San Bernardino massacre a mind game

Hemant K Batra HJC Gen Secy

The city of San Bernardino in the state of California is in the lap of a beautiful valley, which indigenous tribes people originally referred to as “The Valley of the Cupped Hand of God”. But, sadly on the 2nd December of 2015, this God’s own city of valley echoed with multiple gun shots followed by screams of people some dying while some hanging between life and death.

Under the false belief of ‘in the name of Allah’, Syed Rizwan Farook and his not so better half Tashfeen Malik pumped endless bullets from their automatic weapons into God’s own people. This is just the backdrop but not the real predicament.

I was watching CNN news yesterday and I learnt that a major research is going on in one of the prestigious US based universities where it is being established that two humans can communicate between themselves though their brain waves while sitting miles away and not even talking or communicating through typed words. Such is the capacity of brain and this experiment is moving towards success. This proves my point, which I have been pondering for several months – what if terrorism starts operating though minds and thoughts? No security agencies no matter how prudent and no intelligence wings no matter how alert would be able to preempt or prevent the actions of mind (of terrorists).

This is what exactly happened in San Bernardino, two individuals – that too husband and wife and also being parent of a small child got absolutely corrupted and radicalized for reasons best known only to them. Human minds are always open to conviction, they are like soft disks, which can be stored with huge data of thoughts, ideas and opinions. The best part is that these mind disks can be erased and re-stored with absolutely contrary data than was earlier stored in their minds.

Terrorists can surely be killed but not the terrorism and radicalism. The global military powers have to rework on their strategies. The modern war is against the minds of the radicalized or to be radicalized. In this digital world, information cannot be curtailed or censored, hence, one would need to win over these people who are harboring venom in the name of religion and for reasons of suffering by their people. I absolutely and in no two minds to support President Obama’s recently aired views that the war is not against Islam; and it should not be portrayed as America versus Islam because there are millions of believers of Islam who are against killings of innocent on either side. At the end, we all belong to same specie, race called ‘humans’. We are neither ‘demons’ nor ‘devil’.

Its not easy rather its quite impossible to screen the people who have never had any past criminal or radical track record. One fine day, anybody can just decide to become a suicide weapon and kill people around him or her. You cannot insulate the ordinary work or living places. One of your own can take away your life; hence, what do you do? whether pre-planned or spontaneous – its mind game.

The solution, in the current circumstance is psychological. Orientation with love and affection. If you read my article Collateral damage, Dilemma and ISIS’ so called revolution, I have categorically mentioned that ISIS is playing mind game – “ISIS is operating in a fashion that the whole world gets divided into Muslims and non-Muslims. The recent acts of ISIS have led to marginalization and isolation of the Muslim community in Europe (to some extent), which is what ISIS wants. They want Muslims globally to be discriminated against so that the community gets more and more affected, hence, united; and eventually claim their own world of brotherhood.”.

It is important that we all regardless of our religion etc. remain united and try identifying affected people so that they can be made to revert to normalcy. People in the Muslim world need to be comforted as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have undoubtedly suffered a lot in past more than a decade. These countries were modern and beautiful with people living with a high life style. These countries are getting reduced to ashes so some people have a reason to retaliate. But, its the world’s duty to restore their lives back. International polity has led to millions loosing lives by guns and bombs. I am sure nobody would have envisaged this world for our children. I was recently visiting one of the Gulf/Arab countries. I was having a hair cut in a saloon and the hair dresser who was trying his best to give some density to my ever thinning hair said that he was actually a Syrian. He with moist eyes shared with me that he came from a very affluent family but as nothing was left back home, he had to become a barber or hair dresser to earn livelihood. Nobody is eventually happy or accomplished by remaining away from home.

New revelation reveals that Syed Rizwan Farook’s father had learnt about his radical views but he chose to let it pass. Had he informed the authorities to keep a watch on him, perhaps the San Bernardino massacre could have been averted. But, obviously one cannot hold the father guilty; however, its an eye opened for many to keep their eyes and ears open. And be diligent.

I would end my article by one last statement that no problem ever got originated without human intervention. The problem in hand is man made and solution will also have to be man made. Hot iron can only be broken by iron hammer but it is given firm shape by cold comforting water. We are here not to break but to shape.

P.S. I will soon be writing about how ISIS and ISIL are drawing huge support from the Sunnis. How they are becoming integral part of the society. I don’t know who was foolish enough to think that Muslims will get divided between Shias and Sunnis. That thought and strategy was too dangerous and perhaps boomeranged.


Author: Hemant Batra*

*Hemant Batra is an Indian lawyer with nearly 24 years’ experience in diverse legal assignments. He is founder of a renowned international law firm and is also secretary general of saarclaw; he is recipient of mahatma gandhi seva award and is a visiting faculty to leading educational institutions; his profile can be accessed by clicking

New Delhi, India