Al-Ahram Weekly Online   4 - 10 May 2006
Issue No. 793
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

The culture of terrorism

It is no longer enough, or even important, to seek the identity of the perpetrators of terrorist operations committed in Dahab and prior to that in Taba, Sharm El-Sheikh and Nuweiba. Terrorism has become a culture. This culture has spread around the world and has followers.

What difference does it make whether an organisation is local or international if its creed is singular? There is no longer need for organisation leaders to give orders as once was necessary. The political and religious discourse of the "fathers" has become an inspiration and fomenter from afar. Their thought pervades satellite channels, their fatwas published on Web sites, spreading hence through the streets of major cities. They have strong arguments and fine logic that convinces those despaired of restrictive situations, the despotism of leaders, the oppression of authority and the absence of hope.

When US President George W Bush announced his global war on terror, many believed that the end of terrorism was near at hand once the world joined forces under US leadership. Yet, with the passage of time it became clear that Bush was igniting fires and emboldening terrorists without doing away with them. The achievements of more than four years of the war on terror have been far less than the stated goals. In fact, it has not surpassed seeking to protect American territory and interests alone.

To reach this goal, America has exploited all the capacities of its allies and friends who have cooperated with it in full loyalty and naiveté without realising the true, selfish goal Washington seeks behind the global war on terror; that is, the protection of its borders and interests. Meanwhile, America's friends and partners in this war are bearing the brunt, including London, Casablanca, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere.

Was the real goal of Bush's war on terror to displace hell on earth from America onto its allies? White House spokesperson Scott McLellan inferred as much, perhaps unintentionally, when commenting on the latest tape of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. He said America was continuing the battle against terror abroad in order to make planning attacks on America difficult for America's enemies. This tape of Bin Laden was broadcast the night of the Dahab terrorist explosions. In it, Bin Laden mentioned Egypt more than once with regard to Al-Qaeda's strategic interests.

Of course, it is not required for the US to expose itself to terrorism and so equalise with its allies. Yet the goal set, revealed by McLellan, is unacceptable. The world permitted America to invade two states, Iraq and Afghanistan, providing soldiers, funds and information for the sake of eradicating terrorism everywhere. Yet Bin Laden, Ayman El-Zawahari, and seemingly Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, remain at large, suggesting an unwritten agreement that so long as they refrain from, or are incapable of, attacking America directly, they can more or less do as they please.

Within this context it is not so far-fetched that some day, perhaps soon, an American official will redefine terrorism as "waging terrorist attacks on American and Israeli territory only". Even in this case, the US may yet find more naïve and ill-advised allies to sacrifice their interests in order to protect it, remaining loyal to the mission to the point of failing to protect themselves from the dangers of terrorism.

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