Dr. Ali S. Awadh Asseri
(Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon)
TERRORISM IN THE NAME OF RELIGION
Never before had religion become the principal source of terrorism at the global scale as it has since the beginning of the 1990s. The 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States allegedly carried out by those who deviated from the path of Islam and joined the al-Qaeda terror network under the misguided leadership of Osama bin Laden thus far represent the optimal stage of trans-national terrorism.
These and a number of other successive attacks against Muslim and Western targets claimed by al-Qaeda and other deviant religious outfits reflect the likely enormity of this form ot terrorism in the twenty-first century.
Given the severity and volume of attacks carried out around the world by the deviant admirers or followers of Laden, the Western world seems to be preoccupied with Muslim fundamentalists or Islamic groups. We should not forget, however, that adherents of other religious traditions have been responsible for a significant number of terrorist attacks in recent years. In Israel, for instance, followers of the late Rabbi Meier Kahane were responsible for the execution of terrorist attacks or acts of ‘vigilante justice’ against Palestinians on the West Bank. These include the 1994 gun attack by Baruch Goldstein, a member of the right-wing Jewish group Kach, at the Al-Khalil Mosque in Hebron that killed thirty Muslim worshippers and injured dozens more. Extremists belonging to religion outside of the Abrahamic faiths have also practiced religious terrorism. In retaliation for what was perceived as desecration of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikhs resorted to assassinating the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that led to a wave of violence claiming more than 35,000 lives.