Ahvaz, Iran yesterday
My condolences to the people of Iran for yesterday's terrorist attack in Ahvaz, and I pray for the full recovery of the wounded. The attack killed by early estimates 29 and wounded 60. On the same day the Times of India announced that for the second year in a row India is the third largest recipient of terrorist attacks after Iraq and Afghanistan. This according to data released by the U.S. Department of State. Maoists carried out 53 percent of the attacks.
Yet there have been so many terrorist attacks in so many countries since 9/211 that I rarely mention specific ones anymore. Just this year in Afghanistan, in Kabul alone, there were at Wikipedia's last count 18 terrorist attacks.
So it's for three specific reasons I've mentioned the one in Iran. First, because I kept seeing headlines that read, 'Attack on military parade.' Excuse me, does the wounded child in the photo look as if he'd been marching in a military parade?
It was an attack during a military parade. The four perps didn't care who they shot; they just fired in the direction of the marchers on the street, which was lined with civilian onlookers, and/or at a reviewing stand filled with officials watching the parade.
Second, there's been so much inflamed rhetoric about Iran in recent months from my government that in the immediate wake of the attack, top Iranian officials fingered the U.S. as the prime suspect behind the attacks no matter who carried them out or why.
The officials had a good reason to leap to conclusions. The attack happened the day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Iran with direct retaliation if there were any more attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq.
So this is the Red Line in Syria redux. In today's uh, charged geopolitical atmosphere, anyone who hopes to provoke an American attack on Iranian sites just has to stage an attack on a U.S. site in Iraq -- or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter.
Third, because the attack in Ahvaz reminded me to point out that terrorism is now a profession, one that services a large number of players including governments and criminal cartels. Although the signs have been growing for more than a decade, an investigative report by Marcin Mamon, published in September 2016 by The Intercept, made it clear that the orthodox view of terrorism needed updating:
... Hakim and his colleagues are part of a new generation of fighters. They aren’t like the militia their fathers fought in during the first Chechen war, nor like the fighters from the Free Syrian Army in the first years of the civil war in Syria. Those men dressed in whatever clothing they had at hand, not Western sports brands. Their weapons were often outdated, heavily used surplus equipment discarded by a professional army. For those men, war was a temporary condition. They defended their families, homes, towns, and villages, hoping that when things died down, they would return to their former lives.
These young people, in their 20s and 30s, are already professionals. They’ve grown up with war and don’t have any other life to go back to, nor do they expect their lives will ever change. They are largely better equipped than their fathers. Most spend their savings on the best in wartime survival equipment, clothing, and weapons. They fight frequently on foreign soil.
Many of these younger men are known as “freelancers,” waging jihad from time to time. They join different groups; internationally and locally. They set aside money for a good weapon and ammunition. When they feel tired after a few months of combat — or they get sick — they go back to families they may have left behind in Turkey. They come back and earn some money, for example, by buying and selling weapons, and then return to Syria to fight. ...But the Syrian war revealed that many of these men are not only freelancers, they're mercenaries -- contractors. Ones who use terrorism simply as one of the tools of their trade. While that observation might not apply to Abdul Hakim -- he claims that he's in it for the jihad and doesn't attack "women, children, or the elderly" -- terrorism is now a profession. As such, the targets are as fungible as the employers and their motives.
Given that it's the employers who established the profession of terrorism, any chance of breaking it up rests with them. Would officially branding at least a quarter of the governments in the United Nations "State Sponsors of Terrorism" help in this regard?
* There is no such professional association -- at least I hope not.