It's been going on for six months now, this great crusade lead by the United States of America, this so-called “War on Terror”. But still, Osama Bin Laden has not been apprehended, Al Quaeda is far from dismantled and the Taliban are still fighting in the mountains.
But whenever I turn on the news, these points have been conveniently brushed aside. Instead, now Mr. Bush is drumming up support to go and wage war on Saddam again, and America, its hands tied by the Israeli lobby, is backing Israels' own campaign of terror against the Palestinian people. Is this really a “War on Terror?” or is it a War on Muslims? Was “Operation Enduring Freedom” really “Operation Enduring Vengeance”?
After all, your average American was calling out “blood for blood”. Many of those I have seen on talk-shows or in interviews have the mentality that the United States is some perfect nation that has a god-given right to do what it wants. Who can blame them? You'd be angry too if 3,000 innocent people had died at the hands of an enemy. You'd also want justice. But that's where the whole American argument falls down… “We want Justice”. We want it a thousand times over. And we want justice against them!
But Justice is one-sided. During the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Ariel Sharon was responsible for the massacre of some 2,000 innocent refugees, when he allowed the Lebanon's Phalangist Militia to murder and rape its way through the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps (that were supposed to be under U.S. protection) — before sending in the bulldozers to try and hide the evidence.
Let us not forget the massacre at Qana, or when Sharon ordered Israeli Jets to carpet bomb Beirut — killing thousands more innocent people (five times as many women and children died in this attack than on 9/11). But there was no “justice” for the Palestinians or Lebanese. There has never been justice.
Israel was created through terrorism. Zionist terrorist organisations such as the Irgun and LEHI are responsible for the torture and murder of British Servicemen and Palestinian officials, for the bombing of the King David Hotel, and for a massive letter-bomb campaign against the British who were governing Palestine at the time.
And then, subsequent to the creation of Israel, incidents such as Dier Yessin heralded the foundation of the supposed “Zionist State” — at Dier Yessin, a Palestinian town, hundreds of Palestinians who refused to leave their homes were butchered mercilessly, pregnant women were cut open, children mutilated. No Justice for the Palestinians, no compensation for the land, homes, businesses and property they had stolen from them. And all that is said of them are two words “collateral damage”.
This blatant hypocrisy in American foreign policy continues today; the same thing is happening again — in Jenin a massacre has taken place, in Ramallah Palestinian police officers were found executed. And “generous” peace proposals are essentially signing away Palestine to Israel. America stands firmly by its Zionist ally, who justifies its actions by quoting George Bush.
The world wonders why these “suicide bombers” (that Israel claims to valiantly defend against by massacring civillians) exist. The suicide bomber isn't always the product of brainwashing. More often it's the product of a people who have realised that there would be no justice for them; no one to stand up for them. Years of humiliation and suffering have brought them to that conclusion.
They have no tanks or helicopters, shells or guided missiles. All they have is anger, and a sense of abandonment by the world. Suicide bombers are a poor-man's answer to a superpower and its military might. It's the only way they can fight back.
Elsewhere, given less coverage in the news, is Gujurat — a province in India with a strong Muslim minority. In Gujurat, thousands of Hindu militants, supported by the VJP — the Hindu Government of India, are carrying out genocide. To quote Harsh Mander, a former Hindu civil servant, disgusted with the events.
As you walk through the camps of riot survivors in Ahmadabad, in which an estimated 53,000 women, men, and children are huddled in 29 temporary settlements, displays of overt grief are unusual. People clutch small bundles of relief materials, all that they now own in the world, with dry and glassy eyes. Some talk in low voices, others busy themselves with the tasks of everyday living in these most basic of shelters, looking for food and milk for children, tending the wounds of the injured. But once you sit anywhere in these camps, people begin to speak and their words are like masses of pus released by slitting large festering wounds.
The horrors that they speak of are so macabre, that my pen falters in the writing. The pitiless brutality against women and small children by organised bands of armed young men is more savage than anything witnessed in the riots that have shamed this nation from time to time during the past century. I force myself to write a small fraction of all that I heard and saw, because it is important that we all know. Or maybe also because I need to share my own burdens.
What can you say about a woman eight months pregnant who begged to be spared. Her assailants instead slit open her stomach, pulled out her foetus and slaughtered it before her eyes. What can you say about a family of nineteen being killed by flooding their house with water and then electrocuting them with high-tension electricity. What can you say?
A small boy of six in Juhapara camp described how his mother and six brothers and sisters were battered to death before his eyes. He survived only because he fell unconscious, and was taken for dead. A family escaping from Naroda-Patiya, one of the worst-hit settlements in Ahmedabad, spoke of losing a young woman and her three month old son, because a police constable directed her to `safety' and she found herself instead surrounded by a mob which doused her with kerosene and set her and her baby on fire.
I have never known a riot which has used the sexual subjugation of women so widely as an instrument of violence in the recent mass barbarity in Gujarat. There are reports every where of gang-rape, of young girls and women, often in the presence of members of their families, followed by their murder by burning alive, or by bludgeoning with a hammer and in one case with a screw driver. Women in the Aman Chowk shelter told appalling stories about how armed men disrobed themselves in front of a group of terrified women to cower them down further.
In Ahmedabad, most people I met – social workers, journalists, survivors – agree that what Gujarat witnessed was not a riot, but a terrorist attack followed by a systematic, planned massacre, a pogrom. Everyone spoke of the pillage and plunder, being organised like a military operation against an external armed enemy. An initial truck would arrive broadcasting inflammatory slogans, soon followed by more trucks which disgorged young men, mostly in khaki shorts and saffron sashes. They were armed with sophisticated explosive materials, country weapons, daggers and trishuls. They also carried water bottles, to sustain them in their exertions.
The leaders were seen communicating on mobile telephones from the riot venues, receiving instructions from and reporting back to a co-ordinating centre. Some were seen with documents and computer sheets listing Muslim families and their properties. They had detailed precise knowledge about buildings and businesses held by members of the minority community, such as who were partners say in a restaurant business, or which Muslim homes had Hindu spouses were married who should be spared in the violence.
This was not a spontaneous upsurge of mass anger. It was a carefully planned pogrom. The trucks carried quantities of gas cylinders. Rich Muslim homes and business establishments were first systematically looted, stripped down of all their valuables, then cooking gas was released from cylinders into the buildings for several minutes. A trained member of the group then lit the flame which efficiently engulfed the building. In some cases, acetylene gas which is used for welding steel, was employed to explode large concrete buildings.
Mosques and dargahs were razed, and were replaced by statues of Hanuman and saffron flags. Some dargahs in Ahmedabad city crossings have overnight been demolished and their sites covered with road building material, and bulldozed so efficiently that these spots are indistinguishable from the rest of the road. Traffic now plies over these former dargahs, as though they never existed. The unconscionable failures and active connivance of the state police and administrative machinery is also now widely acknowledged.
The police is known to have misguided people straight into the hands of rioting mobs. They provided protective shields to crowds bent on pillage, arson, rape and murder, and were deaf to the pleas of the desperate Muslim victims, many of them women and children. There have been many reports of police firing directly mostly at the minority community, which was the target of most of the mob violence. The large majority of arrests are also from the same community which was the main victim of the pogrom.
This was written over a month ago. Since then, the death toll has risen to over 2,000 with a further 2,200 Muslims missing, feared dead. (quoting Muslim News UK figures. For further information and evidence of the atrocities occurring in Gujurat go to genocideinindia.org – I warn you that the images on this site are upsetting.)
But the mainstream media, once again, seems to have brushed these events aside, even if there is any mention of Gujurat, it is a footnote. It worries me to see the world's media ignore mass genocide so casually. What worries me even more is the clear media bias against Islam and Muslims. Muslim men seem to always be portrayed as these bearded fanatics, and Muslim women as these oppressed recluses that are locked away by their husbands.
Media stereotypes are all part of this “War on Terror”. As is media ignorance. The media ignore the continued plight of women in Afghanistan. Women are still being mistreated by the Northern Alliance, but it is ignored, just like it was before 9/11. People have forgotten the Burqa-wearing Muslimas of Afghanistan. Just like they've forgotten Osama Bin Laden, Al Quaeda and the Taliban in favour of Saddam Hussein — the new flavour in the “War on Terror”.
What do these entities all have in common though? Besides the fact that America has them all placed very high on its list of enemies? All four are a direct result of America's involvement in the Middle East.
The CIA trained Osama bin Laden to fight the Russians, and from him Al Quaeda was born. America, through Pakistan, gave funds to the Taliban to create stability in the region — as usual with American policy — with no regard to the regime's humanitarian or ideological principals. To allow America to build an oil pipeline from the ex-Soviet bloc states in Central Asia, to the port of Karachi in Pakistan.
Saddam Hussein was funded and supported by America, and then encouraged to come and wage war on Iran — a war in which no less than a million brave Iranian men were martyred. America supplied Saddam with weapons, tactical support and money. But all those who were receiving support from America turned on their benefactor. America created these monsters, and now it was surprised that they were plotting its downfall. This is just another fact that the media casually “forgets”.
This “War on Terror” is really a massive sanitation operation — an attempt by the US to tie up its own loose ends. George Bush doesn't care about “Justice” or “Freedom” — all he cares about is continued support for his government by the public. By any means necessary. America has a habit of creating these “dictators”, “terrorists” and “oppressors” — then marching in as the triumphant hero and saving the day. Or better still — keeping these dictators around, just to keep the country under Uncle Sams' heel.
George Bush Senior had the chance to remove Saddam over a decade ago- he called on the people of Iraq to rise up against Saddam, and they did. Saddam was ripe to be toppled by his own people. Then Bush Senior signed the peace treaty — the rebels were massacred. The American administration stabbed their own revolution in the back, so they could keep things just the way they wanted them; under their control.
If they had wanted Saddam gone, they could have gotten rid of him. But instead, they are much happier to spend billions of tax dollars bombing a country for a decade. In the hope that they can bomb the country into peace and prosperity. It's a bit like trying to fix a computer by getting a large rock and bashing the computer as hard as you can. But that is the sort of level of intelligence we have come to expect from the present, and past administrations.
Another example of this is in Somalia, before the events of the lamentable film “Black Hawk Down” George Bush Senior tried just that… he tried to bomb Somalia into democracy. He claimed that he was doing “Gods work”.
But by the time the US government handed over the administration of Somalia to the United Nations in 1993, it had already made several fundamental mistakes. It had backed the clan chiefs Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi against another warlord, shoring up their power just as it had started to collapse. It had failed to recognise that the competing clan chiefs were ready to accept large-scale disarmament, if it were carried out impartially. Far from resolving the conflict between the clans, the US enhanced it.
After the handover, the UN's Pakistani peacekeepers tried to seize Aideed's radio station, which was broadcasting anti-UN propaganda. The raid was bungled, and 25 of the soldiers were killed by Aideed's supporters. A few days later, Pakistani troops fired on an unarmed crowd, killing women and children. The United Nations force, commanded by a US admiral, was drawn into a blood feud with Aideed's militia. As the feud escalated, US special forces were brought in to deal with the man now described by American intelligence as “the Hitler of Somalia”.
Aideed, who was certainly a ruthless and dangerous man but also just one of several clan leaders competing for power in the country, was blamed for all Somali a's troubles. The UN's peacekeeping mission had been transformed into a partisan war. The special forces, over-confident and hopelessly ill-informed, raided, in quick succession, the headquarters of the UN development programme, the charity World Concern and the offices of Médecins sans Frontieres.
They managed to capture, among scores of innocent civilians and aid workers, the chief of the UN's police force. But farce was soon repeated as tragedy. When some of the most senior members of Aideed's clan gathered in a building in Mogadishu to discuss a peace agreement with the United Nations, the US forces, misinformed as ever, blew them up, killing 54 people. Thus they succeeded in making enemies of all the Somalis. The special forces were harried by gunmen from all sides. In return, US troops in the UN compound began firing missiles at residential areas.
American administrations are responsible for the massive exploitation of the Middle East, for their own ends they have placed a drop of oil at a higher value than a drop of human blood. They support corrupt rulers and puppet presidents. American foreign policy has to be the worst in the Western world. The bashing-rock mentality is ever-present, and so is the irritating arrogance and mistaken belief that it is their divine right to do what they believe is “Gods' work”. They have more pressing, internal problems that need addressing before they try to sort out everyone elses'. But they don't seem to realise that they feel they can march into a country and do whatever they want.
In my opinion, America wants the Middle East to be unstable, and to remain that way, because, as long as America has let Israel off the leash (or Israel has let itself off), and the Persian Gulf states are all at each others' throats, there is a definite need for American intervention to “keep the peace” and establish more bases, to position more forces overseas, and thereby extend their sphere of influence. This tactic was employed in the Cold War. As were many others we see today. Ronald Reagan began the long, time-honoured traditions of trade sanctions, massive military spending, media propoganda campaigns and the funding of groups opposition groups.
9/11 wasn't unprovoked, it was the chicken coming home to roost — in the words of Malcom X. And six months later, the horrible reality has become brutally clear. “Enduring Freedom” was revenge. And the “War on Terror” has become an act of terror. There won't be any “justice” for the Palestinians, or “Enduring Freedom” for the people of Gujurat. All they have are broken promises, and clear betrayals.
The West claims to stand for justice — but their justice is one-sided. Oil is precious and life is cheap. Terror, dear brothers and sisters, is all they — the forgotten “collateral damage” — have left.