Why Nobodies Are the Real Terrorist Threat

News Abroad

Mr. Castagnera, a Philadelphia journalist and attorney, is the Associate Provost at Rider University and author of the weekly newspaper column “Attorney at Large.”

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As I write this, the British news media are reporting that at least three of the four suicide bombers, who killed more than 50 Londoners and wounded scores more, were born in Britain and lived in the English Midlands. They are described as “British nationals of Pakistani origin” by Fox News. One was only 19, another was aged 30 with an 8-month-old baby at home. The third, aged 22, loved cricket, according to an uncle, who added that his nephew had gone to Pakistan earlier this year to study religion. A London-based intelligence analyst was quoted by Fox as concluding, “One of these men reportedly was 19, which is way too young to be training in a [terrorist] camp in Afghanistan.”

These facts inject new urgency into the debate about whether we are fighting an organization or an idea. Last year, Jessica Stern observed in an Op-Ed published by USA Today that “we are continuing to swat at yesterday’s threats with yesterday’s tools and, in the process, aiding the terrorists’ cause. If the United States continues to prosecute a war on terrorism without thinking about what motivates new recruits, we, as a country, will lose.”

Many Americans find the concept of suicide bombing not only repulsive, but baffling. That’s because few of us can conceive of any idea or ideal so dear to us that we would wake up one morning, strap on explosives and walk out of the house to our self-inflicted deaths, as the four London bombers did. Our revulsion and confusion are functions of our time and place in human history. Anonymous nobodies, leading lives of quiet desperation until moved by the power of a radical idea to act, fill the pages of modern Western history.

In The Proud Tower, the late Barbara Tuchman’s 1966 history of the West just prior to World War I, the best-selling historian wrote of Anarchism (with a capital “A”) during the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. “So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society… that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914.” Her list included President McKinley, shot by a lone assassin. Following the murder of the Spanish premiere in 1897, a British magazine opined, “The mad dog is the closest parallel in nature to the Anarchist,” while another writer wondered how you could protect civilized society from “a combination of crazy people and criminals.”

Whether you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald also was a lone assassin or the patsy of a broader conspiracy, read Norman Mailer’s book Oswald’s Tale. In it you’ll meet a lonely young man who yearned to make his mark, and who was drawn first to Soviet-style communism and then to Castro’s Cuba, as sources for his half-baked ideas. That he first took a pot-shot at a right-wing general, before being caught up in the Kennedy assassination, suggests that his choice of victims was as much a matter of opportunity as it was the selection of specific targets.

Just as 19 th Century lone killers were motivated by the writings of Anarchist intellectuals whom they’d never met, Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh is said to have been heavily influenced by Leaderless Resistance, a 1962 book by one Ulius Louis Amoss. A former U.S. intelligence officer and Cold Warrior, Amoss founded the Baltimore-based International Service of Information, Inc. When McVeigh and Terry Nichols, apparently aided and abetted by one or two other home-grown radicals, did their dirty deed in 1995, Amoss was already nearly two decades in his grave. His ideas had been kept alive primarily by an apostle named Louis Beam. McVeigh and Nichols never knew Beam either.

The Amoss/Beam idea is chillingly simple. In the words of one scholar, Simson Garfinkel, “Leaderless Resistance is a strategy in which small groups (cells) and individuals fight an entrenched power through independent acts of violence and mayhem.”

This sounds a lot like what happened in London two weeks ago. In the words of one Fox News commentator, recalling the Madrid train bombing of a year ago, “both point to an al-Quaida evolving into a movement whose isolated leaders offer video or Internet inspiration --- but little more --- to local ‘jihadists’ who carry out the strikes.”

If this is how it is… then all of America’s expenditures of lives and treasure and Afghanistan and Iraq are so many wasted soldiers and dollars. In some sense we actually are repeating the mistakes of Vietnam, even though our modern Armed Forces were designed never to repeat our errors in Southeast Asia. As we tried for a decade to fight a conventional war against what was essentially a guerilla force in Asia, now we once again are deploying our military might against far-flung nations.

Meanwhile, the real terrorist threat turns out to be anonymous nobodies lurking right next door.

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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

to the halls of Abu Ghraib, no U.S. Marine has ever deliberately killed a civilian ? ! Would Mr. Heuisler (now a resident of Mars, perhaps ?) care for once to practice what he so arrogantly preaches and "supply the readers here at HNN with evidence" for this "outrageous statement" ?
Most U.S. Marines are and have been solid, decent, well-meaning men, but 100% perfection rarely exists on this planet. The archives of HNN are full of contrary indications in this case.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The "intentional targeting of innocents" is not quite the American taboo it is here made out to be. Witness the readiness, all over this website for example (especially by some serial commenters), to blame all Moslems or their entire multifacted religion for the attrocities of a undeniably dangerous but very small minority. Prejudice, stereotyping, scapegoating, and violent hypocrisy are certainly taken to outlandish extremes by Islamic terrorists, but these traits are by no means unique to them.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

It is a crude and ahistorical "conjured" "hallucination" to suppose that "civilized" Americans are uniformly and uniquely "repulsed" by "intentional targeting of innocents". The rare historian present on this website might want to recall Wounded Knee, Nagasaki, My Lai, and Abu Ghraib for example. Of course most Americans are repulsed by the suicidal slaughter of commuters on a subway, but that hardly suffices as an explanation for what is going on in the world today.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

...are, I will grant, not a complete analytical tool kit to explain what "is going on the world," but Mr. Brumfield's original comment clearly and on its face goes well beyond the question of "bewilderment" at the recent London attacks.

My point above was to rebut the holier than thou attitude of many Americans, particularly in the federal government today, whose chief role in world affairs is broadcast their arrogant ignorance while the country continues to shoot itself in the foot with catastrophic cock-ups like the Iraq "cakewalk". I make no assertion connecting any aspect of that attitude to Mr. Brumfield's remarks on this page, but I think the point is well worth reiterating, because the longer it takes to pentrate thick skulls in this country, the further national security will spiral downwards.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is a useful comment because it is almost 180 degrees off from reality.
According to Webster:

terrorism: the systematic use of terror as a MEANS of coercion
conspiracy: the ACT of conspiring together

"Friends", we are "dealing" here in the USA with people who cannot speak English, who deliberately pervert it, and who could not care less being consistent in their ideology, accurate in their pronouncements or effective in their policies.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Simon: High school mentalities are already firmly embedded at all levels of HNN. There is no need for further semantical evasions of the sort you disrespectfully offer. In case you haven't noticed, a low common denominator in discourse applies here and nearly always has.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. D, You make some good points which are virtually guaranteed to have no effect on diehard partisans. Your English lapses are no worse than dozens of other posters on this website, and do not obscure those points.

In order to achieve the long term reforms of American policy which you advocate, it will probably be necessary for those opposed to the Bush administration's failed foreign "policy" to support politicians with backbones (e.g. not like Kerry who caved and voted for the Iraq blank check in Oct. 2002) and to reclaim the English language by forthrightly denoucing Orwellian horse manure like "war on terrorism". We have had four years of wishy washy wimpery from most Democrats in government since 9-11-01, and it is time stop repeatedly giving those spineless cowards unending benefits of serious doubts. And, it is also high time to finally toss outdated neo-Marxist fantasies onto the scrap heap of history where they belong. Bush's failures are all about basic greed, stubborness, dishonesty, hypocrisy, and incompetency, and have very little to do with "imperialism" and nothing at all to do with real conservatism.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Come on, N. There are plenty of things to argue about without picking a fight unnecessarily or constructing stupid rhetorical questions (“become peace lovers or go away” –where ? to Mars ?). There are hundreds of things that can be usefully done against "Jihadis". A few are already being done. Most of the others you and I would probably agree on, and we probably would also agree that nothing short of nuking the entire earth will ever completely eradicate all forms of religious extremism or terrorism. The issue at hand is whether we need to tolerate having the situation with regard to international threats (of MANY kinds; Islamic terrorism does not equal all problems and forms of evil) made significantly worse, over and over again, at the hands of one of the most incompetent governments of all time. That is both my main point and the bottom line message of the article.

Arnold Shcherban - 8/1/2005

Let me just reiterate my answer to your question about "leaving the Middle East" given previously:

1) to let THEM handle their own natural resources and the prices, as it fits their OWN interests, (coincidentally, in accordance with the main principal of a so dear to your friends FREE MARKET);
2) to let them, i.e. their majority, handle their socio-economic, cultural, and ideological affairs on their own
(and if not, support economically and politically, but not militarily, just those regimes who represent the majority of their population, not the local corrupted elite), without taking the arrogant position of a moral,
religious, ideological and other kind of a MENTOR, JUDGE, and EXECUTIONER;
3) maintain fair, equal foreign policy towards Israel and
its neighbors, especially Palestinians;

4) in the short term - get out of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan IMMEDIATELY (at least as quickly, as Soviets
got out of the Afghanistan in 1989-1990).

Those should become not just temporary measures, but
permanent principles of this country's policy, since only then they will find full recognition and appreciation of the entire world, as legitimate and fair.

Now, those measures, even executed in their entirety and consistently, won't stop Islamic terrorist attacks
immediately and/or completely (since nothing like this happens overnight), but I can bet you they are going to be incomparably more effective and many times less costly
than what is being done today in the same regard.

With that allow me to close this topic's discussion.

Bill Heuisler - 7/31/2005

Too bad we're beginning this phase on the last day of this article. You refuse to admit the universality of Islamofascism, instead blaming it on victimization.

As to Chechnya, it has been exacerbated by typical Russian aggression, but its roots go back to the same group that assassinated Anwar Sadat. Explain that, by the way, in terms of East-West.

Islambouli Brigades (an Al Qaeda group known for attacks in Pakistan took credit for blown-up Russian airliners in 2004 and Moscow subway bombings) are named for Egyptian army lieutenant Khaled al-Islambouli, leader of the assassination of Sadat. Islambouli's brother, Mohammed is Al Qaeda - was in the Egyptian Islamic Group - led by al Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s Lieutenant.

The link between Chechen and international terrorists, including al Qaeda, is not new. Ever since 1992 fighters from all over the Middle East have gone to Chechnya to fight Russian infidels.

Warlords like Shamil Basayev, were attracted to Wahhabism and Saudi money, weapons, and volunteers. It was one of those volunteers, Bin Saleh al-Suwailem, Samir (Khatab)together with Basayev who invaded Daghestan in 1999 and started the present Chechen war. Chechens were trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan before we dumped the Taliban and fought against us in 2001.

You may be correct that Islamists have a cause and many arguments against the West, but their cause remains the Khalifa Rashida of the Ninth Century and we must resist.
By the way your "better dead than Red" remark is beneath otherwise profound arguments.

Again, I'll ask, if we leave the Middle East, where is the precedent or the guarantee the terrorist attacks against our country will cease?
Bill Heuisler

Arnold Shcherban - 7/31/2005

How the other countries fight/fought terrorism and how
they succeed/succeeded?
By using their anti-terrorism intelligence and forces, not
by attacking the countries situated thousands of miles away from their territories with large scale military operations and occupying them, killing many thousands of their people, the majority of which, may be adversarial towards your country, but had nothing to do with international terrorism! (Plus turning the relatives and friends of the killed ones into real terrorists or, at the least, real enemies of your country).
Look at France. Despite their very effective (though cruel) measures against Algerian terrorists, until they pulled out of Algeria, the terrorist acts against French
Look at Russia. Before they started oppose Chechens' independence, there was no Islamic terrorists activity
on their territory whatsoever. Everyone knows now that until they continue occupy Chechnya, the terrorist acts
will happen. And this is despite major difference between
their and Afghanistan-US and Iraq-US situation: they border Chechnya, Chechnya has been part of Russian territory for 150 years, Russians experienced organized military (not just terrorist) attacks on their own territory even when puled out from Chechnya in 1996.
I could give you dozens of other examples that definitely show that if you don't arrogantly interfere in the affairs
of other countries one way or another (and the West, and for the last 50-60 years US, in particular, guilty of a lot of such behaviour) over a coniderably long period time, noone will hate you and want to hurt your country.
The US and you Bill cry for the fate of people of former Yugoslavia now, but who wanted and did everything to split that country into many small fighting nationalities
(the same fate they planned and achieved for the Soviet Union), if not this country?
Who was spreading Big Lie of 20th century 'bout "Evil Empire" sponsoring and training international and Arab terrorists, while experiencing almost none of the terrorism?
"Better dead than Red", yes, Bill? So, you got dead, instead of Red, don't complain now.
I'm as disgusted and angry, as you are, Bill, but unless
you guys recognize fundamental fallacies and lies your
actions stem from, we all loose (as we lost the war on drugs).

Bill Heuisler - 7/30/2005

Sorry if I forgot, but I don't remember.

As to immediate pullout, what about the fact we've been attacked by these people for twenty years? What about my last post - Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia? When is enough?

Arnold Shcherban - 7/30/2005


I hope noone on these boards would deny the facts of history; the difference almost invariably lies in their
socio-economic and, consequently, politico-ideological interpretation.
Thus, the craziness of your (and others' like you) Islamic conspiracy premise is mostly evident not through the invention of the facts of history (though that also occasionally happens among your ideological brotherhood),
but (here I repeat myself) through the substitution of serious historical analysis of the roots and causes of modern wave of Islamic extremism/terrorism with a sort of medieval, religious, surreal, and fatalistic perception of economo-political and social reality.

The ones who choose the approach I commonly suggest in my comments on the interpretation of any complex socio-cultural phenomena and stated above, come to the uneqiuvocal conclusion that the best way for the West, in general, and the US, in particular, to deal with Islamic
world community is:
1) to let THEM handle their own natural resources and the prices, as it fits their OWN interests, (coincidentally, in accordance with the main principal of a so dear to your friends FREE MARKET);
2) to let them, i.e. their majority, handle their socio-economic, cultural, and ideological affairs on their own
(and if not, support economically and politically, but not militarily, just those regimes who represent the majority of their population, not the local corrupted elite), without taking the arrogant position of a moral,
religious, ideological and other kind of a MENTOR, JUDGE, and EXECUTIONER;
3) maintain fair, equal foreign policy towards Israel and
its neighbors, especially Palestinians;

4) in the short term - get out of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan IMMEDIATELY (at least as quickly, as Soviets
got out of the Afghanistan in 1989-1990).

But, of course, with the underlying imperialistic principles TRADITIONALLY prevailing in American foreign policy, these suggestions of mine is just utopia...

I don't mind yoiu being 'nosey', although I note your lack of attention to our previous exchange (while I remember well that you are a former Marine, right?), where I already mentioned that I'm a 100% Jew, 100% atheist, was born and lived for 28 years in the Kazahk Republic of the former Soviet Union, acquired as I mentioned last time
scientific education (Physics and Math) and later on up to 42 years of age, in Russian Republic, where I emigrated from in 1989 for this country, the country that I like and dislike simultaneously. So for me it wasn't a "tour", it was a story, and not particular happy one (since I was persecuted by KGB on political reasons) of the most of my life.

So, I reiterate once more for you:
<I tell you very briefly what my experience was as far
as the issues of Islamic, and in general, any religious fatalism and fanatism (which are
just one step short of terrorism) is concerned.
You get out religion out of state, public affairs and out of school, and in 20-30 years you are guaranteed the virtually total elimination of those evils.>

Bill Heuisler - 7/29/2005

From Beirut twenty years ago to the Twin Towers, the US has been attacked by Muslims who hate our way of life. In the mean time we've gone to war and defended Muslims in three or four places like Kuwait and Kosovo. That's not crazy theory, that's history. Question is, what does the US do? We go find the bastards and kill them before they kill more of us. If that's conspiracy, okay. Since you're living in the crosshairs now with the rest of us, what do you suggest? Should we hold hands and sing to them?

Kazahkstan? When? Why? Can you write an article on your tour there? Are you a Moslem? (That would put an edge on our conversations) Don't mean to be nosey, but...well I'm nosey as hell.

Religion's like race, in the Corps everybody's green. In the police, everybody's blue. My only regret is that I'm too damn old to "get some" again. They won't let me reup.

Arnold Shcherban - 7/29/2005

The major difference between us, Bill, lies in your,
as Mr. Dalrymple quite legitimately characterized it
"crazy conspiracy theory" (he actually said more, but I don't want to offend you), spirited with sort of medieval, religious, surreal perception of economo-political reality, which emanates from such terminology as "21st century Armaggeddon", "we can't loose", etc.
When millions of people die/killed in Africa, Asia, Central and Latin America, Russia and other less important
countries, noone in the West calls it Armageddon, i.e. ascribes those events world-wide, fatalistic significance.
But as soon, as just several thousands Westerners died/killed in their own countries, that's it: it's officially announced that Armageddon is coming, it's an ultimate struggle of God and Satan, of Good and Evil...
and the Good (being always the West) MUST win, or the end
of civilization is about to come.
I'm sorry, Bill, but though I used to live in one of those insignificant countries, but I received scientific, (not religious, mystic) education for which "the last word on evolution, as well as on other real world issues, "is" not "out there".

You asked me of my experience there, i.e. in Kazahkstan.
I tell you very briefly what my experience was as far
as the issues of Islamic, and in general, any religious fatalism and fanatism (which are
just one step short of terrorism) is concerned.
You get out religion out of state, public affairs and out of school, and in 20-30 years you are guaranteed the virtually total elimination of those evils.
Exactly the process that your conservative comrades are dreaming to reverse even in this country...
Oh, how can I forget, they supported every reactionary
and oppressive regime, as long as it was at far right of the specter. Sorry, for sending my ademocratic recommendations to the wrong adress.

Bill Heuisler - 7/29/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
Another article from The Spectator (7/30/05)
Long, but worth the time.

"The myth of moderate Islam
Patrick Sookhdeo

The funeral of British suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer was held in absentia in his family’s ancestral village, near Lahore, Pakistan. Thousands of people attended, as they did again the following day when a qul ceremony was held for Tanweer. During qul, the Koran is recited to speed the deceased’s journey to paradise, though in Tanweer’s case this was hardly necessary. Being a shahid (martyr), he is deemed to have gone straight to paradise. The 22-year-old from Leeds, whose bomb at Aldgate station killed seven people, was hailed by the crowd as ‘a hero of Islam’.

Some in Britain cannot conceive that a suicide bomber could be a hero of Islam. Since 7/7 many have made statements to attempt to explain what seems to them a contradiction in terms. Since the violence cannot be denied, their only course is to argue that the connection with Islam is invalid. The deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Brian Paddick, said that ‘Islam and terrorists are two words that do not go together.’ His boss, the Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, asserted that there is nothing wrong with being a fundamentalist Muslim.

But surely we should give enough respect to those who voluntarily lay down their lives to accept what they themselves say about their motives. If they say they do it in the name of Islam, we must believe them. Is it not the height of illiberalism and arrogance to deny them the right to define themselves?

On 8 July the London-based Muslim Weekly unblushingly published a lengthy opinion article by Abid Ullah Jan entitled ‘Islam, Faith and Power’. The gist of the article is that Muslims should strive to gain political and military power over non-Muslims, that warfare is obligatory for all Muslims, and that the Islamic state, Islam and Sharia (Islamic law) should be established throughout the world. All is supported with quotations from the Koran. It concludes with a veiled threat to Britain. The bombings the previous day were a perfect illustration of what Jan was advocating, and the editor evidently felt no need to withdraw the article or to apologise for it. His newspaper is widely read and distributed across the UK.

By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses. You can find verses which permit only defensive jihad, or you can find verses to justify offensive jihad.

You can even find texts which specifically command terrorism, the classic one being Q8:59-60, which urges Muslims to prepare themselves to fight non-Muslims, ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies’ (A. Yusuf Ali’s translation). Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik’s book The Quranic Concept of War is widely used by the military of various Muslim countries. Malik explains Koranic teaching on strategy: ‘In war our main objective is the opponent’s heart or soul, our main weapon of offence against this objective is the strength of our own souls, and to launch such an attack, we have to keep terror away from our own hearts.... Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision on the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose on him.’

If you permit yourself a little judicious cutting, the range of choice in Koranic teaching is even wider. A verse one often hears quoted as part of the ‘Islam is peace’ litany allegedly runs along the lines: ‘If you kill one soul it is as if you have killed all mankind.’ But the full and unexpurgated version of Q5:32 states: ‘If anyone slew a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people.’ The very next verse lists a selection of savage punishments for those who fight the Muslims and create ‘mischief’ (or in some English translations ‘corruption’) in the land, punishments which include execution, crucifixion or amputation. What kind of ‘mischief in the land’ could merit such a reaction? Could it be interpreted as secularism, democracy and other non-Islamic values in a land? Could the ‘murder’ be the killing of Muslims in Iraq? Just as importantly, do the Muslims who keep quoting this verse realise what a deception they are imposing on their listeners?

It is probably true that in every faith ordinary people will pick the parts they like best and practise those, while the scholars will work out an official version. In Islam the scholars had a particularly challenging task, given the mass of contradictory texts within the Koran. To meet this challenge they developed the rule of abrogation, which states that wherever contradictions are found, the later-dated text abrogates the earlier one. To elucidate further the original intention of Mohammed, they referred to traditions (hadith) recording what he himself had said and done. Sadly for the rest of the world, both these methods led Islam away from peace and towards war. For the peaceable verses of the Koran are almost all earlier, dating from Mohammed’s time in Mecca, while those which advocate war and violence are almost all later, dating from after his flight to Medina. Though jihad has a variety of meanings, including a spiritual struggle against sin, Mohammed’s own example shows clearly that he frequently interpreted jihad as literal warfare and himself ordered massacre, assassination and torture. From these sources the Islamic scholars developed a detailed theology dividing the world into two parts, Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam, with Muslims required to change Dar al-Harb into Dar al-Islam either through warfare or da’wa (mission).

So the mantra ‘Islam is peace’ is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace. From 622 onwards it became increasingly aggressive, albeit with periods of peaceful co-existence, particularly in the colonial period, when the theology of war was not dominant. For today’s radical Muslims — just as for the mediaeval jurists who developed classical Islam — it would be truer to say ‘Islam is war’. One of the most radical Islamic groups in Britain, al-Ghurabaa, stated in the wake of the two London bombings, ‘Any Muslim that denies that terror is a part of Islam is kafir.’ A kafir is an unbeliever (i.e., a non-Muslim), a term of gross insult.

In the words of Mundir Badr Haloum, a liberal Muslim who lectures at a Syrian university, ‘Ignominious terrorism exists, and one cannot but acknowledge its being Islamic.’ While many individual Muslims choose to live their personal lives only by the (now abrogated) peaceable verses of the Koran, it is vain to deny the pro-war and pro-terrorism doctrines within their religion.

Could it be that the young men who committed suicide were neither on the fringes of Muslim society in Britain, nor following an eccentric and extremist interpretation of their faith, but rather that they came from the very core of the Muslim community and were motivated by a mainstream interpretation of Islam?

Muslims who migrated to the UK came initially for economic reasons, seeking employment. But over the last 50 years their communities have evolved away from assimilation with the British majority towards the creation of separate and distinct entities, mimicking the communalism of the British Raj. As a Pakistani friend of mine who lives in London said recently, ‘The British gave us all we ever asked for; why should we complain?’ British Muslims now have Sharia in areas of finance and mortgages; halal food in schools, hospitals and prisons; faith schools funded by the state; prayer rooms in every police station in London; and much more. This process has been assisted by the British government through its philosophy of multiculturalism, which has allowed some Muslims to consolidate and create a parallel society in the UK.

The Muslim community now inhabits principally the urban centres of England as well as some parts of Scotland and Wales. It forms a spine running down the centre of England from Bradford to London, with ribs extending east and west. It is said that within 10 to 15 years most British cities in these areas will have Muslim-majority populations, and will be under local Islamic political control, with the Muslim community living under Sharia.

What happens after this stage depends on which of the two main religious traditions among Pakistani-background British Muslims gains the ascendancy. The Barelwi majority believe in a slow evolution, gradually consolidating their Muslim societies, and finally achieving an Islamic state. The Deobandi minority argue for a quicker process using politics and violence to achieve the same result. Ultimately, both believe in the goal of an Islamic state in Britain where Muslims will govern their own affairs and, as the finishing touch, everyone else’s affairs as well. Islamism is now the dominant voice in contemporary Islam, and has become the seedbed of the radical movements. It is this that Sir Ian Blair has not grasped. For some time now the British government has been quoting a figure of 1.6 million for the Muslim population. Muslims themselves claim around 3 million, and this is likely to be far nearer to the truth. The growth of the Muslim community comes from their high birth-rate, primary immigration, and asylum-seekers both official and unofficial. There are also conversions to Islam.

The violence which is endemic in Muslim societies such as Pakistan is increasingly present in Britain’s Muslim community. Already we have violence by Pakistani Muslims against Kurdish Muslims, by Muslims against non-Muslims living among them (Caribbean people in the West Midlands, for example), a rapid growth in honour killings, and now suicide bombings. It is worth noting that many conflicts around the world are not internal to the Muslim community but external, as Muslims seek to gain territorial control, for example, in south Thailand, the southern Philippines, Kashmir, Chechnya and Palestine. Is it possible that a conflict of this nature could occur in Britain?

Muslims must stop this self-deception. They must with honesty recognise the violence that has existed in their history in the same way that Christians have had to do, for Christianity has a very dark past. Some Muslims have, with great courage, begun to do this.

Secondly, they must look at the reinterpretation of their texts, the Koran, hadith and Sharia, and the reformation of their faith. Mundir Badr Haloum has described this as ‘exorcising’ the terrorism from Islam. Mahmud Muhammad Taha argued for a distinction to be drawn between the Meccan and the Medinan sections of the Koran. He advocated a return to peaceable Meccan Islam, which he argued is applicable to today, whereas the bellicose Medinan teachings should be consigned to history. For taking this position he was tried for apostasy, found guilty and executed by the Sudanese government in 1985. Another modernist reformer was the Pakistani Fazlur Rahman, who advocated the ‘double movement’; i.e., understanding Koranic verses in their context, their ratio legis, and then using the philosophy of the Koran to interpret that in a modern, social and moral sense. Nasr Hamid Abu-Zayd, an Egyptian professor who argued similarly that the Koran and hadith should be interpreted according to the context in which they originated, was charged with apostasy, found guilty in June 1995 and ordered to separate from his wife.

The US-based Free Muslims Coalition, which was set up after 9/11 to promote a modern and secular version of Islam, has proposed the following:

1. A re-interpretation of Islam for the 21st century, where terrorism is not justified under any circumstances.

2. Separation of religion and state.

3. Democracy as the best form of government.

4. Secularism in all forms of political activity.

5. Equality for women.

6. Religion to be a personal relationship between the individual and his or her God, not to be forced on anyone.

This tempting vision of an Islam reformed along such lines is unlikely to be achieved except by a long and painful process of small steps. What might these be and how can we make a start? One step would be, as urged by the Prince of Wales, that every Muslim should ‘condemn these atrocities [the London bombings] and root out those among them who preach and practise such hatred and bitterness’. Universal condemnation of suicide bombers instead of acclamation as heroes would indeed be an excellent start.

Mansoor Ijaz has suggested a practical three-point action plan:

1. Forbid radical hate-filled preaching in British mosques. Deport imams who fail to comply.

2. Scrutinise British Islamic charities to identify those that fund terrorism. Prevent them receiving more than 10 per cent of their income from overseas.

3. Form community-watch groups comprising Muslim citizens to contribute useful information on fanatical Muslims to the authorities.

To this could be added Muslim acceptance of a secular society as the basis for their religious existence, an oath of allegiance to the Crown which would override their allegiance to their co-religionists overseas, and deliberate steps to move out of their ghetto-style existence both physically and psychologically.

For the government, the time has come to accept Trevor Phillips’s statement that multiculturalism is dead. We need to rediscover and affirm a common British identity. This would impinge heavily on the future development of faith schools, which should now be stopped.

Given the fate of some earlier would-be reformers, perhaps King Abdullah of Jordan or a leader of his stature might have the best chance of initiating a process of modernist reform. The day before the bombings he was presiding over a conference of senior scholars from eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and, amazingly, they issued a statement endorsing fatwas forbidding any Muslim from those eight schools to be declared an apostate. So reform is possible. The only problem with this particular action is that it may have protected Muslim leaders from being killed by dissident Muslims, but it negated a very helpful fatwa which had been issued in March by the Spanish Islamic scholars declaring Osama bin Laden an apostate. Could not the King re-convene his conference and ask them to issue a fatwa banning violence against non-Muslims also? This would extend the self-preservation of the Muslim community to the whole non-Muslim world.

Such reform — the changing of certain fairly central theological principles — will not be easy to achieve. It will be a long, hard road for Islam to get its house in order so that it can co-exist peacefully with the rest of society in the 21st century.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is Director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity.

Bill Heuisler - 7/29/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
A column in the Middle East Times (7/26/05)
seems to echo my sentiments:

Opinion: The Muslim mind is on fire
Youssef M. Ibrahim
July 26, 2005

DUBAI -- The world of Islam is on fire. Indeed, the Muslim mind is on fire. Above all, the West is now ready to take both of them on.

The latest reliable report confirms that on average 33 Iraqis die every day, executed by Iraqis and foreign jihadis and suicide bombers, not by US or British soldiers. In fact, fewer than ever US or British soldiers are dying since the invasion more than two years ago. Instead, we now watch on television hundreds of innocent Iraqis lying without limbs, bleeding in the streets dead or wounded for life. If this is jihad someone got his religious education completely upside down.

Palestine is on fire, too, with Palestinian armed groups fighting one another - Hamas against Fatah and all against the Palestinian Authority. All have rendered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas impotent and have diminished the world's respect and sympathy for Palestinian sufferings.

A couple of weeks ago London was on fire as Pakistani and other Muslims with British citizenship blew up tube stations in the name of Islam. Al Qaeda in Europe or one of its franchises proclaimed proudly the killing of 54 and wounding 700 innocent citizens was done to "avenge Islam" and Muslims.

Madrid was on fire, too, last year, when Muslim jihadis blew up train stations killing 160 people and wounding a few thousands.

The excuse in all the above cases was the war in Iraq, but let us not forget that in September 2001, long before Iraq, Osama Bin Laden proudly announced that he ordered the killing of some 3,000 in the United States, in the name of avenging Islam. Let us not forget that the killing began a long time before the invasion of Iraq.

Indeed, jihadis have been killing for a decade in the name of Islam. They killed innocent tourists and natives in Morocco and Egypt, in Africa, in Indonesia and in Yemen, all done in the name of Islam by Muslims who say that they are better than all other Muslims. They killed in India, in Thailand and are now talking of killing in Germany and Denmark and so on. There were attacks with bombs that killed scores inside Shia and Sunni mosques, inside churches and inside synagogues in Turkey and Tunisia, with Muslim preachers saying that it is okay to kill Jews and Christians - the so called infidels.

Above all, it is the Muslim mind that is on fire.

The Muslim fundamentalist who attacked the Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, stabbed him more than 23 times then cut his throat. He recently proudly proclaimed at his trial: "I did it because my religion - Islam - dictated it and I would do it again if were free." Which preacher told this guy this is Islam? That preacher should be in jail with him.

Do the cowardly jihadis who recruit suicide bombers really think that they will force the US Army and British troops out of Iraq by killing hundreds of innocent Iraqis? US troops now have bases and operate in Iraq but also from Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.

The only accomplishment of jihadis is that now they have aroused the great "Western Tiger". There was a time when the United States and Europe welcomed Arab and Muslim immigrants, visitors and students, with open arms. London even allowed all dissidents escaping their countries to preach against those countries under the guise of political refugees.

Well, that is all over now. Time has become for the big Western vengeance.

Visas for Arab and Muslim young men will be impossible to get for the United States and Western Europe. Those working there will be expelled if they are illegal, and harassed even if their papers are in order.

Airlines will have to right to refuse boarding to passengers if their names even resemble names on a prohibited list on all flights heading to Europe and the United States.

What is more important to remember is this: When the West did unite after World War II to beat communism, the long Cold War began without pity. They took no prisoners. They all stood together, from the United States to Norway, from Britain to Spain, from Belgium to Switzerland. And they did bring down the biggest empire. Communism collapsed.

I fear those naïve Muslims who think that they are beating the West have now achieved their worst crime of all. The West is now going to war against not only Muslims, but also, sadly, Islam as a religion.

In this new cold and hot war, car bombs and suicide bombers here and there will be no match for the arsenal that those Westerners are putting together - an arsenal of laws, intelligence pooling, surveillance by satellites, armies of special forces and indeed, allies inside the Arab world who are tired of having their lives disrupted by demented so-called jihadis or those bearded preachers who, under the guise of preaching, do little to teach and much to ignite the fire, those who know little about Islam and nothing about humanity.

Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former Middle East correspondent for The New York Times and energy editor of the Wall Street Journal, is managing director of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group

Bill Heuisler - 7/29/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
"...demonise an entire race of people..."? What fatuity. When we landed in Normandy were we demonizing the entire French nation? Was FDR demonizing the Japanese people when he spoke of a day living in infamy? Don't insult my intelligence please.

Your assumptions reveal quite a bit about you. No offense intended, but you come across as both condescending and unsophisticated in your pat assessments of terrorists, Americans in general and me in particular.

I've been in every Middle East country at one time or another, except Libya and Iran. Some - like Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Lebanon - I've visited many times. But, Mr. Dalrymple, Visiting Marrakesh or Petra doesn't bestow insight into Moroccan or Jordanian hopes, desires and aspirations. Your statement gives me insight into naivete. Most Middle Easterners I've dealt with seemed to appreciate truth and toughness. Generally they seemed to disdain weakness. Many in the Middle East are cooperating with Terror because they expect our will to falter the way it did after the '91 war.

Fear is not a problem for me, anger is. And brute force is the only way to deal with evil and aggression. Force subdued Britain, Barbary pirates, a Kaiser, Hitler, Tojo and North Korea when they tried to impose their will on free people. America has failed only in cases (Vietnam) where we've allowed naive people like you to convince us to try and actually deal with evil and aggression.How do you deal humanely with religious fanatics who target civilians and kill Muslim children in a schoolyard as a message? You don't try. You exterminate criminals and free suffering victims quickly and efficiently.

Iraq and Afganistan are working quite well as we kill more terrorists every day, destroy their infrastructure and dry up their monetary support. Terrorists have not been able to attack the US since we took the fight to them and they will not be subdued until we kill or imprison many more. The tipping point comes when the Sunnis, Shiite, Kurds and desert Arabs are convinced we will prevail. Iraq is proving you can defeat terrorism by giving people the freedom to choose their leaders.

The fact you don't realize we are succeeding in Iraq and Afganistan shows you have lost your grasp on reality. Perhaps you rely too much on the Guardian and the BBC for your world-view. Condescension goes both ways, doesn't it?
Bill Heuisler

James H Dalrymple - 7/29/2005

Mr Heuisler

At last we get to the foundations of your world view – East v West Armageddon and Caliphate victory. What a crazy conspiracy theory and a load of nonsense. You clearly have never been to the “East”.

Do you honestly think that the even if all Arab nations united (extremely improbable) they would stand a chance of defeating America let alone the west?

As I’ve been saying all along the best way to deal with terrorists is the same way one deals with criminals. Act justly and humanely and punish effectively. If you demonise an entire race of people atrocities are sure to follow. I can’t understand how someone like you living in the most powerful country in the world has become so scared of a bunch of criminals just because they managed to carry out a couple of spectacular terrorist crimes. The worst way to defeat criminals is by punishing their neighbours and their society because it gives them legitimacy. As the war in Iraq is proving the more people you kill the more enemies you create, the more enemies you create the more people you have to kill and before you know it you have become the civilian-killing, gay-stoning, women-hating, head-chopping, seventh century maniac you fear so much.

Brute force is not the only way – a country with such beautiful ideals as America (freedom, social liberalism and democracy) is surely imaginative enough to think of an alternative than treating an entire region of the earth as being inhabited by demented sub-humans.

With great power comes great responsibility – corny I know but think about it.

James Dalrymple

Ps. I am English one of your allies.

Bill Heuisler - 7/28/2005

Don't get me wrong, I don't completely trust governments either, but this isn't some coffee-house debate, this war of East vs West is literally the end game. There's no negotiated treaty possible. We cannot afford to lose because they will convert or subjugate. I won't be subjugated, so I will die. You too, probably.

Question is (after all the bs and politics) whose side are you on in our 21st century Armageddon? Your past sounds interesting. Care to give more information?

Arnold Shcherban - 7/28/2005

I don't trust either side, as long as it contradicts
my political intuition, knowledge, common sense, life experience, observations of modern history and better knowledge of Muslims than you have, Bill, since I lived in one of their countries for 28 years (don't even know any Lancet you mentioned).
And those, together with the outright lies of today's
US administration confirmed factually, according to opinion of millions of Americans themselves (surely American haters, as you know them) and the long process of corruption of the new Iraqi powerholders somehow make me believe those "crazy" leftists much more, than to the opposite side.

<...but how can you be so gullible after your life experience?>

That's one more thing, Bill, you are quite right about it... but it should make me critical primarily of OFFICIAL, GOVERMENTAL propaganda, and that's exactly what
you observe, right?

Bill Heuisler - 7/28/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
Your use of the words, "they didn't want you there" tells me you are not from the US. Guess what? We didn't want to be there - or in Afganistan - either, but crazed radical Muslims decided to kill 3000 Americans a few years ago. And they'd been killing Americans for two decades. We've had enough. The sleeping giant is awake, and he's pissed. You think Iraq wasn't connected to 9/11? You're wrong. Want to argue? Too late. You think Afganistan was right? Well, Syria's turn is next, and that Lefty website will start another bodycount in sympathy with civilian-killing, gay-stoning, woman-hating, head-chopping, seventh century maniacs in Assad's cesspool.

Irony? If Muslims win, the first fatwa in the Caliphate will be to shut down the internet and kill all those Leftist pacifists. Muslims have never been pacifists.
Makes me wonder about the Leftist agenda. Suicide maybe?
Bill Heuisler

James H Dalrymple - 7/28/2005

Mr Heuisler,

If America has to pull out of Iraq because of uncontrollable violence and civil war, I can already hear you blaming the anti-war people for getting what they want, of course forgetting that they didn’t want you there in the first place.

Bill Heuisler - 7/28/2005

Right, Arnold,
We can't trust those Iraqis to tell the truth about their own country, nor can we trust the Bush Administration or those US Generals. All war-loving-civilian-killers.

But we can trust the Lancet that counts insurgent deaths as civilians. And we should believe any web site that uses bombers dropping bombs on cities as its wallpaper. Have you read their mission statement? Looney Left.

Doing Bin Laden's propaganda seems appropriate for radical Leftists who hate America, but how can you be so gullible after your life experience?
Bill Heuisler

Arnold Shcherban - 7/27/2005

I would not respond, if you were just intellectually wrong, but your 'Suadis' generalization is factually wrong.
You say that "terrorists are not Iraqis, Afghans or Palestinians". Really? That would have been the news of
all news, being true.
Is the majority of those who kill/killed Iraqis, Afghans, and Americans in Iraq and Afghjanistan every day (and perhaps every hour) has Saudi descent? What a nonsense!
They are not from Iraq or Afghanistan or Palestine, the lands that were not historically oppressed and ruled by British empire and loyal to it local elite, who, later on,
united with this country's corporate imperialists did not invested heavily into the creation and continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What a joke...
I did and do acknowledge (and agree with) your reference to the role of US goverments and CIA in wholesale support of Islamic fundamentalists and other kind of murderous groups in Afhganistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, as long as they play ball (especially economic one) with the US.
Yes, certain rich folks in Saudi Arabia did and perhaps continue to provide finnacial help to those terrorists
and non-terrorists in thei struggle against UK and US
direct or indirect control of their countries natural resources and politics. But so did/do not only many rich folks, but goverments of the other Muslim countries.

Secondly, I never tried to cast them as the Robin Hoods or
revolutionaries(if you are honest person, show me where I did so, and I will take the blame for that, I promise),
albeit in your wild imagination.

I'm probably more on your side than you recognize it, but
only as long as you stay on the solid factual and historical track, avoiding wholesale ungrounded generalizations and conspiratorial obsessiveness.

Nathaniel Brian Bates - 7/27/2005

OK, let me end it with this and give you the last word. The terrorists are not Iraqis, Iranians, Afghans, or "Palestinians", nor are they from colonized and oppressed lands that are not Muslim. They are not from Chile or Haiti( www.haitiaction.net ), lands oppressed by our support of dictators.

They are Saudis. One can argue that our support of the Saudi Monarchy plays a role. However, they are SPECIFICALLY Saudis, given money by the wealthy power structure of Saudi Arabia that is part and parcel of the advanced capitalist world. They are creatures of the very foreign policy that you have described.

They are not Robin Hoods. They are a part and parcel of the Saudi Wahabbi system that interlocks with the Afgan project lauched by Brzezinski (Trilateral Commission) and advanced by neo-Fascists within the Reagan Admin. Just exactly how they "broke" with this control is a little unclear. I do know that they mysteriously showed up just when the Government needed Patriot Acts and new controls on citizens.

Their views on democracy are that it is a Jewish heresy. Their views on socialism are that it is secular and evil. Their views on gay "rights" need no elaboration. And, yes, in the end they probably rooted for Bush in the Election. Where is the egalitarianism here?

To cast them as revolutionaries in the mold that you have strains credibility. I cannot stop you from doing so. But, it is disinformation at its highest. It also distracts from real questions around our foreign policy, oil, imperialism, and 9-11 Research.

Good Bye

Arnold Shcherban - 7/26/2005

... but the sources of heuislers of this world never
had or have any bias. E.g., who can doubt such an impeccably honest source as the new Iraqi goverment?
Who can dare to suspect its pro-American bias?

Or dear...

Bill Heuisler - 7/26/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
The latest <http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/index>;
Sorry for the length, but it's interesting stuff.

"July 25, 2005: The Iraqi government now believes that at least 12,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed during the last 18 months. In the last ten months, about 800 Iraqi civilians and police have been killed each month. Adding a bit more to account for unreported deaths (especially in Sunni Arab areas where chaos, not the government, runs things) the death rate is running at the rate of about 45 dead per 100,000 population per year. This is far higher than the usual rate in Middle Eastern countries (under 10). Well, most of the time. During civil wars and insurrections, the rate has spiked to over a hundred per 100,000, sometimes for several years in a row. During Saddam’s long reign, the Iraqi death rate from democide (the government killing its own people) averaged over 100 per 100,000 a year. This does not include the several hundred thousand killed during the war with Iran in the 1980s. There are other parts of the world that are more violent than Iraq. Africa, for example, especially Congo, Sudan and South Africa. Only South Africa has a sufficiently effective government to actually keep track of the death rate, mostly from crime, but it’s over 50 per 100,000. It’s worse in places like Congo and Sudan, but the numbers there are only estimates by peacekeepers and relief workers. In southern Thailand, a terror campaign by Islamic radicals has caused a death rate of over 80 per 100,000."

"Iraq is getting better control of its vital statistics (births, deaths and the like), and felt confident to release those numbers. During Saddam’s long reign, these numbers were kept haphazardly, largely because of the large number of Iraqis being killed by Saddams secret police and political enforcers. These deaths were often not recorded, or not recorded as murder. During his three decades of rule, Saddam killed half a million Kurds, and several hundred thousand Shia Arabs (and several thousand Sunni Arabs and Christian Arabs). During the 1990s, Saddam used access to food and medical care as a way to keep the Shia Arabs under control, but this process caused at least twenty thousand or more excess deaths a year (from disease and malnutrition). Foreign media, especially in Sunni Moslem nations, played down Saddam’s homicides, just as they play up the current death toll in Iraq (which is still largely the result of violence by Sunni Arabs.)"

"The Iraqi violence is also concentrated in areas that contain Sunni Arab populations. In the largely northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shia Arab) areas, the death rate is under 10 per 100,000. But in some Sunni Arab areas, it’s over 100 per 100,000 a year. Kurdish and Shia Arab militias, as well as alert Kurdish and Shia Arab civilians, have kept the terrorists out of their neighborhoods. In large, mixed population, cities like Baghdad and Mosul, it’s easier for Sunni Arab terrorists to get to Shia Arab or Kurdish neighborhoods. So far, the only response that has generated is an increase in death squads assassinating Sunni Arab leaders. The number of such deaths has not been large, but it has motivated the Sunni Arab leadership to try and rein in their more bloody minded brethren. They know that, if the violence is not reduced, the Shia Arab and Kurdish majority could, at worst, ethnically cleanse the Sunni Arabs out of Iraq, driving them into Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Not many would get into Iran, which is run by Shias. Kuwait remembers the 1991 invasion, and would not be tolerant of another one, even if it consisted only of refugees. Turkey's Iraqi border is populated by Kurds, who do not tolerate Sunni Arabs well at all."

Makes more sense than that anti-war site with the bombers dropping bombs pictured in the background, doesn't it?
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 7/26/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
Your source is tainted by anti-American bias.
I'll quote from their web-site under "source":

"The test for us remains whether the bullet (or equivalent) is attributed to a piece of weaponry where the trigger was pulled by a US or allied finger, or is due to "collateral damage" by either side (with the burden of responsibility falling squarely on the shoulders of those who initiate war without UN Security Council authorization). We agree that deaths from any deliberate source are an equal outrage, but in this project we want to only record those deaths to which we can unambiguously hold our own leaders to account. In short, we record all civilians deaths attributed to our military intervention in Iraq."

"Responsibility falling squarely..." Get it? This is a blatant political witch hunt, using dubious statistics for political effect. I'm surprised you cite such junk.
For instance, an example: they say insurgents only killed 9% of the civilians. And this is calculated, according to them, from medical staff at various depots and clinics, from the time the US invaded without UN authorization.

Think about that.

Aside from the false editorial about UN authorization, please explain how they (or anybody) could differentiate - from results of explosions and blast damage - who set the device or ordinance and how it was detonated? Whose "finger"? This would be comical if not for the subject matter and if not for the fact you've been duped into believing such clumsy propaganda.
Bill Heuisler

James H Dalrymple - 7/26/2005

Mr Heuisler,

I am not trying to leave an impression that American troops are evil, but I don’t see the American government as a knight in shining armour, as you do. To me it is obvious that dropping bombs on cities kills civilians.

I said further up that I didn’t want to get into who was killing the most, but seeing as you insist have a look at this link;


Who did the killing?
• US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims.
• Anti-occupation forces/insurgents killed 9% of civilian victims.
• Post-invasion criminal violence accounted for 36% of all deaths.
• Killings by anti-occupation forces, crime and unknown agents have shown a steady rise over the entire period.

According to iraqbodycount US-led forces killed far more civilians than insurgents. So I apologise, I should not have been specific to Marines. I suspect you would argue that criminals are also terrorists, after all who decides who is a terrorist and who is a criminal. But what does it matter, it’s just semantics, it does however illustrate the futility of declaring war against a nebulous concept. What I was trying to illustrate in my original statement is unaffected in that America is in danger of becoming the monster it is trying to destroy.

From what I’ve written, how could you possible have come to the conclusion that it does not matter to me that terrorists deliberately target children. To always conclude that because I criticise American policy I must support terrorism is exasperating. Even worse you make out as if I said American troops target children, you should be ashamed, I don’t believe that and I have never said that. I believe that dropping bombs on cities is a deliberate act which kills civilians including children. You seem to imply that if we are not as brutal as them it’s ok. A civilised democratic country should hold itself to far higher standards than terrorists.

As for the napalm, cluster bombs and depleted uranium at least you acknowledge that they have been used. There is a lot of evidence that napalm has been used against civilians. Please see the link below. I know you will not believe the reports, but as with the torture allegations it is only a matter of time before you go from denial to attempted justification.


James Dalrymple

Bill Heuisler - 7/25/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
Your direct quote was, "US marines have killed far more children then terrorist". You have not shown any factual basis for this ridiculous statement. Why not?

Your articles say we used napalm on Iraq troops, we used cluster bombs that inadvertantly killed civilians and DU may or may not be dangerous to troops it is used on. The paragraphs on the heavy dust left behind after the burning of DU states that they don't know if it has long term harmful effects.

How does any of this translate into Marines killing more children than terrorists? Additionally, does it not matter to you that terrorists deliberately target children?

Or do you seriously contend US servicemen are targeting children? Where did you get this obscene idea?

You are not a stupid man. Why use language that leaves the impression American troops are evil? Why cite articles that do not, DO NOT, prove your contention?
Bill Heuisler

Arnold Shcherban - 7/25/2005

Your last posting Mr. Bates is obviously meant as the reply to my last rebuttal, but this time I cannot fathom how its contents are supposed to prove me wrong on the issue.
But I'll answer your unrelated arguments anyway.
I would not be as radical as you are in blaming CIA for
allegedly creating Bin Laden, though I do blame CIA, as
US govermental agency for many other things.
Bin Laden and other mujaheddins used terrorist methods of struggle during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, exploding bombs in Kabul and other residential centers of the country, killing innocent unarmed citizens along with
the Afgani who supported the left and collaborated with the Soviets. But as it invariably happens in such
economically and politically charged matters, the US goverments used the bandits in their passionate desire to hurt Soviets and weaken their strategic standing/rankings ASAP and never called them terrorists, but freedom fighters.
(The today's Kabul's rulers, i.e. Karzai and his crowd, put in power again by the US goverments are not a bit better criminals and murderers than Bin Laden and his brotherhood, but they happen to play very nice ball game with the US goverment, so they will stay in power, as long
as they continue to do so.)

I don't have a slightest idea, whom you think I cherish
as "heroes", so I refrain from the comments on this part
of the reply.

James H Dalrymple - 7/25/2005

Mr Heuisler,

Thank you for the suggested reads. I am not disparaging the marines, it is the politicians i disparage.

The evidence that naplam has been use in Iraq is mounting. That cluster bombs and depleted uranium was and is used is not even in dispute.




The Pentagon said it had not tried to deceive. It drew a distinction between traditional napalm, first invented in 1942, and the weapons dropped in Iraq, which it calls Mark 77 firebombs. They weigh 510lbs, and consist of 44lbs of polystyrene-like gel and 63 gallons of jet fuel.
Officials said that if journalists had asked about the firebombs their use would have been confirmed. A spokesman admitted they were "remarkably similar" to napalm but said they caused less environmental damage.
But John Pike, director of the military studies group GlobalSecurity.Org, said: *"You can call it something other than napalm but it is still napalm. It has been reformulated in the sense that they now use a different petroleum distillate, but that is it. The US is the only country that has used napalm for a long time. I am not aware of any other country that uses it." Marines returning from Iraq chose to call the firebombs "napalm".
Mr Musil said the Pentagon's effort to draw a distinction between the weapons was outrageous. He said: "It's Orwellian. They do not want the public to know. It's a lie."
In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Marine Corps Maj-Gen Jim Amos confirmed that napalm was used on several occasions in the war.

Nathaniel Brian Bates - 7/24/2005

Why is it that the VERY Al Qaeda that is supposedly avenging the oppressed set up by an associate of the Bush Blood-line? The CIA made B*n La*en.

Left-wing Arab dissent was neutralized by these people you think of as heroes. I cannot fathom the many Left-wing shills who do not realize that their "revolutionary heroes" were set up by WWII Nazis and the CIA.

Sorry, but you're wrong.

Arnold Shcherban - 7/24/2005

It is not coincidental that Mr. Heuisler hails praises
towards Marines, he was one of them himself.

The argument about bad cops stands very well on its own merits, since as it is with the Islamic terorists, there
wasn't just one bad cop, but were thousands of them, and still are.
It is statistically confirmed that a certain, and not at all negligible number of people enroll in active duty at least partially motivated by the sense of superiority
and power that well-armed men have over the rest of folks.
Many become drunk with such power and abuse it to less or more extent. The abuse becomes much more spread when the
men in highest military and political power propagate the ideas of the absolute rightneousness of the soldiers and
absolute "evilisness" of their adversaries.
That exactly what happened and continue to happen with
US Marines, as well.

Arnold Shcherban - 7/24/2005

I won't be (since I can't be) so linguistically precise
and sophisticated, as Peter Clarke in rebuffing your
conclusion, but even half-brained and hard-core right conservatives beginning to realize nowadays that modern
Islamic terrorism has little to do with Conspiracy of
Rich Ideologues, but everything to do with Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unceremonical interference of the West into the internal affairs of the Arab countries (with oil, as a main reason), the Western support of the
tyrannic, corrupted, and elitarian regimes there, and finally the so-called "global war on terrorism", accompanied with the Iraq war and occupation, the end of which is not seen so far.
It's not coincidental therefore that today's article in 'USA Today' is titled "Al-Qaeda operatives bound by ideas, and very likely little else in terror wave".

But it is even less than what the title says: The Islamic suicide bombers operating around the world are not Al-Qaeda (the latter does not exist, at least operationally, anymore, if ever) operatives per se, they are just bound and fascinated by the idea of Al-Qaeda's methods of terror.

Nathaniel Brian Bates - 7/24/2005

What I intended to say was the Terrorism is a Conspiracy of the Super-wealthy and powerful who front the Nobodies. B*n L*den is a Super-Rich "Somebody", with ties to the great fortunes of the planet, not a "Nobody" as some would want us to believe.

I assume that he speaks English very well.

E. Simon - 7/23/2005

"So, a torn up book is worth the life of 54 people and the maiming of who knows how many more. We have a genuine mixture of religious insanity, politics and violence."

I think Peter recognizes this. He just seems to believe it is no different in scope or in nature than what he takes to be real threats by anyone potentially acting violently out of any motivation that could ostensibly be understood as "religious" in the broadest sense.

Where these other such threats exist, and how they compare in terms of number, global breadth and organizational capacity, fervor of die-hard adherents, ultimate aim and historical precedent at achieving it, coupled with a similar scope of commitment and comprehensiveness as a system of belief and way of life - is anyone's guess.

N. Friedman - 7/22/2005


I did not intend to pick a fight. I was merely looking for you to make some suggestions. And, no doubt, we would agree on most of them.

Of some interest to the "legitimate grievance" crowd, evidently, the Jihadi named Shehzad Tanweer involved in the London subway bombings thought that Muslims suffered. According to the London Times, which quotes the man's cousin - and note, at the end of the passage, what it is about Gitmo which really bothered the guy -:

Mr Saleem supported his cousin’s bombing at Aldgate station which killed seven people, saying: “Whatever he has done, if he has done it, then he has done right.” He recalled how Tanweer argued with family and friends about the need for violent retaliation over US abuse of Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

Tanweer was no stranger to the village of Chak No 477, where his grandfather and several cousins live. During his last trip, the college dropout was visited by another of the bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan. They are said to have met a known al-Qaeda activist who has since been jailed for bombing a church. “Whenever he would listen about sufferings of Muslims he would become very emotional and sentimental,” Mr Saleem said. “He was a good Muslim . . . he also wished to take part in jihad and lay down his life.

“He knew that excesses are being done to Muslims. Incidents like desecration of the Koran have always been in his mind.”

So, a torn up book is worth the life of 54 people and the maiming of who knows how many more. We have a genuine mixture of religious insanity, politics and violence.

Bill Heuisler - 7/22/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
1) We were attacked many times by people from Iraq, trained by Iraqis, funded by Iraqis and sheltered after the fact by Iraq. Read the latest articles by Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn for source information.
2)See above.
3)"disband the police force because of a bad cop"??? No, not a bad cop, but the whole leadership from Annan and his son down to the petty bureaucrat who allows the books to be cooked while Iraqis are starving and 41 billion dollars that is supposed to feed them disappears. This is the largest $ scandal in the history of the world. Don't you think it's time for a housecleaning?

Please read the books, "The March Up" by West and Smith
"An Nasiriyah, the fight for the bridges" by Livingston and "Generation Kill" by Wright. They are of uneven quality because they are written largely by men who were there - Marines who fight, not writers - but they are all quick reads and full of the character I feel you are disparaging. They have constantly been taking casualties because they don't level cities and they don't bomb indiscriminately.
You wrote, "Dropping napalm, cluster bombs and all the other bombs on cities...". That has not happened. Please supply the readers here at HNN with evidence for your outrageous statement. Please read about the fighting for Fallugia and realize that we could have taken out that nest of "insurgents" with a few bombs...but we didn't.
And we lost many good men because of our forbearance.
US Marines do not deliberately kill civilians, ever.
Bill Heuisler

James H Dalrymple - 7/22/2005

Mr Heuisler
1) Self defence - I think that in terms of international law America was not justified in attacking Iraq as the danger (non-existent) was not imminent. I don’t want to get back into this argument other than to say the matter should at least be tried by the ICJ. ICC for Britain.

2) Lies - nonsense, lies, call it what you like but the level of deceit out of the White House and Downing Street is staggering even by politician standards. If we don’t hold these people accountable how can we expect honest administrators?

Loyalty is an admirable quality, however I think it is better to be loyal to ideals rather than politicians – ideals such as democracy, law, truth, freedom. To kick people out of office if they don’t uphold these ideals is loyalty to republicanism.

3) United Nations – corruption in any of our institutions should be dealt with decisively. Would you want to disband the police force because of a bad cop. After all the UN is an American idea and I think a good one.

America as the world’s superpower could direct its energy into upholding the ideals of the UN instead of trying to get around its laws.

Again I believe in times of trouble we should look to our foundations to see us through - democracy and the rule of law.

Finally, I don’t want to argue over who is killing the most. My perception is that American and British forces are killing more civilians than Iraqis because of their shock and awe fire power. If I am wrong then I retract my statement. My point is that we have to take responsibility for our actions. Dropping napalm, cluster bombs and all the other bombs on cities kills and maims people and depleted uranium causes long term damage. Even if you believe your cause is just, dropping bombs is a deliberate act so I stand by my statement that the American military deliberately kills children. And yes I am ashamed.

I am not wringing my hands in guilty anguish, my point is that we need to take responsibility for our actions, going to war is a nasty business and should not be taken lightly, I believe there were and still are other options.

As for left wing propaganda, I don’t know what you mean. Tony Blair is left wing and I would find his propaganda laughable if it wasn’t so sad. While bombs are going off here in London and parliament takes away our right to a trial I wonder why people have lost faith in our strongest weapons – democracy and the rule of law.
James Dalrymple

Arnold Shcherban - 7/21/2005

Those mentioned by Mr. Heuisler are obviously terrorists-murderers... in "radical" difference with the trained
by CIA Cubans, Nicaraguans who committed the same kind of crimes, but you see: they fought for their land!
And how about Iraqis' anti-US-UK occupation resistance,
don't they fight for their native land?
What we hear from the heuislers of the Western world is a great revelation: they kill us, because they
are killers, they are born to kill innocent women and children. Friedmans of the same world trying to show their intellectual background add: also, because they are devouts of Mislim religion.
However, even half-brained start to realize by now that the phenomenon we witness nowadays is much more complicated than the overall, openly ideological, ahistorical and oversimplified criminalization of terrorism suggested by Mr. Heuisler's ultra-right hand.

The only different "plan" that must have been pursued in Iraq is not to attack it on the first place. Now, when
"we" are already there, the only right thing to do is to get out of there IMMEDIATELY.

Bill Heuisler - 7/21/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
Three misunderstandings and disagreements - one outrage:
1)Our motive for being in Iraq is self-defense.
2)No one lied to get us into Iraq. That is a silly argument used for political purposes and I'm surprised you would stoop to such nonsense.
3)You think anybody trusts the United Nations after the forty one billion dollar scam called Oil For Food?

Last, your statement, "US marines have killed far more children then terrorist" is false and without foundation. Before using such disgraceful statements why not refer to numbers or statistics or serious news sources? Are you trying to shock or merely mouthing Left Wing propaganda? And please don't bring up the discredited Lancet numbers to try to smear US armed forces. Where do you dredge up such garbage? Are you saying US Marines deliberately kill children the way the terrorists did those 97 truck-bomb victims last week? You should be ashamed.
Bill Heuisler

N. Friedman - 7/21/2005

Typo corrected and reposted below:


You have made some goods points. Indeed, there is an absence of focus regarding the dispute at hand.

Then again, it would be nice to hear how you convince dedicated Jihadis to become peace lovers or at least go away. It is that point on which you need to focus.

N. Friedman - 7/21/2005


You have made some goods points. Indeed, there is an absence of focus regarding the dispute at hand.

Then again, it would be nice to here how you convince dedicated Jihadis to become peace lovers or at least go away. It is that point on which you need to focus.

James H Dalrymple - 7/21/2005

Mr Heuisler,

Thank you, I appreciate it and likewise I will do what I can to help you even though I am eminently less qualified to do so.

If America’s motives are as pure as you describe and your only reason for being in the middle east is to save Arabs from themselves, then all I can say is, ‘beware those who hunt monsters lest they become monsters themselves’ or something like that, Nietche I think. Because the reality is that the US marines have killed far more children then terrorist and you seem to be creating more terrorist than you’re killing.

Just so there is no confusion, I am a supporter of democracy and capitalism, I believe in the rule of law and prefer peace to war. So I don’t support terrorism and to make out that I do because I disagree with your views is juvenile. I believe that America is a great country, I believe it is great because of democracy not despite democracy

This is how I believe the situation can best be resolved. First there needs to be accountability. The people who lied to get us into the war need to be held to account, dishonest people need to lose office at the very least. Secondly we need to get out of Iraq because nobody trusts us, instead the United Nations needs to send in peace keepers to oversee a proper democratic election, not the farce that took place earlier this year. 90% of the Iraqi population wants to nationalise oil and they should be allowed to do this and use the money to rebuild.

America cannot win support until trust is re-established, to do this they have to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, charge the prisoners and try them in civilian court. America needs to respect international law and both America and Briton need to catch the people committing crimes in their countries using police methodology, destroying whole cities in order to kill terrorists faster than they can be produced is not working.

We in the west need to have faith in our democratic institutions because democracy is where our strength comes from, we must not retreat into authoritarianism because of security fears, our democratic values are much stronger than their nihilism and with genuine help the majority of people in the Middle East are likely to embrace democratic values. In order to encourage democracy the west needs to be fair and just, we should not support despots on one hand and preach democracy on the other.

As for my sloppy language, in my first post I said that people in powerful countries do not understand what drives a person to become a suicide bomber. You said they do and said Cops, Police and Marines gave up their lives for the greater good. I merely pointed out that this is different to suicide.
James Dalrymple

E. Simon - 7/21/2005

Forgive me for not understanding what kind of compulsion would cause someone to put his two cents into discussions whose tenor he feels he is consistently above. And noting the difference between argument and rhetoric is hardly evasive - unless I misread your aim.

E. Simon - 7/21/2005

Mr Clarke, if your goal is indeed to "rebut the..._attitude_ of many Americans" perhaps a high school forensics competition might be up your alley. There you would learn the difference between analysis and polemic, and practice identifying the one to which _rebuttal_ actually applies. I mean this in all seriousness.

E. Simon - 7/20/2005

It is a pretty big deviation and something I found nowhere in the thread either. In the past, he's blamed these sorts of non-sequiturs on axes left to grind from previous conversations.

Bill Heuisler - 7/20/2005

How did Muslim extremists become our enemies?
They began at Beirut and Munich and places like Scotland, Hamburg, the Teheran embassy and cruise ships in the Med. We sent millions to places like Egypt and people like Arafat; we sent Marines to keep peace in Beirut; we sent troops to liberate Kuwait; we tried to save Bosnian Moslems; we tried to protect Moslems in Kosovo.

They tried to sink the Cole, assassinate HW Bush, blow up the World Trade Towers in 1993 and in 2001 and have said their goal is to convert or destroy us.

You say you see neither side as good nor bad in the Iraq war, thereby ignoring the history of Saddam Hussein and his documented breaches of a Cease Fire and his attempts to build and use CBN weapons for almost two decades. I will not bother to attempt convincing otherwise someone who sees no difference between US Marines and deliberate killers of children.

The fighting? Motives? Possible outcomes and ways of achieving victory? We are tiptoing around civilian casualties and taking casualties for our trouble. Most of the troops I've spoken with are proud of their mission to give the Iraqi people freedom from a bloody dictator. Many are reenlisting proudly to complete their mission.
We are killing dozens of terrorists every week and locating leaders and command and control centers. The outcome? Inevitable victory. The only question is when.

Four fifths of Iraq is peaceful and rebuilding. Current suicide attacks are aimed at Iraqi civilians - and aimed at civil war, Sunni vs Shiite. This prospect would not be wholly without its positives when you consider our mission is to kill terrorists, disrupt terror activities and prevent further attacks on the United States. No one would admit it, but carefully contained "insurgent hunts" by angry Iraqis would fit our objectives rather neatly.

Setting everything else aside, once an Iraqi constitution is adopted by the provinces, the mission is nearly over. Our military presence will of course remain as back-up, but the campaign will be recognized as a stunning success.
Afganistan, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and soon Syria: the world has changed and the Islamofascists certainly regret awakening the sleeping giant on 9/11.

Mr. Dalrymple, sloppy language reveals careless thinking.
Suicide is deliberately killing yourself for personal reasons. Our young men and women dying in Iraq are not committing such a selfish deed. They are giving their lives for a greater good - for families and country.

I'm a former Marine and Tucson policeman and always have been prepared to give my life for my country, my family or my fellow citizen. That's part of the burden when you join up. Hell, I'd probably put my life on the line for you if necessary.
Bill Heuisler

Ben W. Brumfield - 7/20/2005

that "civilized" Americans are uniformly and uniquely "repulsed" by "intentional targeting of innocents"

I think it's pretty clear that my comment implied nothing of the sort, nor attempted to explain "what is going on in the world today", but rather addressed the original author's assertion that Americans were uniquely bewildered by anyone willing to give their lives for a cause.

N. Friedman - 7/20/2005


Since you know doubt had me in mind - using the serial term being a give away -, I reiterate that I have not said that all Muslims think anything or are doing anything or anything of the sort.

I say, instead, that Islam - as a faith or, if you will, an ideology - teaches certain things that the devout take seriously. Which is to say, appeals to Jihad are a real factor among Muslims, as are the use of terminology like infidels, as are tactics like cutting people's heads off. If you were actually to read something about the Muslim regions - which thus far, I doubt you have done - you would see that I am correct.

N. Friedman - 7/20/2005


The issue here is that the terrorists are Jihadis interested in extending the portion of the earth ruled according to Islamic rule. In simple terms, they are conquerors, not people defending their lands. That, after all, is what the global Jihad is all about.

Now, it is true that a defensive Jihad (and, in fact, there were numerous fatwas declaring defensive Jihad include one by the grand imam of Islam, Mr. Tantawi) was declared when we started the Iraq war. However, such Jihad is one of many Jihads including the offensive Jihad to conquer the West. Those likely involved with al Qa'eda most likely see both Jihads as one and the same and with the ultimate goal to advance the offensive Jihad.

I think that the issue to consider is that the Islamic regions have turned the Iraq war into a religious war and, for the more radical of the Islamists, have folded the defensive Jihad into their already existing offensive Jihad. In the end, it does not much matter. The people interested in attacking the West are persuing the basic strategy they would likely persue - although tactical concerns might result in attacks in different locations had we persued a different plan than the war in Iraq - anyway.

James H Dalrymple - 7/20/2005

Mr Heuisler,

I do believe people are rational, even terrorists, though not righteous. I think it’s unhelpful to brush off ones enemies as irrational, evil, not human because this will make it more difficult to defeat them. When looking at the Iraq war I see neither side as good nor bad, just people using the tools available to them to fight. America uses violence, it may be a more sophisticated form of violence, but violence none the less and so do they. America sends people to far away places to fight and in those far away places they find locals who will fight with them against their own people. This has always happened in war. Why so surprised when their fighters appear in our village. Why is killing innocent people in an office block or a train more irrational and murderous then destroying a city using a napalm derivative?

I’m not having an anti-America rant I just think the hypocrisy is unhelpful. People fight over land and resources? I think the life blood of western civilisation is oil and it is only rational to protect our lifeblood. The wealth of the world is currently concentrated in small areas and it is only rational for people to want some of the wealth.

History proves that propaganda and the real reasons for fighting are a mile apart. Who now believes the British attacked the Transvaal Republic so the British people living in the Transvaal could vote. Most historians acknowledge that the British attacked for the gold yet if you look back at what was written in the papers talking about gold was as taboo then as talking about oil is now.

I enjoy filling my car with cheap petrol, buying cheap clothes made in poor countries and flying on cheap flights to cheap holiday destinations. I also know that some people are going to oppose all this cheapness so I am grateful for the volunteer soldier fighting on my behalf.

Yes I believe people are rational, even terrorists and American soldiers, I would be interested to hear what you think about the fighting – the motives, possible outcomes, ways of achieving victory. I think that by reducing people to irrational, evil, and not human is unhelpful and to shroud the whole thing in otherworldly religious smoke and mirrors cuts off rational debate.
James Dalrymple

PS. Cops Fireman and Marines do not sign up for suicide missions.

E. Simon - 7/19/2005

A nice and utterly fallacious way to stretch the idea into something it has nothing to do with, Peter. As for your weird and faintly opportunist (and false) analogy, one can criticize a religion without harping blame (for what, in any case?, _all_ of the issues attendent with it? or do none exist for fear of "scapegoating" adherents? I find it hard to believe that a sense of respect for the dignified person of Tom Cruise would suffice for you to keep your mouth shut on Scientology.) onto all its adherents, just as one could criticize the governments of Iran or China, knowing full well that any given individual citizen of these countries doesn't generally have a great deal of power to change the political status quo on their own. It still doesn't discredit the argument.

It's unfortunate that you can't get more practice identifying the fallacy of composition elsewhere before erroneously ascribing it to every argument in the blogosphere you don't like. Dislike specific arguments all you want, but recognize the difference between your distaste for them and the hallucinations you mistakenly conjure them to be.

Bill Heuisler - 7/19/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
You make the terrorists sound rational and righteous. The movie portrayed a man who gave his life for his friends and family - the difference between sacrifice and murder. An all-too-obvious difference in motive.

The terrorists who planned the Bali bombing were neither rational nor righteous, they were murderers. Terrorists who threw Mr. Klinghoffer off the cruise ship, bombed the US embassy in Kenya and blew up 100 or so children in Baghdad coldly, calculatedly decided to kill innocents. Was the guy in the wheelchair taking land and resources? The kids in the Bali nightclub? What about the athletes at the Munich olympics? Whose land did they threaten?

Finally, whose lands and resources were the 3000 New Yorkers endangering while working in the twin towers?

These murders were done for shock - to effect a political end or to send a message. Your post says being "powerful"
is somehow wrong or a cosmic accident. Your post also says we (the US - the "powerful) cannot imagine being driven to suicide. Wrong on both counts.

A powerful long-lasting conglomeration of free men by its nature eventuates from good will and liberty. Many good Americans would gladly give up their lives so that others might live. Cops and fireman know they may be called on to make that decision every day they go to work. Marines join the Corps knowing they will be asked to put their life on the line for their country and their brothers.

The difference? Terrorists commit murder to take lives, not to save them. People fight for their own land or to take others' land, you are correct, but terrorists kill the innocent as an object lesson - a blackmail message. That's why they're called terrorists.
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 7/19/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,
You make the terrorists sound rational and righteous. The movie portrayed a man who gave his life for his friends and family - the difference between sacrifice and murder. An all-too-obvious difference in motive.

The terrorists who planned the Bali bombing were neither rational nor righteous, they were murderers. Terrorists who threw Mr. Klinghoffer off the cruise ship, bombed the US embassy in Kenya and blew up 100 or so children in Baghdad coldly, calculatedly decided to kill innocents. Was the guy in the wheelchair taking land and resources? The kids in the Bali nightclub? What about the athletes at the Munich olympics? Whose land did they threaten?

Finally, whose lands and resources were the 3000 New Yorkers endangering while working in the twin towers?

These murders were done for shock - to effect a political end or to send a message. Your post says being "powerful"
is somehow wrong or a cosmic accident. Your post also says we (the US - the "powerful) cannot imagine being driven to suicide. Wrong on both counts.

A powerful long-lasting conglomeration of free men by its nature eventuates from good will and liberty. Many good Americans would gladly give up their lives so that others might live. Cops and fireman know they may be called on to make that decision every day they go to work. Marines join the Corps knowing they will be asked to put their life on the line for their country and their brothers.

The difference? Terrorists commit murder to take lives, not to save them. People fight for their own land or to take others' land, you are correct, but terrorists kill the innocent as an object lesson - a blackmail message. That's why they're called terrorists.
Bill Heuisler

Nathaniel Brian Bates - 7/19/2005

Terrorism is a Conspiracy, not a "Method". It has a structure. In no sense are we simply talking about nobodies.

The Muslim Brotherhood ties in to forces beyond itself. It helped to spawn modern terrorism. Friends, we are not simply dealing with Nobodies inspired by dogma.

James H Dalrymple - 7/19/2005

I think people fight for land and resources. Religion is used to excuse or rationalise the violence. It’s easy for the powerful to pretend they are horrified by suicidal attacks and make out that it is bizarre and inhuman because they don't need this weapon. The powerful can however imagine how they might be driven to suicide. In the film Independence Day, America was saved by a suicide mission. How does one fight shock and awe in a civilised manner?

James H Dalrymple - 7/19/2005

I think people fight for land and resources. Religion is used to excuse or rationalise the violence. It’s easy for the powerful to pretend they are horrified by suicidal attacks and make out that it is bizarre and inhuman because they don't need this weapon. The powerful can however imagine how they might be driven to suicide. In the film Independence Day, America was saved by a suicide mission. How does one fight shock and awe in a civilised manner?

Jeffery Ewener - 7/19/2005

Violence and extremism are common to all religions, particularly among People of the Book-types, and as N. Friedman observes above, they have been for centuries. Jews have Massada, Christians have Crusaders, Muslims have their own traditions. At their best and in normal times, they can be inspiring symbols of self-sacrifice for the common good. At worst, or in times of times of threat, panic and rage, they become sources of violent revenge fantasies and murderous and suicidal impulses.

(This shouldn't be surprising. Religion is something that goes deep into the human psyche. And it's a mixed bag down there.)

But as Richard Hodgman points out above, the question of what turns the inspiring symbol into the source of violence, or better, of what makes someone go and sift through their tradition for legends and symbols that justify their urge to violence and drive them on to consummate it -- this has to be an historical question. Traditions are complex, malleable things, and as has often been observed, we can find anything we want in them (or anything we need). What we want or need to find is determined, like everything else, by history, and how it confronts us, and how we respond to it.

John H. Lederer - 7/19/2005

Here is yet another column wondering if this act was one of suicide:


"Here is the evidence: They bought return railway tickets. Their bombs were not strapped to their bodies but carried in knapsacks as if to be left behind on the trains. None of them was heard to shout the customary ''Allah Akhbar'' before the bombs exploded. Unusually for suicide bombers, they left identification on their bodies. And surveillance videotapes show them laughing and joking casually -- rather than grimly determined or prayerful -- as they caught the Underground train.

These little pieces of circumstantial evidence suggest the possibility the bombers were duped."

John H. Lederer - 7/18/2005

ithin limits, wasn't the crucial parameter location rather than time--i.e. 2 minutes earlier or later would make no difference, but in a tunnel, nearing, or at a station would make a sizable difference?

Ledeen has some additional, and to my mind, reasonable arguments.

Bill Heuisler - 7/18/2005

Mr. Castagnera,
There's nothing unusual about the "modern" terrorist. Osama Bin Laden has a model from the Eleventh Century.

Excerpts from "The Assassins" by by Philip K. Hitti:

"...al-Hasan ibn-al-Sabbah died in 1124. He claimed descent from the Himyarite kings of South Arabia and his motives were supposedly a mixture of personal ambition and desire for vengeance..."

Sounds a lot like OBL so far, doesn't it?

"As a young man in al-Rayy, al-Hasan received instruction in the Batinite system (questioning "unjust" authority from an esoteric, fundamentally religious point of view) and after spending a year and a half in Egypt returned to his native land. In 1090 he gained possession of the strong mountain fortress Alamut, between the Caspian and the Persian highlands. From Alamut the grand master with his disciples made treacherous use of the dagger, reducing assassination to an art."

"Below the grand master stood the grand priors, each in charge of a particular district. After these came the ordinary propagandists. The lowest degree of the order comprised the "fida'is", who stood ready to execute whatever orders the grand master issued. One of their most famous masters in Syria was Rachid-al-Din Sinan (died in 1192), who bore the title shakkh al-jabal', translated by the Crusades' chroniclers as "the old man of the mountain". It was Rashid's henchmen who struck awe and terror into the hearts of the Crusaders.

A description of the method by which the master of Alamut is said to have hypnotized his "self-sacrificing ones" has come down to us from Marco Polo, who passed in that neighborhood in 1271 or 1272. After describing in glowing terms the magnificent garden surrounding the elegant pavilions and palaces built by the grand master at Alamut, Polo proceeds:

"Now no man was allowed to enter the Garden save those whom he intended to be his ASHISHIN. There was a fortress at the entrance to the Garden, strong enough to resist all the world, and there was no other way to get in. He kept at his Court a number of the youths of the country, from twelve to twenty years of age, such as had a taste for soldiering... Then he would introduce them into his Garden, some four, or six, or ten at a time, having first made them drink a certain potion which cast them into a deep sleep, and then causing them to be lifted and carried in. So when they awoke they found themselves in the Garden.
"When therefore they awoke, and found themselves in a place so charming, they deemed that it was Paradise in very truth. And the ladies and damsels dallied with them to their hearts' content...

"So when the Old Man would have any prince slain, he would say to such a youth: 'Go thou and slay So and So; and when thou returnest my Angels shall bear thee into Paradise. And shouldst thou die, natheless even so will I send my Angels to carry thee back into Paradise.'"

(from 'The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian', translated by Henry Yule,London, 1875.)

Mongol Khan, Hulagu, (animist) destroyed Alamut in 1256.

The point? Radical Moslem thought embraced indiscriminate murder and assassination for over a thousand years. This politics by atrocity is certainly nothing new and can only be defeated by the extermination of the assassins.
Bill Heuisler

E. Simon - 7/18/2005

Well stated - thanks for this post.

Jonathan Dresner - 7/18/2005

Or perhaps they acceeded to timers in order to increase the effectiveness of the attack.

Ben W. Brumfield - 7/18/2005

Many Americans find the concept of suicide bombing not only repulsive, but baffling. That’s because few of us can conceive of any idea or ideal so dear to us that we would wake up one morning, strap on explosives and walk out of the house to our self-inflicted deaths

On the contrary, the notion of an ideal so cherished that someone is willing to give their life for it is neither baffling nor repulsive to Americans. What civilized men find repulisve about the London bombings is not the suicide of the attackers, but their intentional targeting of innocents.

While I do not think it is Mr. Castagnera's intention, the attribution of the revulsion we feel at suicide bombing to the means of the attack rather than the ends is often a willful attempt to draw attention and sympathy to the voluntary sacrifice of the bomber and away from the suffering of the bomber's victims.

N. Friedman - 7/18/2005

Maybe the bombers were akin to some of the Jihadis in Israel, where the handler sometimes does not tell the Jihadis they are going to die. Which is to say, the Jihadis may have thought that they were merely carrying packages to specific locations in accordance with instructions. Perhaps they were told by their handler to separate.

John H. Lederer - 7/18/2005

I see the same question has been raised by Michael Ledeen:


John H. Lederer - 7/18/2005

The bombings in London give me pause when described as "suicide bombings".

If they were, why were timers used?

Aren't the known facts a bit more consistent with a modus operandi used at least once in Iraq -- someone told to carry bomb materials elsewhere without being told that a timer would set it off while he had it.

Seems to me that a dedicated suicide bomber would not need a timer, and one whose resolve was questionable would be likely to leave the rucksack under a seat and get off.

Just a question...

John H. Lederer - 7/18/2005

The bombings in London give me pause when described as "suicide bombings".

If they were, why were timers used?

Aren't the known facts a bit more consistent with a modus operandi used at least once in Iraq -- someone told to carry bomb materials elsewhere without being told that a timer would set it off while he had it.

Seems to me that a dedicated suicide bomber would not need a timer, and one whose resolve was questionable would be likely to leave the rucksack under a seat and get off.

Just a question...

mark safranski - 7/18/2005

Terrorism takes many forms - lone wolves, leaderless resistance, network formation, hierarchically organized insurgency and state-sponsored agency. al Qaida is a hybrid and has adapted to make use of all of these elements at different points in time and fully resembles neither the Vietcong nor the romantic but tiny Anarchist-Terrorist groups of the late 19th and early 20th century.


N. Friedman - 7/18/2005


One possible answer is the religious revival that has occurred among Muslims in Europe.

Richard W. Hodgman - 7/18/2005

And just what has happened to turn "European" citizens against other Europeans? Why weren't we seeing subway bombings in the 1980's or before?

N. Friedman - 7/17/2005


I note that the phenomena is not recent. It was commonplace for more than a thousand years in the Muslim empires. The phenomena went by the name razzias.

What is new is the phenomena from European citizens against other Europeans. But, in the Muslim regions, the use of razzias to achieve political ends is the norm.

Richard W. Hodgman - 7/17/2005

The emergence of Muslim suicide bombers seems a relatively recent phenomenon, at least on the scale it is now manifesting. Some experts postulate the etiology for this type of act is a feeling of desperate helplessness in the face of a threat to one’s own culture. Put more simply, it can be explained pretty thoroughly by the rage toward a foreign power or invader occupying one’s home land. Along this line can anyone document this level of Islamic suicide terrorism against the West, at least in the modern era, prior to the establishment of American bases in Saudi Arabia following the first Gulf War, or the same thing in the Middle East prior to the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948? I believe OBL used this argument as rationale to justify the World Trade Center attacks.

There seems no shortage of attempts to explain the motivations of someone undertaking such a drastic course of action. We would be wise to listen to those who actually have attempted this or have been involved in such plots and conspiracies. To the question “why do they hate us?” we need to delve a little deeper than saying they “hate our freedoms”, etc. I can see where religious fervor and a culture of martyrdom are factors, but in the absence of a sense of one's home or culture being invaded I don’t see how this alone explains such actions.

It seems to me we better shed our pre-conceived and simplistic notions about all this. I am convinced force is not the answer. The scholarship of experts like Chalmers Johnson should be given thoughtful consideration. This issue needs top priority by all who want to preserve our freedoms and way of life, and without being submerged by partisan ideologies.

N. Friedman - 7/17/2005

While the article makes some good points, it never fully addresses what specifically motivates Jihadis such as the ordinary British Jihadis who struck in London.

A plausible explanation, in line, I might add, with the article is that those involved are touched by the desire for martydom, an idea which finds roots in the teachings of Islam, a religion which rewards holy warriors who die fighting with a life in paradise.

And, if one is a religious Muslim, one wishes to walk in the path of Mohammed. It is to be noted that Mohammed was, in part, a warrior and a political leader who, as necessary, encouraged martyrdom. And martyrs surrounded Mohammed and the generations which spread Islam as the religion became the ideology for an empire in which the early followers also walked in Mohammed's path, the path of martydom.

My bet is that many Muslim today wish to emulate Islam in its early years and follow in the path of martyrdom. They believe that, like in the 7th Century, the idea of building an empire is possible. Hence, they act.

Which is why it is the devout who are most interested in the Jihad and in martydom. And it is among believers that Jihadi violence will come.