Compassionate Counterterrorism 1st Edition

The Power of Inclusion In Fighting Fundamentalism

Leena Al Olaimy (Author)

Publication date: 02/26/2019

Compassionate Counterterrorism
From purchasing pay-per-view pornography to smoking pot, many so-called Muslim terrorists prove by their actions that they aren't motivated by devotion to religion, Leena Al Olaimy argues. So why do they really turn to violence, and what does that tell us about the most effective way to combat terrorism?

Al Olaimy sets the stage by providing a quick, thoughtful grounding in the birth of Islam in a barbaric
Game of Thrones–like seventh-century Arabia, the evolution of fundamentalist thought, and the political failures of the postcolonial period. She shows that terrorists are motivated by economic exclusion, lack of opportunity, social marginalization, and political discrimination. This is why using force to counter terrorism is ineffective—it exacerbates the symptoms without treating the cause. Moreover, data shows that military interventions led to the demise of only 12 percent of religious terrorist groups.

Combining compelling data with anecdotal evidence, Al Olaimy sheds light on unorthodox and counterintuitive strategies to address social woes that groups like ISIS exploit. For example, she describes how Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, has decreased terrorism while paradoxically becoming more overtly religious. Or how Mechelen, the city with Belgium's largest Muslim population, adopted integration policies so effective that not one of its 20,000 Muslims left to join ISIS. Using religion, neuroscience, farming, and even love, this book offers many inspiring examples and—for once—an optimistic outlook on how we can not just fight but
prevent terrorism.

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From purchasing pay-per-view pornography to smoking pot, many so-called Muslim terrorists prove by their actions that they aren't motivated by devotion to religion, Leena Al Olaimy argues. So why do they really turn to violence, and what does that tell us about the most effective way to combat terrorism?

Al Olaimy sets the stage by providing a quick, thoughtful grounding in the birth of Islam in a barbaric
Game of Thrones–like seventh-century Arabia, the evolution of fundamentalist thought, and the political failures of the postcolonial period. She shows that terrorists are motivated by economic exclusion, lack of opportunity, social marginalization, and political discrimination. This is why using force to counter terrorism is ineffective—it exacerbates the symptoms without treating the cause. Moreover, data shows that military interventions led to the demise of only 12 percent of religious terrorist groups.

Combining compelling data with anecdotal evidence, Al Olaimy sheds light on unorthodox and counterintuitive strategies to address social woes that groups like ISIS exploit. For example, she describes how Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, has decreased terrorism while paradoxically becoming more overtly religious. Or how Mechelen, the city with Belgium's largest Muslim population, adopted integration policies so effective that not one of its 20,000 Muslims left to join ISIS. Using religion, neuroscience, farming, and even love, this book offers many inspiring examples and—for once—an optimistic outlook on how we can not just fight but
prevent terrorism.

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Meet the Author

Visit Author Page - Leena Al Olaimy

Leena Al Olaimy is the cofounder of 3BL Associates, an award-winning social enterprise, advancing progress on nine of the seventeen interconnected sustainable development goals (SDGs), including peace, climate change, and economic growth. She is a Dalai Lama Fellow, a Salzburg Global Fellow, a Soliya Fellow and a Wall Street Journal Woman of Note' and is listed among Bahrain's Most Influential Women by Business in Gulf. Her work has included transforming youth adversarial activism from non-violent resistance to non-violent resilience. Leena has written on politics, entrepreneurship and sustainability for the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Blog, Open Democracy, Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Huffington Post and Wamda. She has been quoted in Forbes and Arabic [email protected], and her multi-disciplinary insights have been sought by Chatham House, the Tri-Lateral Commission, and several United Nations organizations. She has given 150+ talks globally, including TEDxCarthage the largest in Africa and recently chaired a roundtable on 'Empowering Communities for Positive Change' during HRH the Prince of Wales' visit to Bahrain.

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Compassionate Counterterrorism



IN HIS 2010 TED talk “Superheroes Inspired by Islam,” a fellow Arab, Muslim social entrepreneur, and psychologist, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, recalls a lecture he gave in Kuwait on the biological basis of behavior. His students were handed two articles: one from the New York Times and the other from New York magazine. He took out the names of the writers and other details, leaving only the facts. The first article was about a group called “The Party of God” that wanted to ban Valentine’s Day—red was outlawed and any boys and girls caught flirting were to be married off immediately. The second article described a woman’s complaints against six bearded men who pulled up in three minivans to interrogate her for talking to a man who wasn’t related to her. Dr. Naif’s students were asked to identify the locations of the two incidents.1 Can you guess where they took place?

In unanimous agreement, the class determined the first incident was definitely in Saudi Arabia. The second, they debated, was either in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. Astonishingly, they learned that the first was actually in India—the party of a Hindu god—whereas the second took place in upstate New York in an orthodox Jewish community.2 Not only has the media perpetuated an unconscious bias towards identifying extremism as intrinsically and distinctly Islamic, but this unconscious bias has sadly become a self-identification for Muslims. I recall running a corporate diversity and inclusion workshop in my native Bahrain where a Muslim female participant admitted that while traveling on a bus in London, she was embarrassed to observe her unease and suspicion as a long-bearded man a few aisles down irately spoke on his phone in Urdu.

Every time there is a highly publicized shooting or attack, we—the Muslim community—bait our breath, hoping he is not “one of ours.” I imagine African Americans feel similar sentiments. Following the British Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and biracial American actress Meghan Markle, The Daily Show comedian Trevor Noah made a joke loaded with political truth. It had emerged that Markle’s father had conspired with paparazzi to stage positive photos of himself. “I’m not gonna lie, I was glad it was the white side of the family!” Noah—who is also biracial—quipped.3 No matter how many Caucasian or Christian dysfunctional individuals, school shooters, or terrorists there are, those individuals are not held accountable as representatives of an entire race or religion. Nor am I suggesting that they should be— yet many other races and religions are subjected to entirely different standards.

At the time of Dr. Naif’s TED talk—which was pre–San Bernardino and Orlando nightclub shootings—right-wing terrorist attacks in the US had killed almost twice as many Americans as Islamist attacks since 9/11.4 And according to Europol, the majority of terrorist attacks in the EU had been perpetrated by separatist movements such as Basque separatist terrorism in Spain and France, and Corsican terrorism in France.5 These numbers have shifted more recently in the US, and Europol reported that 2016 was the first year in which Islamist terror attacks outpaced separatist terrorism. Yet the number of white nationalists and self-identified Nazi sympathizers on Twitter continues to multiply—outperforming the so-called Islamic State (Daesh)—increasing by more than 600 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to a study.6

And although Muslims have made tremendous contributions to civilization, terrorism was not one such invention. Despite the fact that this lethal tactic predates the 1,400-year-old religion of Islam, at the time of this writing, if one typed “Did terrorism exist before . . .” into Google, the query is completed with “9/11,” implying the Islamic and contemporary nature of the beast. Further complicating the discourse around terrorism is the blurry lens through which different individuals and governments view and define it. The term terrorism has over 100 scholarly and diplomatic definitions. Given its deeply contested interpretation, even the UN has no internationally agreed-upon definition.

Unless we unanimously condemn all forms of violence, leaving no grounds for its justification, we are unlikely to agree on what terrorism is and isn’t. For example, is the Palestinian armed struggle for liberation and self-determination against an occupying force considered terrorism? No, not according to Arabs. Was Nazi Germany an example of state-sponsored terrorism? In applying many modern-day definitions of terrorism, “legitimate” state-actors are specifically excluded from the definition of terrorism. Which prompts the question: Who is the legitimate state-actor? We may even find, over time, that a historical lens changes our global understanding of what constitutes terrorism versus a liberation struggle.

To be clear, terrorism and the murder of innocent lives is wrong, regardless of the motives and actors, and definitions are of little solace to the victims and their families. That said, depending on the reader’s background, some of these not-so-hypothetical scenarios will be clear-cut, others murky, and some uncomfortable. Mental health is another factor in the mix, and one that often fails to cross our consciousness when the shooter is Muslim. Which also leads to the question of intention. A mentally ill or deranged individual lacking motivation is classified differently than a religiously or ideologically motivated shooter. So if the same act and consequences can be classified differently depending solely on the perpetrator’s intention, does it matter if a so-called “soldier of Allah” drinks alcohol and eats pork? How do we reconcile contradictions between why someone says they commit violence and their real motivations?

Fundamentally speaking, the ancient, unadulterated wisdom forming the bedrock of all religions and spiritual teachings is kindness and compassion. All religions can be distorted and misused—even Buddhism, which is perhaps the religious tradition most associated with peace and enlightenment. Consider the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by Buddhist monks, whose leader, ironically, calls himself the “Burmese Bin Laden.”7 The common denominator is not religion but rather “violent extremism.” So perhaps we should reconsider the stereotype that religion itself is the problem. Our own absolutism and lack of moral humility could potentially surreptitiously metamorphose from extremist thought into extremist action—no matter how noble, and especially the more noble we believe our objectives to be. Everyone believes him- or herself to be defending some form of “virtue” against some form of “malice.” But before deep-diving into morality, let us take a brief journey to explore the origins of terrorism.


The term terrorism was first used in a political context accusing dissidents like Maximilien Robespierre—a frontrunner of the French Revolution—for using violence in the name of the state, aka the Reign of Terror. Robespierre notoriously sent thousands to execution under the guillotine—including the infamous Queen Marie Antoinette, to whom the outrageous quote “Let them eat cake” has been attributed, in obliviousness to the poor’s inability to buy bread. However, by the late nineteenth century, Russian and French anarchists started using the word terrorism to describe their own violent uprisings against the state.8

The origins of terrorism as a phenomenon, however, far predate the French Revolution. In Byzantine Rome, the state used violence and executions as a form of intimidation to win elections. Jewish uprisings against the Romans in 66 CE, and against the Greeks in 115 CE and 134 CE, represent some of the earliest examples of non-state actors engaged in a national liberation struggle.9 Terrorism reached its zenith towards the end of the nineteenth century; the major active terrorist groups during this period included the Irish rebels fighting against British rule, the Russian Socialist Revolutionaries—who succeeded in killing Tsar Alexander II—and other anarchists in North America and Europe.10

After World War I, terrorism emerged in what became Nazi Germany and the Balkans—perpetuated in large part by both Fascists and Communists. Cold-blooded Kremlin dictator Joseph Stalin terrorized tens of millions of citizens—assassinating political opponents, imprisoning suspected dissenters in Gulags (forced labor camps), and engineering the worst man-made famine in history.11 Even Stalin’s first son, Yakov, allegedly tried to kill himself because of his father’s harshness towards him. As Yakov lay in a pool of blood—ultimately failing to fatally shoot himself—Stalin reportedly berated his son, saying, “He can’t even shoot straight.”12

One of the most prominent terrorist attacks of the twentieth century was the 1946 King David Hotel bombing on British administrative headquarters for Palestine, carried out by the Irgun, a right-wing Zionist group. Following World War II, however, there was very little terrorism, which explains why it seemed so unprecedented when it resurfaced some twenty-five years later.13 And when it did reemerge, it made a strong comeback. Replete with controversial classifications depending on which “side” you were on, this unparalleled era for terrorism included the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Italian militant group the Red Brigades, antiwar militants (note the oxymoron), ethnic and nationalist terrorist groups, revolutionary groups like the Black Panthers in the US, and the highly publicized Palestinian-led kidnapping and massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Airline hijackings and bombings were far more frequent then than they are today—occurring at an astounding monthly rate.14 In fact, US plane hijackings diverted to Cuba were so frequent in the late ’60s that the Cubans had a holding lounge for unexpected American visitors, where, upon arrival, they were served Cuban sandwiches (for which the Cubans then charged the US government $35 apiece!). Pilots even kept maps of Jose Marti airport on hand in the cockpit. Despite all this, there was no airport security, no metal detectors, and no luggage screening until 1973.15

Less than a decade later, suicide bombings were made popular by the secular Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebels. In their fight for an independent Tamil state, the rebels were known for pioneering the suicide vest—although they did not invent it.16 Between 1980 and 2003 the Tamil Tigers carried out more suicide attacks than any Islamist terrorist groups had up until 2009.17 Suicide killing as a tactic, however, first surfaced in nineteenth-century Southeast Asia as Muslims retaliated against colonialism and conversion attempts by Christian missionaries. A knife-wielding attacker would set out to fight any Christian or European ally and would continue killing as many as he could before he himself was killed.18 Suicide missions were also executed to destroy warships during World War II. Japanese kamikaze pilots held the largest record of suicide missions in history, numbering over 3,000 between 1943 and 1945, and leading to an estimated 5,000 US naval deaths.19

Four years in particular marked major turning points for modern-day terrorism: 1968, 1979, 1983, and 2001. Palestinians began to use terrorism as a publicity stunt following the 1967 six-day war, and in 1968, Latin American insurgents launched their urban guerrilla strategy. In 1979, radical Shiite Muslims emerged victorious during the Iranian revolution and directly influenced Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as well as indirectly influencing radical Sunni Islamists such as Hamas and Al Qaeda. Hezbollah’s suicide bombings against American and French occupying forces in Lebanon forced troop withdrawals and a partial Israeli withdrawal in 1985; this was perhaps the greatest example of victory for Islamists. And finally, the attacks of September 11, 2001, provoked the most significant counterterrorism operation ever undertaken: the US-led “War on Terror.”20


Residents of Austin, Texas, were terrorized for weeks in 2018 by Mark Anthony Conditt, a white Christian serial bomber. Conditt was characterized as a “troubled young man”—which one assumes goes without saying for any individual committing such acts, irrespective of their self-declared motivations, political agenda, or lack thereof.21 Stephen Paddock, who committed the worst mass shooting in modern American history—killing 58 people at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in 2017—was also “troubled.”22 I suspect that had he been a Muslim, he would have been labeled a terrorist, even without explicitly declaring a political agenda.

According to the US State Department, terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”23 While it may be true that many terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims are politically motivated, it is worth considering the upside. While a lack of motive may render us powerless with seemingly “senseless” shooters, at least politically motivated violence has a more tangible antidote—the fulfillment of those political objectives. I will come back to the psychology and drivers of suicide attackers in Chapter 4 and the misappropriation of religion as a moral veil to achieve personal objectives. But fundamentally, the circumstances that drive an individual to utilize terrorism as a tactic are both race- and religion-agnostic. In fact, I would argue that provoked with sufficient moral outrage, and a particular confluence of circumstances, any one of us could selflessly become a “terrorist,” simply because terrorists perceive themselves as supremely dedicated to a higher cause. But, again, I’m jumping ahead of a deeper dive in Chapter 7.

The US State Department definition also overlooks the classification of a country as a terrorist state. Terrorism is defined as a political act committed specifically by non-state actors to achieve objectives such as policy changes, changes in leadership, changes in government, and even changes in a nation’s territorial boundaries. So while it may be definitionally disputed, I personally would unquestionably categorize Nazi Germany as a terrorist state, whereas, given America’s use of violence and Israeli aggression against the Palestinians, many Arabs and Muslims would classify the United States and Israel as terrorist states.

A Congressional report by international security specialist Richard F. Grimmett, entitled Instances of Use of U. S. Armed Forces Abroad 1798–2008, cites well over 300 instances in which the United States has utilized military forces abroad in both overt and covert operations.24 Conversely, the US was attacked three times during that same period: by the British during the war of 1812, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the September 11th attacks in 2001. And although 9/11 killed 2,996 people, conservative estimates number the innocent civilian body count from the US War on Terror at 1.3 million in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to a report by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize–winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.25

Accountability for civilian deaths is shared across America’s main two-party system. Micah Zenko, at the Council on Foreign Relations, concluded that in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs in just seven countries (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan).26 That’s an average of three bombs every hour, terrorizing innocent people. “Crowd killings,” which target group events like weddings and funerals, introduce the reality that either the happiest or the most traumatic days of one’s life could also end in fatality. When people floated the idea of Michelle Obama as a presidential candidate, I often wondered if her reluctance to make these lethal decisions partially contributed to her reasons not to run.

Death-by-drone civilian casualties between 2009 and 2015 ranged from 380 to 801 in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, whereas the US Government claims killing six times fewer. In wondering how such an extreme discrepancy in numbers can exist, we learn that the Administration categorizes all military-age males as combatants, unless explicit evidence of their innocence is found posthumously.27 So in essence, the universal human right of being innocent until proven guilty fails to apply to citizens whose crime was simply being born in one of these targeted countries.

One may argue for the “greater good” in the context of a hypothetically higher death toll of local civilians and international citizens at the hands of terrorists. But for human beings subjected to the psychological torture of omnipresent danger, and the anxiety of being caught in the crossfire as collateral damage en route to accessing an education or celebrating a union of love, this cruel form of intimidation is as much terrorism as an untimely death. Such morbid prospects make pre-wedding “cold feet” and “not wanting to go to school today” perfectly reasonable objections. But on a more somber note, doesn’t this self-appointed benevolent stewardship—the conviction of knowing what’s right and just—leave us morally vulnerable to the subjective definitions of the “greater good” and an ethically dubious valuation of human life?


Bruce Hoffman, who has been studying terrorism for nearly 40 years, elaborates on the fear-inducing, psychological nature of terrorism, saying: “Terrorism is ineluctably political in aims and motives, violent—or, equally important, threatens violence, designed to have far-reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victim or target. . . .”28 However, Hoffman’s definition also excludes state-actors. Part of why this is problematic lies in the controversy surrounding which party is a “legitimate” government and which party is a non-state entity.

For example, during World War II, the German occupation forces in France labeled members of the French Resistance terrorists. During South Africa’s Apartheid era, the African National Congress (ANC) led by Nelson Mandela, was labeled a terrorist organization. In fact, Tata Madiba, as Mandela was known—who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 in addition to winning the affections and admiration of many around the world for his wisdom and compassion—remained on the US terrorism watch list until 2008! Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State, was admittedly “embarrassed” by having to waive Mandela’s travel restrictions for an official stateside visit.29

So whereas the United States and Israel would classify organizations leading the Palestinian liberation struggle as “terrorist groups,” the Arab Terrorism Convention and the Terrorism Convention of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) exclude an armed struggle for liberation and self-determination from their definition. According to the OIC, Palestinian attacks against Israeli forces fall within the realm of a justified liberation struggle against occupying forces.30

Ultimately, there are no easy answers or unilateral agreement around the complications and controversies surrounding who a terrorist is when the same actions perpetrated by a party deemed to be “illegitimate” are held to different standards than the same ones committed by a “legitimate” actor. This raises questions around the prejudiced standards we apply. Through our actions, we are effectively saying that some lives are worth less and can be acceptably terrorized. Imagine the international outrage if 1.3 million innocent civilians were killed in California, Texas, and Florida, compared with Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Or if we discriminately stripped the human rights of New Yorkers and rescinded their innocence until proven guilty based on factors they were unable to change, like their gender (male), age (military appropriate), and where they were born.


From 1970 to 2017, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has codified more than 180,000 terrorist incidents. Their annual reports, which are produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, are based on data from the Global Terrorism Database, which is collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)—a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence—led by the University of Maryland.31

For the second consecutive year, deaths from terrorism declined globally to 25,673 people, which is a 22 percent improvement compared to the peak of terror activity in 2014. The deadliest groups are Daesh, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the Taliban. Terrorism deaths have fallen most significantly in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. However, Daesh defied this positive trend, killing 50 percent more people—with over 9,000 deaths, primarily in Iraq.32

And while the number of deaths in Nigeria showed the most significant improvement, falling by 80 percent, this has coincided with the splintering of Boko Haram into three separate groups. In fact, in 2016, attacks in Nigeria were executed by thirteen separate groups, including attacks in the Niger Delta and by Fulani extremists in the Middle Belt.33

Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq also represent the “Big Five” most affected by terrorism. Disproportionate media coverage and public attention surrounding terrorism incidents in Western countries may distort the fact that since 2000, an overwhelming 99 percent of deaths have occurred in countries with high levels of political terror (defined as extrajudicial killings, torture, and imprisonment without trial) or that are engaged in some form of internal or international conflict. In 2016, 94 percent of all terrorist deaths were located in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. By contrast, Organisation for Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries experienced only 265 deaths in 2016.34

A little less than half (42 percent) of attackers had a clear operational connection to an established jihadist group—which was Daesh in most cases. Over the past decade, “lone-actor” terror attacks in OECD countries have increased from just one in 2008, to fifty-six in 2016. The greatest number occurred in the United States.35 Since 2006, 98 percent of all deaths from terrorism in the US were perpetrated by lone actors, leading to 156 deaths.36 This is a consequence of both technology enabling the decentralization of attacks and the systems-level impact of successful military interventions abroad, which can often cause domestic problems to emerge.

Border security does little to protect from lone actors, as 73 percent of these attacks were perpetrated by “homegrown” citizens of the country in which they committed the attack, according to Fear Thy Neighbor: Radicalization and Jihadist Attacks in the West.37 The study, conducted by The George Washington University Program on Extremism, the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism–The Hague (ICCT), also found that only 5 percent were refugees or asylum seekers at the time of attack. According to the same report, France suffered the highest number of attacks overall (17), followed by the United States (16). During this period only eight countries in Europe and North America were targeted. The other six include Germany (6), the UK (4), Belgium (3), Canada (3), Denmark (1) and Sweden (1).38

Incidents of domestic terrorism across Europe and North America, however, were dwarfed by the alarming numbers of foreign fighters who were flocking to the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria circa 2014. Based on its own investigations, a study by The Soufan Group, a security intelligence consulting firm, calculated that between 27,000 and 31,000 people had traveled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh and other violent extremist groups.39 Putting these numbers in perspective, Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), underscores that this surpasses the 20,000 foreign fighters who fought in Afghanistan during the ten-year Afghan-Soviet war.40 Numbers in The Soufan Group’s study—which are based on information directly provided by government officials, academic studies, and other research and reports by the United Nations and other bodies—corresponds with US intelligence estimates.

Daesh fighters, the majority of whom came from Arab states, represented eighty-six countries. Tunisia topped the list with 6,000, followed by Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey and Jordan, which each had between 2,000 and 2,500 fighters. France led the European Union with 1,700 recruits, followed by 760 fighters from the United Kingdom, another 760 from Germany, and 470 from Belgium, as of October 2015. Daesh’s more recent loss of control over its “state” and economic resources has correlated with a decline of in-flows and an exodus of foreign fighters—many of whom were drawn by both economic prosperity and an apocalyptic promise of victory. Given that the average rate of returnees to Western countries is now at around 20 to 30 percent, this presents a significant challenge to security and law enforcement agencies that must assess the threat they pose.41

At this point, we may begin to ask: If terrorism is defined as a tactic that attempts to achieve a political objective, is it reasonable to hypothesize that being more politically inclusive and reconciling those objectives might be more effective in deescalating violence? Especially if, ultimately, we deem (at least some of) those political objectives to be reasonable? Or is violent repression more effective and more conducive to our safety and security in the long run, even if it leaves grievances unresolved (at best) and exacerbates them (at worst)?

As you will find in later chapters, I argue that a long-term sustainable solution to counterterrorism necessitates a “less is more” military approach that is strongly reinforced with soft power and, more specifically, a pivotal emphasis on social, political, and economic inclusion. Assuming that the goal is to defeat terrorism and ensure greater human security, we may consider that true power is efficacy and the achievement of objectives using as little force as possible.

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“This book brings a refreshing alternative to the fiction that state force is the long-term solution to terrorism. A thoughtful, personal, and impressive analysis of why a broader approach to the challenge may yield more effective long-term outcomes.” 
—Sir Hugh Orde, OBE, QPM, former Chief Constable, Police Service of Northern Ireland

“In a refreshing and candid style that goes far beyond conventional analyses and commonly suggested solutions, Al Olaimy delivers a powerful counterargument on how to deal with terrorism. Insightful and persuasive, her book should be required reading for those in policy circles who routinely deal with strategies to combat terrorism.”
—Prof. Dirk Vandewalle, Dartmouth College

“As we face a global crisis of increased intolerance and exclusion, Leena makes a compelling case for a radical nonviolent approach to defeating terrorism that transforms our current oppressive measures into opportunities for greater peacefulness. Full of unorthodox approaches like invoking the use of religion as an antidote for violent extremism; exploring untapped collaboration between civil society, business, and the military; and even using love to demobilize a terrorist group—this is an important contribution and fascinating read that defies disciplines!”
—Kavita N. Ramdas, Director, Women's Rights Program, Open Society Foundations; Strategy Advisor, MADRE; cofounder of KNR Sisters; and former Strategic Advisor to the President, Ford Foundation

"A brilliant and fresh analysis of one of the most misunderstood global problems of our age – if you read one book on terrorism, choose this one.”
— Lisa Schirch, PhD, Editor of The Ecology of Violent Extremism: Perspectives on Peacebuilding and Human Security, and Senior Policy Advisor, Human Security at Alliance for Peacebuilding

“A provocative and concise examination of why we cannot bomb our way to ending terrorism. While the author is careful not to advocate for the absence of a hard security approach, she does a masterful job at highlighting many innovations that have proven effective in reducing and transforming political violence in various parts of the world and challenges the world to do much better and to have higher aspirations.”
—Craig Zelizer, PhD, founder and CEO, Peace and Collaborative Development Network; former Associate Director, Conflict Resolution Program, Georgetown University; and cofounder of Alliance for Conflict Transformation and TEAM Foundation

“An honest, comprehensive, and thoughtful critique highlighting and challenging stereotypes and assumptions about terrorism and violent extremism. A must-read for anyone involved in peace building and conflict resolution.”
—Eva Grosman, CEO, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, and Director for Public Affairs, Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, University of Oxford

“This is an insightful book. Compassion is not a word generally associated with terrorism, but the message needs to be heard. Bravo, Leena!”
—John Marks, coeditor of Common Ground on Terrorism and founder and former President, Search for Common Ground

“It could easily be argued that compassion is the number one leadership skill. Leena's suggestion of leading with compassion provides possibility for bringing opposing forces together. It is more than time for the world to recognize our shared humanity and Leena inspires us to do just that!” 
—J'Lein Liese, PhD, Managing Partner, Equanimity Leadership Solutions, and President, Foundation for Global Leadership, Inc. 

"Intelligent and intrepid work. Leena's effort to unearth a critical societal faultline is the first step towards building a post-fundamentalist future for our next generation."
—Tariq Cheema, Founder, World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists

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