I have been sick of hearing the meme that British and American foreign policy led to the terrorist plots carried out recently and foiled last week in the U.K. I hear it from Muslims and their leaders quoted in the media. I heard it yesterday in an appalling report on the BBC’s World Service European show, with a reporter leading young people to say that our foreign policy and seeing their “brothers blown up” in Afghanistan led to this (let’s remember who’s really blowing up Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq: Muslims).
Well, the Observer of London — yes, the Observer — has a rousing response to that thread in an editorial today:
This was hardly a Western war against Islam. Britain and America spent much of the Nineties trying to prevent conflicts or to resolve them. At worst, as shamefully in Rwanda, they simply ignored them. They were transparently not running a conspiracy to trample the Muslim faithful underfoot. The people who depicted it that way were a tiny minority telling lies to justify murder.
But things have changed. The argument that terrorism is, in fact, a response to Western actions overseas has gained currency. It was voiced most recently on Saturday in an open letter by a number of influential British Muslim leaders to Tony Blair. The Prime Minister’s policy in the Middle East, they said, puts British lives at risk. The implication is that the young Britons who last week were accused of plotting to blow up passenger planes in mid-air would have been less susceptible to al-Qaeda recruitment had Britain not fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Policy should be changed, they said, to avoid giving ideological ‘ammunition to extremists’. . . .
It is also a logical and moral absurdity to imply, as some critics of British policy have done, that mass murder is somehow less atrocious when it is motivated by an elaborate narrative of political grievance.
If young British Muslims are alienated, that is sad and their anger should be addressed. But anyone whose alienation leads them to want to kill indiscriminately has crossed a line into psychopathic criminality. Policy cannot be dictated by the need to placate such people.
British Muslim leaders are entitled, along with everybody else, to raise questions about the conduct and consequences of Mr Blair’s foreign policy. But they have a more immediate responsibility to promote the truth: that Britain is not the aggressor in a war against Islam; that no such war exists; that there is no glory in murder dressed as martyrdom and that terrorism is never excused by bogus accounts of historical victimisation.
: In Australia, Tanveer Ahmed says Islam is the news Marxism.
The 20th century saw the demise of communism, despite its attraction to millions of people who felt poor or downtrodden. It was exposed as a totalitarian system that stifled the aspirations of man. But its stain is spreading within the casing of Islamic fundamentalism. . . .
Like communism, Islamism promises a better life for the poor, oppressed and alienated. It is cloaked in God, but its essence is strongly secular. Unless the West fights the war of ideas at this level, offering a competing vision of morality as well as economics and technology, the lure of Islamic extremism will continue to flourish.
: The Independent reports that the plots were bigger than we know:
Suspected terrorists were planning to unleash a wave of “apocalyptic” attacks on land and air, using an arsenal of bombs and weaponry, including firearms, investigators have discovered. . . . One Whitehall source said “many dozens” of plots were under investigation, involving “hundreds” of suspects.
According to one report last night, al-Qa’ida’s leader in Britain could have been held in the raids. But security sources estimate that as many as 1,200 people here are actively involved with terrorism, and that the country is still under “very severe” threat from other potential terrorist plots.
: The Telegraph reports that five of those arrested in London trained in al Qaeda camps.