Militants in Europe Openly Call for Jihad and the Rule of Islam
April 26, 2004 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Militants in Europe Openly Call for Jihad and the Rule of Islam The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe, and is being answered, counterterrorism officials say. In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families' new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street.
posted by Postroad (52 comments total)
Jon Ronson has a funny article in his book "Them: Adventures With Extremists" about hanging out with a Jihad militant at Hyde Park.
posted by inksyndicate at 6:56 AM on April 26, 2004

The fall of western civilization is being orchestrated from Luton?
posted by spazzm at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2004

MeFi: All the News That's Fit to Filter
posted by stonerose at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2004

Seems more like MeFi: All the News That's Fit to Filter...
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2004

Great closing line:

"Our Muslim brothers from abroad will come one day and conquer here and then we will live under Islam in dignity," he said.

I'm about ten seconds from becoming an anti-militant militant. What we all need: Vigilantefilter.

As a preemptive strike, I'd like to point out that their desire to overthrow us for overthrowing them is not ironic as much as moronic. Without representative government, fundamentalists have no argument for equivalency with [albeit tarnished] US motives.
posted by ewkpates at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2004

You'd rather they plotted in secret? Hell, It's great if they do it openly, then we know exactly where they are, plus they can expose themselves as psychos rather than acquire a sheen of victimhood and martyrdom. Let 'em rant.
posted by jonmc at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2004

Maaan, they haven't deported Bakri or Hamza yet? Yeesh.. How doesn't it count as sedition?

Part of the problem we have in the UK is the lack of any real moutpiece for the majority of muslims, which results in groups like al-Muhajaroon, who are actually not that big, getting a disproportionate slice of the media attention.

The last issue of Q-News was focussed around this problem (you can read it online).
posted by Mossy at 7:50 AM on April 26, 2004

It ain't really news. We have some psychos in the UK. The US is 90% compirsed of people like David Koresh and Timothy Mcveigh, holing up in forests and hording tins of potatos and kalashnikovs for surving nuclear wars, if you believe the media. I've seen loads of mad groups like these in the UK, from Hizb ut Tahir to this lot. They seem to me to be the islamic equivalent of punk rockers - just desperate to shock (which is why they do it openly) and unable to grasp the concept that in a real Kalifah, they'd be having their toenails pulled out by cackling Mullahs if they voiced such revolutionary sentiments.
posted by Pericles at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2004

I know it is difficult for some readers and commentors to read an entire article because snippy comments come first, but it is not at all unusual for a decent writer/journalist, essayist, to use a specific to move out into a general observation. In fact, if you read Shakespeare, you can spot this technique in many of his fine speeches given his characters. Lutton is then but one small spot and the article moves well beyond that...the terror guys getting skills to fly planes did not all gather first in NY or DC. And if you truly believe Lutton the exception or a wayward oddity, try finding out what is going on not only in UK but in other parts of Europe. Sorry for the lecture but my coffee was cold and I got upset.
posted by Postroad at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2004

And ironically, in today's Guardian, Luton's moderate Moslems are marching for peace.

I agree with jonmc. As long as we keep an eye on these people, they are nothing more than harmless cranks. They don't even have the support of their own community.

This is a very perceptive comment: "Just as the BNP targets white people in places where there is high unemployment, so the radicals will come to Luton because we have unemployment and young people who feel they are being overlooked."
posted by salmacis at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2004

salmacis - thanks for the link... I really like the last line of this article to. The phrase from the young muslim gentleman about the press "having a go at us" is very nice, blending the islamic message with the British way of talking.

And yes, I basically only read the end of the articles.
posted by ewkpates at 8:00 AM on April 26, 2004

What salmacis said. These chaps from luton are nothing more than a very vocal diminutive minority that need to be monitored by the authorities and ignored by the rest of us.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:01 AM on April 26, 2004

I think Luton was considered funny in this thread, not because of its lack of importance as a breeding ground for terror cells, but because it's a frequent punchline on "Monty Python's Flying Circus."
posted by inksyndicate at 8:14 AM on April 26, 2004

Something quite interesting for the Brits out there - Channel 4 is showing Shariah TV at 10 past midnight tmrw..
posted by Mossy at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2004

This is actually not an entirely bad thing. Why? The most valuable tool that states can use against terrorist networks is human intelligence and infiltration. This works quite well against white-supremacist networks in the United States, but it is more difficult for the U.S. to penetrate jihadist circles because of obvious language and ethnic barriers. However, there is a sizable Muslim population in Britain of South Asian descent, most of whom are loyal to Britain and anti-terrorist. In other words, perfect undercover agents. Such agents would be indistinguishable from any of the other young men being recruited by these groups.

The fact that there's a generational split between potential militants and their parents is even better - in Arab countries, entire families of potential recruits could be vetted or serve as recruitment pools, but in Britain, the sleeper agent need only say that his family has been "corrupted" by Western decadence and just wouldn't understand what needs to be done, John Walker Lindh-style. British intelligence services should start recruiting undercover agents from these segments of the population immediately, if they haven't already; the longer they're there, the further they can rise, and the better the intelligence that they can gather.
posted by skoosh at 8:30 AM on April 26, 2004

I wouldn't worry about it. If they get too intrusive, Spiny Norman will emerge from his hangar at Luton airport and destroy them with a shake of his massive tail.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:35 AM on April 26, 2004

Thank heavens you posted this, as being the off-lead (top, front-page, left-hand story) in today's New York Times doomed it to obscurity. I imagine almost none of us would be aware of this were it not for MetaNewsFilter.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:36 AM on April 26, 2004

I understand the need to protect MetaFilter from being too much like other sites. But I do not understand the high-intensity grousing about link choices that goes on here.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2004

Omar Bakri is hilariously described in an excellent This American Life story. This business about seeing the flag of Islam flying over Britain is nothing new. He's been spouting it for years. He's just getting a lot more attention now. The story is really hilarious. Listen to it, if only to find out which direction the Koran instructs mulims to break wind. It's Jon Ronson in Act I of Them.
posted by scarabic at 9:02 AM on April 26, 2004

This has been a gloomy day. First, a little dead bird. And now this.
posted by troutfishing at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2004

God is always on the side of lunatics and sane alike.

Maybe one day the human drive for morality, painted as God, will be taken out of politics. Yet with 2000 years of culture coalescing ideas into omnipotence, it may be a long, hard slog.

So, let the violence continue, and let us all fear tomorrow.
posted by the fire you left me at 9:22 AM on April 26, 2004

Truly this is the voice of the common Muslim. The next time I see one of those devious camel riders trying to play off like he (or she!) is not really lying in wait for the great uprising, I'll know the truth. I mean, just LOOK at them with their crooked noses and dark faces... just like in the movies. Evil!

And just think: I was starting to feel bad about the hundreds of "innocent" women and children the US and UK are currently slaughtering in Falluja. Innocent my ass.

...And, you know, more bullocks in that vein.
posted by squirrel at 9:40 AM on April 26, 2004

inksyndicate --

You mean you haven't noticed MeFi is plagued by rampant douchebaggery?

It's a shame to complain about the complainers, but they really are a pox on us all. Let 'em die alone.
posted by dfowler at 10:37 AM on April 26, 2004

They'd better be careful. There's already an increase in physical and verbal attacks on Muslims and an awful lot of quiet growling resentment on the streets, on the buses, in the supermarket . The majority of English people are tolerant enough but one big bomb - especially at a football stadium or on the Tube - and certain whole inner city areas will be smoking ruins. There won't be enough police. This is not incitement, just prediction based on observation and listening. Sorry if it's bollocks.

The British do do polite, tolerant, patient, police operations. We also do total war.
posted by terrymiles at 10:45 AM on April 26, 2004

Remember, folks:

Islam is a Religion of Peace.
posted by Rob1855 at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2004

Bloody coup, yep, that's the quickest and most effective way to change the world. Not like trying, you know, democracy or any other twisted legal means.
posted by fenriq at 11:58 AM on April 26, 2004

Rob1855, how can a religion that sounds like a wrestling move be about peace? Islam, I slam!

And yes, I am joking.
posted by fenriq at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2004

but one big bomb - especially at a football stadium or on the Tube

I'm sure you're already aware, but just such an awful possibility came very close to being carried out just nine days ago at the Manchester United vs. Liverpool soccer match:
"A suicide bomb plot to kill thousands of soccer fans at Saturday’s high-profile match between Manchester United and Liverpool has been dramatically foiled by police with the arrest of ten terror suspects.

Quoting intelligence chiefs, London tabloid The Sun reported that Al-Qaeda fanatics had planned to blow themselves up amid 67,000 unsuspecting supporters.

A source, according to the report, said: “The target was Old Trafford.”

According to the report, the suicide plotters had already bought the tickets for various positions in the 67,000-capacity stadium.

Thousands of people watching Manchester United’s home game against Liverpool would have been killed as the Islamic fanatics blew themselves up, the report said. But armed cops foiled the plot in a series of raids conducted early morning on Monday in northern and central England.

Ten people were arrested after a massive surveillance operation involving British anti-terror units and American authorities.

Quoting a police source, the report said: “The plot involved several individual bombers in separate parts of the stadium. If successful, any such attack would have caused absolute carnage. Thousands of people could have been killed.”"
Apologies to the Brits, but generally speaking I wouldn't even want to get near your typical pissed-off revved-up drunk soccer fan--I've heard too many stories of riots and hooliganism.

So I can barely imagine how absolutely fucking crazy you'd have to be to try to actually incite thousands of them (by way of mass murder, structural damage, and subsequent panicked stampeding) against you and your cause.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:49 PM on April 26, 2004

"Islam is a Religion of Peace."

I was priviliged to work with an Islamic scholar, Dr Louay Fatoohi, who is an Iraqui convert from christianity to Islam. He's recently written a book "Jihad in the Koran" in which he argues just that. His introduction states:

"Contrary to what many believe, misunderstanding and misrepresenting Islam are not associated with non-Muslims only. People who are Muslims in name yet almost totally ignorant of their religion have been major contributors to the painting of the widespread distorted image of Islam. Under the name of Islam, some individuals and groups have adopted ideas and taken actions that have nothing to do with Islam. These non-Islamic concepts and actions then get unfairly associated with Islam ... Islam is the religion of knowledge, so keenness on acquiring knowledge is one main duty of the Muslim. Ignorant Muslims can cause damage to both themselves and the name of Islam ...

This problem is made worse by the fact that so many Muslims inherit and accept a passive attitude toward self-education, relying uncritically and almost entirely on the teachings of whatever past or contemporary clerics or scholars they happen to know or learn about. As is the case with any learning process, it is essential for the seeker of knowledge to have a teacher, but it is equally important that the teacher is a genuine one. As stated earlier, Islam requires the Muslim to proactively seek knowledge. This certainly involves more than total and uncritical reliance on the opinions of a couple of scholars."

I have no contact with Dr Fatoohi any more, but this is an excellent book if only because it shows that Islam is not an homogenous mass of Osama Bin ladens, and that decent moslems regard Bin Laden as as much as representative of Islam as Catholics regard the IRA as representing catholicism, or white Americans regard Mcveigh as representing them.

But, as always, on all sides, those pre-disposed to hate will not attempt to broaden their tunnel vision and bogeymen.
posted by Pericles at 12:52 PM on April 26, 2004

His book sounds lovely, but the fact remains that all religions are not just what their texts and scholars say, but how they are practiced in everyday life. For example, when asked what parts of a woman could be uncovered, the Prophet Mohammed said that her face and hands should be uncovered. Yet for millions and millions of Muslim women, their lives include being covered completely from head to toe. The "true" religion, that which is/was written, may say otherwise, but it's this practice of that religion that counts, that has an impact on their everyday life, and in that sense, is more true by being more real.

To argue that Bin Laden's brand of strict Wahhabiist Jihadist anti-Western anti-science anti-modern mysoginist Islam is "not the true face of Islam" may be quite true if we're sitting and chatting in a comparative religions class. But in the real world, whether his "fundamentalist" ideas deviate from the religion's actual fundamentals or not pretty much means bupkis. It's the practice of his and his followers' ideas that we're all left to deal with.

In that sense, he is a face (though not the face) of Islam, and one which is calling for the murders of billions of innocent people. To ignore his threat just because his religious interpretations are technically inauthentic would be a cop-out.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:21 PM on April 26, 2004

totally agree, Asparagirl. But there's a lot of people not realising that Mr and Mrs Khan from down the road are as opposed to Bin Laden as you and I. And reports about a group of daft bastards in Luton who've been banging on about this for ages doesn't serve to enlighten.
posted by Pericles at 1:26 PM on April 26, 2004

In that sense, he is a face (though not the face) of Islam, and one which is calling for the murders of billions of innocent people. To ignore his threat just because his religious interpretations are technically inauthentic would be a cop-out.

I don't think anyone is suggesting ignoring bin Laden just because he happens to practice and preach a perverted interpretation of Islam. As I read Pericles comment, and many other Muslims make similar points, the idea is that bin Laden's apocolytpic Wahabbism can rightly be challenged as un-Islamic according to the Koran, that is, according to the very standards laid out by Muhammad, and not only according to Western standards of liberalism or human rights.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:37 PM on April 26, 2004

posted by DrJohnEvans at 2:01 PM on April 26, 2004

Pericles- true. And all the more reason that moderate Muslims need to take a more active role in demonstrating against the likes of the LutonLuddites. As Mossy said above, thare's currently no real mouthpiece in Britain for moderate pro-Western Muslims to rebut not only the ugly image of the Muslim-as-Possible-Terrorist but also the substance of the BinLadenites' twisted religious interpretations. Given the close calls Britain has had lately with regards to Islamist terrorism (like the suicide bombers at the Manchester United match, which would have been horrific), it would probably be in everyone's interest that there be greater protests from the moderate community--and quickly. Otherwise, I'm scared to think what could happen to innocent and peaceful Mr. and Mrs. Khan in the wake of a mass-casualty terrorist attack perpetrated by Islamists; terrymiles' assessment of growing British anti-Muslim anger and the possibility of venegance attacks strikes me as a possible horrible outcome.

Ty Webb- But people do ignore or excuse Wahhabiist and other brands of politicized/nationalized Islam in a variety of ways, mostly I think out of discomfort with criticizing the vagaries of someone's religion. Given that we're in a war of ideologies, it's remarkable how much we focus only on the good in our ideology that we want to preserve (democracy, rights for women and gays and non-believers, etc.) and how little we pick through the negative of their ideology (imposition of sharia'a and what that exactly entails, dhimmi status for non-Muslims, etc.) which might be construed as a criticism of Islam. Instead, we're left grasping fo more general, less helpful critiques of their ideology (women aren't treated well, etc.), which are more of a symptom of the problem, not a cause.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:04 PM on April 26, 2004

It's when I read about the likes of Hamza & Bakri that I understand Charlton Heston's most famous phrase - "From my cold dead hands."

I shall whupp 'em with a damp copy of the Lesbian & Gay Humanist Manual 2004, tho' - not an Uzi 9millimetre.

That'll learn 'em.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:30 PM on April 26, 2004

Given that we're in a war of ideologies, it's remarkable... how little we pick through the negative of their ideology (imposition of sharia'a and what that exactly entails, dhimmi status for non-Muslims, etc.) which might be construed as a criticism of Islam.

I'm sure there are people who "ignore or excuse Wahhabiist and other brands of politicized/nationalized Islam," just as there are people who believe Muhammad was a terrorist. Myself, I've seen an almost constant stream of detailed criticism of Wahabbism and fundamentalist Islam in the U.S. media. There are PC elements that refrain from any systemic criticism of Islam, of course, but I don't see that as the mainstream view.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:13 PM on April 26, 2004

The question is not about protest, but rather how to protest - do you wish for moderate muslims to rally periodically waving signs saying not in our name? Did the catholics in northern ireland do this/any other group with extreme nationalistic factions? I suppose it's because Islam as a way of life is misconstrued - true there are those that practice the mysognist interpretation, but I'd venture the vast majority are simply cultural muslims who are essentially "christian" in their outlook to life - ie do unto others, try to lead a clean life, look after your kids etc.

I've seen plenty of criticism of the religion itself, with no thought for political correctness, moderating a large Islamic forum amongst other activities.

Here's a recent article in the Observer by the Q News editor about the strange mix of the community and it's insurgent elements.

It's a toughie.
posted by Mossy at 3:39 PM on April 26, 2004

do you wish for moderate muslims to rally periodically waving signs saying not in our name? would be a good start. Seriously. A committed and active political movement of moderate Muslims could do a lot of good. And planning to head off a possible anti-Muslim backlash following an "inevitable" attack on Britain is, sadly, something that needs to be considered. ("Inevitable" is the word I keep reading MP's and politicians and policemen saying when discussing the likelihood of an Al Qaeda attack on London.)

Did the catholics in northern ireland do this

Yes, they did. (See also Mairead Corrigan Maguire.) And that's not even an exact analogy, because the situation in Northern Ireland, though inflamed by differences in religion, was a fight for nationality and specific territory. In Britain, it's a fight for who gets to claim the mantle of being a "real" Muslim: moderate Brits or theocratic-wannabes.

any other group with extreme nationalistic factions?

Israeli and American Jews routinely rally and protest and organize on both sides of the Arab/Israeli conflict, with dovish Jews saying that the occupation is not in their name and hawkish Jews saying that no concessions should be given to terrorists. I'm sure there are other groups that do similiar things.

That article you linked, by the way, was really interesting: a mix of good analysis of the problem and frustrating doubletalk. Good article, because Alam chastizes the press for letting soundbites and press releases from cheesy elite umbrella groups speak for all Muslims without doing more investigative journalism and talking to random people. Bad article, because Alam matter-of-factly refers to "the root cause of terrorism, which is our country's foreign policy", which had me do a dead stop in the middle of the piece. That's one of the fundamental problems issues in this war: misidentifying terrorism as a response to anything the West has done. Good article, because it calls for moderate Muslims to step up and hold town hall meetings and discussion groups and really talk about the problems their community is facing in integrating: "What is preventing them from being Muslims of Britain, rather than Muslims in Britain?" Bad article, because Alam basically calls for dumping the "draconian anti-terrorism law" since it only drives the "criminals" underground. That's yet another fundamental difference of opinion in this war: terrorism is committed for political purposes to acheive political ends, and thus is an act of war, it's not a mere crime committed out of greed or malice or insanity.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:21 PM on April 26, 2004

There are PC elements that refrain from any systemic criticism of Islam

I think they're called CNN. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 4:27 PM on April 26, 2004

I think the article represents the viewpoints pretty well - a mixture of percieved inequities with a frustration at misunderstanding.

The fact of the matter is that there are marches and protests - see the march that happened just now in Luton, the place the article is based around (strange place). There is also a wide range of community resentment against these groups - see the response to the MCB's call for mosques to speak out against them (and indeed they have).

Every time one of these groups speak out, something happens to muslims already, that's annoying.

So, in essence, the base problem is making the general public who are not muslim recognise the difference, non? Marketing. Have a flick through some of the articles in the magazine I linked - you won't like or agree with parts (I guarantee), but it'll further expand on some of the problems the community faces.

Terrorism comes about for a variety of factors - it is also contributed to by a variety of factors. It may not be purely political or ideological - it tends to be a mixture of both with one the basis and the other the driver.

The "West" has made booboos when it comes to foreign policy - I'm willing to venture obl for one does believe what he says - it is indeed an act of war for him, but I'd say it doesn't make it any less of a crime.

I think the main key is eliminating the Us vs Them mentality. On both sides.

Kinda hard in a dog-eat-dog world, but hey..
posted by Mossy at 4:36 PM on April 26, 2004

..."London tabloid The Sun reported"...

The Sun is the UK equivalent of Weekly World News, only with more boobies (NSFW).
posted by spazzm at 6:05 PM on April 26, 2004

That's one of the fundamental problems issues in this war: misidentifying terrorism as a response to anything the West has done.

While I certainly don't locate all, or even most, of the root causes of Islamist terrorism in Western interference, I think it's simply ridiculous to imply that actions of the West, particularly U.S. foreign policy, had nothing whatsoever to do with the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. Even Richard Perle has recognized that the U.S. is, in a sense, paying a price for it's support of Arab authoritarian regimes during the Cold War.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:56 PM on April 26, 2004

Even Richard Perle has recognized that the U.S. is, in a sense, paying a price for it's support of Arab authoritarian regimes during the Cold War.

I agree, but don't forget Russia's significant share of the blame.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:45 AM on April 27, 2004

I agree, but don't forget Russia's significant share of the blame.

Yes, agreed. I'm not arguing the rightness or wrongness of U.S. support for Arab authoritarian regimes during the Cold War, that's an entirely separate debate. I'm suggesting only that that support has not played well in the region, and has contributed to the resentment against the U.S.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:12 AM on April 27, 2004

I think it's simply ridiculous to imply that actions of the West, particularly U.S. foreign policy, had nothing whatsoever to do with the rise of Islamist fundamentalism

Oh, absolutely--sorry if I was giving that impression. I was trying to say that terrorism specifically is not directly caused by anything the West has done--not because we've never done anything wrong (we sure have) but because we've done dumb or cruel things in so many areas of the world. And yet countries and groups in South America, Latin America, and SE Asia--all places we've supported authoritarian regimes or mucked around in--don't commit terrorist attacks against us or our citizens. Terrorist acts against the US in particular (except for the odd home-grown guy like McVeigh) come from one region/religion/society in the world only. So for people like Alam to pull the ole "root cause of terrorism = our country's foreign policy" routine doesn't hold water, because our foreign policy has been lousy in a lot of places around the world, but the specific response of killing civilian citizens has only come from one place and one mindset. Which leads me to think that maybe the root cause of terrorism is, y'know, the mindset, and things that reinforce it.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:37 AM on April 27, 2004

the specific response of killing civilian citizens has only come from one place and one mindset.

What about the U.S. (KKK, the Weathermen)? Ireland (IRA)? Israel (Irgun)? Nicaragua (Contras)? Spain (ETA)? Peru (Shining Path)?
posted by Ty Webb at 2:17 PM on April 27, 2004

Erm.. If we're referring to the US, the middle east would seem to be the area of highest interference with local governance (see the shah in iran, the israel situation etc..)..

And in this case it is interference with local governments that would be able to exist without US support.. But the US sensibly wants to protect its interests and then locates troops say in oooh, Saudi Arabia (which funnily is where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from).

I think the level of support given for non-democratic regimes above and beyond democratically elected bodies (ooh, shah again) is quite startling. When people can't decide their own affairs in their own nation they get to be a bit annoyed on the whole. Just look at what's happening/will inevitably happen in Iraq as Iraqi national pride rises once more..

When you have leadership that is chummy with those you percieve to be at the root of your oppression due to their effect on your country and lack the freedom to change this, where are you going to turn?

Let's look at the Saudi government (funnily where most of the hijackers came from again) and it's relationship with the US. They have a fair bit of investment in the US.. In fact a startling amount.. I don't think the US wants them gone any time soon.

There's no real love for the royal family in Saudi. Heck, it's against the religion of the majority of people there. Yet they can't do anything about it.. There's a massive class divide and a large level of dissatisfaction.. Which makes it easy for the groups to capitalise on this. It's also interesting to note that there is a degree of disatisfaction amongst the Saudi royalty as to America's influence too, especially with the current prince.. The extended royal family is quite rich you know. Hmm, attacks on foreign soil would require a hefty portion of money and organisation.. Hmm..

In any case, what's Bin Laden's first and primary objective? Get the Americans out of his country and stop interfering. Doesn't this smack of a dash of nationalism to you? A reaction to a foreign policy? One could say that the foreign policy is currently heading the way of terror.

Why? You're either with us or against us. We have big guns. We're not afraid to use them. We target military institutions, but there will inevitably be "collateral damage". We reserve the right to attack any country on the pretext of our war on a noun (what did Iraq ever do to America? Heck, what did Iran do to be listed on the infamous axis?). Every leadership would be scared of that.

Ok, so there's a large number of ways of interpreting Islam, just like any other religion. Let's have a quick look around to see how many terrorist groups have a reading that doesn't fit into either the salafi/wahhabi methodology of non-traditional Islamic thought.

Hmm. Isn't that interesting? As is the roots of the group.. And who supported them and why they did at their inception..

Nothing's black and white and the world isn't simple - you can't reduce it either way to a simple "Islam is a religion of violence" or "it's all the fault of the crappy foreign policy".
posted by Mossy at 3:07 PM on April 27, 2004

What about the U.S. (KKK, the Weathermen)?

Well, let's lump those in with the part about "except for the odd home-grown guy like McVeigh...".

Ireland (IRA)? Israel (Irgun)? Nicaragua (Contras)? Spain (ETA)? Peru (Shining Path)?

As far as I know, none of them have either targeted Americans specifically nor attacked civilians within the US. Again, to quote what I wrote, "Terrorist acts against the US in particular (except for the odd home-grown guy like McVeigh) come from one region/religion/society in the world only." Of all the (non-American) people on the planet that have grudges against us, legitimate or not (and again, many are legitimate), only one group has turned that into continual attempted murder of US civilians. This tends to make me think that a deciding factor in creating terrorism is not the standard stimuli of "bad US foreign policy", because there's plenty of that to go around, but something unique to those who practice terrorism as opposed to all those who don't.

That's one reason why I disagree with Alam's statement and why it stopped me short when reading the article. Another would be that since 9/11, those who drone on about "root causes" usually mean it in the sense of blaming external causes for terrorism, or even in blaming terrorism's victims, saying that they're the ones who should look inward to "ask yourself why they hate us" (as one common phrase goes), rather than examining the cultures of and influences upon the perpetrators. Alam doesn't go quite that far in the article, but it's a common sentiment.

But the US sensibly wants to protect its interests and then locates troops say in oooh, Saudi Arabia

While I'm sure protecting our access to oil was part of the reason we stayed in Saudi Arabia, we only arrived there on invitation from the Saudis themselves to protect against Saddam Hussein invading the place. Like you said, our presence was indeed the main beef Bin Laden had against the US in his original manifesto/rant, but I don't think it had anything to do with him seeing us as collaborating with the Saudis to deprive people of their freedom or solidifying us as friends of their Royal oppressors. Rather, he hated the idea of infidel soldiers (us) on Muslim holy ground (the whole country, even though our bases weren't anywhere near Mecca or Medina). So I don't know how you'd classify our stationing troops there as a failure of foreign policy on our part, unless failure is defined as "that which provokes terrorism", and I disagree with that equation. For example, efforts to stick to a June timetable for democratization of Iraq have led to terrorist acts (increasing as the deadline approaches) to try to stop the handover, but that's not the criteria that defines the effort as a foreign policy failure.

As for the rest, I'm really really no fan of the Saudis at all, but to continue discussing it might get long-winded, since I also strongly support the invasion and democratization of Iraq and was thrilled that Iran got put on that cheesy axis of evil list and, um, I would venture that you disagree with those positions. Which means this thread might go on ad infinitum, since I think we hold fundamentally different beliefs not only about the causes of terrorism but the proper foreign policy/military response to it. (Which makes sense, since how you see the former will influence how you want to implement the latter, or not.)
posted by Asparagirl at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2004

It's really too bad no one seems to have listened to that TAL episode. Omar Bakri is a crank. A self-proclaimed clown. To use his quixotic shenanigans as a departure point for talking about Islam is like using David Koresh as a lens into Christianity. Seriously. This is the guy who sits outside the train station passing out pamphlets that warn against the evils of homosexuality. It's a shame he gets any media attention at all.
posted by scarabic at 11:15 PM on April 27, 2004

Heh Asparagirl, it's all good - the main point I was trying to make was that nothing is ever simple in this world, even when it comes to something which is portrayed as absolutist as good/evil in this war on terror.

Scarabic - yeah, it's fantastic, as is the book ^_^
posted by Mossy at 2:04 PM on April 28, 2004

Cool. And I do plan on checking out that magazine you recommended...if I can drag myself away from working/reading MeFi all day at work. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 3:29 PM on April 28, 2004

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