14 July 2005
The Bombs Had Nothing To Do With Anything
By Gwynne Dyer
It’s official: the four suicide bombs that killed over fifty
Londoners last week had nothing to do with anything.
The family and friends of the young men who committed the atrocity,
all British-born Muslims of Pakistani descent, insisted that their actions
had nothing to do with Islam. Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal
Democratic Party, the only major British party to condemn the invasion of
Iraq in last May’s election, cautiously said that “I am not here implying
some causal link between Britain’s involvement in Iraq and the attacks in
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman said it would be “naive” to
link the London bombs and the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. “This kind
of terrorism was active long before the Iraq war,” he pointed out. “9/11
was in September 2001, not 2003.”
So there you have it. The 9/11 attacks, in which nineteen men born
in the Middle East killed several thousand innocent Americans, were just a
random act by people who “hate freedom,” and the target could just as
easily have been Canada or Sweden. The bombs in London on 7 July, in which
four young British men brought up in West Yorkshire murdered dozens of
their fellow-countrymen, could just as easily have happened ten years ago.
And, of course, none of it had anything to do with Islam.
We are drowning in lies. The US government, whose troops,
intelligence services and local proxies have spent the past fifty years
subverting or crushing Middle Eastern governments (including democratic
ones) that threatened its control of region’s oil, denies that the recent
wave of terrorist attacks has anything to do with US policy in the region.
But here’s a clue: Arabs make up less than a quarter of the world’s
Muslims, but all nineteen hijackers of 9/11, like almost every other
Islamist radical that attacked any American target before the invasion of
Iraq, were Arabs.
The British government similarly denies that there is any
connection between Tony Blair’s decision to join President Bush’s Iraq
adventure and the bombs in London. Blair has to defend this position
regardless of the evidence, because otherwise it would be solely his fault
that Britain is now a target for Islamist terrorism. But here’s another
clue. Every major terrorist attack by Islamists since the invasion of Iraq
in March, 2003 has targeted the citizens of countries that sent troops to
Iraq: Americans, not Canadians; British, not French; Spanish, not Germans;
Australians, not New Zealanders.
And these later attacks have not all been carried out by Arabs.
Other Muslims are now getting involved, too: Indonesians in the bomb attack
on Australian tourists in Bali; Turks in the attacks on the British
consulate and Jewish institutions in Istanbul; and now British Muslims of
non-Arab origin in attacks on their own fellow-citizens. Is there some
“causal link” here, as Charles Kennedy so delicately put it? You bet your
boots there is.
Muslims everywhere were horrified by 9/11, and quite rightly denied
that it was in any way an expression of Islamic values. Many Arabs,
however, did share the grievances that had radicalised the terrorists, and
even felt a fleeting, guilty satisfaction at seeing Americans suffer as so
many Arabs have suffered. Whereas most non-Arab Muslims, at that point, saw
no excuse whatever for the attacks, and felt nothing but sympathy for the
That sympathy persisted right down through the invasion of
Afghanistan in late 2001, which most non-Arab Muslims still saw as a
justifiable response to the 9/11 attacks. After all, there actually were
terrorist training camps in Afghanistan run by the (mostly Arab) members of
al-Qaeda, who were doing their best to spread their apocalyptic version of
revolutionary Islam beyond the confines of the Arab world. But they really
weren’t having much success, although there were some non-Arab Muslims in
the training camps in Afghanistan.
Then came the invasion of Iraq, which was obviously not about
fighting terrorism (since there weren’t any terrorists there, or any links
between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda). All over the world, Muslims, and
especially young Muslims, began to conclude that there was some substance
to the Islamist radicals’ argument that the West was indiscriminately
attacking Muslims everywhere; that it was actually attacking Islam itself.
That is not true: the Iraq operation was really just the Bush
administration exploiting the panic about terrorism to pursue quite
traditional strategic objectives in the Middle East. But this was the
point at which terrorist attacks by non-Arab Muslims living in Western
countries first became a serious possibility, for the entire Muslim
community in countries like Britain, the United States and Australia felt
betrayed by its own government.
Only the tiniest minority of their young men and women are ever
likely to respond to that sense of betrayal with actual terrorist attacks,
but the connection between Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq
and the bombs in London is strong. Not one of the Western countries that
drew the line at an unprovoked invasion of Iraq — not even the ones like
France, Germany and Canada that sent troops to help the United States fight
terrorism in Afghanistan, and that have large Muslim minorities at home —
has seen such an attack, nor probably will it. Actions do have
To shorten to 725 words, omit paragraphs 9 and 11. (“That
sympathy…Afghanistan”; and “That is not…government”)
Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles
are published in 45 countries.