American Politics, Terrorism and Islam - Part 6: Allegations of Muslim Terrorism
Posted Jun 5, 2008

American Politics, Terrorism and Islam - Part 6: Allegations of Muslim Terrorism

By Habib Siddiqui


These days Islam is equated with terrorism. There is little doubt that this mendacious campaign against Islam has gotten a tremendous boost after 9/11. Who can also forget the images of the “suicide bombers” in the Occupied Palestine? Then there were the bombings in Bali and Madrid, and hostage crises in Moscow and Beslan, the London Underground bombings and the car bombing in front of the Danish Embassy in Islamabad - enough to sideline root cause analysis in favor of dealing with symptoms. With the western media’s uncanny appetite for violence, yellow journalism and preference to show incidents where Muslims are probable culprits, the overwhelming perception in the West is that if you are looking for a terrorist just focus on Muslims (esp. Arabs), you don’t have to profile anyone else.[1]  Naturally, the obsessed western corporate media won’t spend time discussing: why a very small minority within the Muslim community has now taken up arms against the West, the Goliath that it has become; why there were the so-called Black Widows terrorizing Russia; why in Iraq today there is the presence of al-Qaeda, something that was non-existent during Saddam Hussein’s time; why there is resurgent insecurity and turmoil in the Horn of Africa after a period of relative peace, rule of law and order; why the once stone-throwing Palestinian children have now turned into suicide bombers? They won’t relate the fact that the Palestinians are fighting as victims of dispossession against the combined might of a much superior, sadistic and brutal Israel and her western patrons – most notably the USA; it is they that face ethnic cleansing, daily persecution and not the Israeli Jews.

So pervasive is this negative perception about Islam these days that no political leader in the West, especially in the USA, can elude giving ‘expert’ opinions as to how he/she would deal with this absurd notion of Islamic terrorism, the 21st century’s ‘greatest’ challenge. In this context, who can forget what John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney General, said about Islam?[2] Nor should we also forget what the Bavarian Pope Benedict said exposing Christianity’s deep rooted and ubiquitous hatred of Islam.[3]

Atheists have killed in the name of atheistic ideologies.[4] And Christians have killed in the name of God or religion, as have Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, Baha’is and others. And yet none of these religions (including Judaism) with its own colossal record of violence is accused of promoting terrorism. In places like Israel the terrorist activities of Jewish extremist groups[5] - e.g., the Gush Emunim[6] of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook and later Rabbi Moshe Levinger,[7] Tora Ve’eretz Yisrael of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, Jewish Defense League and Kach[8] of Rabbi Meir Kahane, Jewish National Front party of Baruch Marzel,[9] Jewish Task Force[10] of Victor Vancier, Moledet of Rabbi Benny Elon,[11] Terror Neged Terror or TNT,[12] National Religious Party[13] - and fanatics like Baruch Kappel Goldstein[14] and Ami Popper[15]—are no less criminal and violent than those unleashed by some Muslim terrorists today. The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda has killed 100,000 people. Yet, no one would dare condemn Christianity for the LRA’s terrorism.[16] None would even consider anti-choice Christian terrorists James Kopp[17] and Eric Robert Rudolph[18] as representatives of Christianity in spite of their horrendous crimes in the USA that were motivated by Christianity.

So, the attempt to blame Islam for the activities of Al-Qaeda only unmasks the deplorable hypocrisy of those critics, and should be construed as an utterly hostile and disingenuous one.

More importantly, no one has had the audacity to implicate the founders of these religions for crimes of their followers. However, when it comes to Islam, there is a new rule in play! Not only is Islam equated with terrorism even its noble Prophet is also implicated (see the Danish cartoons). I am not sure if these critics are aware of the fact that if they are looking for justification of violence they don’t have to look outside their own scriptures. Those holy books have plenty of verses which can be exploited (and have sometimes been used) by chauvinists and zealots to justify violence against unbelievers.

It is said that Osama bin Laden (OBL) has openly called for killing Crusading Christians and Jews. But so have many Christians and Jews against Muslims over the last 14 centuries. For our discussion here let me cite a religious decree supporting the killing of Palestinian civilians in Rafah in southern Gaza that was issued on May 19, 2004 by Dov Lior, a high-ranking rabbi in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arbaa near Hebron, stating that “it is very clear in light of the Torah that Jewish lives are more important than non-Jewish lives.” Rabbi Lior argued that non-Jewish lives have no sanctity, especially during wartime.[19] He is not alone amongst the Rabbis to endorse killing of non-Jewish civilians. As Michael Hoffman II has pointed out, a group of 14 prominent rabbis, led by Haim Druckman, demanded the Israeli army not to flinch from killing Palestinian civilians in its ongoing military campaign against armed groups, resisting the occupation. In a letter to the Israeli defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, published on Sept. 7, 2004, the rabbis said killing enemy civilians is “normal” during time of war and that the Israeli occupation army should never hesitate to kill non-Jewish civilians in order to save Jewish lives. The rabbis declared, “There is no war in the world in which it is possible to delineate entirely between the population and the enemy army, neither in the US war in Iraq, the Russian war in Chechnya, nor in Israel’s war with its enemies.” The rabbis quoted a Talmudic edict, from the ancient “sage,” Rabbi Akiva, as stating: ‘Our lives come first.’”[20] Another Rabbi Yaacov Perrin had permitted wanton massacre of Palestinians by saying, “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”[21]

In spite of such utterances from religious authorities, very few would dare equate Judaism with terrorism. Why a different yardstick for Islam, especially when OBL is not a religious authority?

The accusation of Muslim terrorism by critics is like turning the tables with a reprisal when one recalls that not a Muslim was left alive in Spain or Sicily or Apulia, and that not a Muslim was left alive and not a mosque left standing in Greece after the great rebellion in l821 (even to this day there is not a single mosque in Athens). In the Greek War of Independence in 1811, three hundred thousand Muslims - men and women and children - the entire Muslim population of the Morea without exception, as well as many thousands in the northern parts of Greece - were atrociously exterminated.[22] Just in last two decades alone, we have witnessed slaughter of nearly half a million unarmed Muslims in genocidal campaigns in former Yugoslavia and the break-away Republic of Chechnya in southern Russia. Add to this list the slaughter of nearly a million Iraqi and Afghan civilians since 2001, another half a million Iraqi children (below the age of 5) during the Clinton era due to the imposition of Embargo, another two to four hundred thousand Iraqis during Bush Sr.‘s campaign – “the Desert Storm” (1990-91)[23], and another two million Afghans during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. We shouldn’t also forget about the daily state terrorism faced by millions of Muslims in places like Kashmir, the Arakan, Mindanao Islands and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the hands of the Indian, Myanmar, the Philippines and Israeli governments, respectively, for more than half a century.

Interestingly, many of these acts of state terrorism, resulting in deaths of millions of Muslims, were (and continues in certain part of our world to be) perpetrated by governments with a religious soul! Some of the instigators, planners, generals and heads of these states boasted that they were doing those ‘godly’ acts for preservation of their “national/cultural/religious” values, protection of their territories from the ‘onslaught’ of Islam, and being even whispered by an Higher Power.

We shouldn’t also forget that the last two great wars of western civilization that resulted in deaths of tens of millions of civilians were not started by Muslims. If the “civilized” world cannot condemn Christianity for dropping of the atom bombs in Japan by the USA, cluster bombs in the Afghanistan, Philippines and Mindanao Islands by the USA, Napalm bombs in Vietnam by the USA, daisy cutter bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq,[24] and vacuum bombs in Chechnya by Russia it has no moral higher ground to condemn Islam for al-Qaeda’s WTC attack and the Chechen hostage-taking in Beslan. If the “civilized” world cannot condemn Judaism for the Jewish state’s rampant and indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon that continues to kill and maim civilians, it would be downright hypocritical to condemn Islam for suicide attacks by dispossessed Palestinian youths.

Moreover, as has been duly noted before, the tactics used by today’s Muslim fighters or terrorists are no different than those employed by the Jewish leaders during the British Mandate of Palestine. Today’s Muslim terrorists are simply copycatting old Jewish terrorism. We shouldn’t also dodge the fact that the total death count brought about by these individual terrorist acts pales by comparison with those of state governments. However, the “civilized” world has learned to overlook such gruesome crimes of the state, as the playwright Arthur Miller once wrote, “The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.”

As to the western media’s preferential reporting of Muslim acts of violence, while more atrocious state terrorism is under-reported, John Pilger, the renowned investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, bemoaned the fact that when on September 7, 2004, Palestinian suicide bombers killed 16 Israelis in the town of Beersheba every television news report marked the end of a five-month period of “relative peace and calm” and “a lull in the violence”. They forgot to tell us that “during those five months of relative peace and calm, almost 400 Palestinians were killed, 71 of them in assassinations. During the lull in the violence, more than 73 Palestinian children were killed. A 13-year-old was murdered with a bullet through the heart, a five-year-old was shot in her face as she walked arm in arm with her two-year old-sister. The body of Mazen Majid, aged 14, was riddled with 18 Israeli bullets as he and his family fled their bulldozed home. None of this was reported in Britain as terrorism. Most of it was not reported at all. After all, this was a period of peace and calm, a lull in the violence. On 19 May, Israeli tanks and helicopters fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing eight of them. This atrocity had a certain significance; the demonstration was part of a growing non-violent Palestinian movement, which has seen peaceful protest gatherings, often with prayers, along the apartheid wall.”[25] Let’s do the math: 16 against 400, that’s - 4%. Why that 4% crime statistics becomes the headline news while the hefty 96% is hidden under the rug?

One wonders who is terrorizing whom! However, in the western vocabulary such barbarous acts by their governments (and surrogates like the Israeli government against the Palestinian people) against unarmed Muslim civilians are considered to be non-terrorist acts. Trigger-happy soldiers, pilots, bombers and missile men in the armed forces are routinely decorated for their patriotism and gallantry for killing civilians in the line of duty. Not only that: the crime of a rapist and murderous occupying soldier who terrorizes an innocent Muslim family is brushed off as vital to survival in a combat area. These military trials make a mockery of justice and fair play.

The ultimate question in this regard is: does Islam justify and/or promote terrorism?

Islam categorically condemns terrorism of all sorts, individual and state, maintaining that the killing of one innocent human being is like killing the entire human race. (Qur’an 5:32) Those who commit such crimes are doomed for hell. From the very beginning, the Prophet of Islam and the early Islamic Caliphs laid out definitive rules stipulating that unarmed civilians, even during a war, cannot be attacked.[26] This clause alone is sufficient to prove that Islam has a higher moral ground than both Judaism and Christianity whose Rabbis and Priests approve not only preemptive strikes against the enemy but also condone violent acts against unarmed civilians.[27]

An objective and unbiased analysis would also show that not a single Muslim state (outside Sudan) today can be accused of state terrorism, something that cannot be said about some non-Muslim countries like the USA, the UK, Serbia, Russia, Burma, Sri Lanka, China, India and Israel, just to name a few.

Islam condemns suicide considering it a grave sin, with its perpetrator, according to Islamic Traditions, becoming a denizen of hell.[28]

So why the suicide bombing, which has become a trademark of many individual terrorists in the post-9/11 period? The answer is provided by Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist. In a study of suicide terrorism from 1980 to 2001, he found that, of the 188 separate attacks he identified, 179 could have their roots traced to large, coherent political or military campaigns. He also noted that “there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any religion for that matter. In fact, the leading instigator of suicide attacks is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion (they have committed 75 of the 188 incidents).”[29]

Terrorism is anti-thesis of Islam, the latter in general preaching love, mercy and peace as against hatred, cruelty and chaos, which are salient features of terrorism. Terrorism is hopeless and derives its strength from nihilism within the very society where it emerges, while Islam is about hope and love. The phrase - Islamic terrorism - is, thus, an oxymoron, nurtured by governments, groups and agencies to license their own atrocities and brutalities against Muslim masses. As much as this terror is practiced by repressive governments in states like Egypt and Algeria, it is also practiced in countries like Israel, the UK, Germany, France, Russia and the USA where racism, xenophobia and bigotry often run in parallel.

In reviewing false charges of violence lodged against Islam and its Prophet, Karen Armstrong commented, “Far from being addicted to warfare, Islam insists on the importance of peace. The message of the Qur’an is a plural vision; it respects and values other traditions.”
The conclusion drawn by veteran journalist John Pilger was no different. He said, “Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims - that is, the victims of American fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth.” (New Statesman, September 17, 2001)[30]


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[1] Not surprisingly when Oklahoma bombing took place, the first ones to be suspected were Muslims, esp. anyone looking like an Arab.
[2] “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.” This is what Attorney General John Ashcroft told syndicated columnist Cal Thomas in an interview published on the internet site Crosswalk.
[3] For the full text, see: http://www.zenit.org/article-16955?l=english Inter.estingly, the pope does not mention the Persian Muslim who had conversed with the Byzantine emperor Manuel. Muslim history does not mention such an encounter to have ever taken place. Even Manuel’s own remarks that - God is not pleased with blood – the statement with which no Muslim would disagree – has been violated by Christians more than any other religious group, thus making a mockery of the entire argument. See also Karen Armstrong’s article - http://www.csidonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=344&Itemid=73#sadat
[4] Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Dinesh D’Souza maintained that violence perpetrated in the name of God pales by comparison with the violence committed by those who reject religion: “It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness. These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.”
[5] Some background information on Jewish fundamentalism can be found in Ian Lustick’s article (CFR, 1988): http://www.sas.upenn.edu/penncip/lustick/index.html; and Clive Jones’s article (Brit. J. Middle Eastern Studies, May 1999): http://www.jstor.org/pss/195598
[6] Gush Emunim supporters believe that the coming of the messiah can be hastened through Jewish settlement on land they believe God has allotted to the Jewish people as outlined in the Hebrew Bible. The party is now referred to as Ne’emanei Eretz Yisrael.
[7] Levinger is known for leading Jewish settlement in Hebron in 1968 and for being one of the principals of the settler movement Gush Emunim founded in 1974. He has been arrested and charged at least 10 times starting in 1975 in relation to incidents in Hebron or Kiryat Arba. In 1987 the Hebrew weekly Hadashot asked a panel of twenty-two leading Israelis, from all parts of the political spectrum, to name the “person of the generation, the man or woman who has had the greatest effect on Israeli society in the last twenty years.” First place in this poll was shared by Menachem Begin and Levinger.
[8] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,950037,00.html
[9] According to a 2003 report in the most popular Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, “Marzel had acquired a police record of some 40 files before he was 30”.The report goes on to detail his criminal record, including assaults on Palestinians (one earning him a 12-month suspended prison sentence), an Israeli police officer and Israeli left-wing activist and journalist Uri Avnery.
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Task_Force
[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binyamin_Elon
[12] The Time magazine reports (1984): “In the past four years, fanatical Jewish activists have launched more than 40 terrorist operations against Arab and Christian homes and institutions in Israel and the West Bank. Among the more spectacular crimes: the attempted assassination of three West Bank Arab mayors in June 1980 and an assault last summer on Hebron’s Islamic University in which three Arabs were killed and 33 wounded. Responsibility for the latest West Bank machine gunning was claimed by a unit of the clandestine organization TNT, a Hebrew abbreviation for Terror Against Terror.” (Holy Terror, March 19, 1984)
[13] The NRP’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be summarized as: There will only be one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – the State of Israel. No independent national Arab entity (such as a putative Palestinian state) will exist within these borders; No part of Israel will be given over to a foreign government or authority. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Religious_Party
[14] On February 25, 1994, that year’s Purim day, Goldstein entered a room in the Cave of the Patriarchs serving as a mosque, wearing “his army uniform with the insignia of rank, creating the image of a reserve officer on active duty” (Shamgar report). He then opened fire, killing 29 Arab Muslims and wounding 150. Mosque guard Mohammad Suleiman Abu Saleh said he thought that Goldstein was trying to kill as many people as possible and described how there were “bodies and blood everywhere.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Goldstein
[15] Popper, a former dishonorably-discharged soldier, put on his army uniform on 20 May 1990 and asked men waiting at a bus stop in the Israeli town of Rishon Lezion for their identity cards. After confirming they were Arabs he lined them up and opened fire, killing seven. Within an hour, he was arrested by Israeli police. In prison he became religious and in June 1993 he married a Canadian woman from a family of Kach activists. They had three children. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ami_Popper
[16] See a report on the LRA: http://eteraz.wordpress.com/2006/05/05/christian-terrorists-and-moral-equivalence/
[17] Accused doctor sniper James Kopp was caught in France in March 2001 and extradited to New York in July 2002. He confessed to the murder of New York’s Dr. Barnett Slepian later that year, was convicted, and sentenced in May 2003 to 25 years to life in prison.
[18] Eric Robert Rudolph, also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is an American Christian terrorist who committed a series of bombings across the southern United States which killed three people and injured at least 150 others. He declared that his bombings were part of a guerrilla campaign against abortion.
[19] http://www.revisionisthistory.org/palestine58.html Lior .has publicly eulogized Baruch Goldstein, an American settler from Brooklyn who in 1994 massacred 40 Palestinian civilians who were praying at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque. Rabbi Lior called Goldstein a “great saint.”
[20] http://www.revisionisthistory.org/palestine58.html
[21] N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1 (based on the Rabbi’s statement the day earlier, Feb. 27, 2994).
[22] See this author’s “Is Islam trying to conquer the world by sword?” http://www.aljazeerah.info March, 2004; http://mynima.blogg.se/1202832166_vsts_hegemoni.html
[23] Robert Fisk, The Great War For Civilisation; The Conquest of the Middle East (Fourth Estate, 2005), p.853
[24] The US forces used banned White Phosphorus in its war in Iraq. In the first Gulf War, they also used uranium depleted shells – another banned material.
[25] http://www.newstatesman.com/200409200016
[26] See this author’s series of articles on Muhammad – the Prophet of Islam – for details.
[27]  http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/spages/963518.html; http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=e77_1206630264; http://www.alternet.org/rights/76686/; http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDQ/is_2006_Sept_25/ai_n16741775
[28] Sahih Muslim
[29] See Robert Pape, “Dying to Kill Us,” the N.Y. Times, Sept. 22, 2003.
[30] http://www.newstatesman.com/forum_view.php?newDisplayURN=300000016686