Tuesday, 21 December 2010
The dangers of terrorism denial
Yesterday’s arrests over an alleged Christmas ‘bomb plot’ remind us that al Qaeda-inspired terrorism remains a dangerous threat, both in Britain and abroad. It was no surprise to hear that Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, the Swedish suicide bomber, may have been radicalised during his time in Britain. This country is one of the biggest exporters of Islamist violence.
Yet prominent politicians, community leaders and activists obfuscate the problem. “If it wasn’t for Bush and Blair’s illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then people wouldn’t want to kill us,” so the cliché goes.
Some believe that Western governments deliberately exaggerate or even invent terror plots as part of a grand scheme to discredit Muslims. For example, British journalist Fiona Bawdon and jury foreman Lawrence Archer recently wrote an exposé of the trial of Kamal Bourgass—the man convicted in 2005 for planning a terrorist attack using the chemical ricin. Bawdon and Archer argue that the British government exaggerated the threat posed by Bourgass in order to look tough on terrorism. Similarly, Azzam Tamimi, the director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, “wonders” whether governments’ claims to have foiled terror plots are an attempt to “smear the image of Islam and the Muslims.”
This is not too far off from the ‘truthers’ who allege, in home-made ‘documentaries’ such as Loose Change and Ripple Effect, that 9/11 and 7/7 were government-orchestrated conspiracies. Mohammed Naseem, chairman of a mosque which receives government money to prevent violent extremism, distributed ‘thousands of copies’ of Ripple Effect to worshippers, and believes that accusations that the government was behind the 7/7 London bombings could be true. The Muslim convert Yvonne Riddley, a journalist who works for the Iranian backed Press TV in London, also believes that the American government “knew far more about 9/11 in advance of it happening”. With such conspiracies backed by prominent public Muslims, is it really surprising that, according to a 2007 Channel 4 poll, ¼ of Muslims in the UK believedthat 7/7 was staged?
When news emerged that nine British Muslims were arrested for plotting to behead a Muslim soldier and supplying terrorists abroad, Salma Yaqoob, leader of the Respect party, played the victim card instead of addressing the seriousness of the accusations against these men: “The reality is that people are asking why are we [Muslims] being picked on, why are we being persecuted, because that’s what it feels like when all they want to do is get on with their day-to-day lives.” All nine men were convicted in 2008.
Similarly, there was uproar when the government attempted to deport ten Pakistani students who were arrested in Easter 2009 for plotting terrorist attacks. Inayat Bunglawala, of Muslims4UK, said: “What …should never be acceptable is the underhand and cowardly manner by which the government is now attempting to ruin the education and careers of these Pakistani students in a desperate attempt to avoid looking incompetent.”
Governments can do many things wrong but in this case they got their priorities right. The alleged ringleader of this plot is now in court facing extradition to the US for plotting attacks there as well.
Blaming governments instead of terrorists for their atrocities is becoming all too common. Let us not be fooled into thinking that if we were to change our foreign policy these attacks would cease. It is a causal but not a determining factor. No matter how much the West tries to appease Muslim communities and Muslim-majority countries, Islamist fascists will always believe that the West is against Islam and Muslims worldwide. The very essence of this ideology seeks to impose totalitarianism wherever it can, and mass murder is just a by-product.
Denying that terrorism is a problem and making excuses for it is blindness in the face of tyranny, where the perpetrators have become victims and governments have become tyrants. Al Qaeda-style terrorism is serious. As al-Abdaly chillingly put it, “We are not a lie, or imagination. We are real.”