On September 26, 2002, Maher Arar, a Canadian Citizen, was traveling back from Tunis to Montreal via New York, where he was fingerprinted, insulted, arrested, and imprisoned by the US officials. He was accused of suspected link to al-Qaeda. After 12 days he was deported, not to his home in Canada, but surprisingly to Syria, his country of birth. In Syria once again he was imprisoned and severely tortured to confess to his cooperation with terrorist groups: an allegation made by Americans!
Almost a year later Arar was released without any explanation and returned to his family in Canada. US officials never apologized nor provided any evidence to explain their "extra-legal" action. Instead they repeated the familiar argument that such precautions are inevitable to stop terrorism. There are still many mysteries about Arar's story that the Canadian public and media are trying to solve. However it is now fairly clear that Arar was not a terrorist, he was not a member of al-Qaeda and he did not know any one who belonged to this group. Arar was a victim of the new security policy in North America.
Unfortunately, Arar is not the only victim of the new policy. Many in the United States (and Canada) have been harassed, arrested and/or imprisoned by authorities, without any solid accusation. In most cases they are suspects merely because of their religion, colour of skin, or country of birth. In other words, the authorities terrorize the citizens and violate their basic rights for the sake of security or as a counter-terrorism action.
The problem is even more alarming at the international level where the governments are less accountable for their actions. The case of Iraq shows how the western governments feel free to gamble on the destiny of a nation in the name of "war on terrorism." They began the war with the claim of suspected weapons of mass destruction and links to 9-11 attacks, none of which proven to exist. Iraqis who every day watch the deepening mess in their country are victims of the new policy too.
Today it is amazingly difficult to distinguish between terrorism and counter-terrorism. Israel calls the assassination of Islamic militants "war on terrorism," no matter how many civilians are being killed in the process. The US, the pioneer of war against terrorism, is now considered as the terrorist state, not only in the Muslim world, but also by many scholars like Noam Chomsky and influential figures like George Soros. The Economist, an influential and ideological supporter of the aggressive counter-terrorism policy, now admits that post 9-11 approaches ”not only widened the differences between America and the rest of the world, but have also deepened divisions within the country itself”.A global opinion survey shows a steep plunge in the world's favourable view towards the US after the beginning of its so-called war on terrorism. Europeans, who after 9-11 showed a massive solidarity and support towards America, now consider the US as the second largest thread to the world peace (after Israel and in a tie with Iran and North Korea).
In brief, it is apparent that the current counter-terrorism approach, led by the United States, shares many similarities with the terrorism itself, and in some cases it is even indistinguishable. The terrorism is a problem that shouldn't be fought with having more violence. It has its motives and roots, which should be understood and resolved. I remember a placard held by an old lady in an antiwar demonstration in Toronto: WAR FEEDS TERRORISM, JUSTICE STARVES IT.