Serge Lally — Calgary

“Terrorism is the last resort of the frustrated,” says Harvard Sociologist, Karl Deush.

The only difference between a terrorist and an average citizen is that the terrorist takes the frustrations and anger of the people around him and plays them out to his limit and beyond.

Critics often ignore the legal or the state terrorism carried out by different governments, like the government of South Africa against the blacks, government terrorism in Central America, Libya, Northern Ireland and against the Sikhs in India. State terrorism is always countered by individual terrorism.

Critics also fail to explain why terrorism is always accepted and exercised by minorities to achieve their justified demands like Armenians, Molucenas, the Tamils of Sri Lanka, Basques of Spain and now the recent emergence of Sikhs in India. The genesis, the root cause, behind every revolutionary and terrorist group is the same social injustice. These groups believe that their people have been subjected to cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. They are being tortured and excruciated in such a manner that it is too painful to remember and too important to forget.

They have been denied basic human rights (and) have reached a stage where they simply no longer care whether they live or die. But they have an undying desire burning in their hearts that their people should have justice, should be considered as human as anybody else and that they should live with some respect and equality.

If you go into the details, their concerns will be reasonable and justified.

To understand terrorism and to find a solution to this pervasive and avoidable violence, we must look at their problems and consider the issues from their point of view. We should place ourselves in their shoes. Nobody wants to kill and nobody wants to die.

Let us meditate for a minute and try to reflect what was going on in the mind of Sana Mheidleh, a very quiet 16 year old girl who killed herself by crashing a car into an Israeli convoy in occupied South Lebanon. She said in her last letter to her mother, “Do not be sad for me. The South must be liberated. I have decided to fulfill my duty toward my people … raise your head high.

Her father said, “She sacrificed herself so her people could live. I am proud of her.” She killed herself for a cause. For some she was a freedom fighter and for others a terrorist who met her fate.

We must remember that there are two things you cannot destroy in a human being without killing him. One is his religious belief and the other his spirit for freedom. So, to stop this unnecessary violence generated by terrorists, we have to kill all blacks in South Africa, all Palestinians, Armenians, Moluccas, Irish, Basques and Sikhs.

We in this part of the world are used to peaceful political changes, so we always despise any change in government by force or violence. But how can the blacks in South Africa change’ the government without any right to vote? How can the Armenians with a population of only one per cent get any recognition from the Turkish government? How can the Sikhs of India who constitute only two percent of the total population have their grievances redressed.


Critics overlook the fact that the terrorist groups whose demands are religious and political independence basically belong to the Third World democratic countries. Narrow-minded and power-hungry politicians in those countries hold democracy to ransom.

They encourage factionalism. They move the masses by passions and prejudices against the minorities to win the votes of the majority. They do everything to perpetuate their rule. Rampant apathy, cynicism and ignorance of the majority population leave them. Politicians virtually free to do anything they please.

Politics in these countries is business. You can be in this business either with large amount of money or a big army. They are most arrogant self-satisfying, power hungry, most uncaring, unfeeling and backed by the confidence of an influential family background that was born to rule.

The sad phenomenon of this is that the poorer the country, the richer the prime ministers and politicians. They are hypocritical and immoral.

The best example of this is the Indian politicians. In the north they are suppressing the Sikhs and virtually denying them their basic human rights and thus winning the votes from the Hindu majority. But in the south they are training with Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group of Sri Lanka, and supporting them with arms and ammunition to carry out terrorist operations in neighboring tiny Sri Lanka, therefore winning the support and votes of the Tamils of the southern region.

Counterterrorism is not the answer to this pervasive and growing threat to the modern world, but negotiations understanding and recognition of the problems of the terrorist groups. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon has recently called for stiffer action to combat terrorism. But let us not forget that he has done more \harm to our democratic ‘system than these terrorist groups can hope to do in the next 50 years. What we need today is a not cheap politician, but statesmen.

I do not believe in violence, nor do I promote or advocate violence as a means to expedite a settlement of an issue. But I am simply looking at the problem from a_ different perspective.

Article extracted from this publication >>  September 13, 1985