FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Why and When of Terrorism

How did a series of coordinated attacks take place on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon without any apparent warning on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001? What can be done to prevent their recurrence? To answer these vexing questions, the US Congress and the president created a national commission comprising ten members. The Commission, co-chaired by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, reviewed more than 2.5 million pages of documents and interviewed more than 1,200 individuals in 10 countries.

Its findings are distilled into a 567-page long treatise. The most important chapter of this report may well be Chapter 12, which lays out a global strategy for fighting “Islamist terrorism – especially the Al Qaeda network, its affiliates and its ideology.”

The Commission members were aware of the widely held misperception in American public o! pinion that equates Islam with terrorism. Thus, they state, “Islam is not the enemy. It is not synonymous with terror. Nor does Islam teach terror.” However, this point may be too subtle to be grasped by the American public.

The report discusses how the attacks of 9/11 took place and goes into the nuts and bolts of how the attackers carried out the attacks in total secrecy and with a lethality that had never before been witnessed on US soil.

It discusses intelligence failures at the Central Intelligence Agency and how the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Immigration and Naturalization Service failed to deny entry to the attackers. It also discusses the inability of the US military’s North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) to intercept and neutralize the hijacked aircraft, since they had prepared for a military attack from overseas.

The report contains vivid descriptions of communication between the flight attendants and air traffic control and des! cribes how F-16s circled ineffectively looking for planes that had already crashed into the World Trade Centre. While the accounting of these conversations could have come out of a Tom Clancy novel, there is very little that is new in this discussion. Most of the intelligence and military failures that allowed the surprise attacks to occur are well known by now to even the casual newspaper reader.

The report does not provide any proof about the people who are alleged to have carried out the attacks. While their Muslim identities have been accepted at face value in the US these identities are still the subject of much dispute in the Muslim world. Conclusive evidence on their identities would have helped to bridge the gap in understanding between the Muslim world and the US.

The report is remiss in not calling for any resignations or firing of senior public officials in the Bush administration. It says that its job was not to assign blame. But that begs the question,! if it was not the job of the 9/11 Commission to assign blame, then whose job is it?

Despite the volume of material that the Commission sifted through in preparing the report, a relatively shallow understanding of terrorism permeates the document. There is virtually no discussion of the influence of past US policies in promoting terrorism.

For example, the report does not discuss how the US support for the mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan war led to the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which may well be regarded as a “blowback” phenomenon. There is little discussion of how the US support of despotic regimes in the Muslim world has contributed to rising anti-Americanism there. The report does not comment on how much of the Muslim world views the US as being hypocritical in its support for democracy, when it has long supported dictators such as the Shah of Iran, Suharto and Saddam.

The report seems to subscribe to the neoconservative philosophy that there! is a finite pool of terrorists that can be attacked and killed. It does not recognize that the failure to restrain Israel from oppressing the Palestinians generates much anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. Nor does it recognize that the continued pursuit of large-scale military action in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, with attendant civilian casualties and humiliation of entire nations, adds to the political cachet of the terrorists.

Pakistan figures prominently in Chapter 12, which talks about endemic poverty, rampant corruption and lack of education as sources of terrorist recruitment. It also briefly mentions the lack of progress in democracy as being an additional factor.

The report says almost all the 9/11 attackers travelled the north-south nexus of Kandahar-Quetta-Karachi. It says that Balochistan and Karachi remain centres of Islamist extremism and asserts, “Within Pakistan’s borders are 150 million Muslims, scores of Al Qaeda terrorists! , many Taliban fighters, and – perhaps – Osama bin Laden.” Unfortunately, many observers in the western media now think of Pakistan a nation of 150 million Muslim terrorists.

The report calls on the US to continue supporting the Musharraf government, since it is pursuing “enlightened moderation” despite the two attacks on General Musharraf’s life. It says that the Musharraf government “represents the best hope for stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan”, and the US should support it as “long as Pakistan’s leaders remain willing to make difficult choices of their own”.

The report fails to note that military leaders have regularly seized power through unconstitutional means in Pakistan, or to note that they have, in every instance, been successful in winning the support of the US. This has tarnished American credibility in the past. In the present, super-heated environment, it is being used by the terrorists to portray the military leaders as American stooges. Thus, A! merica is losing its support not only among the conservative elements in Pakistani society but also among its secular, liberal elements. While being an asset for the US in the short term by agreeing to fight the terrorists militarily, the military leaders remain a long-term liability by not being able to contain the cultural, social, and political forces that lead to terrorism.

AHMAD FARUQUI is an economist who writes frequently on Asian security issues. He can be reached at: faruqui@pacbell.net

This article was originally published in Dawn.

 

More articles by:
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail