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The London Blasts

 

The London Blasts: Denial Monitor

Denying (Or Affirming) The Political Basis Of Al Qaeda

 

The point of this monitor is to enable activists to intervene to try to put some key facts into the public domain. The main key fact we are focusing on at the moment is the conclusion of the government's own secret report 'Young Muslims and Extremism' that the war in Iraq, and British foreign policy in general, is the reason for increased support for terrorism among young Muslims in Britain. For more details, please see Pressurising the Media.

 

Please check today's Media Review. Thank you.

 

DENIAL Anatole Kaletsky (14 July)

The Times columnist writes, 'The most important conclusion to be drawn from the bombers’ banal backgrounds is that these killings should be treated as pure criminal acts with no political significance whatsoever. The only point of trying to understand the political or religious motivations of the bombers is to identify and pursue any accomplices, a task that is best left to police and forensic psychologists. For politicians, media commentators and community leaders to try to understand or explain the killers’ motives is not only to glamorise these suicidal misfits as religious or political martyrs, but also to mislead ourselves about the true reasons for their acts.'

'It certainly did not occur to anyone after the Oklahoma bombing to apologise for the racial desegregation which had provoked the American neo-Nazis and their ideological antecedents, the Ku Klux Klan. Nobody suggested abolishing affirmative action or banning Jews from public office on the grounds that racial mixing and the prominence of Jews was angering white supremacists and acting as “a recruiting sergeant” for more neo-Nazi terrorists who might copy McVeigh.'

'Should the political sensitivities and religious aspirations of jihadist killers be treated with any greater respect? The answer is clearly, no.'

JNV: If the political demands behind al Qaeda were unjust, they should be resisted. But withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, pressure on Russia over Chechnya, justice for the Palestinians, are all things that we should achieve because they are right.

 

To engage in debate on these issues, please email the Times letters page (with your full postal address and daytime phone number).

 

REALISM Roula Khalaf (14 July)

In the Financial Times, outstanding correspondent Roula Khalaf asks the crucial question: 'why are young people like last Thursday's bombers alienated enough to be swayed by radical religious ideology?' She reports, 'Experts cite a series of factors, ranging from social deprivation, to cultural disenchantment, and a sense of deep injustice harboured by many Muslims during the past five years of the war on terror. Opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was strongly felt among European Muslim communities.'

 

To engage in debate on these issues, please email the Financial Times letters page (with your full postal address and daytime phone number)

 

REALISM Seamus Milne (14 July)

Seamus Milne, editor of the Guardian Comment page, writes an article entitled 'It is an insult to the dead to deny the link with Iraq'.

 

To engage in debate on these issues, please email the Guardian letters page (with your full postal address and daytime phone number).

 

SEMI-REALISM Johann Hari (13 July)

Johann Hari writes about his encounters with terrorists and suicide bombers in his column in the Independent (page 27 or paid-for access here): 'Some people are saying these massacres of civilians were simply mindless psychopathy, with no more purpose than Fred and Rosemary West's butchery of young girls in Gloucester. That is wrong. These were vile acts of political murder, emerging from a political context created, in part, by Western statecraft and driven by political goals. It is always better to know what you are up against.'

 

To engage in debate on these issues, please email the Independent letters page (with your full postal address and daytime phone number) or email Johann Hari (there is more discussion of his views here).

 

 

SEMI-REALISM Steve Richards (12 July)

Steve Richards writes in his column in the Independent (page 29 or paid for access) that 'The debate about whether the war against Iraq has made Britain a target for terrorists goes around in inconclusive circles. But while the opponents of the war cannot prove a connection, Mr Bush and Mr Blair are in no position to argue credibly that the conflict has improved security in Iraq and around the world.'

 

JNV: Time to mention the Extremism report, we think. And the 10 February 2003 JIC warning perhaps.

To engage in debate on these issues, please email the Independent letters page (with your full postal address and daytime phone number), or send comments to Steve Richards.

 

 

DENIAL Tim Hames (11 July)

Tim Hames writes in his column in the Times, 'the truth has always been that al-Qaeda is a fundamentally reactionary response to the perceived decline of the Muslim world. It is an attempt to recreate the imagined circumstances of mid-15th-century Europe; modern controversies such as the emergence of the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia, the create of the state of Israel and the removal of Saddam Hussein from Baghdad are irrelevant to Osama bin Laden and his followers. These are, at most, additional "proof" that an infidel exists whom the believers must conquer or eliminate.'

 

JNV: Why then does the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, say that, 'Bin Laden is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world, not necessarily to destroy America, much less its freedoms and liberties. He is a practical warrior, not an apocalyptic terrorist in search of Armageddon'? (Imperial Hubris, p. xviii) (For more on Scheuer, see Briefing 77) Also relevant: the claim of responsibility (see below).

To engage in debate on these issues, please email the Times letters page (with your full postal address and daytime phone number), or send comments to his feedback page.

 

 

SEMI-DENIAL Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (11 July)

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Britain's first Muslim columnist, wrote a contradictory piece in the Independent (11 July 2005, page 29 or paid-for access here), whose main emphasis lay on denying the political demands that lie behind the al Qaeda insurgency: the terrorists - 'distorted beings outside human norms', 'rats', 'wretches'. They are 'pure, hollow evil', 'franchised Islamic fascists', 'killers' with 'crazy eyes', even 'self-loathing psycho-perverts' - 'don't give a damn about Iraq past or present, or other political struggles which have worthy objectives and an end point... they kill and die for nihilism.' They are 'rebels without a graspable cause'.

 

Alibhai-Brown asks us, 'please don't grace them with purpose or place them with legitimate liberationists in Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere.' 'The groups who blew up innocents in Kenya, the US, Madrid, Egypt, Bali, Istanbul, Saudi Arabia and London, the murderers of Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan and hundreds of Iraqis want nothing except blood and panic.'

 

JNV: Why then does the most credible 'claim of responsibility' say, 'Rejoice for it is time to take revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan... We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the Crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.'

To engage in debate on these issues, please email the Independent letters page (with your full postal address and daytime phone number), or Yasmin Alibhai-Brown herself (before writing to her, please read this longer discussion)

 

JNV welcomes feedback.

 

This page last updated 15 July 2005

 

 

 

   

 


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