21 Apr 2005

The Power of Nightmares

The Power of Nightmares

The threat of the evil-doers is now being used to invade schools and remove civil liberties from Singaporeans. Cameras in lecture halls, sounds like someone is frightened of what may be said in those rooms. The threat from 'terrorism' is the fear of an idea. When will the cameras be removed? Is there a timeline for installation and 'removal'?

Who will protect Singaporeans from their so called protectors?

The press became accustomed to publishing scare stories and not retracting them; politicians became accustomed to responding to supposed threats rather than questioning them; the public became accustomed to the idea that some sort of apocalypse might be just around the corner. "Insecurity is the key driving concept of our times," says Durodie. "Politicians have packaged themselves as risk managers. There is also a demand from below for protection." The real reason for this insecurity, he argues, is the decay of the 20th century's political belief systems and social structures: people have been left "disconnected" and "fearful".

The making of the terror myth

Singapore, 21 April (AKI) - Singapore is unlikely to experience a Bali-style attack, said Rohan Gunaratna, head of Singapore's International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. The recent discovery of a letter, written by a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiya (JI), said the group was planning an attack similar to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that left 202 people killed. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), Gunaratna said Singapore is well protected against such violence but cautioned that Jemaah Islamiya's operations in the Philippines and Indonesia are still going strong.

"Singapore's law enforcement is very professional," said Gunaratna. "It is unlikely there will be an attack because of the effectiveness of the Singapore authorities who have totally dismantled the robust Jemaah Islamiya network." Gunaratna was referring to the three raids carried out by Singaporean authorities in December 2001, where JI operatives were arrested, and the steps Singapore has taken to help others in the region deal with terror cells.

However, the methods of JI have changed as well. Singapore's Home Minister Wong Kan Seng has said that the terror groups have begun to use Caucasions and converts to Islam who do not fit the terrorist profile and would be less easily identified.

"Within al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, counterprofiling is well developed, so that their techniques and styles are meant to operate below the radar profile," said Gunaratna who agreed with the observations of the Singaporean authorities. "They operate in such a way that they cannot be detected." For example,a few JI members are people of Chinese origin who have converted to Islam, said Gunaratna. He added that JI has close links to groups in North Africa and Muslim converts in Europe, who do not belong to the traditional profile of a JI operative.

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