Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We have to stop picking and choosing favorable terrorists

The shock of the terrorist attack on French journalists has generated different responses, some pretty childish, opportunist but also some principled and encouraging. I'm happy to see people like Asad AbuKhalil and Noam Chomsky hold up examples of behavior where the US enthusiastically crushes nonviolent actors. (Not only does this comparison remind me of my responsibility to reflect on my own influence, but it prevents me from feeling that one must accept this kind of violence of Al-Qaeda organizations simply because I don't like the greedy elites in this country. Bad is bad, no matter who does it.) Others have bravely written thoughtful defenses of freedom of speech using Islamic principles, and even analyses of the context of religious symbols in a society that marginalizes people, despite being mocked as sympathizers.

I tried to look up the political network of the terrorist Kouchi brothers who committed the attack. A query.nytimes search revealed they were influenced by a then-22 year old Algerian-connected preacher named Thamer Bouchnak. (NYTIMES 2005). Craig Smith writes he was "benefiting from his aura as the brother-in-law of Yousef Zemmouri, a member of an Algerian terrorist organization, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, who was deported in 1998."

As I researched this group it reminded me a lot of the Hamas/PLO split, where the targeting of PLO members resulted in the strengthening of more Islamist politics.

The split in Islamist Algerian bombers occurred during the Bush Administration's aggressive war in Iraq, not by chance. In a book by Frank Peter and Rafael Ortega, the leader of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, Abu Musab Abd al-Wadud "rejects the idea that his organization means nothing but a change in name." The change, according to Peter and Ortega (GOOGLE BOOK PREVIEW), "coincided with al-Qaeda's adoption of a brand new strategy at the end of 2003, following the American invasion of Iraq." One of his priorities was to see a "widened" approach in "the movement's activities to other countries in the region.". This revision was opposed by the regional Salafist Hassan al-Khattab, and he lost "not because of the strength of the organization" but because there was no other choice. In fact,  Hassan Al Khattab's branch was "dismantled by the Moroccan police at the end of July 2006."(BOOK EXCERPT)

It's important to remember Morocco has been under US-backed dictatorship because of a political calculation during Reagan's first war on terror, similar to the calculation of Obama's humanitarian imperialism. Obama has said before he will welcome peaceful responses, what he called an "unclenched fist" yet has campaigned on punishing the petition to the ICC by the Palestinians, has bombed the Libyan state transmitters, and fanned the flames of war in Syria, Yemen and beyond, because of commercial and strategic interests. The terror attacks, to all those concerned with ending them, should bring to focus the attempt to pick and choose proper terrorist bullies because they support US policies. But unlike the cultural writers I mentioned, there is no thoughtfulness in discussing counter-terror policies.

Outside of a rant here and there, there can be little doubt we will repeat the tragic crimes in Syria that we have in Iraq. This is having a result. France and the United States have taken a Mafia-like approach. President Obama has declared he will "hunt down" the terrorists, and France is continuing to send its Navy to Syria.

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