What pirates have in common with terrorists
In this post I am being quite unjust to pirates, as they seem like angels when compared to terrorists. So don’t take this post literally.
Just had a thought that pirate criminals, like terrorist criminals, usually start with petty crime and then “upgrade” themselves to piracy/terrorism, not just because there is more money in it, but also more “respectability”.
For example, the 21 year old man captured in the recent Mumbai terror attacks, a man called Ajmal Amir Kasav, had taken up as a work as a labourer which he found “degrading.” The work was not enabling him to lead a life of comfort that he desired and plus he was not respected by the society and his family, or so he thought. So he started a new “career” in armed robbery…until one day he was picked up by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. They were willing to give him free arms and ammunition and other kind of commando training, plus loads of money, plus the “respectibility” of a cause. Not only did they give him all of this, they gave him a “a sense of belonging” that he never had in his family. And more frigteningly, when he came home during a 2-month break he “finds he is suddenly being treated with respect by his family and community kin.”
Now take the pirates. Desperately poor, living in a land where there is starvation, and people “killing one another in the streets of Mogadishu, the capital, for a handful of grain,” crime is not such a big deal. There isn’t as much money in it as much there is piracy though. So to piracy the criminals turn. It doesn’t just make them rich, it gives them “respect,” as well. Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean don’t help to dispel such notions. One 21 year old lady called Ms. Fatuma told a reporter of New York times proudly. “I’m now dating a pirate.”
When a terrorist or a pirate can look his near and dear ones in the eye and say I am a terrorist or I am a pirate, then it means that more and more recruits will be found for these activities. But can you imagine anyone telling her father or mother proudly, “I am now dating a mass murderer, a killer, a kidnapper or a thief”? Or a man telling his mom, “Look ma, I am a serial killer!”
I have always detested the word militant or terrorist, because I think these people delude themselves with ridiculous labels, when they are just plain criminals. If anything I would say psychotic and crazed mass murderers. The word “pirate” too has been romanticised. In actuality a pirate is no more than an armed robber, often violent and ruthless.
Another thing in common between terrorism and piracy are the reasons why they are so difficult to stamp out. Government complicity. Whether governments are directly involved or not is not the question because if elements in the government are involved and no action is taken against them, then its equally bad.
Take piracy. That same article in the New York Times says that there are “nefarious relationships among fishing companies, private security contractors and Somali government officials.” At the same time, no Somali government official admits they are on the take from “pirate proceeds”. But it is believed that the “pirate industry” is thriving with clandestine government support.
And when it comes to the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s connection with the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, everyone knows such a connection exists. While I am sure that the democratic government of Pakistan would like to see the end of Lashkar-e-Taiba, they cannot cut it out and throw it away as the ISI is part of the government too. The majority of Pakistanis maybe peaceloving people, but the government of Pakistan is surely doing them a disservice by not crushing the rogue elements in their own government.
So, we have both pirates and terrorists spawned like viruses amidst appalling poverty and political instability, but we need to know that not everyone becomes a pirate or a terrorist. Only the criminally inclined.
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