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Opinion: We Are Not Afraid, By Owei Lakemfa

The world is at war. One without  boundaries. With the terrorist taking centre stage, the universe is on the edge.  The sane shake their heads while the unbalanced, tweet triumphant messages claiming authorship of additional innocent lives they have taken at random. The earth  is the theatre  of enlightenment with a stage  of darkness.

While knowledge, innovation and technology illuminate the earth; the terrorists strive to knock  off the lights.  But having  lost three hundred and ninety six innocent souls to three attacks within two weeks to terrorism, the last thing we need, is a divided world against terrorists.

These string of tragedies began on Saturday October 31, when the  Russian Metrojet Flight 7K9268 flying from the Egyptian holiday resort of Sharm El-Sheikh  with 224 souls including seventeen children, was bombed out of the sky in the Sinai Peninsula.

Then on Thursday November  12, a terrorist in the busy Burj al-Barajneh area of Beirut blew himself up. As people  tried to recover from this, Adel Tormons who had witnessed the explosion saw another man making suspicious moves, so he forced himself on the  suspect, and his bomb went off. The courage of Tormons had saved lives  as the suspect might have mingled with the gathering crowd before setting off his explosives. A total of 43 people were killed and over 200 injured. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.

The next day, At least seven ISIS terrorists  attacked the civil populace in Paris, sending 129 to early graves and leaving  349 injured. People were killed performing ordinary functions like having a bite at a café or at a football match. Perhaps the most horrifying for me was the massacre at the Bataclan Theatre where  89 persons were killed. It reminded me of the  October 23,  2002 Dubrovka Theatre, Moscow  attack by Chechen terrorists during  which 850 people were taken hostage with 130 of them being killed.

Perhaps the fact that the Paris attacks  took place in Europe, the universal  out pour of anger and solidarity messages virtually drowned  news of  the earlier terrorist attacks in Lebanon. World leaders and the dominant Western media including Facebook which produced (French national) tricolor profile picture filter to users, forgot or ignored the carnage in Beirut carried out by the same group.   But in reality, it is Lebanon, which has given shelter to over one million Syrian refugees, that is on the frontline in  the war against terror. The impression must not be given that lives in one part of the world, are more valuable than lives in another part. All lives matter.

The war against terror is universal, and we need a united humanity to take on the terrorists wherever they are and whenever they show their faces including in Nigeria where terrorists  this Tuesday, murdered 31 persons in the Yola area.

  Pope Francis  argues that the Paris attacks are the beginnings of the Third World War. This may well be so, but the new war would not be a conventional one where armies are pitched against themselves, fighting to take and hold territories.

In the war against terror, it makes common sense for  humanity to unite; for the West and America to end its war in Syria, Turkey stops its attacks against Kurds and for Israel to allow its Palestinian neigbours, their independent homeland. This war is not one between Muslims and Christians, Jews and Buddhists. It is not a clash of civilizations or culture. It is one   between criminals who want to reshape the world in their own image, and the rest of humanity. This is why, in understanding the anger of France and its President, Francois Hollande who has promised a “ruthless’  and ‘pitiless’ response, it is necessary to caution that France’s response should be based on verifiable facts, clear objectives and an eye on possible repercussions. This is necessary so that we don’t go from a bad, to a worse situation.

After the 9/11 attacks, the United States (US) promised a similar ruthlessness in its response. However,  like a provoked but blind hulk, it turned to the wrong direction crashing into anti-terrorist Iraq, knocking down its state structures and infrastructure. So rather than taking out the terrorist network  which planned 9/11,  it took out the Iraqi state, leaving its broken shell with separatist Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish  governments who are unable to govern, and producing ISIS  which took swathes of land for a terrorist caliphate.

Then like a drunken giant, it staggered into Afghanistan uprooting the government and  turning  the country into a failed state. So while Americans can feel justified for the bloodshed  in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its rendition programme which saw it kidnap people around the world and dump them without trial in detention centres, they achieved little else. If anything, they lost more people, are in a quagmire in those countries, and have made the world generally more insecure.

Terror is employment of violence to attain political objectives. At its heart is the creation of fear. Hollande at the United Nations on Tuesday, vowed that the attacks will  not change French life. That the French tradition and culture, its cosmopolitan outlook  and welcoming attitude to all humanity will continue. That is the spirit. We must not panic.

People must not stop going to restaurants or the stadium. Matches should not be cancelled like Brussels calling off  the Belgium – Spain match. On the other hand, the decision to go on with the France – Britain match, strengthens the  resolve against terror. Military spending need not increase to the detriment of social spending, like British Prime Minister, David Cameroon rushing to increase his country’s  military budget by $3 billion.

Perhaps the worst indication of fear after the Paris attacks was that by 27 American governors who announced that they will not take in any of the 10,000 Syrian refugees America had   promised to bring in next year. Such panicky positions do not only play into the hands of the terrorists, but also fuels the anti-immigration campaigns especially in America. We must not be afraid in the war against terrorists,  but we must struggle for a humane, just world built on the French Revolution motto of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.


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