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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Terrorist Attack On Mumbai

Firstly - my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Lo Hwei Yen who was killed during the terrorist attack on Mumbai.

With this recent attack came a flood of shocking images - of people huddling low in the streets, of fire at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, of the bodies of tourists lying in pools of blood, of under-equipped policemen sporting WW2-era Lee Enfield rifles against the Kalashnikovs of the terrorists, of commandos storming the hotels from hovering helicopters...

However, this is arguably the most gripping image of the tragedy:

The photo of a young Pakistani terrorist walking around a railway station casually with an AK-47 was used by news agencies throughout the world, and is usually accompanied by commentary expressing surprise at the youthfulness and carefree attitude of these attackers.

Here at Fresh Brainz, we are not surprised by either aspect.

Young men have been and will continue to be choice tools of terrorist leaders, having the physical vigour, mental bravado, tendency to embrace a black-or-white worldview, and the innate bloodlust necessary to carry out savage attacks on unarmed civilians.

Instead of feeling burdened by responsibility of carrying firearms (as any of us who have been through military service will attest to), when given free rein to shoot anyone on sight by their leaders, these young terrorists become empowered by them, perhaps conferring a sense of confidence and invulnerability that they have never felt before.

The simplistic worldview, the absence of introspection, the total abrogation of personal responsibility, the utter lack of curiosity about the consequences of their actions...

The product is a killing machine with unquestioning obedience to authority, acting in unitary force.

The result is death, devastation and anguish.

If only there was a way to advise them to stop, to think for a few seconds and ask themselves some tough questions such as these:

"Is there any other way?"

"Is that random person on the street really my enemy?"

"Will this attack really help my allies, or will it cause them even more suffering?"

"Will this attack really defeat my enemy, or will it strengthen their resolve or even create more enemies?"

"If this attack will really bring so much glory, why don't the leaders do it themselves?"

Locked within the terrorist group culture and power structure, it might have too late for them to change their minds even before they set off on their deadly mission. Without changing this culture that clamps down on free inquiry and critical thinking, it will always be an uphill task to combat terrorism.

Would you like to know more?

In Memoriam: Ms. Lo Hwei Yen (Facebook)

Muslim graveyard refuses to bury terrorists in Mumbai (Times Online)