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EDITORIAL: Terrorism and forces of nature

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Terrorism and forces of nature

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The brazen attack on the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria’s capital Abuja that killed at least 18 people last week, though overshadowed by Hurricane Irene, has raised the stakes for all countries in fighting the deadly scourge of global terrorism.
This incident suggests that we are in the midst of a global security crisis. It may be easy for us in the Caribbean to ignore this dangerous threat, but we should be ever vigilant to this existential danger as one experience could damage our fragile economies for years to come.
The Nigerian radical group Boko Haram – that staged the attack – has long been suspected of ties to al-Qaeda and, based on the scale of the attack, that could now prove to be a real possibility. Its stated mandate is the creation of a Shariah state in Nigeria.
Though terror attacks, including bombings on security installations and personnel, killings of politicians and clergymen, and assaults on targets deemed Western in orientation have been carried out since the group’s formation in 2002, the latest is likely to place the group on the level of those with a global agenda.
The group’s power base in the impoverished north has been further strengthened by the steady recruitment among the poor and uneducated youth who are denied a modern education system, which has been denounced as “haram” (forbidden).
The problem, however, is that any government attempt at “Western” modernization is rejected from start because of the fear of reprisals from such groups. The situation is likely to get worse as such groups gain strength and influence unless drastic measures are taken to root out terror tactics.
Nigeria needs to take stock of its grave internal situation and fight militancy hard, lest it morphs into something more dangerous.
On the other hand, the fury of nature seen on the East Coast of the United States could have a depressing impact on the country. Coming on the heels of a prolonged fiscal crisis, the financial and insurance fallout from Hurricane Irene is likely to be massive.
The incredible changes being seen in weather patterns over the past few years and the manner and frequency with which earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are occurring, is a clear indication that whether it is global warming, some cyclic change or another undetermined set of factors, something is going wrong.
Ironically, natural disasters are more than Third World problems, and the visual mindset that these tragedies occur only in poor countries has now been thoroughly dispelled.
At least there is a greater awareness that the ravages of nature are indeed democratic and know no boundaries.