as a $DEITY we know that it produces the energy by which we live, and have an understanding of how that energy is produced. Likewise the Moon, we are begining to understand why it is so important in many ways to the continued existance of life on this planet. As our understanding and maturity increased our $DEITIES have become "more human" and there is that statment of "God made man in his likeness", the history shows that in fact progressively "Man made God in his likeness", and understanding stripped $DEITY of mystical powers as knowledge explained the physical processes that mysticism could not.

The logic of this is that $DEITY is in general a target of aspiration for many, and the danger of this is it can thus become a tool of control for some.

Currently we can see that $DEITY is given atributes of where some want society to go, that is in effect $DEITY is a political and legislative "tool" used as a way for the powerfull to demand obedience of the masses without question with the development of the "King Game" and "Divine Right".

When you seperate Church, State and legislature, people start to realise that self determination is not impossible, it's actually reasonably achievable. Which brings fear into the hearts of the self selecting few as their "King Game" sociopathic behaviours start to be questioned and nullified. It is the various types of kickback the self selecting few use that gives us both the lobbying industry and ISIL messes we currently see. That is they are just different sides of the same old coin of the King Game, and the fight to be "the first of the more equall than others" elite and their vice of "status".

Thus understanding that $DEITY for most is "the embodiment of aspiration" but for sociopaths was and in many cases is "the tool of control for status" removes much of the rest of the mystique from $DEITY.

Thus trying to see the footsteps of $DEITY in the natural physical world around us is a futile excercise, because as our knowledge increases we put $DEITY several footsteps in front of where we want to go.

Thus what the works of Godel, Cantor and other mathematicians, logicians and philosophers does is increase the size and richness of the map we draw on our journey. They do not define the target of our journey, like all explorers we pick a distant point then chose our route as we go, based on what we learn along the way.

6CBKJanuary 9, 2016 1:19 AM

@Gary Fox

To counter one silly argument: I do distinguish between "crazy baby killers" and "noble American heroes fighting to save the world".

Gary would love (first few minutes and probably the rest of) the reboot of Battlestar Galactica

DavidJanuary 9, 2016 2:30 AM

@Dirk Praet

"You are confusing the Charlie Hebdo attackers with the November 13th gang."

Correct - a minor confusion; but the fact is that BOTH of the 2015 Islamist massacres in Paris were perpetrated by French and/or Belgian Islamists that have nothing to do with Iraq, which refutes @CallMeLateForSupper’s completely false statement that these attacks were the result of American invasion of Iraq.

Facts are important, let me restate them, this time without the minor confusion, about BOTH of these Islamist mass murders in Paris:

The January 2015 an Islamo-terrorist massacre was perpetrated against Charlie Hebdo magazine and Hyper Cacher grocery. The perpetrators were French citizens, descendants of Algerian and Malian immigrants, and had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq.

The November 2013 an Islamo-terrorist massacre in the Bataclan music hall and a sports stadium was perpetrated by Islamists from the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek and from Paris, who were never in Iraq or in the Middle East. In addition, two of the 10 Islamo-terrorists were returning "foreign fighters", also European Islamists, that were sent by ISIS and INFILTRATED EUROPE THROUGH GREECE AS REFUGEES.

DavidJanuary 9, 2016 2:37 AM

@Czerno,

Attempts at personal attacks and denigration made instead of refuting the point made or the facts stated, are a clear sign of intellectual inferiority and helpless fury.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 2:40 AM

@Clive Robinson,

The history of mathmatics shows a disturbing trend to mental instability and fatal madness occuring in those who contemplate the deeper meanings of infinity and uncertainty.

Not unique to mathematics, but true. I already finished 12% of A World without Time; a truly fascinating book (thanks @tyr.) Kind of sad to see how Kurt's life ended.

Similar effects are seen in those that have developed a strongly held belief system that becomes questioned in their own mind or in other ways taken away from them...

Who's the Englishman who said "it's easier for a man to burn his house than change his convictions"? I'm paraphrasing... For me, doubt is always there. It's more like a seven nines conviction, though. Nothing terribly wrong with questioning ones own beliefs.

As I've said in the past mathmatics and the underlying logic are based on assumptions "that are held to be true"...

From the little I read in the book, it's "logical mathematics" Kurt was talking about, and not "mathematics". I'll let you know what I conclude at the end. Kurt Gödel himself was not a pantheist but rather a self-described theist, so we can't really use his work to disprove his convictions. He worked to prove the existence of God!

Thus physics had already undergone a separation from the church orthodoxy

There are two main reasons for that which don't need further elaboration, you touched upon one of them.

As I've said before for reasons we do not understand mankind has curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Often with it goes a belief in something better than one's self and a strong striving towards being personaly better.

I'm not sure I agree with the second part.

The question is what "form" does this "something better" take.

There must be a question that precedes this question. Is there a creator. The way you put that sentence implies that humans created God, which I know you believe.

That is anything that could not be explained at mankinds maturity [...] knowledge explained the physical processes that mysticism could not

Yes, you're talking about the "God of gaps"; a concept Feynman and Neil deGrasse Tyson push. It's not something convincing.

people start to realise that self determination is not impossible, it's actually reasonably achievable

Self determination is under our control and doesn't negate the existence of an omniscient creator. It's the "free willed" vs. "driven" argument. The existence of a creator doesn't imply self determination is impossible, either.

because as our knowledge increases we put $DEITY several footsteps in front of where we want to go.

Yes, kick the can down the road" which is another manifestation of the concept of a "God of gaps". I subscribe to neither.

Thus what the works of Godel, Cantor and other mathematicians.

But it's not these logicians' and mathematicians' "work" that "creationists" follow! It's the messages of "prophets" and "scriptures", right?

At the same time, no one has presented a convincing argument that life exists without a creator. I had prepared a long write up that discussed much of your comments, but decided at the last moment to trim it down a lot. It's not easy to present it in a short monologue.

DavidJanuary 9, 2016 2:40 AM

@Dirk Praet

A typo again - the Paris Bataclan music hall/sports stadium Islamo-terrorist massacre of 130 innocent people was perpetrated in November 2015, not in November 2015.

CuriousJanuary 9, 2016 3:11 AM

@Tyr

What are you referencing to, when you say you refer to Wittgenstein's having a concept of "true enough"?

tyrJanuary 9, 2016 4:18 AM


Wittgenstein used to hang out with the student crowd
Godel was in.

Once in class a student asked him if a concept he presented
was true. He replied that it was "true enough", within the
existing framework of any current thought system that's
what you need to work with. Expecting absolute Truths is
a dangerous slippery slope because you are then trapped by
the beliefs which closes off possibilities. Since examining
the past will show you that all beliefs have turned out to
be falsified and discarded over time deciding you have
found the ones that won't be is obviously wrong. Using
"true enough" lets you escape that trap but you have to
discard absolute certainty. Most are very uncomfortable to
even contemplate tossing the certainty. Notice that you
are not discarding the ideas themselves just the idea they
are perfectly right and can't ever change.

When Giordano Bruno realized the stars were not the light
of heaven shining through a bowl with holes in it but were
suns like our own far away the defenders of absolute truth
burned him at the stake. Realizing the fuzzier stars were
horribly distant clumps of stars accomplished the same.
New information is always coming in that changes some idea
that was supposed to be eternal truth.

Like Clive says questions of $Diety endlessly mutate with
the needs and stories of humans. Whether they need to be
accepted at face value as Truth is an individual choice.

There is a component of the human neural system that needs
to feel the universe has an emotional level of regard for us.
We can substitute ideology in that place which explains why
you see religious behaviors in things like Communist ruling
party types with the State elevated to godhead. Ramachandran
has identified the brain part that does the emotional part
of this and can remove the saintly mystical feelings with a
scalpel. This was by mapping activity with a brain scanner
in exagerrated cases. That component exists within every
person to a more or lesser degree. Why is a question you'll
have to answer yourself, just like the answer to why you
might need a god.

Marcos El MaloJanuary 9, 2016 4:32 AM

@Woo
Or perhaps we need to overuse it to such an extent that it loses its descriptive power entirely. Let's start using the word "terrorist" as a descriptor of anything mildly negative. The woman that doesn't hold the elevator for you? Clearly a terrorist. The new shoes that gave you a blister? Terrorists! The slice of toast that landed butter side down? Possible an insurgent, but most likely a terrorist. That guy that cut you off in traffic (or annoyed you in some other way) is just another terrorist.

Soon enough, the word will become a synonym for "cool", unless young people change radically.

The word has already blurred way beyond its technical meaning. Let kill it all the way and leave the politicians with one less tool of manipulation.

@Wael
Sorry if this comes from left field and is not germane, but I wanted to suggest a book at you. :-) Nothing to do with actual mathematics. It's the novel Shikasta by Doris Lessing. The reason I suggest it is because she touches on $Diety and religion in an interesting way. Her diety is a sort of underlying principle that her characters serve or come to grips with, or rebel against. I believe she was influenced by Sufism. The book has an odd structure, being told in the form of diplomatic correspondence, documents, and training material for students in the diplomatic corps.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 9, 2016 5:17 AM

@ David,

Attempts at personal attacks and denigration made instead of refuting the point made or the facts stated, are a clear sign of intellectual inferiority and helpless fury.

When it comes to "intellectual inferiority" you left out "intellectual dishonesty". Which appears curious untill we examin the way you frame the points of the argument you make to try and block out the existance of others points.

For instance you say the following,

BOTH of the 2015 Islamist massacres in Paris were perpetrated by French and/or Belgian Islamists...

Which is, as far as public statments made by the authorities, factually correct (assuming of course what the authorities report is factually correct, which based on reporting on the recent incidents in Koln they may not be).

You the add your own assumption for which there is no supporting evidence in your favour,

... that have nothing to do with Iraq...

And then use that unsupported assumption to falsely attack another commenter,

... which refutes @CallMeLateForSupper’s completely false statement that these attacks were the result of American invasion of Iraq.

Which very much smacks of "inferiority and helpless fury".

Importantly what you have failed to do entirely is explain based on available facts how these young men became sufficiently radicalized to want to commit suicide. And further show beyond doubt with supporting facts how they became radicalized without the "American Invasion of Iraq".

Which might be difficult because you would have to ignore existing evidence on the way radicalisation has been carried out and by whom and how they could do so currently when they could not prior to the US invasion of Iraq.

That is you need to explain the cause and effect of how the many players involved interreacted and show to a reasonable level of confidence that the invaion of Iraq could not have been involved.

And if you can not then you owe someone an apology.

CuriousJanuary 9, 2016 6:33 AM

@Tyr

I am totally put off by what you wrote and won't pursue my question further.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 9, 2016 6:37 AM

@ Wael,

You mentioned the "God of Gaps" that Creationists use to say "Aha science can not explain this therefore it proves the existence of God!", and say you do not subscribe to it. It's wise to do so not only because it's a silly argument you might expect from a petulant child, but because it's been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked even by "Men of God".

One such debunking was put forward by the Oxford University mathmatics professor and methodist minister Charles Alfred Coulson, who in his 1955 book "Science and Christian Belief" wrote:

    There is no 'God of the gaps' to take over at those strategic places where science fails; and the reason is that gaps of this sort have the unpreventable habit of shrinking.

and,

    Either God is in the whole of Nature, with no gaps, or He's not there at all.

Coulson was a well respected "establishment figure" who often appeared in religious programs of the BBC that went world wide. His book was favourably received and reprinted a number of time including in paperback.

It is the second statment that is most telling and significant argument against Creationists. Because they chose to hide furtively in the gaps of ignorance rather than demonstrate how their God is in all that Science Knows and can demonstrate from fundemental principles and the axioms on which they rest.

Now I'm not precluding the existance of either a God or a Creator. There are several reasons for this the first being the glib "you can not prove a negative", but more importantly if there is a creator then it implies that they have sentience to be have the "will" to bring into existance our universe. But this brings up the "fleas have lesser fleas" issue of where did this being that has "will" come from, that is who or what is the creators creator. You have only three possibilities of None, One or Infinite creators. But appart from "None" you get into issues that humans currently can not comprehend in a meaningful way. But even "None" has issues due to "times arrow" and "entropy", because of the human desire for beginings thus also endings. The current thinking is that the universe started from zero and will eventually end that way. But it does not answere the question of "why" it happened in the first place. Logic and mathmatics can only take us back to a point in time but no further. That is the tools we use to explain our universe appear to fail to explain outside of our universe. Thus currently neither science or theology can say there is or is not a creator, and even if they could we would have no way to test for the existance of our creator, we could however become creators ourselves, but that would only show that there is the ability to create, not that we were created by a being of sentience and will.

Without the tools to test, the answer to "Did we have a creator?" will remain unknown to the end of time in our universe by those who are within it.

Currently in our view of the universe we are the most prodigious of tool makers, thus the question may at some future point be answered. But even if it can does it realy matter? That is will it make any difference?

As I've indicated before all of our science is predicated on our universe being a "closed system", thus our current view is that nothing can get out and nothing can get in, thus we would not be able to communicate with a creator using either energy or matter as the forces that control them are likewise bound within our universe under our current understanding.

Interestingly there are theoretical physicists who are currently considering what would change if our universe was not closed. There reasons to do this are varied but ultimately they are to further our knowledge of this universe. All I can say on the matter is I watch with interest because of some of the implications.

BoppingAroundJanuary 9, 2016 10:34 AM

Clive Robinson, Wael et al.,
Since the belief systems topic has been brought up perhaps you can share your
thoughts regarding the following question.

What about the various social predators exploiting people by 'sowing doubt'?
How can that be addressed and what defences can be raised against malicious
influences, should the certainty go out of the picture?

I think I can formulate a simple answer to that — that is, have a critical
mind and be on alert — but I sense that it's far from being that easy.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 12:17 PM

@Clive Robinson,

There is no 'God of the gaps' to take over at those strategic places where science fails; and the reason is that gaps of this sort have the unpreventable habit of shrinking.

True. There is also the counter argument that science is also continuously evolving and mutating. If there is a discrepancy between science and scripture, then at least one of them is wrong. Hopefully we agree on that. If we don't agree because you choose to invoke the "Big T" and other philosophical discussions about the nature of "reality", Truth, and our perception of reality, then our discussion reaches a dead end because we don't have any common grounds, metrics or framework of methodical thinking to start from. It then becomes a moot[1] discussion. However, I don't believe in a "God of gaps" concept.

Either God is in the whole of Nature, with no gaps, or He's not there at all.

God is in the whole nature: Pantheist view
God exists: Theist view
God not there at all: Atheist view

But this brings up the "fleas have lesser fleas" issue of where did this being that has "will" come from, that is who or what is the creators creator. You have only three possibilities of None, One or Infinite creators.

They are actually only two possibilities; 'None' and 'Infinite'. Because 'One' implies 'Infinite'.

Uh, the tired old theist/atheist debate point:

- Theist->Atheist: Every object implies a maker
- Atheist->Theist: well, if that's true, then who made the maker?

Atheists avoid conceding to the first statement because they know what it will lead to. They therefore counter with the second statement. It's a weak response!

How about this: another slightly greater creator created the creator. Well who created that one? Another slightly greater creator. Who created that one? Another yet slightly greater creator... In mathematical notation, then:

C(1)->C(2)->C(3)...->C(n)
Where: '->' means 'created by' and 'C' means 'Creator'

This is an infinite sequence and since we care about the "ultimate creator" which we refer to as "God", then we can replace the whole sequence with: C(∞) which is "God". What's before C(∞) and what's after C(∞) becomes equivalent to asking the question: what's ∞-1 or ∞+1. In other words, God is the beginning and the end or the "the Alpha and the Omega", as some scriptures put it. You can of course object to the C(1)...C(n) sequence, but I say such sequences are common in math and engineering. And the method I used above does not mean there are "smaller gods" in between, as I am sure you understand.

But it does not answere the question of "why" it happened in the first place. Logic and mathmatics can only take us back to a point in time but no further.

Science, eventually, doesn't and can't answer questions of "why". Science tries to answer questions of "how". Some scientists and mathematicians don't care about the "why"; they only care about the "how".

That is the tools we use to explain our universe appear to fail to explain outside of our universe. Thus currently neither science or theology can say there is or is not a creator,

Whoa! Easy there! How did you make that leap? This one one needs to be taken a step at a time: first, list the tools, their properties and constraints.

and even if they could we would have no way to test for the existance of our creator,

If you could 'test' for a creator, then what's the purpose of "belief"? Come to think of it, what's this deal with religions requiring a belief in a supreme being along with a series of "rituals" to enter heaven or else suffer in hell? What's up with that? We can get into this discussion, but only if you concede (or pretend for the sake of discussion) that there is a God with the attributes we know about him[2] omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, almighty,...

we could however become creators ourselves, but that would only show that there is the ability to create, not that we were created by a being of sentience and will.

Then tell me a convincing story about how we came into existence from inanimate matter. Then tell me how this inanimate matter came into existence. We can approach this from several directions by he way.

Without the tools to test, the answer to "Did we have a creator?" will remain unknown to the end of time in our universe by those who are within it.

What are these tools, the tools that allow for "testability"? You are falling in the trap of using one tool (science) that deals with the perceptible domain and isn't suitable for the imperceptible domain (the unseen, before creation and after death.)

Currently in our view of the universe we are the most prodigious of tool makers, thus the question may at some future point be answered. But even if it can does it realy matter? That is will it make any difference?

Eternity in heaven or hell. Quiet a difference.

As I've indicated before all of our science is predicated on our universe being a "closed system", thus our current view is that nothing can get out and nothing can get in, thus we would not be able to communicate with a creator using either energy or matter as the forces that control them are likewise bound within our universe under our current understanding.

Close or open, there is a creator. Now I'm closed-minded :)

Interestingly there are theoretical physicists who are currently considering what would change if our universe was not closed. There reasons to do this are varied but ultimately they are to further our knowledge of this universe. All I can say on the matter is I watch with interest because of some of the implications.

I'll share with you later two of "my theories of the universe". They have nothing to do with theology or the existence of a creator or lack thereof. One of them could become a good Sci-Fi movie :)

[1] Moot as in pointless

[2] The use of the masculine gender-specific pronoun doesn't imply God has a gender. Using a feminine-pronoun definitely implies a gender. The use of "it" isn't appropriate for God, for obvious reasons. Don't blame me for language rules.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 12:36 PM

Dang it! Delete this.

They are actually only two possibilities; 'None' and 'Infinite'. Because 'One' implies 'Infinite'.

You are correct. Three possibilities. My brain went out in the weeds for a second... Didn't sleep well.

DavidJanuary 9, 2016 12:59 PM

@Clive Robinson

You are employing a completely twisted logic. Somebody here made a completely unsubstantiated statement that the bloodthirsty Islamists murdered some 150 people in Paris in two separate attacks in 2015 "since they were radicalized by US invasion of Iraq" which appears to be completely false because, among others, US is no longer in Iraq and the attacks were against FRANCE, not US. I added an additional piece of factually correct (as you admit) information that ALL of the Islamic murderers participating in the attack were European Muslims and had nothing to do with Iraq.

Now you want me to PROVE mathematically that they were NOT radicalized by US invasion of Iraq?? And are telling me that if I don't I am intellectually dishonest? Why don't you ask @CallMeLateForSupper who made the originally totally unsubstantiated statement to prove it? I suspect that it is because you WANT his empty propaganda to be true.

You remind me of Bertrand Russell's teapot rebuke to religious theologists who challenged him to PROVE that god does not exist. Russell told them that first they must PROVE to him that there isn't a teapot, small enough to be invisible to terrestrial telescopes, moving on a circular orbit around the Sun. So why don't you be "intellectually honest" as you put it and PROVE to me that there isn't such teapot - and then I will gladly PROVE to you that the homegrown European Muslim terrorists' massacres in Paris had nothing to do with US invasion of Iraq.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 1:02 PM

@BoppingAround,

What about the various social predators exploiting people by 'sowing doubt'? How can that be addressed and what defences can be raised against malicious influences, should the certainty go out of the picture?

Knowledge is power. Don't be intimidated by those who portray a political movement such as Evolution under the guise of "science". It's anything but! The theory of evolution is three millennia old, its adherents were caught with several cases of fraud and deception (just search) and it's being presented as the cutting edge of science and taught in schools. Students are still taught about the embryo diagrams in biology classes even when Evolutionists themselves are aware the diagrams are fraudulent.

Short answer: don't follow a belief blindly, keep questioning it. I do that but not on this blog or any other blog. I have some of the toughest questions for people who believe in a creator, by the way :)

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 1:19 PM

@David,

Claim based statements on Islam being a "terrorist" religion don't offend me, and I'm Muslim. I've heard much worse things in person. My objection isn't about your opinion, rather it's about a "claim" I challenge you to defend. I'll start by this:

Are there extremists in Islam? Definitely, this is undeniable.
Can a Muslim be an extremist? Definitely, but this isn't "Islamic".
Do some Muslims steal, kill, lie,...? Yes, definitely.

There are, generally speaking, three categories of Muslims: Moderates and two ends of extremes.

Extremists / terrorists: They add to Islam things that are not "Islamic"
Extremists / pacifists: They remove from Islam things that are "Islamic"
Moderates: They are somewhere between. They adhere to the tenets of the religion without exaggeration in either extreme direction.

Part of the problem arises because of "scholars" who think they are knowledgable, but in reality they have "half knowledge". This is a problem. There is also the problem of Internet radicalization by these so called scholars, who aren't recognized as such by legitimate scholars.

If you attribute those incidents of terrorism to people who "claim to be Muslims" rather than to Islam, then I agree. If you attribute it to Islam, then let's discuss it. Plain and simple.

DavidJanuary 9, 2016 3:50 PM

@Wael


First of all I can understand the difficult situation you are in, as a Muslim (and I assume you are not an extremist). On the personal level, I would hate to be in your shoes these days, with so many people blaming Islam - correctly in my opinion - for Islamic terrorism, even if clearly the majority of Muslims are not terrorists or extremists.

Four points I want to make in this respect. First of all, unfortunately for moderate Muslims, Islam is a rigid politico-religious ideology that requires its followers to take its commandments literally. Apostasy is punishable by death in many Muslim countries, and there exits a lifelong, rigid obligation for every Muslim to wage Jihad against non-Muslims. The laws of Sharia are incompatible with democracy and being rigid, Islam forces many of its followers to choose - either the law of the state or Sharia. There already are Islamic pockets in Germany and UK where local islamists organize as "Sharia police" and enforce the laws of Sharia on local population. True, many Muslims who emigrated and settled in the West neglect this and leave peacefully in their new homeland. But a significant enough part of them gets "radicalized" (=goes back to the true Islamic roots of their culture), and become a terrorism-generating hotbed. And in many Muslim communities, this violent minority is the one that is calling the shots.

Secondly, the fact is that an absolutely huge proportion of all acts of terrorism today are perpetrated by Islamists. Most of them by are by the way not against the West but against other Muslims. Islamists are the biggest Muslim-killing machine these days, with victims counting hundreds of thousands a year. But increasingly the acts of Islamo-terrorist murder are targeting the West.

Thirdly, the stance taken by the moderate Western Muslim communities at large only serves to perpetrate the problem. It is the responsibility of the moderate Muslims, not anybody else, to wipe out the radical imams who poison your youth - I grant you that you dislike them, but you tolerate them. Why are they still there? Why don't you kick them out of your mosques? They are turning your children into terrorists. 8000 young European Muslims (not so many yet but on the rise in North America) joining ISIS is an absolutely huge number, let alone the radicalized one that stayed behind. These are your children, your mosques and YOUR responsibility. So yes, you do not support terrorism but by not standing up to the poisonous Islamic extremists in your communities and FIGHTING them, you are responsible.

Fourthly, political correctness defeats fight against terrorism. Just look at he mayor of Philadelphia who said (today I think) that the act of the Islamist terrorist who shot a policeman yesterday and told the investigators that he did it the name of Islam, "has nothing to do with any faith". This is a real time demo of how stupid, dangerous and destructive PC can be. So I say: when dealing with terrorists, to hell with PC. The agencies must be given the tools to profile people based on their faith (among other things). I am talking technical means, commensurate with the threat. Democracies have an obligation to defend themselves against Islamic terrorism, and if this means profiling immigrants by their faith while reviewing their applications to immigrate, so be it - especially since ISIS declared that it is going to infiltrate 100's of thousands of terrorists as part oft he immigration wave, and I believe ISIS when they say so, this has already started.

I would like to add that I consider Donald Trump to be a disgusting racist. I detest him and his ugly populist statements about Muslims that are addressed to the worst part of the American public. But political correctness is just another extreme diametrically opposite from Donald Trump. The West must fight against Islamic terrorism, and this fight will not always be pretty. The moderate Muslims in the West should be expected to get off the fence and start playing their part, as described above - and not cry "Islamophobia" every time there is an honest attempt to fight terrorism.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 5:18 PM

@David,

That's better!

First of all I can understand the difficult situation you are in, as a Muslim (and I assume you are not an extremist). On the personal level, I would hate to be in your shoes these days, .

I'm not in a difficult situation, neither am I an extremist. I don't feel less of a US citizen than the next guy even when I am singled out randomly at the airport (it doesn't happen often, and when it happens it's mostly professional.) I understand that, unfortunately. I can also share some funny / amusing stories.

with so many people blaming Islam - correctly in my opinion - for Islamic terrorism,

That's what we are discussing; "correctly in your opinion".

even if clearly the majority of Muslims are not terrorists or extremists.

What's with those non-terrorist, non-extremist majority Muslims? They have an incorrect understanding of Islam and that's why they are "peaceful"? I mean if Islam is the source of terrorism, why aren't the majority of its adherents "terrorists"? Now either you are being politically correct, or you really believe they aren't terrorists. Don't let "offending" me inhibit you from giving me an honest response. I'm quiet open-minded and have a sense of humor, too. Remember, the key topic of this thread is Straight Talk.

Four points I want to make in this respect.

You raised several points that I will address one by one. I won't do that in a single post because it will be too long. I'll even talk about things you brought up that, in my view, are off topic.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 9, 2016 5:42 PM

@ David,

You should realise that "The empty tea pot" argument goes both ways.

You said,

Attempts at personal attacks and denigration made instead of refuting the point made or the facts stated, are a clear sign of intellectual inferiority and helpless fury.

I pointed out that you had made a statment that contained some facts and your personal opinion.

The problem is that as I pointed out your given facts may not be facts, but more importantly they are not realy relevant to your opinion.

That is though they may be facts they do not support your opinion nor do they falsify the opposite opinion presented to the general discussion. Thus when you subtract the nonrelevant facts you gave, what you are left with is "your opinion" and a "differing opinion" presented to the general discussion.

If you do not understand this then I'm not surprised you accused me of "employing a completely twisted logic".

But if you do understand this and I suspect from your refrencing the "empty tea pot" you do, then you are being "intellectually dishonest". Because you are deliberatly misusing facts to bolster your opinion for which you either can not or chose not to offer relevant supporting facts.

Now if you want to present facts relevent to your opinion fine, if you want to say that somebody has not supported their opinion with relevant facts then fine. But to say as you did,

Attempts at personal attacks and denigration made instead of refuting the point made or the facts stated, are a clear sign of intellectual inferiority and helpless fury.

Is not just rude it is insulting and made worse because you are accusing someone of "intellectual inferiority and helpless fury" because they, had presented an opinion different to yours to the general discussion.

You further say,

Why don't you ask @CallMeLateForSupper who made the originally totally unsubstantiated statement to prove it? I suspect that it is because you WANT his empty propaganda to be true.

Is adding further unwarranted insult to both @CallMeLateForSupper and myself, because importantly what you are chosing to ignore, even though you were told is that the person to whom you were behaving in such a vitriolic way had quoted and presented another persons opinion and given a link to the original source from which it came.

Thus not only are you commiting what is usually considered "an unforgivable sin" of "shooting the messenger", you are accusing me of not doing something for ulterior motives, that is generaly considered by most to be not possible, which is "To ask the message carrier what the originator of the message, was thinking and their justifications"...

Which is yet another reason why I think you should consider your position and offer an appology, not just to @CallMelateForSupper but to other participents on this thread as well.

I will let others draw their own conclusions from what you have said both to me and others and what you do next. But I realy do think you should read what the @Moderator said to you about your earlier posting.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 6:24 PM

@David,

Point number 1:

First of all, unfortunately for moderate Muslims, Islam is a rigid politico-religious ideology that requires its followers to take its commandments literally.

Commandments are meant to be taken literally! How else can they be taken, Figuratively? Pray, fast, respect and honor your parents, be kind to animals, take care of the poor and help the needy (regardless of religion), be humble, don't show off, don't waste resources, don't be a miser, don't waste your money on meaningless things, don't waste your time, excel in your profession, think and innovate... aren't "figurative". What is the "rigid" aspect you're referring to?

Apostasy is punishable by death in many Muslim countries

That's a little off topic because it has nothing to do with "terrorism", which we are discussing. That is correct, but under certain conditions. It's not enforced today because this rule can only be enforced by a ruler of a country that rules by Islam. There are none today. This is a longer topic to discuss... You can search he net to see why that is the case. Discussing this here will take us deep into Islamic theology that no one would be interested in. If you insist and @Moderator approves, I can continue on this OT sub point. But I do know close relatives and friends who publicly left Islam and are publicly criticizing it. No one killed them. Salman Rushdie is a different story. I believe only Iran put a bounty on his filthy head :)

and there exits a lifelong, rigid obligation for every Muslim to wage Jihad against non-Muslims.

That is false. We discussed what Jihad means. Some of my closest friends are Jews, Christians, Hindus and atheists. I think one of them was Taoist, he taught me some tai chi. Some of the people that screwed me in life were Muslims too.

The laws of Sharia are incompatible with democracy and being rigid, Islam forces many of its followers to choose - either the law of the state or Sharia.

Another off-topic. But this isn't necessarily true. Do you even know what "Shria" means?

There already are Islamic pockets in Germany and UK where local islamists organize as "Sharia police" and enforce the laws of Sharia on local population.

Is that Islam or is that ignorant application of Islam? The Muslims I saw in Germany were nothing close to "adherents of Islam", but I haven't seen all of them.

True, many Muslims who emigrated and settled in the West neglect this and leave peacefully in their new homeland. But a significant enough part of them gets "radicalized" (=goes back to the true Islamic roots of their culture), and become a terrorism-generating hotbed. And in many Muslim communities, this violent minority is the one that is calling the shots.

You haven't established the statement: radicalized = goes back to the true Islamic roots of their culture. Furthermore, you confused religion and culture. Once you establish the correctness of this argument, you can use it. But not before then because as of now, the premise isn't proven to be true.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 7:39 PM

@David,

Point 2, 3, 4

an absolutely huge proportion of all acts of terrorism today are perpetrated by Islamists. Most of them by are by the way not against the West but against other Muslims.

You say "Islamists"! Tie that to Islam. I said before that what's going on has nothing to do with Islam except for the name.

Islamists are the biggest Muslim-killing machine these days, with victims counting hundreds of thousands a year. But increasingly the acts of Islamo-terrorist murder are targeting the West.

There is evidence of external hands manipulating the situation. I gave you only one example. What are British special forces dressed as Arabs doing by killing other Arabs in Iraq other than to make sure the "killing machine" is lubricated? That's just one example! Why haven't you replied to this? Toppling governments in the ME created this situation, and it was done deliberately for this purpose.

the stance taken by the moderate Western Muslim communities at large only serves to perpetrate the problem.

Not true! I had some links to that point here. I don't want to repeat, so go read the discussion.

It is the responsibility of the moderate Muslims, not anybody else, to wipe out the radical imams who poison your youth - I grant you that you dislike them, but you tolerate them. Why are they still there? Why don't you kick them out of your mosques?

That is true, it's a Muslim community responsibility and failure. As far as I know, none of these people attended mosques. And if they did, they won't be saying: say a prayer for me I'm gonna blow up a bus. They are mostly ignorant, patsies or idiots. However, there are others manipulating the situation.

These are your children, your mosques and YOUR responsibility. So yes, you do not support terrorism but by not standing up to the poisonous Islamic extremists in your communities and FIGHTING them, you are responsible.

You are correct. But standing against them is taking place from day one. Check the Internet on YouTube, man!

political correctness defeats fight against terrorism

It's not political correctness. It's maintaining a society that doesn't discriminate based on religion that's driving this.

that the act of the Islamist terrorist who shot a policeman yesterday and told the investigators that he did it the name of Islam

I haven't read this story. So I won't say much on it except that anyone can claim to do anything in the name of Islam. Doesn't mean Islam is the reason.

Democracies have an obligation to defend themselves against Islamic terrorism, and if this means profiling immigrants by their faith while reviewing their applications to immigrate, so be it - especially since ISIS declared that it is going to infiltrate 100's of thousands of terrorists as part oft he immigration wave, and I believe ISIS when they say so, this has already started.

No one is opposed to that. Background checks are part of the process.

I would like to add that I consider Donald Trump to be a disgusting racist.

His comments won't hurt Islam. I have no opinion of him, and it's not because of what @Bruce said about freedom of speech and Muslims in another thread.

Terrorists are the new CommiesJanuary 9, 2016 8:25 PM

@Better List

You nailed it.

Your list nicely outlines the terrorism conversation we in the West should be having but are not. I'm consistently left slack-jawed in awe at how deftly those very relevant points are all but ignored. It's as if our society cannot see the forest through the trees.

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 9:03 PM

@Marcos El Malo,

Sorry if this comes from left field and is not germane, but I wanted to suggest a book at you. :-)

Thank you. Got it... Freakin' "one click buy" on Amazon is going to bankrupt me ;)

I don't know when I'll have the time to finish it. Right now, I can't put "World without time: The forgotten legacy of Gödel and Einstein" down... Totally Mesmerizing...

Nick PJanuary 9, 2016 9:21 PM

@ Wael

Good counters. What people on his side of the discussion like to ignore is that there are over a *billion* Muslims with vast majority not trying to kill anyone. At least 1 million here by last estimate. Many domestic or visiting have the education to make a variety of weapons or commit mass murder. If Islam was about murder or Muslims a problem, we'd see several a day convicted for *successful* murder of Americans. Yet, only occasional cases from Feds involving total idiots nothing like average Muslim and often with good arguments for entrapment. By the numbers, Islam and Muslims simply can't be that aggressive or there'd be lots of dead, American Christians.

Yet, David fails to address that most of the mass and individual murder that's happened in this country has not been Arab or Muslim: mostly black and white Christian males. A number committed violent acts they said their God approved of. We didn't see government trying to tell us to watch out for white or black males professing Christ. Yet, if even one Muslim kills a bunch of people, suddenly their race or religion is worth scrutiny in minds of so many Americans. A little over a dozen from Saudi Arabia, quite big on extremism, kill a few thousand only to have Americans killing hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan while surveilling millions here. And partnering with Saudi's for help hunting radical mu.... what, we partnered with who looking for who after being attacked by who?

All sounds like nonsense. Muslim individuals or religion isn't any scarier than anything else. In the USA, non-Arab Christians kill the most people. The focus on all Muslims due to actions by an extreme few can only be cause by ignorance, racism, and/or hatred. Anyone disagrees can feel free to look at the number of attempted or convicted murder by Arab Muslims vs anyone else in the U.S.. Let them return with proof of their claims.

Meanwhile, I gotta keep my head low in parts of my area: white and black Christian thugs got appetites. Gotta dodge or drop them. Prefer to dodge cuz I value human life too much. You know: agnostic/atheist with anti-government leanings. ;)

WaelJanuary 9, 2016 10:06 PM

@Nick P,

Good counters. What people on his side of the discussion [...] Islam and Muslims simply can't be that aggressive or there'd be lots of dead, American Christians.

Yep. This discussion took a lot of effort from me. Partly because I don't like to talk about politics and religion, you know, I kinda fit a profile 😡 and partly because I said I won't talk about it again. But if I keep silent, Mr. Trump will have me wear a badge (read bullseye in open season) 24/7. I don't think I'll look cool in it. Leaked information from Foxconn says badges are on order, apparently they have a chip embedded too ;)

Yet, David fails to address ...

Yes, unfortunately true.

The focus on all Muslims due to actions by an extreme few can only be cause by ignorance, racism, and/or hatred. Anyone disagrees can feel free to look at the number of attempted or convicted murder by Arab Muslims vs anyone else in the U.S.. Let them return with proof of their claims.

Sometimes I think numbers have little to do with it. A plane crash (non terrorist) with one hundred people dead will get more news coverage than several car accidents within the same day that cause a thousand dead.

Meanwhile, I gotta keep my head low in parts of my area: white and black Christian thugs got appetites. Gotta dodge or drop them. Prefer to dodge cuz I value human life too much. You know: agnostic/atheist with anti-government leanings. ;)

Good choice! Good advice to heed otherwise we may end up like our friend @name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons and catch a bad strain of Sniper's Measles 🔫

The subject of books came up. How are you doing with your electronics book? 😎

tyrJanuary 10, 2016 3:15 AM


@Curious

The trouble with getting an education (distinct from Schooling)
is that you might learn things you didn't want to know about.
There is no way to shield the curious from that effect of the
larger world.

There was no malice on my part in answering your question and
no desire to make you believe any of it.

One thing I would like to make clear, I am not a moral relativist
who advocates total nihilistic flexibility.

DavidJanuary 10, 2016 3:46 AM

@Wael,

You seem to be a perfect example of a Westernized Muslim that lives in denial. This denial is a part of the problem. Unless moderate Muslims own up to their responsibility to fight terrorism that arises from their midst and not just stay away from it, allowing the fanatic mullahs to run their mosques, terrorism will intensify and so will the West’s fight against it. More about it below.

What's with those non-terrorist, non-extremist majority Muslims? They have an incorrect understanding of Islam and that's why they are "peaceful"??

I am not going to get into the argument with you on Islamic theological issues. If you are like the majority of the Muslims you cannot even read Arabic. So it is unlikely that you have read and analyzed the Islamic scriptures, and neither have I. I do suggest that you watch some youtube videos of public theological debates between Robert Spenser, who has a lifetime commitment to academic and other study of Islamic theology and fight against Jihad, and Islamic clerics. This debate should be left there as the two sides presumably know what they are talking about, and both are hawkish enough to put forward bold arguments.

“The terrorists are not real Muslims”, “they do not understand Islam”, “They are idiots”

“Understanding Islam” is something that almost all Muslims minus the Imams and academic scholars of it cannot claim. It is the practice of Islam that matters. And the practice is that Muslims (and especially the young ones) learn about the do’s and the don’ts of Islam from imams that run their mosques. And these are in many cases fanatics tht drive the youth to terrorism. And most moderate Muslims do next to nothing about it.

"Commandments are meant to be taken literally!"

Not if you are a 21st century Western person in your right mind. The Old Testament says that homosexuals must be stoned to death. Heard about a gay stoned to death by Jews or Christians lately?

"How else can they be taken, Figuratively? … What is the "rigid" aspect you're referring to?"

Not even figuratively. Many of them (like the example above or death for apostasy, or marrying 9 year old girls, or waging Jihad) must be unconditionally denounced as criminal, ugly and belonging to the dark and ignorant stages of history. And Muslim youth must be taught as much by the mullahs, or you should not let them in the mosque.

"It's [apostasy] not enforced today because this rule can only be enforced by a ruler of a country that rules by Islam. There are none today."

FALSE. For example, just 3 weeks ago someone was sentenced to death for apostasy in Saudi Arabia https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/23/saudi-arabia-poet-sentenced-death-apostasy . And there are more, just Google.

"No one killed them. Salman Rushdie is a different story. I believe only Iran put a bounty on his filthy head :)"

Your own example of Rushdie contradicts your false statement. I do not think you dispute that he is only alive because he is underground under protection of British security forces 24/7 for decades. So much for “no one killed them”.

"The statement that there exits a lifelong, rigid obligation for every Muslim to wage Jihad against non-Muslims, is false."

Again, I will not engage in debate about Islamic theology. Go to Youtube debates between Robert Spenser and Islamic clerics. Or listen to ISIS. These are NOT isolated idiots, many of them are smarter than you and I. And there are 80,000 of them already. And they control half Iraq and Syria. Or listen to Hamas and Hizbollah, massive Muslim movements with millions of people under their control, that have Jihad in their charter for verbatim implementation. Or listen to the Wahabi clerics installed in European mosques and funded by Saudi Arabia such as Anjem Choudary (see wikipedia). Or listen to Boko Haram, a massive murderous popular genocidal movement in Nigeria. The list goes on.

“Some of my closest friends are Jews, Christians, Hindus and atheists.”

I strongly advise you to abandon this “argument” that is well known to be employed by notorious anti-semites. For the record, none of my closest friends are Muslims.

“The Islamic pockets in Germany and UK and "Sharia police" are ignorant application of Islam”

As I said, leave theology out of it, probably you and certainly I are not qualified. The UGLY REALITY is that the Islamist thugs are enforcing Sharia in the streets of Europe. The reality is what matters, not the words.

“You say "Islamists"! Tie that to Islam.”

And what do you want me to tie the Islamists to? Mother Teresa?

“As far as I know, none of these people attended mosques. They are mostly ignorant, patsies or idiots. However, there are others manipulating the situation.”

Please do not spoil the fairly intelligent discussion by promulgating the absurd assumption that the murderous Islamists did not attend mosques. There is a limit even to living in denial.

WaelJanuary 10, 2016 5:26 AM

@David,

I'll look at the links you suggested and get back to you. Thanks for the suggestions.

Bauke Jan DoumaJanuary 10, 2016 2:04 PM

Terrorism is killing men women and children with drones half a world away.
Shedding tears when camera is nigh makes this worse.

Dirk PraetJanuary 10, 2016 6:36 PM

@ David

Unless moderate Muslims own up to their responsibility to fight terrorism that arises from their midst and not just stay away from it, allowing the fanatic mullahs to run their mosques ...

It would seem that you think of muslims as some kind of homogenous group with centrally led spiritual or political authorities. This is not the case. What you are doing here is blaming an entire group for the crimes of a small minority, as in guilt by association and for which they somehow need to apologise. Which is the very definition of bigotry.

When a small group of WASP's nearly brings down the entire financial system, are we calling upon all of them to denounce their deeds? Did anyone ask for Christians as a group to apologise for and protest against the Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Breivik killings etc. etc ? I think not.

Although it is clear that Islamic terrorists draw from the ideology of political and jihadi salafism - promoted by our own close "ally" Saudi Arabia - it is nonsense to hold an entire group responsible or accountable in any way.

In our secular states, it doesn't hold up to call upon a religious or community authority to police its flock. Under the rule of law, it's up to politics and law enforcement to regulate and crack down on ideologies promoting hatred and violence. I have argued before on this blog that political and jihadi salafism should be treated on par with national socalism.

So it is unlikely that you have read and analyzed the Islamic scriptures, and neither have I

Most of which have been translated and are readily available. Depending on whom you're talking to, you'll get different interpretations and analysis. It's not any different in Christianity. The salafist interpretation has been and remains a minority view.

And the practice is that Muslims (and especially the young ones) learn about the do’s and the don’ts of Islam from imams that run their mosques.

There have been mosques in the West for decades, but radicalisation is a recently young phenomenon. While there is no denying that extremist imams imported from Saudi Arabia are a serious problem, it would appear that social media and street corner recruiters play a much more important role in attracting gullible and disenfranchised youths. Many of them are losers or petty criminals that never visited a mosque before and whose brainwashing by such imams in Islamist mosques is just the finishing touch in their radicalisation process.

There's two things that can be done here: the first is denying entry to and expelling known foreign hate preachers. The second thing is investing in local imam schools, with native instructors that have lived long enough here to understand western society and culture.

Many of them (like the example above or death for apostasy, or marrying 9 year old girls, or waging Jihad) must be unconditionally denounced as criminal, ugly and belonging to the dark and ignorant stages of history.

All of which is illegal over here, and it's up to politicians to send a clear message across that whoever wants to import such ideas has no place in our societies. The sad fact, however, is that many of our governments for economic and other national interests shy away from any such statements for fear of alienating certain regimes. If you want to blame anyone, blame politicians.

The UGLY REALITY is that the Islamist thugs are enforcing Sharia in the streets of Europe.

Despite the existence of secretive sharia courts in Europe, they have no formal jurisdiction whatsoever in any matter whatsoever. A verdict delivered by a court composed of household pets and toddlers is worth just as much. Anyone trying to enforce Sharia law operates outside the law of our lands. Full stop.

For the record, none of my closest friends are Muslims.

You don't know the Qu'ran or Sunnah and you don't have any muslim friends. So what exactly is your "knowledge" of Islam based on? Fox News and the Daily Mail?

As I said, leave theology out of it, probably you and certainly I are not qualified.

Try educating yourself then. It's the least thing you can do if you have such strong feelings and voice such strong opinions about a matter you by your own admission know nothing about. While you're at it, write a letter to your Congress man venting the same anger you're displaying here and asking him to put the thumb screws on Saudi Arabia for being a dark, medieval regime and for their prominent role in promoting and financing wahabism and salafism all over the world.

WaelJanuary 10, 2016 8:01 PM

@David,

It wasn't easy to come up with a good way to cover all the areas you mentioned. A lot of them are out of scope of what we are discussing. Issues like homosexuality, for example, don't factor into your claim that Islam promotes terrorism. I'll still touch on them. I spent a lot of time to find the shortest videos. In the future please limit your topic to one or two focused areas. It's not fair to me or readers to go through pages of comments. And don't fall in the same trap radicalized Islamists fell into. Get information from its sources.

You seem to be a perfect example of a Westernized Muslim that lives in denial. This denial is a part of the problem.

Looks can be deceiving, but your opinion is noted. Let's keep it objective.

Unless moderate Muslims own up to their responsibility to fight terrorism that arises from their midst and not just stay away from it,

Today, most of radicalization happens over the Internet. These are links to some efforts of combating terrorism.

1: Listen to another scholar: Mufti Menk sending a message: Does Islam teach terrorism. 3 and a half minutes.

2: Yasir Qadhi refuting Robert Spencer's claims that terrorism is Islamic practice -- about 7 minutes.

3 Common sense Hamza Yousef" about the attack on the Libyan embassy -- about 5 minutes.

4 Yousef Estes advice -- around 10 minutes.

allowing the fanatic mullahs to run their mosques, terrorism will intensify and so will the West’s fight against it. More about it below.

"fanatic" mullahs are usually found in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But this is what's supposed to happen under Islamic rule. Watch the poem link

I am not going to get into the argument with you on Islamic theological issues.

You can't because you don't posses the necessary credentials, with all due respect.

If you are like the majority of the Muslims you cannot even read Arabic.

Normally I would have ignored the rest of this sentence because the condition is false; I'm fluent in Arabic, formal and colloquial; various dialects. Carrying on...

So it is unlikely that you have read and analyzed the Islamic scriptures, and neither have I.

I have spent many years doing that, and continue to. It's not very wise to make an assumption about someone you don't know and present it as a fact to build an argument on because your argument falls apart before you even build it.

I do suggest that you watch some youtube videos of public theological debates between Robert Spenser, who has a lifetime commitment to academic and other study of Islamic theology and fight against Jihad, and Islamic clerics.

I watched several of his debates. It is clear to me that he didn't mention anything new that hadn't been clarified by qualified scholars or knowledgable people. It's also clear that you took his words and presented them here. Robert Spencer was banned from entering the UK not because of political correctness but because he broadcasts a message of hate by blatantly and subtly twisting verses of the Quran and Hadith to fit his agenda. Again, links are provided. Please spend some time watching them. I have made every effort to make sure they are short.

This debate should be left there as the two sides presumably know what they are talking about, and both are hawkish enough to put forward bold arguments.

I don't have the capability or desire to remove or obscure any of his debates.

“Understanding Islam” is something that almost all Muslims minus the Imams and academic scholars of it cannot claim.

There is a large element of truth to that. The level of understanding varies significantly, it's part of the problem I identified previously. This in itself isn't a huge problem for non-Moslems. It becomes a problem when these half learned people become leaders with a group that follows them. There is a lot of effort going on for better education. This also supports my point that these ignorant acts don't emanate from proper Islamic teachings.

It is the practice of Islam that matters.

That's correct! It's difficult for someone not familiar with Islamic theology to differentiate between correct and incorrect Islamic behavior.

And the practice is that Muslims (and especially the young ones) learn about the do’s and the don’ts of Islam from imams that run their mosques.

That's is not globally true. Some learn it in schools, some learn it at home, and some learn it from the Internet. Mosques are for praying, teaching of the Quran, and maybe some Arabic. There are exceptions in some areas of the world. There are also exceptions with some fanatics.

And these are in many cases fanatics tht drive the youth to terrorism. And most moderate Muslims do next to nothing about it.

That maybe true too. I don't have data to give statistics on that.

Not if you are a 21st century Western person in your right mind. The Old Testament says that homosexuals must be stoned to death. Heard about a gay stoned to death by Jews or Christians lately?

There is nothing illegal about Muslims following the instructions of their religion so long as they don't break the law. I'm not in a position to tell Jews or Christians how to handle their beliefs.

Not even figuratively. Many of them (like the example above or death for apostasy, or marrying 9 year old girls, or waging Jihad) must be unconditionally denounced as criminal, ugly and belonging to the dark and ignorant stages of history. And Muslim youth must be taught as much by the mullahs, or you should not let them in the mosque.

Here are some forms of jihad:

Teachings of Islam in action: Muslim defends Jew around 4 minutes.

1 Syrian man helping a "kafir" Chinese old man" in a country that hits Muslims hard. Is he misguided? around 4 minutes

2 "And if a man is taking away your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt as well". Giving his shoes without question -- a little over two minutes.

Are these Muslims following a mandatory jihad against non-muslims, as you claim?

3 Is this Lebanese priest trying to be Politically correct?

FALSE. For example, just 3 weeks ago someone was sentenced to death for apostasy in Saudi Arabia https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/23/saudi-arabia-poet-sentenced-death-apostasy ...

Ok. This is OT

Your own example of Rushdie contradicts your false statement. I do not think you dispute that he is only alive because he is underground under protection of British security forces 24/7 for decades. So much for “no one killed them”.

I won't comment on him. OT

Again, I will not engage in debate about Islamic theology. Go to Youtube debates between Robert Spenser and Islamic clerics.

I did. He is misinformed and pushing an agenda.

Or listen to ISIS. These are NOT isolated idiots, many of them are smarter than you and I. And there are 80,000 of them already. And they control half Iraq and Syria.

For what? I already know they're misguided!

Or listen to Hamas and Hizbollah, massive Muslim movements with millions of people under their control, that have Jihad in their charter for verbatim implementation.

This is political.

Or listen to the Wahabi clerics installed in European mosques and funded by Saudi Arabia such as Anjem Choudary (see wikipedia).
Or listen to Boko Haram, a massive murderous popular genocidal movement in Nigeria. The list goes on.

Terrorist organization.
1 Group of Muslims declaring them acting against Sharia

2 200 scholars declare these groups un-Islamic protecting non-Muslim worshippers is mandatory under an Islamic state.

I strongly advise you to abandon this “argument” that is well known to be employed by notorious anti-semites. For the record, none of my closest friends are Muslims.

I was stating a fact. Don't burn your antisemite card yet! Save it until I give you a reason to use it.

As I said, leave theology out of it, probably you and certainly I are not qualified.

You don't know that about me.

The UGLY REALITY is that the Islamist thugs are enforcing Sharia in the streets of Europe. The reality is what matters, not the words.

Thugs. Unless you mean Islam is a religion of thugs.

And what do you want me to tie the Islamists to? Mother Teresa?

No, of course not! Just tie it to Islamic teachings to substantiate your opinion. That's what we are discussing.

Please do not spoil the fairly intelligent discussion by promulgating the absurd assumption that the murderous Islamists did not attend mosques. There is a limit even to living in denial.

The majority of terror acts in the west are committed by people who don't attend mosques. They are committed by people with previous criminal records, too.

WaelJanuary 10, 2016 9:04 PM

@Dirk Praet,

Thanks for following the links. I spent a day on them. Noticed some formatting errors in my post but too tired to fix them. Was not how I planed to spend the weekend ;)

I'm tempted to summon my sockpuppet to take an offensive posture! Just kidding :)

PeteRepeatJanuary 10, 2016 9:49 PM

Gentlemen don't discuss religion, money or politics at the table, it is rude to the host . Also, the PC-approach Americans have to religion forbids people like me (non-Americans) from participating in the discussion, because none of you can stomach the fact that all religion is a load of fictitious drivel and you can quote scripture to suit ANY agenda you may have . And that you do, Jews,Muslims and Christians alike . Enough of this silly superstition please .

DavidJanuary 11, 2016 4:03 AM

@Wael

Thank you for investing the time for reviewing the references I provided. My guess is, you did learn something new.

At least you went through the effort and although we disagree, we had a cultured discussion (unlike some cyberthugs on this blog who chose to launch personal attacks and even appealed to the moderator to silence the expression of opinions to which they do not subscribe)

I do not agree with most of your recent comments and and I accept some, but this discussion is taking to much of my time and, having made quite a few points, I am unsubscribing from it. See you in the next discussion.

David

WaelJanuary 11, 2016 4:27 AM

@David,

My pleasure, Sir. You are more than welcome. Next discussion make it technical and related to security, away from politics and religion, so I can mess with you a bit in a less formal manner ;)

I often come here for entertainment away from the miseries of life.

Ignore personal attacks, you'll feel better. Retaliating at the moment may feel good. But if you look at what you said a year later, you may feel bad :)

Cheers!

Dirk PraetJanuary 11, 2016 10:05 AM

@ PeteRepeat

Gentlemen don't discuss religion, money or politics at the table

You don't get to decide that. That's at @Moderator and @Bruce's discretion

... because none of you can stomach the fact that all religion is a load of fictitious drivel and you can quote scripture to suit ANY agenda you may have.

Which is your opinion. The art of discussion consists of having intelligent, well-argumented and civilised conversations with folks that are not necessarily of the same opinion, whatever that opinion may be. If that's not within your skillset, please refrain from participating in threads touching on subject matters that would provoke derogatory comments on your behalf. Thanks in advance.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 11, 2016 11:49 AM

@ David,

unlike some cyberthugs on this blog who chose to launch personal attacks and even appealed to the moderator to silence

Those are very serious accusations.

Especialy when it has been clearly shown that you are the one making unsupportable accusations against others.

As I've said to you twice befor you owe people on this blog an appology for your false accusations.

I realy think you should reflect on your behaviour.

PeteRepeatJanuary 11, 2016 1:09 PM

@Dirk Praet :
Any "intelligent" discussion about religion must necessarily be highly derogatory, at least in the eyes of the Leprechaun-believers .
Meaning that only religious nutters are allowed to discuss the subject, according to your "logic" . Aad the discussion will thus be pseudo-intelligent .

Thank You for the advice, but "no thanks" .

PS : It is common decent behavior that you do not discuss religion, politics and/or money at other peoples table .

Dirk PraetJanuary 11, 2016 3:01 PM

@ PeteRepeat

It is common decent behavior that you do not discuss religion, politics and/or money at other peoples table.

We got that that from your first comment, @PeteRepeat, but we're not at a family or corporate dinner here. What I did was explain to you the rules of this forum. Since your mileage obviously varies, you may need to ask yourself if you're really in the right place here. Have a nice day.

SkepticalJanuary 11, 2016 3:55 PM

I agree with most of those "truths" about terrorism, but with significant reservations.

Terrorism still remains a relatively minor threat, statistically speaking.

On December 6th, 1941, the Japanese military was minor threat in the same statistical sense with which terrorism is characterized here (no, I don't think that any terrorist organization today presents that kind of strategic threat to the United States - that's not the point of the comparison).

My point is simply that the frequency or magnitude of a given event in the past is not necessarily predictive of its frequency or magnitude in the future. The variables that drive the occurrence and magnitude of that event may be changing.

I would say that strategically significant terrorist actions remain unlikely in the West because of the countermeasures in place and because of the initiative taken against organizations with the objective of perpetrating such actions.

Put differently... I object to the notion that we can derive a useful impression of the threat of terrorism by looking at the number of "successful" terrorist acts in the past. Doing so is a recipe for being unpleasantly surprised. It substitutes the easy rudimentary descriptive statistics of past records for the messy, uncertain complexity of forecasting.

Let me give an example. How likely is it that a terrorist group will obtain, and detonate, a nuclear weapon in the next 10 years? How helpful is the record of such events, in the 72 year period in which nuclear weapons and terrorist groups have existed, in such forecasting? The record is nearly useless.

More surveillance won't get rid of terrorism, either. Defeating the Islamic State won't make terrorism go away.

"Get rid of" and "go away" - of course not. "Reduce" - certainly. Good risk management won't get rid of aviation accidents either, for instance, but it can reduce their number and severity.

Meanwhile, poorly planned Western actions can make things still worse.

Sure - so can well planned actions (and both can also sometimes make things better). But does anyone really think that "blowback" or "unintended consequences" isn't always a consideration in undertaking significant actions?

We need to stop rewarding terrorism.

I don't think we're rewarding terrorism. The objectives of the organizations perpetrating these acts have not been well served by the effects of these acts.

I do think we need to make much more clear the ruinous consequences to any organization that perpetrates these acts. And that means ensuring that the signal cuts through enemy propaganda. To some extent that means better control of the information space in key areas - and to some extent that means doing things that demonstrate just how free the US, or its allies, are to act against such organizations.

It's noteworthy that smarter terrorist organizations would largely limit where they acted against US personnel, citizens, or property, and how, in part to avoid provoking greater US involvement. Those that have not...

DanielJanuary 11, 2016 4:44 PM

@Skeptical

That's a fair point. However, you write, "I do think we need to make much more clear the ruinous consequences to any organization that perpetrates these acts."

The question becomes how much terrorism do such tactics delay rather than deny? The counterexample is fire suppression in the Western USA. For more than a century fire was suppressed in order to maintain green forests. Then during then 1990s and 2000s all the accumulated dead wood bust into flames and created devastating forest fires that burned millions of acres.

Now, no one in the forest service thinks fire suppression is a good idea over the long term. It is now accepted that fire suppression was a tactic, that grew into a strategy, and finally grew into an unthinking impulse.

Now, whether fire suppression and terror suppression are perfectly analogous I do not know. But the analogy should give us pause. Perhaps there is a natural level of terrorist acts that it isn't worth bothering to prevent. No forest firefighter thinks he can save every house, and doesn't bother trying. There is a growing acceptance in the West that fire is a natural process that human communities just have to live with insofar as they remain part of the natural world. Perhaps we need to embrace that same acceptance when it comes to acts of terror.

Sancho_PJanuary 11, 2016 6:14 PM


@Wael, David
This was a funny tit for tat, anyway, good hints and links (thanks!).

@Bruce tagged the topic with “ISIS” and “terrorism”, meaning mostly islamic terrorism, no wonder religion came into play.

However, to close “on topic” I’ll again link to a speech by Prof. Dr. Olivier Roy :

“What is the driving force behind jihadist terrorism?”
https://life.eui.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/OLIVIER-ROY-what-is-a-radical-islamist.pdf
(I think the German BKA is similar to the FBI)

@David
Although I concur with some of your points I’d like to recommend Dr. Roy’s “What they are not” (p. 12) and “Consequence for fighting radicalization” (p. 13), esp. the first paragraph, the “Muslim community” part.

@Dirk Praet
So you are the one to decide what “we are here”? Take care.

@Skeptical:
”I don't think we're rewarding terrorism.”
Seconded, however, we produce and make use of terrorism.
The problem is that terrorism fuels an industry.

Our industry.

Dirk PraetJanuary 11, 2016 7:07 PM

@ Sancho_P

So you are the one to decide what “we are here”? Take care.

Err, no. I believe I merely pointed out the rules of the forum as set forth on several occasions by our host and @Moderator. If I am mistaken, may both strike me down.

Thanks for the interesting links to Prof. Olivier Roy, though. Highly recommended food for thought for people like @David, and written by a subject matter expert.

@ Skeptical

My point is simply that the frequency or magnitude of a given event in the past is not necessarily predictive of its frequency or magnitude in the future.

Good point. The question we should however be constantly asking is where vigilance and due diligence end and paranoia starts.

WaelJanuary 11, 2016 8:53 PM

@Sancho_P, @Dirk Praet,

Excellent paper, aligned with what I know, and makes sense. Thanks!

two “figures” are of particular importance: the suicide-bomber and the “chevalier”, the first being linked with what I call a “generational nihilism”, the second with the video-games. In both cases what is at stake is “self- realisation” (as an answer to frustration). -- page 10.

Video games! Mufti Menk mentioned that, too.

Incidentally, we should make a distinction between religious radicalisation and jihadist radicalisation. There is of course an overlap, but the bulk of the Salafists are not jihadist, and many jihadists don’t give a dam about theology. None of the radicals has a past of piety. -- page 12.

I also agree with this.

Almost none followed a real process of religious education. Their religious knowledge is low (some brought with them “Islam for the Dummies”). page 11 & 12

Islam for the Dummies :) They just killed sales prospects of this book!

This explains why 1) the close monitoring of mosques brings little information 2) Imams have little or no influence on the process of radicalisation; 3) “reforming Islam” does not make sense: they just don’t care about “what Islam really means”. -- page 12

Correct for the majority of them.

Radicals are neither happy nor funny people. -- page 5

Oh oh! I better try harder...

One
Two

Sancho_PJanuary 12, 2016 3:40 PM

@Wael

Good to hear you'd agree.
BTW, since I followed “One” and “Two” it seems my connection speed has dropped.
Coincidence, security issue or are they simply afraid to miss further jokes :-?

WaelJanuary 12, 2016 4:06 PM

@Sancho_P,

I haven't the slightest idea! My connection seems ok, and i watched all his jokes :) I shared the ones with the least amount of "preaching", otherwise I would have linked to a few more.

TomTrottierJanuary 13, 2016 10:58 PM

and at the bottom of the list,

googolplex: Stop motivating terrorists by meddling in others' countries, supporting autocrats, teaching torture, & selling killing machines.

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