Another Voice: Defeating ISIS requires a long-term strategy

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Originally posted on The Buffalo News

I have previously written in this space condemning radical and cowardly attacks. Again, with deep sorrow and frustration, we see that ISIS recently massacred nearly 170 people in attacks on the cities of Beirut and Paris one day apart. And this will not be the last time. Radicalization and its eerie reach are getting worse, and beating back this terribly complex monster will require a long-term, multidimensional solution that is conscionable and actionable.

Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the caliph of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, continually reminds his tens of millions of followers across 200 countries that loyalty to one’s country of residence is an article of faith. He has called for complete transparency, allowing and even recommending monitoring of activities and sermons in mosques around Britain to mitigate the threat of radicalization. British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken up the call. We pray that Britain remains safe and others follow the need of the hour.

One needs to bear in mind that after the folly of the second Iraq War based on erroneous information, the Middle East has come badly undone. Political strategy in the Syrian theater did not fare any better, even aiding radical groups like ISIS. And now with Russia’s entry into the theater it feels like a throwback to the Cold War, only not cold anymore. All this has led to a lethal mix of dysfunction, dislocation and a breakdown of social orders – an ideal breeding ground for ISIS.

Constituents in the United States and Europe need to push their government representatives harder to evaluate and adjust their relationships with governments like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which maintain draconian medieval laws such as death for blasphemy and apostasy while courting hate-spewing rogue clerics with their radical doctrines. The United States’ first Muslim Congressional Caucus, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus, continues to lobby for higher factoring of freedom-of-religion in U.S. foreign relations.

The Muslim population in Europe is a concern. It is already marginalized with low economic opportunity and high unemployment. And more refugees are pouring in. Programs are needed to assimilate them into society with vocational and cultural emphasis. Moderate Muslim imams need to step up their game and counter ISIS’ social media prowess with robust religious education that protects against radicalization.

Matters may worsen before they improve. However, the important thing for now is to identify a unified strategy that realizes the depth of the problem and puts forth a long-term, sustainable solution that hits all the bases.

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