Just as Lahore limped back into action after last week’s tragic Mall Road blast, the global terror contagion began spreading wider into our collective human civilisation and conscience. The dust has barely settled since London terrorist Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians in Westminster that Sweden suddenly finds itself a victim of a shocking act of terror.
A 39- year-old suspect of Uzbekistan origin has been detained and is suspected to have driven a stolen truck into a crowd of pedestrians along Drottninggatan, a densely populated area of Stockholm. The truck, stolen just blocks away came to a grinding halt after slamming into the entrance of the Ahlens shopping centre as a sobering cloud of dense black smoke swelled from the store, killing four people and injuring 15 others in an attack that unleashed bloodshed on the streets of Stockholm. Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven hearteningly reinforced the country`s long-standing mantra for inclusion. Sweden is not a Nato member and unlike France, Germany and Britain is not even participating in any military offensive against the Islamic State.
The Sweden terror attack drives a wedge into the very heart of a welcoming Swedish society famed for its peaceful, multi-cultural co-existence. The Swedish attack like the recent Berlin, Nice and London terror attacks are what I term “low intensity mass casualty” terrorism, a method preferred by the Islamic State, requiring very little preparation, co-ordination and logistical planning.
This is a new primitive breed of strategic asymmetrical assault warfare which can be triggered by just one brain-washed “lone wolf self-starter” assailant who can simply jump into a vehicle, ram it into innocent civilians and cause maximum loss of life. Sadly, such attacks are likely to spread both in frequency and intensity.
Previous al Qaeda terrorist attacks such as the horrendous 9/11, London`s 7/7, Madrid and the Paris Bataclan required at least a year`s pre-planning, cross-border logistical co-ordination, global terror cell activation and was easier for intelligence agencies to infiltrate due to the time and multiple stakeholders involved. The new Isis-inspired “low intensity mass casualty” formula by contrast is tougher to anticipate and has become the “new normal” in Europe and the world over.
Isis by instigating such trauma-laden terror wants Western governments and society to demonise all Muslims, isolate and deport them so they can flock en masse back to the delusional and crumbling “Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.
Isis by so doing yearns to resurrect the Crusades and Holy Wars, eliminate the “grey zone” of Muslims living and integrating globally. For Isis there exists only a binary black and white “us” versus “them” reality of “Dar al Islam” (House of Islam) versus the infidel`s “Dar ul Harb” (House of War) and they detest Muslims co-existing peacefully in non-Muslim majority states of the “grey zone”.
It is high time for the “silent Muslim majority” to become vociferous advocates by immediately condemning such vile acts against humanity and become ambassadors for social integration, especially in the foreign societies within which they reside. Similarly the hate-spewing extreme-far right outfits, especially in the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Italy and France rather than offer knee-jerk recriminations denouncing an entire religion of 1.3 billion humans need to temper their trauma-laden Islamophobic over-reaction and not play into the hands of the Isis death cult who are hell-bent on sabotaging socio-cultural cohesion.
As the civil war in Syria intensifies especially with recent US Tomahawk attacks, the time is ripe for civil society resilience to keep the “grey zone” alive, to thwart a clash of civilisations narrative, to develop counter claims and campaigns, both offline and online, accentuating inter-faith harmony, cohesion, co-existence and “unity in diversity”. Reinforcing the inalienable values of social integration, pluralism and multi-faith tolerance.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2017.