Interview With Loretta Napoleoni, Author of many books on Terrorism and Economics

the voice that alarms the world…
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Loretta Napoleoni, born in 1955, is a journalist and political analyst from Italy. She is best-known for her books on terrorism and terror funding. She has authored many books on the topics related to terrorism and economics related to terrorism. 

An M.Phil. in Terrorism Studies from London School of Economics, Loretta Napoleoni is also a contributor to many reputed newspapers and news channels. Her published works include – Rogue Economics, Terrorism and the Economy, Modern Jihad, Democracy for Sale, The Islamist Phoenix, Maonomics, The Insurgent Iraq and many others.

Alok Mishra: Loretta, the first question that I would like you to answer is that what inspires you to write the books you write? Altogether, you seem to have created a new genre – realistic terrorism literature and people do read you; how do you feel about it?   

Loretta Napoleoni: Though I am a trained economist and worked for several years in the City of London, I ended up working on the financing of terrorism for personal reasons. My childhood friend became a leader of the Red Brigades and when they declared the end of the armed struggled, in 1992, she suggested that they talked to me to tell their story.  I changed career because I wanted to understand why my friend had become a terrorist. I do not look at members of armed organizations as monsters or psychopaths, I look at them as people who, like my childhood friend, choose violence to achieve a political goal.

I am glad people read my books because I am writing them to show another side of current affairs. I am doing it also to leave a testimonial for the future generations of what really happened. Yiu know history is written by the winners, but people like me can contribute a little to unveil their lies.

Alok Mishra: As someone curious to know more, I would really like to know one thing from you – when people say that please keep religion and terror apart, is it justified? How do you actually see the ‘Islamist Terrorism’ and its recent rise?  

Loretta Napoleoni: Religion is an ideology which can be used to justify terrorism, so you cannot say that religion has nothing to do with violence, on the contrary, it has been used many times to justify violence.

Islamist terrorism is like Marxist terrorism or Nazism and Fascism, people believe that violence is the only way to change things. You are from India, so you know what Gandhi did, he tried to channel a strong resentment away from violence into a peaceful movement. Today we do not have anybody like him but also the historical distance from the last war is too big for an experiment like this to be repeated. People are angry, very angry!

Alok Mishra: Going through your books, especially Modern Jihad, I could assess that mainstream economic force is also involved in strengthening terrorism. If this is what it is, can terrorism end completely?   

Loretta Napoleoni: No! Terrorism is part of politics; it may be tamed for a while but it will keep coming back. And, in democracies, the minorities will always feel cheated, it is inevitable. When conditions are ripe, minorities will resolve to violence to make their voice heard.

Alok Mishra: You have lost your father and grandmother while writing the book Rogue Economics. It was sad and you have mentioned that you too had to suffer ‘aspects of rogue economics’ in your personal life. So what’s that rogue economics? It’d be great if you can explain the phrase in your words.   

Loretta Napoleoni: Rogue Economics is a feral force which turns the economy into our enemy, us the middle class, the working class, the 99 percent of the population that today is less well off than before 1989. Globalization produces it because of deregulation. It is a deeply unfair and unjust force which justifies unethical and immoral behaviours.

Alok Mishra: Loretta, it has almost been more than three decades that you have been following terrorism and this ‘terronomics’. Coming to the present, we all know it has only increased. What do you suggest? Has it been on the loose from the side of world’s greatest powers or it has forged its own path?    

Loretta Napoleoni: I think it has forged its own path also thanks to globalization and technological changes. What is shocking is that crime and terrorism have ripped the benefits of such major changes while we have ended up being the victims of it. I am not sure the world’s greatest powers could have done something about it once rogue economics had been unleashed.

I will tell you something that perhaps you do not want to publish. In these circumstances, only a major war can reset the clock.

Alok Mishra: As an Indian, I will say that we have been one of the most suffering nations. How do you our country and terrorism in its proportion?   

Loretta Napoleoni: Yes, you are absolutely right, you have suffered so much… I believe that the mistake was to embrace the Western model, i.e. post-1989 capitalism. India is a very large country, densely populated, with profound differences from region to region. It would have been better off with a China style communism, but that would have been very difficult, if not impossible, due to the colonization baggage you carry.

Alok Mishra: The world has seen Donald Trump gaining the entry to the White House. Do you think it will be a gain for the war against terror? And also, if you could please comment on the Indian PM Narendra Modi’s policies against terrorism.  

Loretta Napoleoni: Trump will delegate most of the anti-terrorism policies to Putin, Putin will turn Syria into the new Chechnya, il will be a genocide even bigger than the one we have seen until now. And this will unleash more attacks all over the world, perhaps not immediately but soon.

Modi’s policies against terrorism are short term and what we need is a long-term solution. But nobody, no politician will look at the long term, they are not interested. So I would say his policies will not work.

Alok Mishra: You have written many books on terrorism and terror funding. You have written about the Westerns as well as the Eastern part of the world and their relation to terrorism. Your books are interesting and also informative for those who want to know the real truth. However, do you ever care how the governments or those whom you ‘expose’ in your books will react to your writings?

Loretta Napoleoni: Not really! I write for the future generation so I know that I will not be celebrated by the current governments. What bothers me, what makes me feel sad and hurts me is how some journalists and people attack me for what I say, that is not nice and that sometimes makes me question why do I do what I do.

You must understand that this is a very very solitary work. In the 1930s people like me was part of a group, of a movement, today I am alone. People like me are very few and do not link up, many are afraid and others have agendas.

Alok Mishra: A big question – how can we really stop terrorism?

Loretta Napoleoni: By producing societies where people are all equal, by ending privileges and wealth inequalities… that is Utopia, it will never happen.

Alok Mishra: And at last, thanks for your time and answering all the questions! All the best for your future writings and I’ll be following what you bring next! Thank you, Loretta!

Loretta Napoleoni: Thank you, it was really nice answering your questions, you clearly have done your work and understood what I do.