Combating Terrorism

Combating Terrorism


Dr. Ali S. Awadh Asseri

(Former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon)


Root Cause of Terrorism

Almost all the leading works on terrorisn, including those emanating from Western academia and policy think tanks, underscore the significance of addressing the root causes of terrorism as a means for effectvely combating terrorism. The problem arise when they attempt to identify the root causes. For instance, Bruse Hoffman, the author of the 1998 book Inside Terrorism[1] is a known Western authority on religious terrorism. However, his discourse on religious terrorism is consistently marked by a major distortion, whereby religion is presented as a goal rather than as a means – which is actually the case – when it comes to analysing the rooot causes of the al-Qaeda-led internation terrorist wave of the 1990s and beyond. Huntington had also put religion at the core of his ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis pertaining to the relationship between ‘Islam and the West’ in the contemporary era. However, in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist events of 11 September 2001 in the United States, he was compelled to revise it by arguing, in a Newsweek article ‘The Age of Muslim Wars’,[2] that the root causes of international terrorism occurring in the name of Islam are essentially political, including among others,the unresolved conflicts of the Muslim world such as Palestine and the Muslim perceptions of the US practicing a policy of ‘double-standards’ towards these conflicts.

     Before discussing how th world is responding to international terrorism, especially what strategies Saudi Arabia and other Muslimcountries have adopted against domestic and international terrorism, it is important to pinpoint what the actual root causes of terrorism are. No counter-terrorism strategy, whether already operational or still in the conceptual stage, can ever succeed if it is not grounded in the due understanding of the root causes of terrorism, especially their relative potential for generating extremism and terrorism.


[1] Hoffman, op. cit.

[2] Samuel P. Huntington, ‘The Age of Muslim Wars’, Newesweek, December 2001 – January 2002.