Subsequent to the hacking to death of a British soldier by two British Muslims on a London street, the British Prime Minister David Cameron characterised the killing as “an attack on the British way of life”, a statement echoing the words of George W. Bush who when president repeatedly alleged terrorists do what they do because “they hate our freedoms”. In 2006, Tony Blair complained that “the war on terror will not be won unless people stop blaming UK foreign policy for causing it”.
Whenever I hear such blatant distortion of reality from US and UK leaders I inwardly groan. This approach is an insult to people’s intelligence. This orchestrated response is not only fallacious it’s the reason why those who are taken-in by it ask “Why do they hate us?” Cameron knows only too well the answer to that because there is a wealth of evidence asserting American and British foreign policy, in particular the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, are to blame.
One of the four 7/1 London transport bombers Mohammad Siddique Khan said this in a video aired on Al Jazeera: “Until we feel security, you will be our targets. And until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight.” The surviving Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev scrawled a note on the interior wall of a boat where he hid, saying the attack was retribution for US wars in Muslim countries. Michael Adebolajo, the British-born convert to Islam of Nigerian descent who carved-up a young soldier, apologised that women had been forced to witness the atrocity, adding “but in our lands our women have to see the same”.
Terrorists, including the 9/11 hijackers, have explained their reasoning in crystal terms yet governments remain in an official state of denial simply because any admission that their wars have fomented extremism could be seen as justifying retaliation. Wars initiated by the West are always billed as ‘moral wars’ for the greater good; never mind how much collateral damage they incur. “Our boys” are always brave heroes even when they’re destroying entire villages with bombs dropped from fighter jets. The odd thing is that Western publics used to the fight playing-out on foreign soil, far away events sterilised for public consumption on our favourite news channels, are shocked and horrified when there’s a violent backlash at home.
To put it bluntly, terrorism is a result of anger fuelled by injustice and double standards. That in no way excuses the actions of frustrated individuals who use their anger to indiscriminately murder ordinary people going about their business who have no say in government foreign policy. Two wrongs don’t make a right and if they believe killing is a fast-track to heaven, they’ll be bitterly disappointed when Islam says the killing of one person is akin to slaying the whole world. They’re feelings of being wronged are often valid, but taking revenge on innocents is bestial.
Leaders of British Muslim communities have described the slaying of the soldier as a “betrayal of Islam” and “a truly barbarous act” with no basis in Islam. And here it’s worth mentioning that terrorists have targeted Muslims more than people of other faiths. Sadly, this truth escapes the far right wing in the US and Europe, that’s responsible for rising Islamophobia. Since the hacking incident, fire bombs have been thrown at British mosques, bigots have pulled the headscarves from the heads of Muslim women and racist tweets have been posted. Terrorist acts are not only despicable the killing of innocents does nothing to change minds. On the contrary, terrorism solidifies inter-communal hatreds and provides authorities with a greater moral platform.
It’s important to distinguish between terrorists’ sense of outrage, which is often understandable, and the methods they use to channel that fury. Instead of becoming mass murderers, they should embrace political activism, lobby their Congressman or MP and express themselves via the media.
As usual, the anti-war Respect Party MP George Galloway rocked the politically correct boat. He described the murder of an off-duty solider as “a sickening atrocity” while pointing out that the incident was exactly “what we are paying people to do in Syria”. He believes that most people are against “these wars” because “we have neither the blood nor the treasure to spare in occupying other people’s countries and setting fire to them.” He says “it’s not a mission, it’s an occupation.” When he was asked if he condemns people who attack British troops, he fired back “Of course I don’t, it’s inevitable that people are going to attack British and American forces that are occupying their country ... If our country was attacked, we would attack the occupier.”
Blaming the radicalisation of youth on the Islamic faith doesn’t cut it. The War on Terror was nonsensical to start with. No intelligence agency can prevent terrorist attacks especially those conducted by so called ‘clean skins’. Al Qaida, its offshoots, and ideological clones will wither and die if and when the US and its allies quit intervening in predominately Muslim lands. But as long as power, oil and geopolitics are held in greater esteem than human life, sadly, Americans and Britons must expect more of the same.
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at email@example.com