International and local terrorism: Who is responsible and what can we do? | July 6, 2015

Today we have reached a very alarming stage with all of humanity under the threat of terrorism. ISIS is the visible point of the iceberg that looms in our horizon. The recent attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait, France, Somalia and the on going terror attacks of ISIS in Iraq and Syria bring us to a very dangerous stage in our history.
Silsilah Dialogue Movement joins al-Azhar, the most prestigious and authoritative university in the Sunni world, the Vatican and the many other big and small organizations in the world which are openly raisiing their voices against terrorism and assailing the stand of “ambiguity of the international community”. It is indeed an alarming time in the history of humanity. The report of the United Nations tells us that more than 25,000 foreign fighters have travelled from at least 100 countries to areas such as Iraq, Syria, Libya and Pakistan to join ISIS. The UN report adds: “ This poses an immediate and long-term threat to global security”. The same report says that the number of the fighters has “Risen sharply by 71 per cent between the middle of 2014 and March 2015”.
It is increasingly clear that many countries – including the nations that are victims of terrorism – prefer the distinctions of ambiguous alliance, focusing particularly on economic interest and remaining silent on terrorism when they make businesses that are used for terrorism and violence . Al –Azhar condemned the “heinous” acts “ which violate “all religious and humanitarian norms”. It also appeals to the international community to “ defeat this terrorist thought by every possible means”. This appeal finds solidarity with the Vatican in searching for fast solutions, asking the “international community to confront and combat this threat to all humanity, and not wash their hands or worse, attempt to circumscribe it in regions far from their own country”. These countries today are also victims of the same violence almost every day.
This appeal to the international community is an occasion for us to share another similar and alarming situation that we are suffering in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao. There are groups in Mindanao that openly support the activity of ISIS and other international terrorist groups and they are “ our local terrorists” .
Who is behind all these acts of terrorism on the local level? If one goes among the simple people and ask, one can find answers. People know the truth, but are afraid to share this reality. Often we get alarming stories from them and most of the time they say what really is happening. Most of the business of arms and illegal activities of terrorism are often covered with the “silent blessing” of some leaders and some people in sectors entrusted by the society to protect the community. Some of them also benefit from the “gains of violence”. Many point the finger to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group present in some areas in the Southern part of Mindanao and Sulu area. For sure they have big responsibilities, they also have openly declared their support to ISIS and they have international, national and local linkages, but what is sad is that others are using the Abu Sayyaf for their own strategies. Abu Sayyaf has many faces and many leaders behind to cover up the many illegal activities and plans.

We hope that society does not search for solutions by adding only more security forces or by give arms to civilians to defend themselves.
Hopefully in this moment of fear and frustration on the international and local levels we will be able to make a deeper analysis of the situation and rethink about the meaning of life and the common good without making compromises with our “conscience” which is the voice of God printed in the heart of each human person. We hope that some religious leaders who are spreading divisions among Muslims and Christians are able to see the goodness in the religion of the other and encourage their followers to dialogue beyond religious differences, helping each other to see also the goodness of the other religions followed by many sincere people willing to join hands in the common walk for peace .
While many tend to put religions apart we are convinced that Christianity and Islam, as well as the other religions, can bring a positive contribution to our humanity if we sustain our vision of peace with the spirituality that each one can rediscover as the breath of humanity.
This deeper aspiration of each person is in crises because many are “silencing their consciences” . Thus, today we are exposed more to the “many viruses” of the society, including terrorism. Many are surprised why ISIS seams to be “ successful today” and attract the fantasy of many young people.
These and other possible reflections in this alarming moment of history teach us that we have to protect in a special way our young people from this terrible “virus of violence” . For this reason while the Silsilah Dialogue Movement joins the many voices of condemnation of terrorism and violence on the international, national and local level, we commit ourselves to do more to be closer to Muslim and Christian leaders, but especially to help the youth. There are already many good stories of youth who refused to join violent activities and groups. This helps us to continue to dream and believe that if all of us give our contribution, little or big, to build a culture of dialogue in society our vision of peace can still inspire us to do more for the future peace in our midst.

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