Wednesday, November 14, 2007
“This is not for that purposes of killing Americans…this is for the purpose of driving them crazy. They are cowboys and will react without thinking”.
~ Abu Mus’ab al Zawahiri
Immediately following the events on 9/11, Americans were asking the question of ‘Why?’ Like so many who watched the twin towers fall, I found myself asking the same question. In response to this question, media talking heads and political pundits gladly and simply answered this question by telling us, “They hate us because we are free”. In combination with the use of the word they, this statement fails to address the complexities of US history and the Arab world. Little did the American people understand the implications of what this talking point meant at the time, it was imperative that the Bush Administration dehumanize the entire Arab world so rather than discuss bin Laden or al Zawahiri and give us the entire history of al Qadea, the people who committed the crimes of September eleventh became people without families, lives, names, faces, or real complaints against US policies…the people who committed these crimes became They.
In most societies, dropping bombs on and dismembering innocent little girls whose mothers take them to preschool everyday, love their daddies, like to eat bananas, and dream of becoming a doctor or teacher someday is unacceptable. If the American people were told the truth about the military engagement we were about to embark on, they never would have supported it. For example, during the bombing campaign that started in October of 2001, over twenty thousand civilians were killed in Tora Bora. Out of this bombing just one Taliban leader was killed (The Secret History of al Qaeda 2006). While conducting “The War on Terror”, it is imperative Americans only think of Them or They rather than to think of the hundreds of thousands of people brutally murdered by cruel and ruthless weaponry, including little girls like the one described above.
Also important to note (and what the Bush Administration does not want you to think about) is exactly how, the use of our military has allowed bin Laden to successfully take on the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world, and all while living in the mountains of Afghanistan, with little to no financial means, primitive use of technology, and pathetic amounts of weaponry compared to the military arsenal the US possesses. It appears that bin Laden understands the reality of human nature far better than we. He understands that if we brutally and repeatedly murder, maim, and dismember civilians in the Arab world, especially the most vulnerable, women and children, people will rise up against us and resist. Bin Laden can continue his successful war of attrition without ever lifting another finger, issuing another fatwa, or releasing one more video tape. As evidenced by intelligence reports released from the United States itself, the occupation of Arab lands and continued bombing of innocent civilians is recruiting jihad fighters faster than we can kill them.
According to journalist and author Abdel Bari Atwan, “The insurgents are not only winning this bloody war, but winning it spectacularly. No matter how many insurgents coalition forces kill, the are always faced with a new wave of young men longing to be martyred and take as many of their enemies with them as they can… The popularity of the insurgency among ordinary Iraqi civilians is another sign of US failure.” And it continues to grow; anti-American sentiment among Muslim populations and sentiment around the entire world have continued to deteriorate. In a paper released in July of 2005 by Chatam House, International security experts noted that the situation in Iraq has provided ‘a boost to the al Qaeda network’s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, and provided an ideal targeting and training area for al Qaeda-linked terrorists’.
Included with American intelligence reports connecting the US Occupation with an increase in terrorism and radicalism around the globe are two studies released by the Saudi government and an Israeli think tank, both show that the majority of foreign fighters were not jihadis before the Iraq war, but were ‘radicalized by the war itself’ (Abdel Bari Atwan 2006). The radicalization of the Arab world is not successful because of the ideology of radical Islam or al Qaeda, it is so successful due to the needless death, economic hardships, and continued marginalization of an entire group of people that is being imposed by US policy and the “War on Terror”.
The American Government calls them They, as Americans, it is time for us to start recognizing Them for who They actually are. Human beings, with hopes, love, and dreams. In fact, They are just like Us.