On May 6, in your editorial titled “The curious case of Faisal Shahzad”, you asked why, when it comes to terrorism, most roads lead to Pakistan. To which the short and accurate answer is that they do not. To say that they do is a lazy or insidious fabrication.
Let us assume that by ‘terrorism’ one means threats to the lives and welfare of non-combatants, designed to sow fear, committed by people who do not act within uniformed armies. By this definition, most terrorists in the world are not Muslims. And since your article is about the possible ramifications in America of Faisal Shahzad’s alleged (but failed) attempt to detonate a bomb in Times Square let us focus on terrorist acts in America.
To my knowledge there have been only three Islamist terrorist plots aimed at America that advanced to the stage of practical execution: the 1993 bombing of the New York Trade Towers, 9/11 and Faisal Shahzad’s attempted bombing. The only Pakistani known to have been involved in these attacks was Shahzad. The attack failed, no one was hurt. Out of the approximately 3,000 people in the US who died in attacks in which Islamist terrorists participated, not one was killed by a Pakistani.
There have been Islamist attacks outside the US and Middle Eastern theatres of war upon what are now usually called ‘western targets’. None to my knowledge was committed by Pakistani citizens. A few isolated terrorist acts committed by Pakistanis are nothing compared to the wholesale organised industrial slaughter of Muslims by the overt and covert military forces of western countries (principally the US, but also by its allies) since 1945. Every honest and thorough analyst of the nature of insurgencies recognises that terrorism is the weapon of militarily weak groups driven to desperation by the flagrant acquisitive aggression of more powerful, better armed and better financed groups. So it has always been, and so it has been throughout the Middle East since 1945.
Since 1979, the scale of Western (including Russian) brutalisation of Muslims who live near oil resources has accelerated to a ghastly degree. None of the major aggressors has been Muslim. All their victims have been Muslims. Yet the aggressors repeat the tired old mantra that they are not against Islam. In a narrow sense that may be true. If the Muslims were not sitting on hydrocarbon resources they would probably be ignored and allowed to die, undisturbed by Western governments, of poverty or mutual genocide.
So might terrorist acts by a few Muslims have something to do with the fact that the people of Muslim lands have been subjected to mindless slaughter by Western forces for decades? Might they have to do with the fact that the people of these regions have been subjected to utterly corrupt, criminal governments, put there and kept there by the US and its allies? Might they have to do with the fact that Western power groups have robbed, and are still robbing, most of the local people of their resources? Might they be revenge attacks for the outrageous and unspeakable devastation wrought upon the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan by indifferent, callous, invasive foreign powers, whose driving energy comes from multinational corporations centred in the US?
Western military forces should get out of all Muslim lands; they should stop supporting dictators in Muslim lands; they should desist from destroying true democracies in Muslim lands (as the Americans and British did in Iran in 1953, as the British and Israelis did to Nasser in Egypt in 1956 and the Americans did to Z A Bhutto in 1977-79).
Published in the Express Tribune, May 11the, 2010.
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