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INSIDE TRACK ON WORLD NEWS
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis
Who's to blame for London BombingCopyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005
July 25, 2005
Having witnessed the first London transit bombing on 7 July, last weekís fizzled bombings, exactly two weeks later, brought both nasty dťjŗ vu and deep relief the attacks only disrupted transit and badly frayed nerves.
My relief was soon dispelled, however, by the murderous attacks at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. These bombings were not apparently linked to those in London. But they were a grim reminder that the exceptionally violent Egyptian jihadist groups, Gamma al-Islamiya and Egyptian Jihad had come again to life after some years quiescence. Osama bin Ladenís deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, was a senior member of Egyptian Jihad.
Last Thursdayís incidents in London intensified the fierce war of words that has raged in Britain for the past two weeks over who was to blame for the original attacks.
Britainís PM Tony Blair claims the young British-Pakistani men who staged both bombings were motivated by a rabid, misguided view of Islam, and incited by fanatic imams preaching a cult of hatred against the west. This is true, but it is not the whole story. Firebrand preachers may well have egged on angry young men, but the motivation for the attacks was not Islamic dogma but political fury.
President George Bush and Australiaís PM John Howard keep insisting terrorism is caused by evil Muslims who hate the west because of its values, religion, freedoms and selfless efforts to bring the light of democracy and civilization to the benighted Islamic World. This is nonsense.
So is claiming terrorism has nothing whatsoever to do with the westís military actions in the Muslim world, its efforts to control oil, or the corrupt, despotic regimes installed there by the US, Britain and France.
British investigators believe the 7/7 attackers may have had links to radical Islamic groups in Pakistan, which is increasingly portrayed as the fount of Islamic terrorism. Pakistanís madrassas (religious schools) again came under heavy criticism for churning out young fanatics.
Embarrassed by Britainís angry charges, Pakistanís military ruler, President Parvez Musharraf, ordered his security services to round up the usual Islamic suspects. A ` key al-Qaida terroristí was suddenly arrested, Islamabadís standard response whenever Washington and London turn up the heat under Pakistan over terrorism.
The embarrassed Pakistanis could not really admit what was going on: they indeed have many popular jihadi groups the west calls `terrorists,í but most of them were focused on either liberating the Indian-ruled portion of Kashmir, or fighting the communists in Afghanistan.
Two weeks ago from London, I wrote that the underground bombings, however despicable, were inevitable retaliation by angry young Muslims for Britainís invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Unsurprisingly, I received a good deal of flak for this heresy.
An embarrassing leaked report from MI-5, Britainís security service, and a study by Chatham House, a leading UK non-partisan research group, stated that Afghanistan and Iraq had indeed very likely motivated the attacks. Polls show a majority of Brits agreed.
Londonís popular mayor, Ken Livingston, spoke for this silent majority, blaming `80 years of western intervention in Arab land because of our need for oil.í
The always controversial Livingston went on to accuse the US and Britain of a double standard over terrorism. If Britons were as oppressed as Palestinians, he added, they, too, would resort to suicide bombers.
Though Livingston is way to the left of many Britons, his words, echoing those of rogue MP, George Galloway, reflected what many Britons think but Americans dare not say: US political policies and wars in the Mideast were responsible for the 9/11 and other terrorist attacks.
By playing George Bushís Sancho Panza in the so-called war on terrorism - seen by most Muslims as a western crusade against Islam Ė Tony Blair imported Mideast violence to Britain.
Blairís claim that the attacks had nothing to do with British military adventures abroad because terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center in New York well before, were, like so much of his rhetoric, glib sophistry. The 9/11 attacks occurred because of US support for Israel and its disguised occupation of Saudi Arabia. These were political causes, like the London bombing, not religious ones.
But blaming Islam allows Bush and Blair to decouple their wars in the Muslim World from counter-attacks by small groups of terrorists practicing private enterprise violence.
Ironically, most British oppose Blairís foreign crusading. The British-Pakistani terrorists who bombed Londonís transit only succeeded in creating support for Blairís aggressive policies. They also are bringing a reign of fear down on British Muslims and will further enflame the wave of anti-Muslim prejudice sweeping the western world. In fact, these days, being overtly anti-Islamic is the only permissible form of racism.
Anyone who claims you can bomb, invade and occupy other peopleís nations and not get return fire is being either incredibly naÔve or untruthful.
Murdering civilians in London, New York or Tel Aviv is a heinous crime. But to many people around the globe, so was the trumped- up invasion of Iraq that violated every norm of international law, Russian genocide in Chechnya, the ongoing US occupation of Afghanistan, and the agony of Palestine.
Deporting or jailing loudmouth radical Muslim clerics and closing madrassas wonít stop the dangerous jihadist movement. Neither will blaming Islam or Pakistan. Terrorist violence is the effect, not the cause.
The west must crack down on home-grown extremists, but it also needs to re-examine its counter-productive policies in the Muslim World.
To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here
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