To create fear and confusion in the hearts and minds of people everywhere, to alienate them from their own humanity and their community so they can be manipulated to work for the wealth and power of a few. Xenophobia, blaming Muslims, race-baiting and hate is not the way to fight terrorism. In fact it is precisely what will keep us from an understanding of who we are. Xenophobia is really an inverted projection of ourselves - we project onto the other what we don't want to see in ourselves. Security and policing agencies are charged with the mandate to deal with the symptoms of terrorism - they cannot cure it or get rid of it.
2. Know who the terrorists are.
Terrorists are not just those who wear suicide belts, who plant bombs and who bring machine guns into public places. Ask who funds terrorist organizations? Who supports their ideologies with propaganda? Who inflames hatred and suspicion with words, images, policies, entertainments and games? Who lobbies governments to undermine democratic systems? Who conflates crises into racist 'causes'? Who are the institutions that work secretly with other institutions to centralize power through misinformation and ideology? While most of this demographic are not entering theatre halls with guns and bombs, they are all part of the industry that creates fear and encourages public disengagement, creating fertile grounds for the marginalized to seek radical 'solutions'. Ideologies that exclude large groups of people based on race, gender, and social orientation are the most effective feeders for terrorist groups.
3. What do terrorists hate?
While I don't personally know what all the men and women who have willingly joined a terrorist organization really love or hate, the message emanates from the action. Killing people you don't know is a very strong message that symbolizes what they hate. They hate the unpredictable. They hate diversity. They hate anything that questions their world view? They love unquestioning obedience and loyalty to a cause and the muths of perfection.
4. Know their weapons.
Their primary weapon is indoctrination that deadens thought and reflection. Guns and bombs are just the hardware to shut down all aspects of human nature, such as curiosity, language, art, love, friendship, empathy, generosity, and all the soft skills that contribute to civil engagement.
5. Know their victims.
The first victims are the volunteers who are trained to kill. PTSD is a sophisticated term to describe what happens to men and women who can no longer manage to live normal, emotionally fulfilling lives because their nervous systems have been cauterized by violence. The second victims are the families of those who have lost loved ones in terrorist attacks. The third victims are those who have lost limbs and lives. The fourth are the racial and religious minorities who are blamed for the violence because fear without access to healing is followed by hatred.
6. Know how to defeat them.
The only way to defeat them is to defeat their ideologies. Retribution keeps terrorists alive because it is the endless game of war and violence that becomes more entrenched and imperative with each generation under siege. The most fertile nations for terrorists are those who have been economically and culturally destroyed by war. Hegemonic systems create terrorism by making people refugees in their own country by turning all of nature, including human nature, into a resource to be exploited.
Once upon a time we might have debated the pursuit of equality and social justice as a kind of delusional idealism. Now the urgency of this call means we either build human capacities on a reverence for life or deliver the future into the hands of terrorists.