Sunday, August 29, 2010

TO TACKLE TERRORISM - END FOREIGN WARS

*** We all know violence only begets more violence - it is a rule of nature. However my view is that Canada CANNOT stay out of all conflicts in the Muslim world because fact is, some of those places are doing terrible things to their OWN people and then we DEMAND Canada do something. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. MS ***


A news story answers five Ws — who, what, when, where and why. But the “why” has mostly been missing from the coverage of the latest terrorism case in Canada.

We’ve been told a great deal about the 50-plus electronic circuit boards designed to remotely detonate bombs in Ottawa, yet very little about the motives of the Canadian citizens charged.

Serge Therriault, chief RCMP investigator, said that the group was opposed to the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan.

This is the fourth major terrorism case in Canada and all four have had to do with Afghanistan.

The Toronto 18 (who became the Toronto 11 after charges were withdrawn against seven) were convicted for plotting to attack civilian targets in Toronto and Ottawa with a view to forcing the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

In February, Said Namouh of Montreal was convicted on four terrorism charges related to his involvement in a plan to bomb targets in Germany and Austria because of those countries’ military presence in Afghanistan.

In 2008, Momin Khawaja of Ottawa was convicted for helping British terrorists angry at the NATO war in Afghanistan.

Stephen Harper has said — as had George W. Bush and as does Barack Obama — that we are in Afghanistan to ensure that the terrorists don’t come here. The counter-argument has been that they might come here precisely because we are there.

It has turned out worse. Terrorists don’t have to come here to attack us. Their sympathizers here will. They may act for Al Qaeda and the Taliban or act on their own. Some may go to Pakistan for military training but many may assemble a bomb from a manual downloaded from the Internet.

Some may be religious, many not. Some may invoke Islam but many act out of solidarity with Muslims. They may be immigrants or, more likely, second-generation Canadians, as Public Safety Minister Vic Towes said Thursday.

They may be “the most unlikely individuals” — engineers, doctors, hospital technicians, seemingly well integrated, such as the pathologist Khurram Sher, a product of and participant in the popular culture of NHL hockey and Canadian Idol. Or they may be uneducated, unemployed, troubled, disaffected.

All this refutes the clich├ęs we have been fed for the last nine years about terrorists:

They are all “Islamic radicals” nurtured in madrassas or mosques, brainwashed into jihad by antediluvian imams. If only the madrassas could be shut down, the imams made to shut up, and “moderate” Muslims rise up against “radical Islam,” the danger would disappear.

This fantasy had a purpose.

If Islam could be made the issue, writes Ron Paul, a Republican congressman, then “radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11,” and not “a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation.”

We’ve had the Afghan and Iraq wars since.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, former head of M15, the British security agency, said last month that Britain’s “involvement in Iraq radicalized a whole generation of young people . . . who saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as an attack on Islam.” It led to an “almost overwhelming” increase in homegrown terrorism.

Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, said in June that American authorities are alarmed at the flurry of terrorist plots, by those directed by Al Qaeda and by “self-radicalized” militants.

Towes, too, talked about the threat posed by “homegrown” and “self-radicalized” terrorists in Canada.

So while Al Qaeda and its offshoots are weaker than they’ve ever been since 2001, says Panetta, the threat of the terrorist next door has increased.

The solution is not to panic or hector the Muslim community to rein in their own — they would if they could — but rather to stop being in denial that there is no connection between the wars we wage and the terrorist mayhem that they trigger, there and here.

No state can be held hostage by terrorists into changing its foreign policy. Such actors must be ferreted out, charged, convicted and jailed — as they have been, thanks to the good work of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, other police forces and our judicial system.

Yet such cases should give us pause — so that we are not herded into blindly backing endless wars and occupations abroad.

hsiddiqui@thestar.ca