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War on Terror

What holds in good fiction is true in life. Trust is still a scarce commodity, ten years after the terrorist attacks left thousands dead in New York, northern Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Trust in the democratic and patriotic intentions of the Muslims in our midst. Trust in the ability of government to protect us at home and overseas. Trust that the nation will ever be able to put aside partisanship, race, religion and class and come together as it did on September 12th — and for a blessed but abbreviated time afterward. This mistrust is keenly felt by Muslim Americans. In a new poll by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Muslims say that they feel targeted by government anti-terrorism policies; 55% say that being a Muslim in the United States is more difficult since 9/11. Significant numbers say that they have been viewed with suspicion, called offensive names and feel singled out by airport security. Would any other minority group accept this? Yet the survey also found a steadfast and overwhelming rejection of Islamic extremism and a similarly strong sense of satisfaction with life in America — nearly four out of five rate their communities as good places to live. -- Editorial, Daily Jewish Forward

 

As I watched the planes slam into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and the death and destruction that followed, I could understand the reactions of those on the spot, from President Bush downwards. It is easy to pick errors with the benefit of hindsight, but when faced with a catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude, people make instant decisions under huge pressure. Understandably, they occasionally get them wrong. But to use errors of judgment as the basis of faulty theories is to misunderstand the nature of crises and our response to them. Some conspiracy theorists have pointed at the rapid collapse of the towers. They insist that somehow, the buildings had been wired with explosives that triggered the implosion. In fact, when the aircraft fuel burned on the upper floors, it melted the metal structure that held the building up, causing it to fall on the floors below. This sudden weight caused them to cave in, thus precipitating the quick collapse of both buildings. It should be obvious that to wire up such huge structures would take scores of workers several weeks. -- Irfan Husain

Islamophobia grew exponentially, as witnessed in America's 2008 presidential and 2010 congressional elections, Park 51 and post-Park 51 anti-mosque and so-called anti-Shariah campaigns, as well as increased hate speech and violence. The massacre in Norway is a tragic signal of this metastasizing social cancer. Anders Behring Breivik's 1500-page manifesto confirmed the influence of the hate speech spread by American anti-Muslim (Islamophobic) leaders, organizations and websites. It is truly time for a new narrative, one that is informed by facts and that is data-driven, to replace the shrill voices of militant Muslim bashers and opportunistic politicians chasing funds and votes. In contrast to their critics who question their loyalty and charge that Muslim Americans do not reject terrorism, Muslim Americans (78%) are most likely to reject violent military attacks on civilians and are most likely (89%) to reject violent individual attacks on civilians versus other major U.S. religious groups. 92% say Muslims living in this country have no sympathy for Al Qaeda. -- John L. Esposito and Mona Mogahed

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the Lashkar's chief, addressed multiple rallies —accusing India of “trying to flood Pakistan by deliberately releasing water into its rivers,” and asking for aid for the victims. The Lashkar chief's polemic hasn't been consistent: last April, during a similar charity drive, he claimed India had built dams in Jammu and Kashmir in a bid to “turn Pakistan into a desert.” In a recent investigative, researchers Waleed Ziad and Mehreen Farooq noted that the Lashkar was gaining “popular support amongst low income families by providing free food, medical facilities and education.” They recounted the case of a poor family in Multan, which had its power supply cut off in the sweltering summer. An extremist cleric then “promised to indefinitely cover their electricity bills — as long as the family switched mosques.” -- Praveen Swamy

 

U.S. officials say three strong themes emerge from their reading of the files, most of which were communications between bin Laden and his top deputy Atiyah Abd al-Rahman. Indeed, because the Libyan-born Atiyah was the boss’ key link with the outside, officials see him as more important than bin Laden’s nominal successor, Ayman al-Zawahri. Analysts did not find in the material any smoking gun to suggest Pakistani government complicity in bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. And it’s clear he was paranoid about being found and killed: He ordered his subordinates to restrict movements to help preserve what remained of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Fear of being discovered was a subject of regular conversation between bin Laden, Atiyah, Zawahri and others. Bin Laden also worried that Al-Qaeda’s status among Muslims was dwindling, and that the West had at least partially succeeded in distancing Al-Qaeda’s message from core Islamic values. -- David Ignatius

It is within this context of a rising loss of control that the US leadership is trying to package and project a process of ordered flight as a ‘victory’ and a ‘fulfillment of goals’, with Mr Obama declaring, “We have put Al Qaeda on a path to defeat”. The US strategy in Afghanistan has seen a decade of unrelenting failure. The US has sought to repackage the killing of Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda-Taliban leaders as a grand strategic success and a prelude to an ordered withdrawal from Afghanistan.-- Ajai Sahni

 

A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. “There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,” the special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pulls from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a pause, he added, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.”—“enemy killed in action.” Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, “We got him.”-- Nicholas Schmidle

 

Within a span of one month, the Police in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa faced three suicide attacks. 10 Policemen were killed and another five sustained injuries when two Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) suicide bombers, one of them a burqa (veil)-clad woman, blew themselves up inside a Police Station….. KP's Police network is spread over 250 Police Stations, 343 Police Posts, 365 patrolling posts, 23 Police Lines and 3 Training Schools. A liberal package of incentives is now on offer, and the White Paper notes, "The salaries of Police have... been doubled and it is expected that it would bolster the morale of the existing police personnel and encourage others to join the force. Compensation for Police Shuhada (martyrs) has been increased from Rs. (PKR) 500,000 to Rs. 3,000,000." -- Research Desk, Institute for Conflict Management

 

....when the devastating terror hit us we instantly suspected the Islamic world. It was the jihadis. It had to be. It was denounced as an attack on Norway, on our way of life. In Oslo, young women wearing hijabs and Arab-looking men were harassed as soon as the news broke. Small wonder. For at least 10 years we have been told that terror comes from the east. That an Arab is suspicious, that all Muslims are tainted. We regularly see people of colour being examined in private rooms in airport security; we have endless debates on the limits of “our” tolerance. As the Islamic world has become the Other, we have begun to think that what differentiates “us” from “them” is the ability to slaughter civilians in cold blood. There is, of course, another reason why everybody looked for al-Qaeda. Norway has been part of the war in Afghanistan for 10 years, we took part in the Iraq war for some time, and we are eager bombers of Tripoli. There is a limit to how long you can partake in war before war reaches you. -- Aslak Sira Myhre

It is much better to simply say that this is a free country, and as a free citizen you are fully within your rights to speak at any forum, even if Pakistan-sponsored, and put forward your views, even if at variance with your country’s official position. That nobody — except Gautam Navlakha, activist of the radical left — has had the honesty to say this underlines to us the fact of how shallow the intellectual establishment is in our country. And how quickly it loses nerve. It is one of the most important turning points in India’s ongoing battle with Pakistan-sponsored Kashmir militancy. It is a firm indication that the Americans have dumped all pretence and are no longer willing to ignore — and thereby tacitly support — the ISI’s campaign in Kashmir. Of course they are not doing so because they have discovered a new love for us. They are doing it because they love themselves. Howsoever strong their strategic interests, they can no longer overlook the fact that the ISI is essentially a one-dimensional (anti-India) organisation that sees no issue with sponsoring violence and terror in pursuit of its main objective. -- Shekhar Gupta

Intelligence is the king of counterterrorism. British intelligence underwent a steep learning process from 9/11 onwards, when the al-Qaida threat to the western world blasted starkly into focus. The planned Indian crime and criminal tracking network system will be critical if such failure is to be avoided.  These systems are extremely important in countering the complex terrorist threat that India will face in the next few years as events in Afghanistan and Pakistan unfold. But they only provide context, connectivity and coordination that allow the dots to be joined. These systems must be fed. What exactly do we need? -- Richard Kemp

 

Things cannot be expected to change unless some difficult decisions are taken, however unpopular they might be with a radicalised Islamist population and an unbridled army. One most benign decision could be activation of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and formation of a high-powered parliamentary committee that reviews the legislation and associated implementation problems for taking specific actions to empower prosecution, judiciary, police etc. This committee representing all parliamentary parties, with chairs of standing committees on Defence, Interior and Law and Justice as ex-officio members, might be chaired by a strong parliamentarian. Rigorous measures should also be taken for providing foolproof security to witnesses, counsels and judges (over eight people were killed associated with the cases on the recently acquitted terrorist Malik Ishaq).

If Pakistan wants to come clean out of what its establishment calls a ‘negative international propaganda’, it has to act. Our insistence on not going in North Waziristan can be taken as an evidence of our possible complicity, but is also an open announcement that we have willingly withdrawn our sovereignty from the area in favour of militants capturing that area since long. Saving Pakistan’s integrity is a challenging project ahead for not only the government, but also the armed forces of Pakistan. -- Marvi Sirmed

Corporate media did sometimes address this issue. On ABC (5/4/11), Christiane Amanpour asked in regard to bin Laden’s killing, “And many people are saying, well, does this require the U.S. to leave Afghanistan right now?” She answered her question: “The job is not finished there. You’ll talk to the commanders. We’ll talk to them, it’s the Taliban there who are waging war against the United States, and that job is not finished.” -- Jim Naureckas

 

Even though Islamists have moderated their positions in recent years, their politics remain disturbing. The Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Youssef al-Qaradawi, for example, says he appreciates music and supports the right of women to work — but also describes the Holocaust as divine punishment of Jews. He remains committed to “the spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world and includes both the East and West which marks the beginning of the return of the Islamic Caliphate.” ... The U.S. patronage of the Islamist cause, however, will legitimise and strengthen it — not allow the regeneration of genuine, competitive democracy. Its current course threatens to compound the tragic consequences America's anti-communist crusade had for the lives of millions across the world. The United States' fresh outreach to the religious right in Asia will inflict incalculable harm on the lives of millions, just as its anti-communist crusade did. -- -- Praveen Swami

 

Those familiar with the smash-and-kill tactics of the ISI insisted that the agency’s thugs alone could have committed the crime. Others, including Shahzad’s professional colleagues in Pakistan, said he had paid with his life for daring to take on the Government, the Army, the ISI, the Taliban and Al Qaeda, all part of that country’s military-jihadi complex, and write withering reports about the evil nexus that tied them together. The horrific murder was both a punishment and a chilling message: Journalists in Pakistan should not cross the line which stops short of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Establishment; everything else is fair game. -- Editorial in The Daily Pioneer, New Delhi (Photo: Syed Saleem Shahzad)

 

The terror ‘psy-war’ specialists made the majority of Pakistanis overlook the fact that 30,000 civilians and 5,000 army men were also killed because of the interference of the ‘terrorist foreigners’. It is hard to give them a recognisable face like the ‘Americans’... It is primarily a success of the perception management strategists of the Taliban. The Taliban and al Qaeda groups faced a decisive defeat in Swat and South Waziristan. The army saved the country from near devastation and subversion by al Qaeda/Taliban militants. It hurt them. It hurt them so hard that they did not know how to react for a while. ... It is estimated that over 5,000 troops laid down their lives to save the country and their homeland from terrorists wearing the garb of a new ‘Islam’. -- Naeem Tahir

Modern Afghanistan's foundations are often said to have been laid by Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747. For over a century though, the country remained locked in a near-permanent state of crisis. Faced with rebellion by traditional tribal elites and clerics, who were incensed at the new regime's programme of land reform and social change, Afghanistan called for military assistance from the Soviet Union. The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan responded to the Soviet intervention by sponsoring Islamist insurgents, sparking off one of the greatest wars of our times. The rise of men like Mr. Karzai, Guistozzi has argued, must thus be traced to “the slow and incomplete formation of nationwide social classes and groups” — not to the traditional structures of Afghan tribal life. -- Praveen Swami

 

GENERAL John Abizaid used the phrase "the long war" to describe America's battle with Islamic extremism after September 11, 2001. When I first heard him say it, in the dark days of 2004, as Iraq was spiralling downwards, I had the feeling it would last for most of our lifetimes. Behind this decades-long battle, Abizaid said, was the political modernisation of the Islamic world - the explosive process of change that he likened to the revolutions and anarchic movements that swept across Europe in the 19th century. I'm puzzled about the logic of his timetable for reversing the surge he announced 18 months ago: pulling out 10,000 troops this year is OK, but why yank out a further 23,000 in the middle of next year's fighting season? That encourages a battered Taliban to hang on awhile longer, rather than bargain for a truce. -- David Ignatius

 

There can be no doubt now that the world regards Pakistan as a terrorist state. Not a single terrorist killing 3,900 Pakistani Muslims in 225 terrorist attacks in the last three years was either Indian or American or Israeli. They were all Pakistanis who did not leave alone people in either mosques or shrines, during fasting or otherwise, says a Pakistani broadcaster Kamran khan. How long we will be given the lollypops of conspiracy theories blaming India, America or Israel for everything that is wrong with us, he asks.

 

Why do we still go to war? We seem unable to stop. We find any excuse for this post-imperial fidget and yet we keep getting trapped. Germans do not do it, or Spanish or Swedes. Britain's borders and British people have not been under serious threat for a generation. Yet time and again our leaders crave battle. Why? Last week we got a glimpse of an answer and it was not nice. The outgoing US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, berated Europe's "failure of political will" in not maintaining defense spending. He said NATO had declined into a "two-tier alliance" between those willing to wage war and those "who specialize in 'soft' humanitarian, development, peacekeeping and talking tasks". Peace, he implied, is for wimps. Real men buy bombs, and drop them. -- Simon Jenkins

 

An elaborate green garden flourishes in the thick heat. Bearded terrorists tend ducks, and fish splash in small ponds. Some militants play sports with other inmates, while others read the Quran or teach Islam to ordinary prisoners. “We only explain what they should know about jihad,” said Syamsuddin, who is serving a life sentence for his role in a gun attack on a karaoke club in Ambon that killed two Christians in 2005. “It’s up to them whether to accept it or not.” Syamsuddin was trained in bomb-making by alleged al-Qaida terrorist Omar al-Farouq during Muslim-Christian conflict in Ambon between 1999 and 2002. Muhammad Syarif Tarabubun, a former police officer, was sentenced to 15 years for his role in the same attack. He laughed easily and smiled broadly as he explained his extremist views. He said he plans to join a jihad in Afghanistan, Iraq or Lebanon after his likely early release in 2013 for good behaviour. --Associated Press

In the real world, the war in Afghanistan isn’t NATO-led; it is led by the United States, which would never let its forces in Afghanistan be run by NATO. That would be a disaster. Just look at the NATO-led war in Libya in which only six out of 28 NATO countries are participating, and only three of those actually attack Libyan targets to enforce the United Nations’ mandate. In the real world, after a mere 11 weeks of conflict against Libya, the “mightiest alliance in the world” has run out of munitions, does not have enough aircraft to conduct its missions, and seems unable to prevail against a minor military power. ....after more than 20 years of operations, NATO has still not succeeded in stabilising it. -- Sarwar A. Kashmeri

 

Two persons were holding my arm and shoulders from two sides while one of them asked, "You move by yourself!" I said, "I cannot see. How can I move?" The man said, "Kuttar bachcha dekhos na (-----, can't see?) RAB er sob kisue tora dekhsos (You see everything what the RAB does). Tor putki dia aje ke gorom gorom dim dimu (We will push hot boiled egg through your anus today). Tor bapera tore kivave bachay dekhbi ne (You will see how your fathers -- meaning AHRC, other international human rights organisations and international community -- save you). They took me inside of a room and made me fully naked by taking off all my cloths including the underwear. One of them said, "Jarojer bacha muslomani kora abar nam dise christian (-------------is circumcised but takes a Christian name). Ei kuttar bacha RAB, army'r birudhee kaj korbe na to ke korbe (Who else will work against the RAB and Army except these-------)? Sob jaroj gula e kaj kore (the ----- entire do the similar works). -- William Gomes

 

Al-Qaeda emerged from a movement, not the imagination of one man. It represented a flowering, at a particular point in history, of a strain of Islamist thought that was enabled, among other things, by Saudi cash, and empowered by the United States' war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Though al-Qaeda itself has been destroyed by its decision to turn on its historic patrons, no real challenge exists to the ideological tide that it rode. This, in turn, is a consequence of the west's propping-up of authoritarian regimes in many of the regions where al-Qaeda affiliates have flourished. These regimes stamped out democratic political opposition and used competitive religious chauvinism to shore up legitimacy. ...

The bottom line: al-Qaeda might be on its knees, but there's no reason to believe the jihadist movement, of which it was even at its peak a small part, is anywhere near defeat. “History,” wrote Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden's mentor, “does not write its lines except with blood. Glory does not build its lofty edifice except with skulls; honour and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.” Despite bin Laden's death, and the uncertain future of the jihadist project over which al-Zawahiri now presides, that foundation seems set to grow. -- Editorial in The Hindu, New Delhi

 

The November 1984 massacre of Sikhs provides a good illustration of how the institutionalised “riot system” works. Incendiary language against the victims is freely used. Women who are raped or sexually assaulted get no sympathy or assistance. When the riot victims form makeshift relief camps, the authorities harass them and try to make them leave. “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth or any of them”. How are policemen and officials able to get away with violating the Constitution in this manner? Because they know that neither the law nor their superiors will act against them. -- Siddharth Varadarajan

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