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Green Technology and Terrorism

22nd February, 2009

It was a really nice evening, with a cool breeze in the air, and soft rustling sounds in the background. A very potent mix symbolizing that winter’s over and summer’s yet to come. I went out, just to walk around my colony and hopefully grab a coffee too. I could go anywhere. Mindless, I set forth.

And then it hit.

“These small useless terrorist activities make me feel scared. It’s an abberation, it a small useless statistic blown completely out of proportion.”

“But the globalized media feeds us this news every minute, every hour. And so it must HAVE news every minute, every hour. Terrorists, political activists, frustrated young men and the media – all have incentives to help each other.”

“And so the consumer, me, feels shit scared.”

As our humble Wikipedia puts it, “Terrorism is the systematic use of terror (imposing fear), especially as a means of coercion.” It seems the speed at which this fear spreads is bounded by the speed of rumours. In todays world, thats almost instant. The level playing field propogated by globalization itself has removed (almost) all barriers – for good and bad.


Terrorist Incidents in 2008

Terrorist Incidents in 2008


Terrorism is truly a global phenomenon, utilizing the mass media to fuel its frenzy – the network of people, technology, and knowledge sharing wouldn’t have been possible at this scale around 20 years ago! In fact, I had described in my previous post on how their very same usage of the Internet could easily be used to track and locate terrorists and terrorist-supporters – even by a novice like you and me!

But let me limit myself to the religious terrorist activities emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan, from small hardline sects within these states that most certainly don’t even have a majority support. They have external support.

Running a Terrorist Group is expensive!

Look at it from a management perspective – its truly difficult to organize and coordinate such a large covert terrorist group. You have to continually recruit young lads (with possible help from tainted Madrassas), spread and convince your large organization with your objective, actually coordinate some attacks to gain notoriety and immense support (and funding) from the money-givers. You need money to buy guns, ammunition, supplies, you need money to run terrorist camps, and you need money to move resources from one corner of the world to the other. You need money to select the best talent and let them grow within your organization – and to provide incentives like supporting their families back at their home.

Basically, you need a helluva lot of money, even if you just want to start a small-scale terrorist organization.

So there are generally two immense support verticals for terrorist organizations – internal revenue generation (poppy seeds and other drugs), or external revenue generation (funding and backing from supporters). I’m sure recession has also hit the first method of revenue generation – I can only presume drug consumption globally is down with many people losing their jobs (or maybe not!)

Anyways, its the second revenue source that I would like to talk about.

Funding and Backing from Supporters

Actually, ‘supporters’ is a very generic term – it could range from state-sponsored terrorism (Ireland is a good example), to companies, to individuals who would benefit from such donations. Terrorist organization have a vast globally-linked network to transport, deliver, create, and even teach almost anything, and all very covertly. Just by tapping into this grand network is an incentive enough for many companies and individuals involved in illegal activities.

So it would be much cheaper for small- to medium-scale dons involved in illegal human trafficking to obtain help from this very same terrorist network than to create and start their own. Ditto for drug lords, who continuously face harassment from a global crackdown of multiple intelligence agencies. I had talked about one such coordination in my previous post! So, if you would like to call it, this is actually outsourcing of the global network – in order to reduce costs and risks.

Such companies and individuals would of course donate money to terrorist organizations to maintain such a network – hence the incentive. And a terrorist organization wouldn’t like to lose such business to another organizations – hence the competition. This scale of collaboration is apparent from the Dawood – terrorist link.

But I would also like to talk about the Wahhabi source – the ultra-conservative sect of Sunni Islam, basically preaching a return to the practices of the first three generations of Islamic history. Originating from Saudi Arabia, it has gained massive support and is now a dominant sect of Islam in many countries. This explosion was attributed to many factors, but one of the most important would be the Oil Money.

Oil Money

The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the world’s largest single source of crude oil. So much so that the OECD countries dominate the pricing of oil around the world – a commodity that almost all nations require in large quantities since they themselves are unable to feed their growing demand.

The politics of such money power is obvious – nobody touches Saudi Arabia, and they’re almost free to do what they want . While many texts criticize the Chinese non-democratic government, not much can be said about Saudi Arabia. It’s arm-twisting at its best.

So Saudi Arabia sets out to promote Wahhabi Islam – by sponsoring and setting up mosques in multiple external locations. Though the link between Saudi Arabia and terrorist organizations isn’t clear, it most certainly exists. Whats worst is that, without any democratic questioning of where and how money is being spent – such sponsorship never faces public scrutiny. The mass of wealth in the Persian Gulf is in the hands of a small number of people – and in such cases responsibility and morality generally take a backseat.

We Desperately need Green Technology

The only way to truly shake this “disturbing handshake” between oil and terrorism, is to completely wean ourselves off it. We need green technology – making use of alternative forms of fuel that may be produced by nation-states themselves. It not only saves large cash reserves, which are spent on purchasing and subsidizing oil, but also cuts down on the arm-twisting possible by the OECD countries.

By cutting this root bud, you prevent a large support to terrorist organizations, which would then be truly vulnerable to crackdowns by intelligence agencies. They would then be able to coordinate even braver attacks, severely hampering the global supply chain for illegal activities. The benefit is immensely huge – forget terrorism, you severely hamper drugs, human trafficking, illegal sale of arms and ammunition, and a whole bouquet of wrong-doings.

And once those terrorist organizations start bleeding red themselves, they’ll start cutting down on their scale of operations, recruiting lesser and lesser numbers, and putting a large number back into productive jobs.

And save the world.

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