Play it again, Uncle Sam
Date: Wednesday, May 21 @ 12:53:01 UTC
Topic: Bush Loves Islam

By Yusuf Agha,

It has been a busy week for human bombers. On three devastating occasions in an equal number of countries, possessed men have driven horrendous fireballs-on-wheels into buildings, claiming over 110 lives, leaving scores of others brutally wounded and property destroyed.

It began with the May 12 inferno in Northern Chechnya when a explosive laden truck was driven into a government compound, obliterating eight building and damaging the Federal Security Service building in Northern Chechnya, killing 54 people and injuring 200.

The following day, with television screens depicting scenes hauntingly similar to the Oklahoma bombing, four cars loaded with explosives plowed into expatriate housing compounds in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, killing 34 -- including eight Americans and two Britons -- and injuring 200.

In the late hours of Friday, human bombers attacked again. This time, five attacks shattered the Moroccan commercial capital of Casablanca killing 24 and wounding 60 at last count. Again, the targets were foreign nationals.

The terror threat continues unabated. In Kenya, intelligence reports are predicting an attack on foreign embassies and residences of foreign nationals, leading Britain to suspend flights into that country. In addition, U.S. officials have named Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Gulf States as possible future targets.

Through wars and attacks, both Uncle Sam and its enemies are playing it again, and -- Chechnya apart -- it is the United States and its allies the world over who are targets of human bombers. Interestingly enough, three of the explosions in Casablanca occurred in Spanish and Jewish properties -- the latter being increasingly identified with Israel in the Muslim world -- both strong supporters of America in the war against Iraq.

What a difference a war makes. UPI reports that on the eve of the Iraqi campaign, a group of CIA veterans had warned the Bush administration against going to war. "Doing so," they stated, "would further widen the divide between the Western and Islamic worlds and increase the incidence of terrorism."

In a near prophetic warning, the veterans stated, "with an invasion of Iraq, the world can expect to be swamped with swamps breeding terrorists. In human terms, your daughters are unlikely to be able to travel abroad in future years without a phalanx of security personnel." Furthermore, members of the Defense Science Board, who report directly to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, released a 1997 report stating, "historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States." In Riyadh, it was the residential compounds heavily fortified by security personnel that were attacked, prompting the U.S. and several foreign countries to issue travel advisories.

Times Online reports that U.S. officials fear the Riyadh bombing was a "prelude to a concerted al-Qaeda fightback …[and] feared similar attacks could be imminent in the commercial capital Jedda, particularly against expatriates."

Muslim rulers have been quick to point out they had warned that an attack on Iraq would lead to turmoil in the region, and they see the suicide bombings as a predictable reaction to the vastly unpopular American war. Mahathir Mohamad, the Malaysian Prime Minister, pins a label of guilt on the U.S.: "...they have committed all sorts of actions like killing and oppressing others."

The New York Times quotes a Saudi Arabian school teacher Khalid Ibrahim saying, "I totally reject these attacks, and I don't think anyone in Saudi Arabia would approve them." Then, in another breath, he adds: "I see hundreds of our Muslim brothers dying in Iraq and Palestine. Part of the reason for these attacks in our country is retaliation against that injustice."

The Spanish daily El Mundo editorialized that "the Iraq war has not only not served to weaken al-Qaeda, it has had just the opposite effect… [The attacks in Riyadh] show that Baghdad was not the great threat which Bush said it was."

Mr. Bush, surrounded by a cabal of neo-con advisors who drove him to wage war against Iraq, continues to bristle with anger and promises that the planners of the attack will be brought to justice. Few expect this to happen in the very near future. Twenty months since 9-11, Osama and Mullah Omar are still at large, basking in the summer of Arab and Muslim discontent with the recently disappeared Saddam.

This discontent, which found its origins in the United States' proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, gathered momentum in the first Gulf war. It is now fattened by the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and its fires have been stoked by the occupation of Iraq and threats to Syria.

There are no color-coded terror alert systems in the Middle East, but the three bombings this week leave little doubt that the cycle of violence has yet to reach its crescendo. Back in the U.S., a greater fear lurks: a group of "venom steep'd" human bombers could strike again, causing the re-aroused vengeance of "Cyclops' hammer" to fall in new wars on foreign soil and the usurpation of civil liberties at home.

Yusuf Agha is a historian who also dabbles in Information Technology. He reads extensively and has an interest in the visual and performing arts. He has resided in the United States for over two decades, loves its people and the land, but is still trying to figure out whom the government represents.

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