January 19, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1073

Arab Columnists Criticize the Justification of Terrorism

January 19, 2006
Jordan | Special Dispatch No. 1073

In the aftermath of the November 9, 2005 terrorist bombings in Amman, Jordan, various articles appeared in the Arab media criticizing political justification of terrorism in Arab countries, which, they state, prevents the Arabs from taking anti-terrorism measures. One writer explained that the Amman bombings were unconnected in any way to the war in Iraq or to the Palestinian problem; another accused the Arab media of misrepresenting terrorism in the Arab countries and thus leading the Arab public to justify it. Yet another called on the Arab public to recognize the true causes of terror and to work towards eradicating them.

The following are excerpts from the articles:

The Bombings in Jordan Have Nothing to Do With Iraq and Palestine

In a column titled "The Link between Terrorism and the Palestinian and Iraqi [Issues] is a Lie," Dr. Mamoun Fandy wrote in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "The Jordan bombings are resounding proof that justifying terrorism by linking it to the Palestinian issue is a fraud, and that justifying terrorism by linking it to the American occupation in Iraq is a big lie. To those who say that terrorism in our Arab region is the result of the American occupation in Iraq, I say: we are no [foreigners]. We [didn't come from] Sweden - we know the region [well]. And terrorism existed and was [deeply] rooted in our region [even] before the Americans came to Iraq.

"The terrorism of the Islamist groups in Egypt and the assassination of [Egyptian president Anwar] Al-Sadat occurred before [the war] in Iraq; the massacre of the children in Algeria began before the occupation of Iraq; Juhaiman [Al-'Utaibi's] terrorism in the mosque in Mecca took place before [the war in] Iraq; [1] and the bombings in Al-'Uliya and Al-Khobar also took place before the war in Iraq. [2] Terrorism existed in our region before the [U.S.] occupation, and it will continue to exist after the Americans withdraw from Iraq. [It will continue] until some of us, especially in the media, are [finally] able to say that the justifications of terrorism are false, and that the bombings in Jordan... had nothing to do with the fact that Jordan shares a border with Iraq... If mere proximity to Iraq causes terrorism to spread [into a country], why aren't we witnessing bombings in Syria, which has extensive borders with Iraq? Why aren't we witnessing terrorism in Iran, which also shares a border with Iraq? Why are we witnessing terrorism [only] in Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia?...

"The bombings in Jordan [also] prove that there is no connection between terrorism and [the issue of] Palestine. Everyone knows that Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel. So why were there no bombings in Jordan after the signing of the famous peace agreement?... Half the people of Jordan are of Palestinian origin. Why didn't they blow themselves up after [the signing of] the peace agreement, after every meeting between the late King Hussein and the Israeli leadership, or [after every meeting] between King Abdallah II and the Israeli leadership?...

"If the mere proximity of Jordan to Iraq, and its contacts with America, were the reasons for the bombings, Jordan would have been totally [engulfed in] flames. Furthermore, if the Palestinian issue were the motivation for the terrorist acts, Jordan would have been the [main] arena for these operations. The Palestinians of Jordan would have served as fuel for the car bombs, and Jordan would have burned a thousand times, not [only] once. The fact that Jordan was, and still is, an island of stability and a center for businessmen and investments is sufficient proof that Israel's and America's relations with Jordan are not the [real] reason for terrorism...

"[The real reason that] Jordan was targeted by terrorism is not its relations with Israel and America, but the fact that it severed its ties with terrorism. The bombings in Jordan were vengeance by terrorist groups against the government of King Abdallah II, which decided to prevent the terrorists from using Jordanian territories and made it difficult for them to convey funds, men, and ammunition to Iraq...

"The bombings in Amman are the beginning of the end of terrorism in Jordan, just as the bombings in Riyadh were the beginning of the end of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. A country targeted by terrorism is a country that has decided to declare war on terrorism, while a country that is not targeted by terrorism, [though it] is proximate to Iraq and Palestine, is surely involved in financing or supporting terrorism. Therefore, the issues of Iraq and Palestine are fictitious justifications which have no basis, save on the screens of the terrorist television channels." [3]

Palestinian Columnist: Evoking the Palestinian Problem as Justification for Terrorism Harms Our Cause

Palestinian columnist and political analyst Khaled Duzdar also criticized the use of the Palestinian issue as justification for terrorist acts, since, he states, terrorism harms rather than promotes, the Palestinian struggle for freedom. He therefore called on the Arab and Muslim countries to make earnest efforts to stamp out terrorism. In an article in the Lebanese English-language Daily Star, he wrote:

"Now is the time for us Muslims and Arabs to take over this responsibility. All Muslim and Arabs should unify in one mission, which is to fight the mad ideologies defended by those who have separated themselves from what Islam has really brought to the world and what Islam really wants to promote. Their acts only cause severe damage to Islam and Muslims. The false messages they are presenting in the name of Islam have resulted in a global misunderstanding about real Islamic belief. The evil belief of these mad people has sentenced Islam and Muslims to be tainted as evildoers, terrorists, savages, and people with no mercy.

"Islamic governments and scholars shouldn't remain passive. They should assume their responsibilities now and think and plan how to cure and secure our families and societies from this widely spreading disease. They must not close their eyes and ears to the growing danger and say it isn't our problem. The insane missionaries of death are now knocking at our doors. Governments should act immediately to uproot them from our societies.

"Serious action should include preparing plans to cripple these people and their freedom of movement, to impede their receiving shelter, to draw up plans to cut them off from their financial sources, and to deny them the capabilities to recruit people. The authorities should also prevent mosques from being misused. Islamic scholars should draft plans on how to defend real Islam from the distorted allegations of those wrongfully acting in its name, and should raise public awareness that today our enemies come from among us. Society should also act in ensuring that their children don't join such groups, while also isolating the latter.

"As a Palestinian, I also accuse such bombers of damaging our cause and destroying our struggle for freedom. They can't be allowed to use our cause as an excuse for their evil and insane beliefs. No matter where they are acting... their acts only do us harm, especially at a time when we Palestinians are searching for international support to bring to life a Palestinian state". [4]

The Arab Media Draws a Distorted Picture of Terrorism

In an article in the Saudi daily Al-Watan, Kuwaiti columnist Muhammad Al-Rumaihi accused the Arab media of conveying a distorted message that led the Arab public to justify terrorism:

"After the cruel acts of murder in the Jordanian capital, I listened to the British [Arabic-language] radio channel that broadcasts from the city of Al-Zarqaa, the birthplace of Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. I heard the announcer declare that the individual named Al-Zarqawi does not [really] exist, that he is an invention, and that the bombings were perpetrated by 'the Americans.' There are tens of thousands who think like him. Our media, whether deliberately or not, supports illogical notions of this sort to the point where [people] believe them without question...

"America is not without flaws, but the claim that it is responsible for the recent bombings in the Jordanian capital, and the unquestioning belief in this claim, oblige us... to test the basic assumptions on which these cruel, murderous gangs rely - assumptions based on vacuous thinking which consists of nothing but political lies that have taken root over time without anyone dealing with or denouncing them.

"In Iraq, an all-out war is raging between the new Iraqi regime and the international forces on the one hand, and cruel murderous gangs on the other. At the same time, we see, hear, and read in the papers and on television that some people refer to this [war] as 'resistance'! Moreover, [we hear] the announcer distinguish between 'national resistance' and 'non-national resistance' which targets the Iraqis themselves! Excuses like these create a distorted perception [in the minds] of a significant portion of the Arab public, to the point where they come to see these crimes as 'somewhat justified,' and [eventually] accept these actions and even praise them...

"[Two factors] lead to incorrect handling [of terrorism]: lack of [correct] interpretation of this phenomenon of 'mass murder,' and hasty interpretation [of the phenomenon]. After the London bombings last summer, it was claimed that the motivation was Britain's participation in the war on Iraq. This claim was widely accepted, but it was very soon refuted by the riots in the Paris suburbs, since [France] did not participate in the war. On the contrary, it opposed [the war]!...

"We [should] get the educational process in our society back on the right track by acknowledging that there is a flaw in the education of the Arab society, and by acknowledging that there is an alternative way to express a political opinion - [a way] that will prevent this blind killing of human beings." [5]

Qatari Reformist: "When Will We Launch an Ideological, Cultural, Educational, Informational, and Religious Campaign to Eradicate Terrorism?"

The former dean of the Faculty of Islamic Law at the University of Qatar, Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa that the time has come for the Arabs to assume responsibility for their actions and stop justifying terrorist acts:

"Is there any explanation for the actions of these devils, who came from Iraq to Jordan in order to blow themselves up [in] the capital's three largest hotels? Is there any justification for the act of that suicide [bomber] who chose to blow himself up among ordinary people eating their breakfast at a restaurant in central Baghdad? Is there any logical motivation [that leads] those who call themselves 'the national resistance' to target [people at] bus stops, restaurants, markets, and mosques?! Is there any convincing reason to harm people sitting in a mourners' tent, in Shi'ite mosques, or in hospitals?...

"We do not deny that bombings and suicide attacks are carried out by [people of] all nationalities for many different reasons. But cruel, purposeless suicide bombings of this sort have been unknown in the world, and exist only in our [society]. How long will we allow terrorism to brutalize our lands? How long will it [continue] to take the lives of innocent people?! How long will we [continue] to blame others?! How long will we [continue] to justify the actions of these criminals?! When will we acknowledge our responsibility?!...

"When will we initiate a significant change [leading] towards a national program for combating terrorism? When will we launch an ideological, cultural, educational, informational, and religious campaign to eradicate terrorism? The king of Jordan said: 'We will not be lenient towards the ideology of takfir [accusing others of heresy] and towards those who justify and support terrorism.' Previously, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf [states] made similar statements. But what do we do about the general public which accepts extremist fundamental notions? [About] the public which constitutes fertile ground for the development of extremism and cultivation of terrorist cells? How do we translate the declarations of the kings and leaders into operational plans to bring about the eradication of violent thinking?

"Countering [terrorism] on the security front [alone] is not enough, [since] many imams bless the terrorists. The security agreements are to no avail [when] columnists, writers, journalists, and satellite channels praise the terrorists' actions in Iraq and refer to them as 'resistance' and 'jihad'...

"The 'culture of justification [of terrorism]' is still [well] rooted in the Arab world, and there are writers, columnists, and satellite channels who make their living off it." [6]

[1] On November 20, 1979, Saudi insurgent Juhaiman Al-'Utaibi took over the Grand Mosque in Mecca and held worshipers hostage for three days. Al-'Utaibi and his men were captured after a confrontation with the Saudi security forces, and were executed by the Saudi authorities.

[2] On November 13, 1995, terrorists bombed a Saudi National Guard training center in Al-'Uliya in Riyadh. On June 25, 1996, a car bomb was planted next to a building housing U.S. soldiers in the Saudi town of Al-Khobar.

[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 14, 2005.

[4] Daily Star (Lebanon), November 15, 2005.

[5] Al-Watan (Syria), November 15, 2005.

[6] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), November 12, 2005.

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