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Not All Terrorists are Muslim


“While it may be true–and probably is–that not all Muslims are terrorists, it also happens to be true that nearly all terrorists are Muslim.”

Dan Gillerman, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, March 7, 2006

Terrorism has long been the chief demonizing marker that Israel and the United States have used in their wars against Islamic states and peoples who have stood in the path of their imperial ambitions.

Israel has led the way in charting this course. With massive propaganda, the Zionists succeeded in equating the Palestinian resistance with terrorism. In no Western country did this propaganda encounter greater success–including Israel itself–than in the United States. Most liberal Americans–and a few leftists–argued that Palestinian terrorists threatened Israel’s existence.

After the capitulation of Egypt at Camp David, Israel pursued more lofty ambitions. The original dream of a Pax Israelica, stretching from Morocco to Pakistan, now seemed within reach. Only the newly emerging Islamist forces in the region–notably, in Iran–now stood in its way.

The nascent Islamists offered both a challenge and an opportunity to Israel. If Israel could paint the Islamists as a civilizational threat to the very survival of the West, the American voters could be goaded into supporting Israel’s war against the Islamists: or better still, make this war their own.

This is not to discount the lure of Middle Eastern oil for America’s power elite. Although the US is the world’s only superpower, its relative economic position has been declining for some time. Although the US may not reverse its economic decline, it could solidify its power by gaining control over the world’s oil spigot in the Persian Gulf. Europe and China could be tamed if they knew that the US had its hand on the oil spigot.

This temptation was strong, but it also carried risks. In a democracy, moreover, there stands another obstacle. Public opinion in the United States would resist such a major and risky war. Americans, therefore, would have to be prepared for war by conjuring fears of new Islamic hordes gathering to attack and destroy the West, especially the United States.

Israel, the Zionists and their neoconservative allies in the United States began to work on these fears. It would not be too difficult to revive the West’s old obsession about fanatical Muslims, forcing their religion upon infidels at the point of their swords. But these atavistic fears would have to be decked anew. The Zionist and neoconservative thinkers would go to work painting Islam as anti-modernist, opposed to freedom, and inimical to the rights of women and minorities. In other words, Muslims were the last remaining obstacle to the final and irreversible triumph of Western values and power.

This was not all. The Zionists also argued that the Muslims were an active and growing threat to the survival of the West. The new forces gathering under the Islamic banner were determined to attack the West. Israel was only their immediate target. After destroying Israel, they would go for the United States and Europe, their real targets. Their goal was nothing less than the imposition of Islamic law on Western Christendom. Most importantly, the Zionists warned repeatedly, the Islamists would use terror–the same tactics they had employed so long against Israel–to destroy the Western economies.

This strategy could scarcely fail to achieve its objective. On the domestic front, Americans were being told constantly of Islamic hostility to modernity, to the West and the United States especially. On the international front, the US and Israel together deepened their siege of the Islamic world, with open wars against Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Afghans, and threats of new wars against Iran, Syria and Pakistan.

Under these dire circumstances, small groups of Muslims–no more than a few hundred at first–broke away from the mainstream Islamist movements who were battling the repression and corruption of their own governments. These splinter groups advocated attacks against the United States, the ‘far enemy’ that they argued was the real power behind Israel and the indigenous tyrannies.

When these splinter groups began their terrorist attacks in the early 1990s, the Zionists, neoconservatives, and other assorted right-wing reactionary groups had gained what they waited for. Here was proof, they proclaimed, of the malevolent designs of the Islamic terrorists, the Islamic fundamentalists, nay, of the entire Islamic world. Wake up, the Zionists began telling the Americans. The Islamic terrorists who have been attacking us since 1948 have now attacked you. We face the same terrorist hordes. It is the Islamic world, stupid.

So, when the nineteen hijackers from al-Qaida attacked the Twin Towers, renewed efforts were launched to establish a definitive connection between Islam and terrorism. Some voices proclaimed that all Muslims are terrorists or at least potential terrorists. The US government was not going that far yet. It proclaimed that it was waging war against Islamic terrorists, not against Islam.

What the US government did after 9-11, however, sent exactly the opposite message. It launched a war against Iraq, a secular Arab government, opposed to the Islamists and with no known connection to the perpetrators of 9-11. It gave up its pretense of playing the honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. It launched plans to effect ‘regime change’ in Syria and Iran. US intentions in the Middle East were summed up ominously in its plans to bring ‘democracy’ to the region. The real plan–long a part of Israel’s strategic plan for the region–was to redraw the map of the Middle East.

The advocates of civilizational war in the United States were not yet resting on their laurels. They had not achieved quite what they wanted. They wanted all-out, open war against the Islamic world. They wanted the US to equate Islam with terrorism, and Muslims with terrorists. They wanted to deport Muslims who called the West their home, or shut them up in internment camps. They wanted to legalize the torture of Muslims, and their indefinite detention. Indeed, they were celebrating the loss of their own liberties as a necessary tool in the war against Islam.

Unremittingly, Israel, the Zionists and neoconservatives are pushing the United States to start the total war against Islam. They work openly, covertly and by deceit. On the ideological front, their goal is to define all Muslims as terrorist. This goal appears to be nearly in sight. They have persuaded many Americans that all terrorists are Muslims even if all Muslims are not terrorists.

A tenuous distinction indeed, if there was one. If all terrorists are Muslims, and we cannot tell the bad ones from the good ones, can we then afford to give ‘good Muslims’ the benefit of the doubt? Can the West risk its survival on so fine, so tenuous a distinction? Should the West risk its survival on this distinction?

The charge that all terrorists are Muslims is a scarcely concealed advocacy for war against all Muslims. It does not matter that this equation is false. The claim that Saddam Hussein had WMDs was also false; so was his connection with the 9-11 hijackers. But these lies were used to invade, occupy and devastate Iraq. If this new falsehood prevails, and it appears to be gaining ground, this is what will drive the war against Islam–the most deadly after the second World War. Duped into rage, Americans will stand four square behind the war of the twenty-first century to defeat the Islamo-fascists, to eradicate the Islamic terrorists. Once this is over, they can enjoy the glories of yet another American century.

M. SHAHID ALAM is professor of economics at Northeastern University, and author of Challenging the New Orientalism: Dissenting Essays on America’s ‘War Against Islam’ (IPI Publications: 2006 forthcoming). He may be reached at







M. SHAHID ALAM is professor of economics at Northeastern University. This is an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Macmillan, November 2009). Contact me at

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