British Prime Minister Tony Blair was absolutely correct when he called for a battle of ideas against the fanatical beliefs and perversion of religion behind the London attacks, by the Islamist al Qaeda network.
In the wake of the London bombings, it is worth revisiting the bipartisan U.S. Congressional panel that explored the possibility that if only the “dots had been correctly connected,” the 9/11 tragedy and resultant death of 3,000 innocent persons could have been prevented. Connecting the dots” means collecting, identifying, and interpreting every bit of relevant data available and assessing their significance and relationship.
Obviously it is much easier with 20/20 hindsight to recognize significant dots that were either ignored or considered too sensitive to deal with, for fear of encroaching on civil liberties at a time when the public did not feel threatened.
Among the red herrings to be avoided are common misconceptions that the roots of terror lie in poverty and deprivation, and that if not for the war on Iraq these attacks would not occur.
The first misconception has been refuted by several academic studies, such as an October 2004 research paper, “Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism” by Alberto Abadie (Harvard University and NBER), which showed that participants in politically motivated violence tend to originate from relatively affluent sectors of the population.
Similarly, in a New York Times article, “The myth of the madrassa,” (Jun 16, 2005) Peter Bergen and Swati Pandey report on examining the educational backgrounds of 75 terrorists behind some of the most significant recent terrorist attacks against Westerners.
They found that a majority of them are university-educated, often in technical subjects like engineering. They encompassed the WTC bombing in 1993, the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the September 11 attacks and the Bali bombings in 2002.
With regard to the relevance of the Iraq war, it is surprising how short the public’s memory can be. The 2003 war on Iraq was a consequence of the 9/11 attack in 2001, not vice-versa, as some would have us believe. More importantly, connecting the dots backwards leads us to the terrorist attack on the WTC in 1993, which killed six and injured 1,000 others.
With hindsight it is now obvious that this should have been a wakeup call. The culprits were a small group of Middle Eastern men. The mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, stated that he intended his bomb to cause the Twin Towers to fall, and he further admitted a failed plot to kill 4,000 people in the Philippines by blowing up 12 U.S.-bound airliners.
Other attacks unrelated to the war in Iraq were the taking of embassy hostages in Iran in 1979, bombing of the Lebanon Marine Barracks in 1983, downing of the Lockerbie Pan-Am flight in 1988, and bombing the USS Cole in 2000.
Not only Americans have been under attack by Islamic terror. In the infamous Black September in 1970, a series of hijackings of airliners by Palestinian terrorists was followed by the PLO's attempt to take control of Jordan. Thousands of Palestinians were killed in 10 days by the Jordanian army.
In December 1973 terrorists attacked the Rome International Airport, killing 32 and later dumping the body of a hostage on the tarmac in Athens. On September 8, 1974, TWA flight 841 was exploded by a bomb masterminded by Abu Nidal.
In October 1985, the PLF hijacked the Achille Lauro, shooting to death wheelchair-bound passenger Leon Klinghoffer and dumping his body overboard.
Blind Egyptian sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, was convicted in 1995 on charges that he and his followers had plotted to assassinate Egyptian President Mubarak in New York in 1994 and to bomb the U.N. building and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels in New York.
In November 1997 foreign tourists were savagely attacked in Luxor, Egypt. India, too, has been deeply ravaged by Islamic terror.
It is not the perpetrators who should be condemned as much as the cynical plotters who send them off on their missions with promises of heavenly rewards. Behind each terror attack is an elaborate infrastructure that must be tackled, starting with the incitement propagated under the very noses of host cities in Britain, Europe and the U.S., as well as in madrassas in the East.
The plotting of an attack on London has been ongoing for a long time. In January 2003, six men, believed to be Arabs, were arrested on suspicion of producing the deadly poison, ricin. Such preparations for a terror attack are not surprising, emanating as they do, from a population subjected to continuous incitement by the likes of Sheikh Abu Hamza, who told London Mirror reporters on August 26, 2002, that he advised young British supporters that murder, bank robbery and looting are legitimate weapons against the enemies of Islam and that the infidel should be kept on the run.
His mosque in Finsbury Park has room for up to 2,000 men and 100 women.
Nor is it despair that motivates terror. Rather it is irrational hope for the rewards of martyrdom in the cause of ridding the world of infidels. Hope that is fueled by incitement in schools and mosques and by religious leaders like the friend of London mayor, Ken Livingstone, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, the prominent religious authority of the Muslim Brotherhood, who openly supports suicide bombings and the targeting of America and its allies.
This man, whose theological rulings influence millions, issued a fatwa permitting women to carry out suicide attacks “as women may do what is impossible for men to do.”
In an exclusive interview with BBC’s Newsnight on July 8, 2004, he spoke of suicide bombings by Palestinians as "martyrdom in the name of God.”
No anti-terror measures stand a remote chance of being effective while democratic countries continue to allow incitement on their doorsteps. A population that has been subjected from babyhood to indoctrination to hate and kill the infidel falls easy prey to seductive encouragement to become suicidal martyrs.
Anyone who has seen TV clips of kids being taught to seek martyrdom must realize that no matter what other solutions are offered, violence will be kept at boiling point, for so long as the ultimate obscenity is tolerated of recruiting naive youngsters and sending them out to sacrifice their lives to the cause of murdering and injuring the greatest number of innocent persons, while recruiters stay at home in safety.
These hopes are fueled even further when it becomes evident that terror pays. Today's immediate challenge is to ensure that terrorism must not be seen as a winning strategy.
While the majority of Muslims are peaceloving, the fact that all these terror attacks were carried out by Muslims cannot be ignored. There is a growing Muslim influence in the U.S. and Europe, and a concomitant increasing trend towards extreme fundamentalism.
There are about 3.4 million Muslims in Germany, with 2,200 Muslim prayer centers, including 77 mosques. In the U.K. there are 1.48 million, France, 5.98 million, U.S., 6 million, and Russia, 27.6 million.
It is incredibly difficult to understand why our instinct for self preservation does not alert us to the need to connect visible dots warning of continued threats, not from Islam, but from Islamic fundamentalism.
Thanks to the work of dedicated translators, original Arabic documents containing overt warnings are freely available in literature and on the internet. For example an English translation of the Hamas charter is available at http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/hamas.htm.
This charter will help readers to understand how the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas organization generates terror by seducing gullible youngsters to sacrifice their lives in exchange for heavenly rewards and spreading fanciful conspiracy theories, bordering on megalomania.
The imaginative irrationality of Hamas is illustrated by its obsessive phobia about Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions and similar organizations, which are mentioned in no less than three of the articles of the covenant. They speak of Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others and threaten that "the day Islam is in control of guiding the affairs of life, these organizations, hostile to humanity and Islam, will be obliterated."
These groups are accused of everything from control of world media, having stirred the French and Communist revolutions and causing World Wars I and 2. They believe the League of Nations was formed by these societies to rule the world and then replaced by the U.N. and Security Council.
Most importantly the civilized world must support the many Islamic religious leaders who are uncomfortable with the distortion of their religion and assist them to boldly protect true Islam from the extremists who distort it, so that the unpleasant phenomenon of “profiling” will become unnecessary.