July 5, 2007
The Guardian

Denial of the Link With Iraq is Delusional

The insistence that terror attacks have nothing to do with Britain's actions in the Muslim world only makes them harder to stop

by Seumas Milne

Two years on from the suicide bombings that devastated London's streets and tube system, official Britain is still in the deepest denial about why this country is a target for al-Qaida- style terror attacks. In the wake of the abortive atrocities in London and Glasgow, there has been no shortage of lurid media coverage of the "doctors' plot" that came so close to carnage, nor of bombastic calls for the nation to stand firm against terrorists. The Sun was yesterday handing out free union jacks to "fly in the face of terror", while its heavyweight counterparts have been demanding ever greater efforts by an increasingly intimidated Muslim community to demonstrate its loyalty. Mercifully, the tone adopted by Gordon Brown has been less strident than his predecessor's - he has avoided the rhetoric of the war on terror and the shopping lists of new coercive powers favoured by Tony Blair in the aftermath of the July 2005 attacks and last year's alleged transatlantic airline plot.

But when it comes to the substance, there has been little change. The failed bombings were, Brown insisted, an attack on "our British way of life" and the "values that we represent", "unrelated" to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or any other conflict. He compared the fight against the bombers' ideology with the struggle against communism and called for a similar "propaganda effort" to win "hearts and minds". In the days since, this "it's nothing to do with the war" refrain has since been taken up with gusto by large parts of the media. The pro-war Times and Telegraph have led the field, with neoconservative commentators and politicians hammering home the Blair-Bush message that terror is simply the product of an evil ideology. Anyone who dissents or suggests a connection with Britain's violent role in the Muslim world is portrayed as somehow soft on terrorism - as the Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg found when he tentatively referred to Muslim grievances in the House of Commons earlier this week.

In an echo of Gordon Brown's cold war propaganda theme, defectors from radical Islamist groups have been playing a prominent role in this campaign. Rarely a TV debate goes by without Ed Husain, one-time member of Hizb ut-Tahrir and now a British neocon pinup boy, or Hassan Butt, formerly of the banned al-Muhajiroun group, insisting that this is all about people with identity crises who are "hell-bent on destroying the west", . . .

Britain was not a target until it attacked the Muslim world. If the bombers' real focus was, say, sexually liberal western lifestyles, they would presumably be attacking cities like Amsterdam and Stockholm. . . .

Given Britain's role in the Muslim world, the surprise must be that there haven't been more attacks. They have, after all, yet to reach anything like the level of the campaign waged by the IRA. But that such attacks continue is a central part of Blair's legacy - and the responsibility of a political class that failed to hold to account those who launched an illegal war of aggression with the most devastating human and political consequences. Until the Brown government makes serious moves to end Britain's role in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the likelihood must be that the threat will grow.


Robert Fisk, "The Reality of This Barbaric Bombing," Independent, July 8, 2005

Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Terrorized by 'War on Terror'," Washington Post, arch 25, 2007

["In this city, Muslims are more likely to be law-abiding than non-Muslims and less likely to support the use of violence to achieve political ends than non-Muslims," he told BBC Radio.--"London mayor defends Muslims as bomb plot foiled," AFP, June 30, 2007]

Thomas L. Friedman, "At a Theater Near You ...," New York Times, July 4, 2007

John Pilger, "The London bombs also belong to the new Prime Minister,", July 5, 2007

[Larry C. Johnson, a former senior US counterterrorist official for the CIA and State Department who works as a consultant to governments on terrorism issues, described the Friday episode as a "crock of crap": " . . . gasoline is not a high explosive. If we were talking 50 pounds of Semtex or the Al Qaeda standby, TATP, I would be impressed. Those are real high explosives with a detonation rate in excess of 20,000 feet per second. Gasoline can explode (just ask former owners of a Ford Pinto) but it is first and foremost an incediary. If the initial reports are true, the clown driving the Mercedes was a rank amateur when it comes to constructing an Improvised Explosive Device aka IED. Unlike a Hollywood flick the 50 gallons of gas would not have shredded the Mercedes into lethal chunks of flying shrapnel."--"Improvised Un-explosive Devices?,", July 6, 2007]

[There is nothing in Islam that advocates homicidal acts or mass killing. In fact, while it's popular these days to demonize Islam as a violent faith, we should recall that history's biggest mass murderers, Stalin, Genghis Khan, Mao, and Hitler, were not Muslims. Auschwitz and the gulag did not come from Islam. World wars I and II, the most murderous in history, were begun by Christian nations and Japan.

. . . western governments have to face the fact that the wars they are waging against the Muslim world are the primary generators of terrorism.--Eric Margolis, "London and Glasgow: Worse Than a Crime, a Mistake,", July 10, 2007]

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