Important to drill down to causes of modern-day terrorism

File photo of “gunmen” attacking commuters at Changi Airport MRT station during a counter-terrorism exercise "Exercise Northstar", on Oct 17, 2017.
File photo of “gunmen” attacking commuters at Changi Airport MRT station during a counter-terrorism exercise "Exercise Northstar", on Oct 17, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

In our efforts to counter terrorism more effectively, it may be helpful to examine its causes, especially in relation to its present day proliferation (The global threat forecast for 2019; Jan 1).

The United States-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq early in the 21st century have gravely destabilised the Middle East, unwittingly turning such lands into fertile grounds for the growth of extremist organisations.

What is it that makes one vulnerable to radicalisation? Is it inequality? Is it injustice? Is it an unaddressed festering sense of disenchantment and disgruntlement?

In South-east Asia, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. In their desperation, they could prove to be prime recruiting targets for terrorist groups.

The West has birthed its own terrorist groups, from the Red Army Faction in Germany to the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

Racism and nationalism, under the guise of patriotism, have also been used to incite tension between different groups of people in the US.

Singapore will one day find itself facing a terrorist attack. As unnerving as it may sound, it is the resilience and unity of our people that will determine how quickly the nation can return to normalcy.

Equipping ourselves with knowledge on what to do prior, during and after an attack will be key in such stabilisation endeavours.

Lily Ong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2019, with the headline 'Important to drill down to causes of modern-day terrorism'. Print Edition | Subscribe