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November 25, 2015

Worldwide Terrorism and How to Stop It

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The Paris tragedy cost many lives and was the result of a family located in the northern slums of the city. I watched on BBC as hundreds of police stormed the flat and took a few members into custody, while killing two others.


French bombers flattened part of a city in Syria and moved an aircraft carrier close to the Syrian coast.


Here on Borneo we had our own terrorist incident. Six months ago, two people were having dinner at a seafood restaurant in Sandakan, about two hours away by air. Two boats came ashore on the beach and grabbed two individuals. They then sped away.


Abu Sayyaf is a group of people who want to form their own state in the southern Philippines. They want part of that country declared a caliphate much like ISIS wants part of Syria and Iraq declared independent. However, all of this takes money.


To secure funds, Abu Sayyaf kidnaps people and hold them for ransom, hoping the government or their families will pay. They are very patient moving among the jungles of the area hiding on the various islands that are part of the area.


The negotiations went on for about six months. The people here are very patient. From what I have been able to piece together from news reports, the latest money demanded for their release was about $600,000. The money was about to be exchanged and the hostages were about to be freed.


Then an "Uncle" came into the picture. He was a relation of Abu Sayyaf leader, Indang Susukan. He thought the ransom was too low and demanded $1.8 million. The Malaysians had only one week to raise the additional amount. However, they did release one of the hostages after the $600,000 was paid.


A number of world events then happened. Prime Minister Najib Razak, of Malaysia, landed in the Philippines for a meeting of Southeast Asian heads of state. A Philippine commander unleashed an artillery barrage in the area where the kidnappers held the hostage. The Paris massacre occurred. For whatever reason, Bernard Then was beheaded.


It hurts. It really does. In this small town on the Sarawak River, the horrible death of one of our own is felt throughout the community. People mourn in their own Asian way, something I am not used to but still mourning does occur.


The Prime Minister, from Marilia, ordered an accounting, which will probably take months. Security at the dive and snorkeling sites have been increased. Tourism will probably take a hit, as it should.


Whether it's one individual in a small backwater of the world, a group of children in northern Nigeria, or a massacre in Paris, all must be stopped. But how?


The first thing is to stop the flow of money. All of those rich oil states must turn off the spigots, which enable these people to function. Malaysia, too, can help by protecting the tourists that come here.


But it will not work. When a tyrannical state needs the support of others around them, they will support anyone who comes to power and swears allegiance to the other state. As long as these division remain – and they have fighting each other for hundreds of years – western powers will just have to retrench and let then have their way.


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