September 11: Relevant Questions by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

Written by Ramzy Baroud
Atlantic Free Press
Sunday, 16 September 2007

Osama bin Laden has once again managed to occupy the stage and to insist on his relevance to the story of September 11, 2001. In his most recent video message, released by Reuters a few days before the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, bin Laden voiced some typically absurd statements, calling on Americans to embrace Islam and so forth.

What is really worth noting in bin Laden’s message, however, is not the message itself, but the underlying factors that can be deduced from it. First, bin Laden wished to convey that he is alive and well and thus the US military efforts have failed miserably.

Second, his reappearance – a first since October 2004 – will be analyzed endlessly by hundreds of “experts” who will inundate widespread audiences with every possible interpretation – the fact that he looked healthy, that he dyed his beard, that he dressed in Arab attire as opposed to a military fatigue and a Kalashnikov by his side, that he read from a paper and so on.

Conspiracy theorists are already up in arms, some questioning whether the character in the video is bin Laden at all, and others wondering why the tape was promoted by a US terrorist watch group – SITE (Search for International Terrorist Entities) Intelligence Group – even before its release by Reuters, and why it didn’t make it directly to the various extremist websites first, as is usually the case.

The news and the Internet are already rife with stories that are connected with bin Laden’s re-emergence. A prominent Muslim scholar told Agence France-Press that the dyed beard is a “sign of war” according to the Salafi Islamic school to which bin Laden belongs. Go figure.

Others, who wish to highlight the fact that US security efforts have managed to prevent further attacks on US soil, would rather emphasize factors such as bin Laden not having made any direct threats (a supposed sign of weakness).

Bin Laden has indeed succeeded in diverting attention from the legacy and meaning of September 11 by reducing it to a mere fight between a disgruntled man – whose whereabouts since the Tora Bora Mountains battle in Afghanistan remains uncertain – and a president who dragged his country into a costly, unjustified and unpopular war.

The reality, however, is starkly different from this caricature reductionism, which the experts on “Islamic terrorism” fail to explain. For those who have shaped their careers on deciphering and decoding bin Laden, worrying about the bigger picture would hardly be self-serving.

But indeed there is a bigger picture, one that bin Laden’s message, and the touting of the importance of that message, are unfortunately undermining. While there are lessons that must be gleaned from six years of tragic war, terror and wanton killing and destruction, these lessons hardly include the need for a wholesale conversion of Americans to Islam (one need not pose as an Islamic scholar to claim that such a call is un-Islamic).

For bin Laden somehow to represent existing opposition to President George W Bush’s policy would indeed be very unfortunate and would actually detract from these important lessons.

First, although they repeatedly voice grievances similar to those held by millions of Muslims (and others) around the world, bin Laden and al-Qaeda do not speak for or represent mainstream Muslims. Mainstream Islam has historically been grounded on tolerance and moderation, qualities that bin Laden and his fanatics hardly represent.

Second, extremism in the Muslim world may be on the rise, but this doesn’t pertain to bin Laden and his scarce messages. The obvious fact is that extremism (Muslim or any other) is intrinsically related to areas of conflict and never happens in a vacuum or under stable socioeconomic realities.

A study of suicide bombings and foreign occupations, oppression and radical interpretation of religious (or any ideological) texts, massacres, wanton killings and calls for revenge will show that each of these factors is greatly related to the other.

Third, the war on Iraq was a pre-calculated move that dates to 2002, when US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and his neo-conservative ilk began pushing for forceful and hostile foreign policy. September 11 merely provided the opportunity to justify such a war, even though those terrorists had nothing to do with Iraq.

Fourth, the combination of fear, public panic and war continue to undermine US democracy. Under the guise of an ill-defined “war on terror”, Americans have paid an irreversible price – more Americans have died in Iraq than did in the September 11 attacks; the numbers of Americans wounded in Iraq top 20,000; Americans are spied on; people with integrity are losing their jobs for taking a moral stance and opposing the Bush administration; respected intellectuals are questioned at airports and community groups of conscientious citizens are monitored as security threats.

Fifth, it is America’s war on Iraq, underreported killing fields in Afghanistan and blind support and financing of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine that largely fuel terrorism and extremism and which are costing the US its so-called battle for “hearts and minds”.

The obvious truth is that such a battle can never be won when a million Iraqis are killed and 4 million are made homeless in their own country. No “hearts and minds” can be captured when Palestinians are killed in Israel’s “routine” daily missions in Gaza and the West Bank, or when poor Afghan peasants are blown to bits in random “searches” for bin Laden.

Indeed, it is in the Bush administration’s interest for bin Laden to disseminate his messages at a time when some important and overdue questions ought to be asked. It isn’t bin Laden and his dyed beard that should be flashing on our screens on this tragic day, but the disgraced faces of those who exploited the tragedy of a stricken nation to inflict tragedies on others.

September 11 should be a day on which we remember those who died in New York, near Washington and in Pennsylvania, and also in Kabul, Baghdad and Gaza, so that we can work together at bringing all the culprits to account.

Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American author and editor of His work has been published in numerous newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). Read more about Baroud at his website

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2 thoughts on “September 11: Relevant Questions by Ramzy Baroud

  1. Here are a couple of interesting articles. This guy predicted most of what was to come.

    SAN FRANCISCO – THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, a genre spy-thriller by Robert Spirko, was fourth on the best-seller list at Atlasbooks, Inc., a national book distributor. Ingram Books is the worldwide distributor.

    Spirko, a financial and geo-political analyst who has given his advice to the National Security Council, turned his attention to the Middle East in 1987, after discovering several common elements related to the Middle East question. He wrote down his analysis, and when he was finished, he not only had a solution to the quagmire, he had a story to tell. THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY foreshadowed the Persian Gulf War by three years, and the resultant Iraq War followed by the Sept. 11 attack.

    Spirko states, “The chief threat in the region I see right now is the threat to Saudi Arabia by Iran and Al Qaeda. If Al Qaeda were to overthrow the present royal family in Saudi Arabia, cutting off the oil supply to western nations including Japan and China, it would bring down entire world economies. France and Germany would be begging us to go to war to retake those oil wells. It would be World War III.”

    “If such a scenario were to occur,” he reiterates, “France and the European economies would collapse in a matter of weeks.”

    “Another looming concern is Iran which wants to develop nuclear weapons to couple with their Shahab 4, 5 & 6 missiles on the drawing boards which have a range to hit London, Israel, all of Europe, southern Russia and the United States. Also, the Iranian government has said it initially had 300 centrifuges to enrich uranium to weapons grade material. They have increased that to 3,000. They will soon increase that again to 10,000 centrifuges,” Spirko says. “They have the additional capacity to add another 20,000 centrifuges in mass production techniques that will enable them to produce at least seven nuclear bombs in about a year. Where did they get these centrifuges?”

    Spirko answers that question by stating an Arab proverb, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    “Simply put,” Spirko explains, “they probably got them from Saddam Hussein before the Iraq War started and were probably smuggled out of Iraq and into Iran just like he did his air force of 600 Soviet fighter planes. In other words, he gave them to his former enemy rather than let them be destroyed on the ground.”

    “Why would he have done any differently with the 30,000 centrifuges he supposedly had on a decentralized basis inside Iraq before the war?” Spirko asks. “Isn’t it strange that Iran could come up with a nuclear weapons program in about six months to a year when it took the United States six years under the Manhattan Project with 5,000 of the world’s most brilliant scientists like Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr, Seaborg, Einstein, Fermi, and others working on it?”

    Another point Spirko makes on the Mideast is that, “It is time for the Israelis and Palestinians to return to the Camp David Peace Talks or some other place, resume where they left off and “freeze in place” the already-agreed-upon negotiating points,” Spirko says.

    “And, it’s all related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which I said back in 1987 was the crux of my book. It always has been, and always will be until it’s settled,” Spirko says. “That linkage is exactly what Osama Bin Laden stated in a taped message aired the weekend before the election in November of 2004. Whether you believe him or not is beside the point. That’s what’s he told us, and we’d better take that into account.”

    SAN FRANCISCO – When it comes to spy novels and Middle East intrigue, after 16 spell-binding years, the gripping story behind the Middle East quagmire – its issues of nuclear weapons and the quest for a Palestinian State – is finally being told in a ground-breaking new book entitled, THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY.

    Author Robert Spirko created the work in such a way that every reader in the world would understand all the intricate issues in the Middle East and how close the region actually came to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, a genre spy-thriller by Robert Spirko, was fourth on the best-seller list at Atlasbooks, Inc., a national book distributor. Ingram Books is the worldwide distributor.

    Mr. Spirko has a unique way of holding the reader in his grasp as the plot of THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY unfolds. He literally takes you from your armchair and immerses you into the lifestyle of the Bedouin, the Israeli, the PLO and the mindset of the Middle-Easterner.

    THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY is not just another spy-novel; it is the quintessential spy-thriller because it forces the reader to understand how both sides “think” and why that thinking ultimately led to repeated wars in the Middle East.

    Spirko, a financial and geo-political analyst, turned his attention to the Middle East in 1987, after discovering several common elements related to the Middle East question. In working for peace, and after several frustrating years, he put down his analysis in writing and when he was finished, he not only had a solution to the quagmire, he had a story to tell.

    But, nobody was listening.

    Today, all that has changed, thanks to Olive Grove Publishers who decided to give his book a chance.

    When the Palestinian question came to a festering crisis in 1990, he had already predicted several of the actual events before they occurred. For instance, Spirko predicted the Intifada and Persian Gulf War, missing the actual invasion date of Kuwait by only one week. He did this through spectacular supposition, analysis and prediction based on what he was “seeing” in the region.

    When Spirko typed his manuscript, he set the work to fiction, about what he thought might occur soon in the Middle East involving weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation, the Palestinian uprising before it occurred, and how the Palestinian question begged to be answered, little did he realize that every event he described in the book would eventually transpire.

    His story of what was really happening behind the scenes in the Middle East is truly astounding and remarkable, and his contribution to the Camp David Peace Talks in 2000, formulated a solution to the Jerusalem question. When the BBC got wind of it, they termed it “as nothing short of brilliant” – Jerusalem becoming the simultaneous capitals of both Israel and Palestine in congruous or concentric zones.

    Spirko originally copyrighted his book on October 20, 1987, in the U. S.
    Library of Congress where intelligence agencies reviewed his work.

    Today, finally, somebody is listening.

    Spirko feels that both sides must return to the Camp David Peace Talks and resume where they left off and “freeze in place” the already-agreed-upon negotiating points.

    “It’s like a marriage where both spouses storm away mad in an argument.
    They don’t divorce and then try to resume their relationship, they come back together, settle their differences, and resume their marriage. It must be the same for the Middle East Peace talks,” Spirko says.

    The story begins in Beirut, Lebanon, once a great financial capital of the Middle East, which lay in ruin, having been systematically blasted to rubble during 20 years of inexhaustible civil war and siege by Israel, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and Lebanese factions. Soon, the quest for a Palestinian State would be framed by these events; namely, the invasion of Kuwait by a neighboring rogue state, Iraq, with Saddam Hussein’s goal of seeking nuclear parity with Israel.

    In Mr. Spirko’s story, Rick Waite, a forgotten UPI correspondent, and Adrienne Waters, a Pulitzer Prize journalist from the London Times, meet-up in Beirut with a PLO operative named Ahmed, who discovers a secret intelligence memo about a secret plan to destroy Israel.

    In the ensuing chase to find the answer to this secret communiqué and what it means, a deadly race against time begins as the unlikely trio tries to halt the launch of a secret weapon from a hidden PLO base camp in the Syrian Desert. U. S. and British intelligence operatives have their own agenda, and attempt to stop whatever is going on to save the entire region from a nuclear holocaust.

    Spirko weaves a tale of chilling duplicity and thrilling action, as the characters evade and devise a method to announce the discovery of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles to the rest of the world – all while United Nations’ delegates bicker endlessly.

    An executive at BookMasters, Inc., says, “The book is absolutely stunning in the manner in which Mr. Spirko, tells his tale. He is truly a master as an analyst, and it’s totally unlike anything else we’ve ever read in a spy-thriller. It keeps you turning pages and won’t let you quit – until the very end. And, what an ending it is! If you crave twisting plots, thrilling spy-action and intriguing characters, then this is the book for you.”

    Spirko, whose own background includes a stint in the U. S. Air Force and has given his advice to the National Security Council in Washington, D. C., has a degree in journalism and knows first-hand about the newsroom and what it takes to be an intelligence field agent. His knowledge of the trade makes the story real, daunting, and strikingly similar to “The Year of Living Dangerously.”

    “THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY drips with reality,” quips a book reviewer from Olive Grove Publishers. “If books were rated by Siskel & Roeper, it would be given a two-thumbs up.”

    Not since, Casablanca, do characters as earthy as Rick Waite, or as beautifully mysterious as London Times reporter, Adrienne Waters, or as desperate as PLO operative, Ahmed, bring fresh characters to a story that will be remembered by readers for a long time.

    For readers who want to know what was really going on in the Middle East prior to the Persian Gulf War, Sept. 11th, and Iraq War, THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, is a must read.

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