By Patrick Dele Cole
MOST lone wolf attacks are by naturalised foreigners in the countries they commit violence against. Why? It would seem that they have unfulfilled aspirations: that their new country is not free and fair. They feel that their parents left their old countries because the West were the allies of their oppressive leaders who caused their original flight, and therefore refugees. They do not see their new countries as their saviours but rather as the reason for their suffering.
They think their parents had low ambition: merely to survive and prosper in the new country: to build a business, own their own houses; give their children first class education. But the children of the immigrants, though born in the West, still feel they have not been assimilated enough in their new countries. They have high ambition and feel they cannot survive in their adopted new home. Their mind had become a fertile ground for radicalism. They had not been fully accepted in their new country.
They do not accept that in war the West does not attack civilians. Usually the processes of Western intervention is by air attacks at 3-5am: planting confusion, blowing up power stations, fuel depots, dams, spreading “shock and awe”.
Indeed a war aim must be the spreading of fear and panic, confusion, disorientation.
They have seen air forces of the West flatten Libya, Syria, Mogadishu, Afghanistan, Iraq; the West has attempted to attack Iran. They regret the support of tyrants who want to turn their positions to dynastic rule: thus the emergence of the sons of Gaddafi and Mubarak to important political posts, one heartbeat to the Presidency. Most fundamentally, that all these leaders are evil and should be removed in order to install a pure caliphate.
Lone wolf attacks are attacks by radicalised Muslims who single handedly spread mayhem in the West without necessarily being controlled by any central terrorist organisation like ISIS or Al Qaeda. The lone wolf attacks ultimately can only be stopped by other wolves knowing the lone wolf and his intention, before he attacks. If the lone wolf’s motivation is spiritual or radical, the answer is an equally spiritual and radical motivation to make the attacking wolf think twice before attacking. A central feature of the lone wolf’s attack and belief system is that he is willing to die and that death is somewhat cathartic and rewarding. The defender must be cut out of the same cloth – death is also welcomed by him: but life is better; there is something for him to live for. The mindset of the lone wolf can only be counteracted by the same mindset of the defending wolf which must include the instinct which a mothering wolf has in protecting its cubs.
It is not the idea that the State is evil that motivates ISIS and Boko Haram and other radical fundamentalists. If it were they would simply be anarchists wishing to destroy the State. It is rather that a particular type of State is anathema and they want to replace it with a state more to their liking – an Islamic State, a caliphate.
This is why a heavier burden falls on their co-religionists that their desire or goal would never be achieved. They must travel the same spiritual route as the Islamists to deny the radical fundamentalists of their desire. That is why the radicals must be denied territory: but that is not enough: their mindset has to be changed, otherwise like a virus they would continue to adapt to the new antibiotics until they metasize and perhaps evolve to new viruses; which no longer respond to antibiotics. It is their ability to resist and metasize that must be the aim of the defense.
Islam itself is not the virus: it is its misuse that is the virus. Those who love Islam must be in the frontline to deprive its members of its misuse. Unfortunately, many in the West and in the East do not see or are unable to see this. Islam, we are told, is a way of life; its teachings are inviolable, inviolate and sacrosanct. Agreed! But it is the spring of the evil that spurs destruction. It must reform and adapt, as it has done down the long history of religion. It must find ways to defeat the cancer that is destroying it.
Islam means peace. At an elemental existential level peace means the absence of war. But it certainly means more. It means that human beings must have elemental rights (otherwise they rebel and there is no peace); it means boundaries in behaviour and human interaction. Peace means doing all in one’s power to prevent another person being treated in such a way that he rebels or is unhappy.
He must be made quiescent and not rebellious. Islam means respect for oneself and other people. Peace ultimately means a system of justice, which always promotes trade and commerce between people without fear or hindrance: the boundaries of proper conduct in inter relationships is another way of saying tolerance etc.
The subjugation of people cannot promote peace if those people do not pose a threat to peace. There are other ancillary rights and obligations to peace. In a world of internet, inter conductively, interconnectivity, in a world made smaller by new technology, whatever preconceptions one may have will have to adapt because of changes forced on us by modern life.
Thus to the Jew whose religion is also shalom (peace), to the Christian whose belief is anchored in love, to the African traditional religionist whose belief is anchored in spirits who demand special attention periodically – all these religions have come to accept a remodeling of human life such that new interactions no longer inevitably lead to war and sacrifice, all of them adapt to the realities of modern existence – all have a new spiritual and personal existence calling on us all to live in peace for our survival and our religion – to all of us the world is round and the universe an existence beyond our imagination to which we may ascribe to be the power of a Superior Being. But even if we cannot fathom the vastness of the universe (because our religious anchor holds us down even in our imagination) these mysteries paradoxically ground us in reality – to peace, understanding, tolerance and good neighbourliness.
Coming back to where we started – the lone wolf acting on behalf of Radical Islamic State, ISIS, in wanting a State, is living in a world vastly different from the world of Mohammed – whose idea of a state is vastly different from what a state is to-day. Jesus, Mohammed, Sango, Aztec and Mayas gods, the Shinto god, etc. had no conception of States as we know them to-day.
None of these Prophets of God had an idea of the hundreds of countries making up the world to-day. In the deserts of Arabia and the hills and plains of Judea the people among whom these prophets lived had no idea of the Americas, China, Russia, etc. The people who worshipped Shinto, or the Mayas or Aztecs had no idea of other states or nations. But those of us alive to-day have a very real idea of the states which make up the world, the planets which make up the universe. I have not suggested that God was unaware of the universe but He never implanted that idea in His prophets beyond the promise of Heaven or Paradise. The concept of Heaven, Paradise, life after death, does not encompass the variety of states on earth and the universe in a way that was intelligible to the people our Holy men spoke to. It was difficult enough giving His people the concept of God and the type of minds to learn how to live peaceably, one with another.
Our God or various interpretations of Him expected us to evolve through their guidance and navigate the complexities of modern life through the core of religious beliefs bequeathed us. Our Lone Wolf cannot claim that he was doing the work of Allah when he kills his fellow man. Those who share his faith ought to bring this reality to him.
It is their sacred duty as it is the same for Jews, Gentile, Shintoist, Shangoist, Ogunista, Yemojaist, Catholic, Protestant, etc. The extermination of a people has no place in modern day religion (Iran’s bombast of extermination Zionist Israel is ungodly and un-Islamic). Clerics are best doing work to save souls. Governance is utterly different and should be treated as such. There is no escape to this position no matter how Muslims fail to realize that they have a primary responsibility to rein in the Lone Wolf.
In Nigeria the reality, despite what the church or Islam teaches is that religion is separate from the state, from politics. That is the only way Nigeria can survive as a nation. All religions must stop the attempt to stuff Nigeria into a bottle with narrow neck. We are a pluralistic nation; 560 pluralities make up Nigeria. We must respect every Nigeria as an individual. The nation must create conditions for that individual to attain his highest potential, unhindered by religion, tribe or class.