Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

The terrorist attacks in Taif last week caught the hill city, known for its calmness, by surprise. Lately the region has witnessed unusual and brazen terror acts of suicide bombings and killings of innocent people. Unfortunately all the perpetrators, including the ones in Taif, were young. The media has been focusing on terror and blaming it mostly on Daesh (so-called IS) and other terrorist groups. But have we really probed into why these young people join these murderous cults? I use the word “cults” because now apart from the usual suspects “Al-Qaeda” and “Daesh” there are many splinter groups. These are hybrid actors. Their culture of resistance is to empower “lone wolves” to carry out these terror attacks. It is so shocking how these groups manage to brainwash individuals to blow themselves or kill policemen at random? How they are able to control the mind of a schoolteacher and convince him to take three children from the Kingdom and flee to join Daesh. There must be some kind of technique that is being used to attract and recruit. And it is not always the religious tone of their message, because many of the recipients are too ignorant and are not very religious in nature. It is time for the authorities in the Arab world to look further into the tactics of terror organizations and how they are able to attract the young ones. We need to understand the reasons behind the mushrooming of terror splinter groups in order to protect our youth and not allow these groups to prey on their innocent minds. The terror splinter groups are similar to copycat serial killers in America that we often read about. It is crucial that we find these incubators of recruits. What is making even these splinter groups develop social media structures with such speed and attract followers is the absence of a strong Arab official narrative. Of course we need security operations to combat this dangerous movement but we also need a massive campaign to focus on the young and a more serious study on ways to demolish the message of terror by these enemies of life and humanity. Issuing bland statements of condemnation after every attack and blaming it on Daesh is not enough. We have to come up with a better narrative than the one offered by religious scholars or the elders of society who seem to have lost their influence on the young. We need to hear the young voices speaking out against terror, for it is important that we engage the young and produce a more influential narrative from the young themselves. Let us identify role models from among the youth, young men and women who are plenty in our society. Let them come up with messages pointing out the evilness and the futility of terror attacks. Let them prove that there is more to life than killing. They can showcase their success and thus provide hope and encourage others to follow them on the train of life, progress, peace and happiness. An alternative to being burnt bodies on the wayside of misery, death and hell. Maybe that would be a better way of fighting the spread of terrorism and extremism among the youth in our region. — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena