The recent terrorist attacks in London have done a number of things. One of them is that they have reminded the world that terrorism is alive and well and another is that it has renewed criticism of the Bush administration and their role in the war on terror.
There are numerous self-proclaimed pundits who believe that the war in Iraq has diverted valuable resources from the war on terror and that if Bush and company would have focused their efforts in one area there would be a distinct difference in the way things are today.
There are a couple of key points to address. It is misguided and patently false to suggest that if the US had not gone into Iraq there would be no terror. If you read Osama’s fatwa you will see that among the primary complaints is the presence of the US in Saudi Arabia and that it also dispels the misconception that he would not have been willing to work with someone like Saddam Hussein.
“The people of Islam awakened and realised that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about “Human Rights” were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world.
The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places -the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka’ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims- by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies. (We bemoan this and can only say: “No power and power acquiring except through Allah”).”
In the next excerpt Osama spells out that he is willing to work with the non-righteous (ie Saddam and others) because it serves what he sees as a greater purpose.
“Ibn Taymiyyah , after mentioning the Moguls (Tatar) and their behaviour in changing the law of Allah, stated that: the ultimate aim of pleasing Allah, raising His word, instituting His religion and obeying His messenger (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is to fight the enemy, in every aspects and in a complete manner; if the danger to the religion from not fighting is greater than that of fighting, then it is a duty to fight them even if the intention of some of the fighter is not pure i.e . fighting for the sake of leadership (personal gain) or if they do not observe some of the rules and commandments of Islam. To repel the greatest of the two dangers on the expense of the lesser one is an Islamic principle which should be observed. It was the tradition of the people of the Sunnah (Ahlul-Sunnah) to join and invade- fight- with the righteous and non righteous men. Allah may support this religion by righteous and non righteous people as told by the prophet (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM). If it is not possible to fight except with the help of non righteous military personnel and commanders, then there are two possibilities: either fighting will be ignored and the others, who are the great danger to this life and religion, will take control; or to fight with the help of non righteous rulers and therefore repelling the greatest of the two dangers and implementing most, though not all, of the Islamic laws. The latter option is the right duty to be carried out in these circumstances and in many other similar situation. In fact many of the fights and conquests that took place after the time of Rashidoon, the guided Imams, were of this type. (majmoo’ al Fatawa, 26/506).”
I think that it is important to read what he says and to try understand what principles guide him. It is not because I think that this is a case of him being a poor misunderstood, misguided and oppressed soul either but because he provides key information on what his goals and objectives are.
And to that end I’d like to point out again that the people who work as part of AQ tend to be smart, educated and from the middle class or above. It is significant because this is a war of ideology.
Take a look at this excerpt from USA Today:
“We are as certain as we can be that four people were killed and they were the four people carrying bombs,” Blair said.
His comments were the first public confirmation from police that the July 7 attackers were suicide bombers. Bombs exploded on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, killing at least 53 people, including the attackers.
Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist branch, on Thursday identified the suspected suicide bomber who blew up the double-decker bus, killing 13 people, as Hasib Hussain, 18. Clarke also said Shahzad Tanweer, 22, was responsible for attacking a subway train between the Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations. Both are Britons of Pakistani descent.
News reports have identified the other two as Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, another Briton of Pakistani descent, and Lindsey Germaine, a Jamaican-born Briton.”
These are men who were living in the UK and enjoying the benefits of living there. The BBC has compiled profiles on each of them. Here is a brief on one of them:
“Mohammad Sidique Khan had lived in the Beeston area of Leeds until recently, when he moved to Lees Holm in Dewsbury.
He is believed to have been married with a very young daughter, with newspapers naming his wife as teacher Hasina Khan.
The 30-year-old had been a teaching assistant at Hillside Primary School in Leeds since 2002.
Parents at the school told the BBC the teaching assistant had been highly regarded by both children and parents.
“He was a good man, quiet,” said one parent, speaking outside the school.
“When I told my daughter she said ‘no, he can’t do something like that’. I had to go and buy the paper and show her.”
Another parent, Sharon Stevens, told the Press Association how he had been a “big supporter” of pupils and parents.
“He was really understanding and he did work for the children and parents.”
One of the challenges in fighting an ideological battle is that it can take ordinary citizens and turn them into combatants. It can grab the man off the street and twist his thoughts so thoroughly that he doesn’t mind murdering his friends, neighbors and fellow citizens because they are no longer important to him.
Just look at what the man who murdered Theo van Gogh said
“After the prosecution’s closing statement Bouyeri, who had refused to say anything about his motives during the trial, took the opportunity to make a final statement.
“I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same,” he said, speaking slowly in sometimes halted Dutch.
He said he felt an obligation to Van Gogh’s mother Anneke, present in court, to speak, but offered no sympathy.
“I have to admit I do not feel for you, I do not feel your pain, I cannot — I don’t know what it is like to lose a child,” he said as Van Gogh’s family and friends looked on.
“I cannot feel for you … because I believe you are an infidel,” he added.
“I acted out of conviction — not because I hated your son.”
It is time for people to wake up and understand that this is going to take time, that this is going to be a long, drawn out process and that you cannot apply your morality to these people and expect to make sense. They do not thing as we do.
Just to be clear, I do not think that all Muslims are bad or that they have all bought into this fundamentalist perspective, but I do think that we better get tougher and more aggressive about identifying the players.
Daniel Pipes wrote a very interesting column that ties into this called The Next London Bombing.
In it he refers to a British report called Young Muslims and Extremism.
The following is from Pipes assessment of the report.
- “A number of extremist groups are actively recruiting young British Muslims” (pdf 1, p. 10).
- These “extremist recruiters” are “circulating among university-based religious or ethnic societies” (pdf 1, p. 5; pdf 2, p. 10).
- “By and large, most young extremists fall into one of two groups: well-educated undergraduates or with degrees and technical professional qualifications in engineering or IT; or under-achievers with few or no qualifications, and often a criminal background” (pdf 2, p. 9).
- “Often disaffected lone individuals unable to fit into their community, will be attracted to university clubs based on ethnicity or religion, or be drawn to Mosques or preaching groups in prison through a sense of disillusionment with their current existence” (pdf 2, p. 12).
- Islamist terrorists include “a significant number” who come from “liberal, non-religious Muslim backgrounds” or who converted to Islam in adulthood (pdf 2, p. 9).”
The number of potential terrorists that they estimate to be in the UK is frightening. As Pipes says:
“The point that most of all interested me, however, in reading Young Muslims and Extremism is where it draws on MI5 information to make this astonishing statement:
Intelligence indicates that the number of British Muslims actively engaged in terrorist activity, whether at home or abroad or supporting such activity, is extremely small and estimated at less than 1% (pdf 2, p. 9).
If one accepts the report’s estimate (pdf 2, p. 5) that the Muslim population of Great Britain numbers 1.6 million, then up to 16,000 “British Muslims actively engaged in terrorist activity.”
“Extremely small”? Excuse me, but that number strikes me as an extremely large.
That the British authorities do not recognize that they should worry about thousands of terrorists in their midst is reason to worry what planet they inhabit. Their waffling, myopia, and general incompetence make one despair for their country.”
I am very concerned about where this is all heading and wonder if we are not going to be forced into accepting some form of racial profiling. Call me crazy, but there seems to be a very clear pattern here that we can use to identify potential terrorists. I’d prefer to be proactive, but readily admit that profiling is uncomfortable.