One of the twentieth century worst fears that haunts people from big cities to small towns, walking down the streets or taking a bus, traveling by airplanes or by ships, doing their work or resting in a hotel, visiting a new country or volunteering to help the poor in another country is the fear of a terrorist attack by young Muslim men.
These terrorist attacks have indiscriminately killed and injured thousands of innocent people around the world in Arab and non Arab countries. The attacks have become extremely violent and cruel in a way that threatened the world national security and provoked governments around the world to take hard security measures on traveling and even to invade and occupy other countries in a hopeless attempt to prevent these attacks before they happen. Nevertheless, the attacks continue to happen in astonishing unexpected ways. The last of which was the attack at Texas Army Base in the US by Malik Nadal Hasan, 39, a military mental health Muslim doctor who killed 12 American fellow soldiers with two guns. The examples of terrorist attacks conducted by young Muslim men are many, maybe the most famous and bloodiest of which is the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center where three thousand people were killed. According to the investigations, 19 young Arab Muslim men belong to Al-Qaeda Terrorist Organization were believed to have planned and conducted the attack.
Those very incidents should make us, instead of cursing and hating Islam and Muslims ask why would those Muslim Arab young men kill themselves and kill others in such barbarous way even though Islam prohibited the killing of one’s self and others specially the innocent civilians. They must have strong motivation to do this and there must be people that plan, recruit and fund terrorism.
The motivation in my opinion can be categorized into three elements. The first element is the US foreign policy in the Arab and Islamic world. The Second is the tyrant ruling regimes in the Arab world, their failure to provide a good welfare life to their citizenry and the West support for these regimes. The third element is the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its daily atrocities against the Palestinians.
The people who by means of deception and mind-playing recruit young Muslim men and give them orders to commit crimes against guiltless people are seeking power. The question is if those fundamental Islamists came to power, how would the situation be in the Arab world? So far we have two examples of governments run by Muslim fundamentalists, the first is in Iran and the second is in Gaza Strip. In both cases the people of Iran and Gaza Strip are suffering from very poor economies. In both cases the government is practicing oppression and repression against the people for the sake of staying in power and the people are not satisfied in both Iran and Gaza Strip. The people in the rest of the Arab and Islamic world are not satisfied with the performance of the secular ruling regimes either and there is no alternative so far to these two evils. So what shall the people in the Arab and Islamic world do?
Maybe if we eliminate the above mentioned three elements of motivation. The problem of terrorism will have no reason to exist and the Arab and Muslim peoples will live happily ever after. But is this possible? Let us now examine with more details the three elements of motivation and see if they can be eliminated!
A- The US foreign policy in the Arab and Islamic world after the USSR collapse.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a group of far-right neoconservatives thinkers from the republican American party decided that America become a hegemony that no other country can stand to be its rival.
Among the neoconservatives that draw the broad lines of the US post cold war foreign policy was Paul Wolfowitz. As he was serving as an under secretary of defense for policy in the George H.W.Bush administration Wolfowits was assigned the task to draft a strategy for the US national security. The plan was radical in its essence and it still influences the US foreign policy in the world. It was called “Defense Planning Guidance” or the “Wolfowitz doctrine”
The Principles of the doctrine
1- The number one objective of U.S. post-Cold War political and military strategy should be preventing the emergence of a rival superpower.
Excerpt “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.”
2- U.S. primacy
The doctrine establishes the U.S as the sole leader of the new world order.
Excerpt “The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”
3- If necessary, the United States must be prepared to take unilateral action.
Excerpt “the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S.” and that “the United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated”
4- The US and its western allies must ensure access and dominance over the Middle East and South Asia oil.
The doctrine clarified the strategic value of the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Excerpt “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.”
Paul wolfowitz is a leading neoconservative in the American Republican Party and he believed that the US must reconsider its commitments towards the international agreements, the international law and the interntional institutions like the UN and must act unilaterally to become a hegemony. This kind of thinking is a typical example of the realist trend in world politics. John Mearsheimer, a prominent realist and international relations theorist said that the state ultimate goal is to be a hegemon.
When Bill clinton came to power and Walfowitz was out of office. He associated along with other neoconservatives in the Project for the New American Century
( PNAC) which prodcued a 90 page report entiteld Rebuilding America’s Defenses
Principles and aims of the project:
- we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future
- we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
- we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
The founders of the project complained about the steep decline in US spending on defense specially during the Clinton’s adminsitrations. In page 72 The Rebuilding America’s Defenses report states” If defense spending remains at current levels, U.S. forces will soon be too old or too small.”
It was very hard to get the American congress to increase the defense budget to a skyrocketing levels unless there was a catastroph like a new pearl harbor. In page 51 of the report this was clearly stated ” Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.”
The report also advocated the redeployment of U.S. troops in permanent bases in strategic locations throughout the world where they can be ready to act to protect U.S. interests abroad.
When George.W. Bush came to power in 2001 he appointed in his adminstration the most neoconservative figures in the Repblican Party like Dick Cheney as Vice President, Donald Rumsfeld as Secrertay Of Defense and Paul Walfowits as Deputy Secretary of Defense who gave life to the “Walfowitz doctrine” and put into practice benefitting from the September 11 attacks which served as the required catastroph to get the American congress magnify the defense budget. According to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the US militray spending incerased from 298.4 billion dollars in 1999 to 400 billion dollars in 2000 because the Bush’s administrations decided to stage a war on “terror” and as the war continued the defense budget continued to bulge. In 2008 the defense budget was 700 billions dollars according to the same center and this was of course at the expense of heath, social services and public education in America.
The September 11 attacks were used by Bush’s administration as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
How did this happen?
It was natutal that every body in America feels angry, terrified and revengeful after the disasterous attacks on the World Trade Center and those feelings were quickly directed to the Muslim world because the investigations assumed that the perpetrators were Muslims. The feeling of fear and revenge was used to get the US public to support the war on Afghanistan and Iraq or the so called “war on terror”. The incitment of fear among the US people was the top priority of the US media and officials. The people were pushed to believe that the terrorist attacks can happen to them any time any where and that Muslims are their worst enemies. Levels of risk of potential terrorist attacks were given colors, blue, yellow, orange and red. Fear was widely spread and it provided the people’ support to bring to action the neoconservatives preput agenda. “A world domination ”
In one of his post 9/11 attacks statements. President George. W.Bush said: ” we must transfer the battle to the enemy’s ground and confront the threats before they come out”
The US led its allies to invade Afghanistan where it said the Muslim terrorists are maid and nurtured by Taliban Regime and Al-Qaeda organization. Tons of explosives were dropped by the US and its allies warplanes on the poor villages of Afghanistan and thousands of Muslim civilians were killed. Then a ground offensive was launched by the US and British troops to attack the terrorist strongholds of Taliban and Al Qaeda. Even though the US and the British troops are militarily superior, they couldn’t register a triumph over the armed groups of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghnistan and attacks against the American and the British occupation forces continued to kill scores of them in a non-stop war of depletion.
Despite the failure in Afghanistan. The neoconservatives’ plan stated in the Wolfowitz doctrine had to be continued. Paul Wolfowitz believed that it was a mistake by the US when it didn’t topple Sadam Regime in its war on Iraq in the early 90s and this mistake was to be rectified under the Bush administration. Even though there was no evidence that Iraq or its citizens were involved in the Attacks of 9/11 or any other terrorist attacks against western targets. The united states despite the opposition of the security council and most of the UN member states unilaterally staged a war on Iraq in 2003 and this was of course in complaince with the Walfowitz’s doctrine that preached the US dominance over the oil resources and in a blatant violation to the UN charter, articles 39, 41, 42 and 51. The pretext that the US used to justify its war on Iraq before the UN and the world is that the Iraqi regime possesses Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and even on the way to possess nuclear weapons!
Before the second war on it, Iraq suffered international sanctions of a chocking economic siege for more than 12 years ahead of its invasion of Kuwait, could hardly provide food or clean water for its people, had its infrastructure completely destroyed in the world colaition war on it, couldn’t import or export any thing without the permision of the countries that imposed the siege on it, the US is a prominent one of them of course, in some cases it couldn’t even import children milk powder because it it contains phosphate and it is possible to be used in making bombs!. 500 thousand Iraqi children died as a direct result of the siege. All that didn’t matter and the United States went on waging the war on Iraq and the suffering of the Iraqi people doubled tragically as a result of the war. A report published in January 28, 2008, by ORB (Opinion Research Business) revealed that 1,033,000 were killed since the US-led invasion of Iraq. Millions of Iraqis lost their homes and became refugees in neighboring countries. All aspects of life in Iraq debilitated after the war and there was no trace of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq according to the investigations conducted after Sadam’s regime collapse! When the Arab people witness the US savageness and mercilessness in dealing with a neighboring Arab country, of course they develop feelings of hate, anger and spite against it and against the countries that support its positions or cooperate with it. Those feelings develop later into extreme actions packed with the same savagness and mercilessness that the US showed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What were the real reasons the US wanted to invade Iraq?
- The US wanted to have a foothold in the region beside its other footholds in the gulf states in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia that can provide easy access to Iran, Syria and central Asia. Now the US has esatablished 4 military bases in Iraq that can be added to its numerous military bases around the world.
- Iraq sits on one of the largest reserves of oil in the world. And if the US controls this huge resource of oil, it can control the world economy.
- American military existence in Iraq and Afghanistan is very important for the protection of the oil pipes that can be an easy strategic target for the Mojahdin. That why we find the American military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan are very ajacent to the oil pipes.
- The US wanted to prove to Europe, Russia,china and the Arab and Islamic world that it is the master of the world and deserved of its leadership.
- Also to ensure the protection of Israel from any neighboring country attack specially that Sadam Hussain hit Israel with a number of rockets upon the gulf war.
B- The secular tyrant ruling regimes in the Arab world and their failure to provide a good welfare life to their citizenry and the West support to these regimes fueled Muslim Fundamentalism and Terrorism.
Islam is the solution. This is the slogan that the Islamic movements trumpet referring to the deteriorating economic and social situation in the Islamic and Arab world, the overwhelming feeling of defeat that the Arab secular regimes sustained in their wars against Israel and to the secular ruling Arab elites who estranged Islam from daily life and replaced with western patterns of life alien to Arab people’s culture and traditions. Those pro-west elites also refuse to take strong stands against Israel despite its occupation of Palestine and its daily aggressions against the Palestinians because this would displease the pro-Israel western countries specially the US furthering by this their peoples’ feeling of anger and frustration. In addition, they don’t allow industrializing the Arab countries under their rule except for a few industries because the raw materials have to be sold to the Western countries for cheap prices, and the revenues, most of them, must go to the regimes’ incumbents leaving the majority of their peoples live in acute poverty. Even the agricultural sector in the Arab world is controlled by the west. Some Arab countries can not grow their most needed crops because the corrupt ruling elites are under pressure to continue to import the agricultural commodities from Europe and the US specially wheat and other grain crops even though the Arab countries have the land and the human resources to grow the crops they need and be self-sufficient. And even though this kind of policy comes at the expense of the Arab farmers who had to leave their land and look for other kinds of work to support themselves since the local market is filled with European and American grown crops. In a situation like this, and because of the absence of an alternative to the Arab despotic regimes. A lot found salvation in religion.
65 million Arabs live in severe poverty according to The United Nation Development Program report for 2009. The high rate of poverty and unemployment among the vast majority of the Arab young men besides their feeling of frustration and anger towards the ruling regimes that practise all forms of oppression and repression against the citizens in the Arab world made them utterly vulnerable to the call made by the Islamic fanatic leaders to join their ranks. The Islamic movement made use of the debilitating economic situation in the Arab countries and established a giant network of charity and educational societies that provide provisions to the poor and education to their children to win the peoples’ hearts and minds. The horrendous numbers of unemployed young men found refuge in the Islamic groups from the tormenting destitution and the unknown future that is void of any sense of security or hope.
The Fundamental Islamic movements could recruit large numbers of those young people, fueled them with feelings of hate and anger against any thing that is not part of them, carefully selected Islamic texts that prove their righteousness as opposed to the wrongness of their opposites and taught them to these recruits out of their context. If any of the recruits ventured to debate or question the actions and thoughts of the movement or the group, it will be considered an act of evil and disloyalty and deadly punishment is the deserved answer. Along with the punishment, there are also physical rewards for loyalty and obedience. Usually those Islamic fundamental groups have no financial problems; money is channeled to them abundantly from unknown sources. This money is lavished upon the recruits and their Imams. So joining one of these Islamic groups turns in so many cases as a way of earning a living beside being a way of releasing frustration and anger.
Hasan Al- Banna
One of the most prominent and widely spread Islamic movements in the Arab and Islamic world is the Muslim Brotherhood Movement founded by Hasan Al- Banna in 1929. Hasan Al-Banna could by social activity attract hundreds of members in Egypt from the middle and trodden lower classes. Even though Hasan Al-Banna adopted a pacifist approach in extending his message and thought about Islam and in bringing more recruits to his movement. His vision on the rule of Jihad for the ummah (Muslim community) was extreme and violent he said, “Jihad in its literal significance means to put forth one’s maximal effort in word and deed; in the Sacred Law it is the slaying of the unbelievers, and related connotations such as beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their shrines, and smashing their idols.” and “it is obligatory on us to begin fighting with them after transmitting the invitation to embrace Islam, even if they do not fight against us.”.
Another Islamic thinker that has greatly influneced the Muslim brotherhood movement was sayyid Qutb who was executed by Jamal Abdul Nasser’s government in 1966. He visited the united states of America in 1948 for higher studies and there he grew an anti western attitude as he was extremely critical of many things in the United States: itsmaterialism, individual freedoms, economic system, racism, brutal