Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

What Is the Message of Terrorism without a Message?

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

What Is the Message of Terrorism without a Message?

Article excerpt

What is the message of a terrorist attack that fails to deliver a message? Threats and warnings are being exchanged by India and Pakistan about the terrorist attack on Mumbai, carried out by presumed Muslim extremists. But acting to what purpose, and under whose instructions?

The attacks are thought to have to do with the Kashmiri Muslims fighting to force India to withdraw from their part of the disputed region in the north of the Indian subcontinent, bordering the two countries as well as Tibet and China. Its Hindu ruler chose in 1947 to deliver its Muslim population to India during the frantic days of British India's partition. The U.N. ordered a referendum among the Muslims (believed today to favor independence). India has never accepted it.

If Kashmir's situation was the motive for the Mumbai attacks, why were the targets hotels and restaurants frequented by Western tourists, but also by residents of Mumbai and other prosperous Indians, and a Lubavitch Hasidic Jewish center, presumably associated with America and Israel? None of them have anything to do with Kashmir.

This makes the message seem a Middle Eastern message, having to do with Iraq and Palestine. But the terrorist who was captured said he was a Pakistani, and the evidence thus far is that the terrorist party embarked in Pakistan.

Could Samuel Huntington be right after all, and it is now indiscriminate war between civilizations? No. We know as a fact that the modern conflict between Muslims and the Europeans and Americans began with the Europeans' post-1918 partition and colonization of the Ottoman Empire's Arab possessions, and a quarter-century later, by Israel's European-supported installation in Palestine.

After that there was the Suez attack, a fiasco for Britain and France, when Washington supported Egypt. A quarter-century after that, the Americans and the Muslim Pakistanis, together with the Saudi Arabians, organized the successful Muslim mujahideen resistance to the Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

In 1980 there was a terrible war between Muslim Iraqis and Muslim Iranians. The Desert War followed that, caused by the invasion of Muslim Kuwait by Muslim Iraq, resisted by Muslim as well as European armies under American leadership. After that came the American refusal to remove the military bases it had built in Saudi Arabia, which was the grievance that inspired Osama bin Laden's 9/11 attack on New York and Washington.

The Asian Muslim countries, including Indonesia, where more Muslims live than anywhere else, had nothing to do with any of this. …

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