Last week’s Cabinet meeting chaired by His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa passed a historical and important step in the fight against local, regional and global terrorism.
Bahrain took the courageous step in the war against terrorism by identifying and listing 68 terrorist organisations that continue to plague the region and beyond.
Identifying the enemy is the first step in counteracting and ultimately defeating terrorism. And counter-terrorism measures including tracing financial transactions and preventing recruitment attempts can be devised accordingly.
Bahrain’s step is the first of its kind in the region where terrorists are publicly listed. It is an excellent public awareness campaign and people can identify the terrorist organisation and contribute to counter terrorism measures the government takes.
I believe most people are aware of terrorism activities of Hizbollah and Islamic State (IS) but little known about the ones operating under the cover of charity organisations and potentially dangerous terrorist cells are far from the public radar.
It is very regrettable that, most of, not all, terrorist organisations listed used Islam as a pretext to argue against their actions to attract the attention of Muslims particularly the youth. However, a close look at Islam, like any other religion, shows that it neither promotes violence nor permits terrorism as a form of expressing discontent.
Just by tracing the background of the listed terrorists’ past actions, it can be concluded that all of them without exception don’t seem to subscribe to the basic tenets of Islam. That is why experts say ‘terrorism has no religion’.
However, in this part of the world where sectarian orientation appears to be weightier than secular thinking, terrorists use religion as a bargaining chip to legitimise their terrorist actions to win the hearts and minds of public.
The Bahrain leadership’s listing of terrorist organisations is a good public awareness campaign and has the potential to prevent terrorists’ ability to penetrate the society. It can also abort terrorists’ propaganda aimed at sowing seeds of sectarianism and future conflicts.
Once the terrorists are identified, it opens the door for public to contribute to counter terrorism measures. The public participation is part and parcel of any counter-terrorism campaigns.
The government’s decision to list those terrorist organisations is a step in the right direction to counteract terrorists of all forms and strains.