BY ROBERT MUNUKU
My attention shifts to a certain kind of individual, one who has an inborn knack for contaminating, manipulating and distorting known ideas, policies and philosophy to suit personal interest. He also does so to safeguard interests of his friends and the group of which he ascribes membership to. I call him the ideological terrorist.
A terrorist, simply understood, is one who terrorizes. But since it’s not proper to define a word using a variation of the same word, allow me to indulge you in a more comprehensive (but still simple) definition. Terrorism is used to describe a situation/process whereby a person/group/institution uses fear and intimidation, and in many cases violence, by coercing a group of individuals to push an agenda. Terror is a noun used to describe a state of ‘extreme fear’ and this is the terrorist’s primary tool.
A terrorist usually follows a set of beliefs which he believes to be true, just and right. You can say he has a philosophy one which he believes rationalizes his methods of achieving his objectives. Violence and intimidation are then used to coerce a group to accept and embrace the terrorist’s philosophy.
Now, let us look at a modern-day terrorist, the one described above. Such a person is more subtle in his terrorist ways but much more dangerous because, usually, he is in a position of power/authority and has a large audience at his behest. You could say he’s the opposite of what people call a charismatic leader – the differentiating factor being the ethos behind his cause for action. Unlike the classical terrorist he will not use violence and terror in a forthright manner, but rather he will twist existing models and paradigms to perpetuate the same. He has people ‘on the ground’ for the dirty work. This kind of terrorist is usually a politician, academician or powerful businessman.
Ideological terrorism demands the exploitation of ignorance in the masses. This makes manipulation and incitement possible – it is easy to persuade someone to do something when he/she is not well versed in the social and legal ramifications of what you want him/her to do.
Enough with the definition – let me give an actual example. Here in Kenya we have six individuals charged by the ICC for crimes against humanity. Three of them are politicians with party affiliations. Kenya is part of the ICC via an Act of Parliament (created in Parliament by members of Parliament). When ‘the 6’ were indicted, their fellow politicians turned against the Rome Statute and questioned its veracity and subsequently passed a Motion to have Kenya withdrawn from the ICC. This is ideological terrorism.
Example 2: Again, through an act of Parliament, Kenya revamped the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission under a new leader to fight cases of graft. However, when senior government officials were charged, the parliamentarians turned around and said, “KACC is targeting political parties”, and “the KACC director is biased.” More ideological terrorism – claiming an institution is bad when it goes against your personal interests.
Example 3: Occurs in the event one uses a situation where a wrong is done to champion a ‘right’ whereas in fact he is merely masking his true motives. A good example is drawn from the police shoot-out a few days ago where suspects were shot dead. Subsequently, a politician took advantage of the situation to discredit the government more by saying, “. . . this is the height of impunity” hence playing on the psychology of the moment to appear ‘good’.
That’s what an ideological terrorist does; he is a master of exploiting chaos – an opportunist in the hyena sense of the term ‘opportunistic’. Do not fall prey to this kind of thing, remember, knowledge is power.
(Robert Munuku is a social scientist by training and an investment research analyst by profession)