Excellent observations from Singapore’s Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean on the purpose of terrorism and the proper response. From the Straits Times, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
TO SUCCESSFULLY defend ourselves against terrorism, we first have to understand how terror actually strikes. At first glance, terrorism appears to be primarily a physical threat. A building here, an aeroplane there, markets, a train. However, the real target is not physical. It is psychological – it works on the mind. Terrorism strikes fear. It causes paralysis, and it shatters cohesion.
Al-Qaeda, through the 9/11 attacks, aimed to shatter the resolve of America so that they would reel in retreat. And this is how Al-Qaeda is working now to undermine the cohesion of the US-led forces in Iraq, by making threats to behead hostages and by constantly carrying out bombings. They are trying to break the will and cohesion of the coalition.
… the Al-Qaeda groups had offered a truce to the Europeans so that they will have time to reflect and withdraw from Iraq and this battle against Islamic extremists and terrorist groups. They have now declared this truce over and they have identified their next target, which is Italy and its Prime Minister. They want to break the coalition’s cohesion.
In the face of such threats, the Koreans and the Japanese have displayed considerable resilience in refusing to bow to the terrorist demands.
The stakes are high in Iraq. Iraq has become the major battlefront in the war on terror. Failure in Iraq will only embolden the extremists and spur them to go on the offensive elsewhere with renewed vigour.