Saturday, July 09, 2005

Implications Of The London Bombing

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Implications Of The London Bombing

Juan Cole
Informed Comment
July 7, 2005

The attack on London is not something it is easy for me to talk about in dry analytical terms. I've lived in London, doing research, have often visited, and have many friends there. I know the tube or subway stops being talked about, and have ridden the double decker bus that plies the area around Russell Square and Bloomsbury. I want all my British readers and friends to know with what horror and solidarity I watched those images.

But one must in the end turn to analysis. I heard Michael Scheuer, the former CIA Bin Laden analyst, a couple of times this morning, once on NPR's Morning Edition and once on the Diane Rehm show. I thought his comments compelling.

He found the statement issued by a "secret jihad" web site similar in form and content to typical al-Qaeda communiques, including the threats against other countries (Italy and Denmark). He was sure this was an al-Qaeda operation.

He noted that Bin Laden had called off any ceasefire and had several times threatened to hit the United Kingdom.

He said that "chickens were coming home to roost" for US and UK politicians who had obscured the nature of the al-Qaeda struggle by maintaining that the organization attacks the West because "they hate our values."

Scheuer believes that al-Qaeda is an insurgent ideology focused on destroying the United States and its allies, because its members believe that the US is trying to destroy them. Al-Qaeda members see the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, backed by the US; US support for military regimes like those of Pakistan and Egypt; and US military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq as evidence of a US onslaught on Islam and Muslims aimed at reducing them to neo-colonial slavery. That is, specific Western policies are the focus of al-Qaeda response, not a generalized "hatred" of "values."

Scheuer opposes any attempt to configure the struggle against al-Qaeda as simple crime-fighting. He believes that they must be addressed through a thorough-going counter-insurgency effort.

All of this seemed sensible to me, and more sensible than most other analysts I heard.


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