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Why Recent Terror Attacks are Devastating for Peace

Over the weekend of September 21-22, 2013, it seemed that one could not turn on the news without seeing the effects of global terrorism. This weekend was plagued with attacks that are not only detrimental to the countries where they occurred, but for the call for worldwide peace. In case you missed a few details of the attacks, the largest ones occurred in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya and at a church in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The siege of the Nairobi mall began on Saturday, when “some 10 to 15 gunmen stormed the mall, shooting indiscriminately, according to witness accounts” (via CNN).

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(Photo credit: CBS News)

The death toll is now at least 67, not including some militants. The Kenyan government has declared the siege over, but gunshots have still been ringing out from the area surrounding the mall. Terrorist group al-Shabab is responsible for the attacks. The group claims the government used chemical weapons to end the siege, then collapsed the building to bury the evidence, trapping over 130 people inside. The government refutes these claims (via AP).

A suicide bombing at a church in Islamabad, Pakistan killed at least 81 people Sunday. CBS News says the attacks are “thought to be Pakistan’s deadliest attack on members of the faith.” Angry Christians took to the streets Monday to protest the act of violence.

130923-pakistan-protest-hmed-730a.photoblog600(Photo credit: NBC News)

These attacks come on the heels of an alleged chemical weapons attack on Syrian citizens by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. According to Al Jazeera, UN Chemical Weapons Inspectors are back in Syria to determine how many times chemical weapons have been used in Syria’s 30-month long conflict. There are 14 alleged incidents where the weapons were used. The group confirmed last week that there was “clear evidence that sarin gas was used in an attack in the Eastern Ghouta neighbourhood near Damascus on August 21” (via Al Jazeera). US estimates put the death toll over 300 people.

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(Photo credit: Reuters)

The issues here are way more complex than they seem. Don’t get me wrong: any deaths, including the deaths of innocent civilians, are a huge loss for humanity. No one expects to go to church or a mall and never come back home. I would bet none of the victims woke up that morning and decided to take a shopping trip, knowing they would never sleep in their beds again. These events are tragic and the significance of that can never been underestimated.

The larger issue here is these attacks are detrimental to an international quest for peace. Countries around the world are developing to become successful, flourishing nations.  Previously poor countries are learning the value of natural resources and becoming beacons of trade. Access to technology and clean water is spreading, improving global healthcare. But a society cannot begin to reach its potential when human beings are willing to take the lives of other human beings to make a point.

If terrorism groups continue to attack innocent civilians, there cannot be peace. If countries continue to bomb each other to get what they want, there cannot be peace. Until we realize that there is much more to be gained from working together than fighting, there cannot be peace.

There is scientific proof one country used chemical weapons on its own people. In my vocabulary, that is what I would call genocide: a deliberate killing of a targeted group of people. And I’m not the only one who sees it this way:

“No matter how we act going forward, we are still left with the fact that we failed to intervene while more than 100,000 innocent Syrians were killed. One more genocide has come to pass.” -Jeff Greene, CNN.com

“Unless the international community can treat this crisis as genocide and ponder long and hard about its long-term effects, it is highly unlikely that they will realize the need for ceasing violence and restoring some kind of order.” -Counterpunch, Online news

“…we are “not only talking about the humanitarian situation which is almost a catastrophe” but sectarianism which is frightening with “the possibility of having a large genocide, it’s there.” –HumanRightsInvestigations.org

“In close analysis, it becomes clear the crisis in Syria is not solely about the use of chemical weapons, but how the targeted use of these weapons falls under the category of genocide.” -WorldPolicy.org

At the end of the day, the truth is still there: we will never know when or where the next inhumane attack like this will occur. The United States may have heightened security measures, but planes are not the only way to cause damage. Countries may keep a terror database and monitor powerful extremist groups, but no one can predict a suicide bomber. These attacks have served as a reminder to everyone that attacks can and will happen when you least expect it. And the fear that lingers in the minds of citizens across the country is the reason why peace cannot be achieved.

Courtney Doll