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Herbie Gomez . 

MANY people were hurt as a result of a bungled crude bomb attack at a train station in London on Sept. 15, 2017. Behind the botched job was Ahmed Hassan, a young Iraqi who sought “refuge” in the United Kingdom some two years earlier. He illegally entered the UK supposedly after receiving training from the Islamic State or Daesh. Interestingly, Hassan has blamed the UK for the death of his father.

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) has classified the Parsons Green train bombing as a case of “jihadist terrorism.”

The Hassan case shows how a terrorist organization used a young man’s resentment towards the UK and exploited, tweaked and twisted his deeply rooted beliefs to turn him into an irrational bomber determined to take as many innocent lives as possible. Luckily, only the primer charge detonated, creating a fireball that hurt some 30 to as many as 50 people, mostly due to burn injuries.

In March last year, British Judge Charles Haddon-Cave slapped Hassan with a 34-year imprisonment sentence. During that hearing, Haddon-Cave told Hassan: “Your intention that morning was to kill as many members of the British public as possible by planting the IED (improvised explosive device) on a busy commuter Tube train…

“You will have plenty of time to study the Koran in prison… the Koran is a book of peace… Islam forbids breaking the law of the land… Islam forbids terror.”

Clearly, the judge saw how Hassan’s twisted religious views and bad interpretation of the religious book factored in the botched attack. The judge wouldn’t have told Hassan that if that wasn’t the case.

I understand why everyone seems to be avoiding the subject of religion whenever there’s a terrorist attack. Christianity and Islam have had quite an ugly and very bloody history of religious divide, and that is something the civilized world has been trying to sweep under the rug.

The recent deadly attacks in Jolo, Sulu, for instance, have been blamed by President Duterte and the military on suicide bombers. But what is this “animal” called “suicide bomber”?

An entry in points out that suicide bombings since 2003 “have been mounted almost exclusively by groups espousing religious causes.” It cites the role of religion — or bad religious teachings — in justifying and persuading devotees to indiscriminately kill and become “martyrs.” It adds that in order “to overcome the natural aversion against taking one’s own life, militant groups (and the religious leaders and interpreters who speak for them) use faith to elevate their causes to religious crusades.

“In this way the act of suicide bombing becomes not a social or religious aberration but rather a sacred duty and obligation. At various times and for various reasons, communities have been manipulated into sanctifying those ‘martyred’ in suicide bombings and have become a source of new recruits. The reasons can include resentment against a perceived occupier or some other historical and social injustice as well as economic and social incentives for the families of martyrs.”

Perhaps, it is time that we call a spade a spade and acknowledge that the problem, while condemned and abhorred by civilized society, is a byproduct of religion. Whenever words like “faith,” “sacred duty,” and “martyrdom” and the promise of reward in the afterlife are used to justify abominable acts, there are unmistakable religious undertones.

While the peace-loving moderates call the suicide bombers “un-Islamic,” the extremists also see the moderates as collaborators and unfaithful to the religious cause or traitors who deserve capital punishment for their “apostasy” like the “infidels.” In a situation like this, when there is a stalement between two adherents of the same religion who can’t agree on dogma, there is no Pope-like figure who can tell them who is right and who is wrong. Now, that’s a problem.

Given all these, I really do not know how the creation of a new Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao can put an end to extremism and prevent the so-called radicalization of the Moro youth. How? I really wish that the problem and solution are 100-percent political, but I’m afraid they’re not just political. This time, I would be happy to be proven wrong. Pastilan.


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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