Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Panic gripped Los Angeles Unified School District last week after a security threat that resulted in the evacuation of more than 700,000 students from 1,000 schools. Fortunately, it turned out to be a hoax but it succeeded in disrupting routine life across the city. New York City had also received a similar threat but officials in the Big Apple dismissed it as a hoax. Los Angeles, on the other hand, took it more seriously perhaps because just a few weeks prior to this threat, Los Angeles had witnessed one of the most devastating terrorist attacks just 40 miles away in San Bernardino. Keeping in view, the recent spate of terrorist attacks we have reached the conclusion that it is very difficult to predict terrorists’ behaviors and their next targets. The response of the second largest American school district to the threat is understandable. Ironically, around the same time, more than one airliner was forced to land in various places around the world just because someone from somewhere threatened the airline. Is the world becoming vulnerable to terrorism? The answer is yes. We are even becoming vulnerable to terror threats. Terrorism had changed many people’s lives, their behaviors and the mutual trust among people around the world. Terrorism is a cancer that has to be eradicated by any means. Since a long time, Saudi Arabia has been calling for a joint action against terrorism. During the reign of late King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia organized the first international conference on terrorism. It was an effort on part of the Kingdom to fight terrorism, choke terrorists’ financial resources and to eradicate them when possible. Nobody could argue that it would be difficult for a country to fight terrorism singlehandedly. Fighting this growing menace needs coordinated and joint international efforts. Terrorism is no longer confined to the Muslim or Arab world. The entire world is under threat from terrorists. Terrorism has to be stopped and fought by any means. Just a few days ago, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a Muslim antiterrorism coalition to confront the extremist group, Daesh, and its likes. Saudi Arabia has taken it upon itself to initiate this coalition to end this threat. This coalition consists of 34 Muslim countries and more than 10 other countries have expressed their support to this alliance. Riyadh will host the operations center and there will be intensive intelligence cooperation between the coalition members. There are countries, which are more vulnerable to terrorism and considered soft targets for terrorists’ operations. This coalition will prove to be very valuable in fighting terrorism. Many countries around the world have suffered colossal damages due to terrorist attacks. Terrorism has no religion and it is an invisible enemy of the world. It is true that the coalition is in its initial stages and needs more time to outline its objectives. Future plans to eradicate terrorism might involve troop deployment. But, all these actions will operate within the framework of United Nations (UN) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) provisions on terrorism. Fighting terrorism is not a child’s play. It needs continuous and joint efforts by all countries and all peace-loving people. We shouldn’t let a handful of terrorists with no clear intention or path to disturb our daily lives. The world should join hands to eradicate terrorism and terrorist sympathizers. It is true that it could take a long time before we see positive results but the world must take action to contain this cancer. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Joining Hands to Fight Terror reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.