Saturday, July 30, 2005

More on root causes of terrorism

When the theory conflicts with the facts, what do you do? Terror's Global Ambition. Jettison the facts.

By a week ago the prevalent view according to the British media was that the attacks were carried out by young men "angry about British involvement in Iraq."

This created the illusion of a rational cause-and-effect. The London daily The Independent put it starkly: Osama bin Laden had warned that if "we bomb his cities in Iraq" he would bomb "our cities" in the West.

The London daily did not bother with such uncomfortable questions as why, if Iraq
were the motive, no Iraqis were involved in the attacks. Nor did it stop to wonder why Iraq should belong to bin Laden, who has never even seen the place except on a secret visit in 1999, and not to the Iraqi people. Needless to say it also did not mention that the terrorists who are killing Iraqis in their cities belong to the same ideological family as those who attacked London.

At any rate, most Britons, having paid attention to their media and read reports of an analysis by the Royal Institute for Foreign Affairs, a think-tank which also claimed that London was attacked because Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, were about to go away convinced that they knew why Britain had been targeted.

Then came news of several terrorist operations thousands of miles away. These included explosions in three Algerian cities, in the Pakistani city of Quetta, in the Lebanese capital Beirut and, the deadliest of them all, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The same media that had wrapped things up by identifying the liberation of Iraq as the reason for attacks on London began to wonder if other reasons may have been involved.

That, in turn, led to the revival of the classical explanations for the latest attacks.

One explanation was poverty. Those who massacred innocents in Sharm el-Sheikh were angry about poverty, one pundit observed with a straight face.

The truth, however, is that most of the 90 or so people who died in Sharm el-Sheikh were poor people who had just found jobs in the tourist industry and were beginning to build a modest life for their families.

The attacks against Sharm el-Sheikh will not only not help alleviate poverty in Egypt but are sure to increase it dramatically. If tourism, the flagship of the Egyptian economy, is hurt it will plunge the country into recession, threatening over 100,000 jobs, according to official estimates.

Another explanation, by an American pundit, was that young Muslims were angry with the loss of their identity and were trying to revive their traditions. This, however, assumes that car bombs and random killing of people in public transport constitute part of the Islamic identity and tradition.

There's more of course.

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