A two-pronged approach to eliminating extremist terrorism is needed to destroy ISIS and prevent its reemergence.
The spread of radical extremist terrorism seems to be accelerating across the globe, and despite a lot talk, no one seems to have a clear plan to combat the rising death rates associated with it.
There is a good bit of the typical political double-speak about securing borders and vetting immigrants arriving in the country, and in other countries across Europe, but anyone that will stop for a few minutes to actually think about it, will soon agree those measures are not likely to prevent all terrorist attacks, though it will stop a few.
The utopian plan to change the hearts and minds of the radicals sounds like a perfect solution, except no one knows how to accomplish such an endeavor. The vast majority of extremists are born out of poverty and desolation, and become radicalized because of a lack of hope for any kind of future. So what can be done to provide them with an alternative to despair?
Then there are the advocates of the “bomb them back to the stone age” plan, but since that also includes the destruction of homes, cities, businesses and innocent victims, that philosophy actually may contribute to generating more despair and even more radicalization, along with hatred of the West. Unlike traditional armies, extremists rarely wave flags or wear distinctive uniforms that separate them from the civilians among which they are living.
And for every radical commander the Bush and Obama administrations have killed or captured, another has risen to take his place, and quite often, the act of killing the bad guy has led to the deaths of innocents in the surrounding area, further increasing the hatred for the Americans.
If you will forgive what some will perceive as being insensitive, the extremists are similar to ant populations. You can destroy the current mound, but the survivors will just re-group and build a new mound in a different place, increasing in numbers as they move. To destroy the colony, you have to kill the queen.
The queen in the case of radical extremism is money. Any army, traditional, guerilla or jihadist, has to have funds to operate. Weapons and ammunition must be purchased. Members have to eat. Transportation has to be provided to travel to places like France, Germany, Bangladesh or the United States. All of this takes cash.
Find the sources of the movement’s money and cut off the supply and the movement will die. Those in despair are not as likely to join an extremist group, if only increased despair is the final result.
I suspect we already know where the majority of the money that funds terrorism originates. I would be disappointed in the nation’s intelligence agencies if we did not. Likely, some of the cash flow starts out from sources otherwise friendly to the US or other countries, but it has to be made clear that this cannot continue. Let it become known that the consequences of supporting terrorism will be swift and deadly.
Our Arab allies in the region have to be on board as well. In fact, it would be most beneficial if those powers took the lead.
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But don’t just seize the resources and put the money into an increased weapons program, or the coffers of some nation’s leaders or independent contractors. Find a way to get the money directly to those who need it, bypassing any established government that is rife with corruption. Perhaps the use of chip cards, tied to a specific identity, that can only be used to buy food or household materials at coalition-run supply stores. Cards that could identify anyone attempting to trade them to purchase weapons or bomb-making materials.
Pull up any plant’s roots, and its fruits will die. Give those in the Middle-East something to live for, and they will be less likely to turn to death as a martyr as an option.
It can’t be done overnight, but it can’t be done at all if we don’t start.