Terrorism and modernity

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Terrorists and terrorist organizations resent the West and particularly the United States of America and Europe. The first is the “Greater Satan” and the source of all evils in the Muslim world. As for Europe, in their view, it is responsible for the loss of the Empire and the Islamic Ottoman Caliphate in Istanbul; after the latter’s decline and decay, when it was considered the sick old man whose inheritance property had to be divided among the remaining European powers.

In the eyes of terrorists, the West is the source of moral decay, of the breakdown of family structures and morality and the source of that most wicked of ailments: globalization and all the variety of evil values which have managed to overcome and put down Islamic values. The West used these corrupt values to control the ruling powers in Islamic nations and colonize their peoples, keeping them in the current state of underdevelopment.

This view of the West is monochromic and simplistic, and ignores the fact that the West they depict is one of their own invention and in no way refers to the real West. This true West, with its rich, diverse and complex civilization cannot simply be reduced to the behavior and values of some groups.  They claim that Western science was based in its development on Islamic scientific heritage, which is true in part. It is only natural however, that scientific progress is based on many contributions from different times and places. In addition, Western science has made a clean break with its predecessors, in methodology and objective processes. Its foundations and the essential elements of its development are quite different from those of the old foundations found in the medieval Islamic era. On the other hand, just as the West did, so did the Arab Muslims make use of the scientific heritage of Greece, India and other civilizations. The West doesn’t mind if we benefit from its scientific progress, nor does it mind if we absorb this progress and re-invent it to fit our own reality.

The real West is the West of productivity, technology, modernity and progress in all areas, whether scientific, medical or cultural. The West is the one that produces all the machinery, whether electric or non-electric, which no reasonable person living in this modern era, including those terrorists themselves, can live without! In fact, as some observers have noted, the alleged Caliph of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) during his speech to his followers, adorned his wrist with a very refined watch, a purely western product!

Strangely enough, terrorists and terrorist organizations are perversely eager to take advantage of Western modernity, especially emulating the modern means of administration and management for societies, political systems and democracies. They use such modern means to feed their terrorist activity, giving it its dynamism and effectiveness. This can be seen in the successful usage of the internet by some terrorist organizations such as the IS for example. They have used the internet with the necessary proficiency as a platform for recruitment, mass appeal and persuasion through the visual and audio content; to such an extent, that these organizations have surpassed the capabilities of regular states to develop the potential of this type of media, all in order to serve their terrorist goals.

The mainstream media deplores this clever use of modern technology by the terrorist organizations, standing helplessly in front of their media prowess. The ideology of terrorist organizations is rooted in the famous Machiavellian notion: “the ends always justify the means”. They figure: Western modernity – and beyond – has provided the internet, smart phones and advanced computers, so might as well exploit them to serve their terrorist strategies.