Tuesday 3 July 2007

Doing the terrorists' propaganda work for them

I find it astonishing that almost all the letters in today's Guardian on the latest terror attacks support the discredited 'blowback' theory: i.e. it's a reponse to the war in Iraq and therefore, directly or indirectly, our own government's fault. You have to assume that at least some of the letter-writers bought The Guardian's sister paper The Observer on Sunday and read the piece by former jihadist Hassan Butt, which included the following:

When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the 'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

Friday's attempt to cause mass destruction in London with strategically placed car bombs is so reminiscent of other recent British Islamic extremist plots that it is likely to have been carried out by my former peers.

And as with previous terror attacks, people are again articulating the line that violence carried out by Muslims is all to do with foreign policy. For example, yesterday on Radio 4's Today programme, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: 'What all our intelligence shows about the opinions of disaffected young Muslims is the main driving force is not Afghanistan, it is mainly Iraq.'

He then refused to acknowledge the role of Islamist ideology in terrorism and said that the Muslim Brotherhood and those who give a religious mandate to suicide bombings in Palestine were genuinely representative of Islam.

I left the BJN in February 2006, but if I were still fighting for their cause, I'd be laughing once again. Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the 7 July bombings, and I were both part of the BJN - I met him on two occasions - and though many British extremists are angered by the deaths of fellow Muslim across the world, what drove me and many of my peers to plot acts of extreme terror within Britain, our own homeland and abroad, was a sense that we were fighting for the creation of a revolutionary state that would eventually bring Islamic justice to the world.

So what's going on here? Either The Guardian's selection of letters for publication (like its choice of writers for its comment columns) is skewed towards a certain point of view - or these letters are genuinely representative of a swathe of liberal-left opinion in Britain. If the latter, and these people are aware of the writings of Butt, Ed Husain and others, then it's another instance of the strategy of deliberately ignoring the obvious and looking the other way that has seems to have become central to the faux-liberal mindset.


When I wrote the above I hadn't read the supplements to today's Guardian. The education section has an interview with Professor John Tulloch, who survived the 7/7 bombings and famously complained about the way the media used his image in support of the government's anti-terror policies. He subsequently wrote a book about his ordeal, in which he attempted to 'understand' the motives of suicide bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan. In the Guardian interview he rejects the way Khan has been treated by the media and claims that (in the words of the article) 'We will not understand the anger felt by many British Muslims over the Iraq war if we simply view Khan "as a crazy who's been got at by another crazy".'

Well, Hassan Butt's article quoted above should put paid to any notion that 'understanding' anger over Iraq will tell us anything useful about the causes of suicide terrorism. And though labelling Khan a 'crazy' is clearly unhelpful, it's not far off the mark to apply that label to the murderous cult in which he allowed himself to be swept up, and its warped theocratic ideology. Respect is due to Professor Tulloch for attempting a cool-headed analysis of what must have been a terribly traumatic personal experience, but it could be argued that citing 'Muslim anger' as a motive actually tarnishes those Muslims who, whatever their views of British foreign policy, didn't decide to massacre innocent Tube passengers as part of a strategy to create 'a revolutionary state that would eventually bring Islamic justice to the world'.

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