May 7, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 2940

Reactions in the Arab World to the Times Square Bombing Attempt

May 7, 2010
Saudi Arabia, Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 2940

The May 1, 2010 Times Square bombing attempt received little attention in the Arab world. There were no official condemnations of the incident, and the Arab press published only a handful of op-eds about it.

Al-Masaa, the evening paper of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya, published an article that not only failed to condemn the bombing attempt, but criticized the U.S. for making a "huge fuss" over it and claimed that the U.S. perpetrates greater crimes "against the peoples of the world."

On the other hand, an editorial in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh called on the Muslim world to condemn the attack, because acts of this sort contravene the precepts of Islam, and also because their repercussions harm Muslims worldwide. The liberal website posted a provocative article by Iraqi columnist Khudayr Taher, who called on the Western countries to treat all Muslims with suspicion, and to take firm precautions against anyone who seems dangerous – even at the cost of infringing on democratic freedoms and human rights – in order to protect their citizens from terror.

Following are excerpts from the articles:

Columnist in Egyptian Government Daily: "The U.S. Seems to Have Forgotten It Is the World's Number One Terrorist"

The Al-Masaa article, by a columnist who writes under the pseudonym 'Arabi Asil ("Purebred Arab"), stated:

"The huge fuss that the U.S. has been making since it announced the exposure of the attempted car bombing in Times Square... is truly outrageous. The U.S. has brought many charges against [the suspected perpetrator], including [involvement in] global terrorism and use of weapons of mass destruction.

"The U.S. seems to have forgotten that it is the world's number one terrorist. If a couple of propane tanks, some fertilizer, and some fireworks count as WMDs, what do we call the terrible weapons employed by the U.S. in its attacks on the peoples of the world? ...Since the Americans occupied the Iraqi city of Falluja in 2004 using phosphorus and depleted uranium bombs, there have been frequent cases of [women who] miscarry [because] their baby is deformed..."

'Arabi Asil adds sarcastically: "And of course it was some country other [than the U.S.] that used WMDs against the Vietnamese people during the years of [its] occupation [there]. Three million Vietnamese are still suffering from the effects of those weapons, and deformed children are still being born there..."[1]

Editorial in Saudi Daily: The Arab Countries Must Condemn the Incident

An editorial by Yousef Al-Kuwailit in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh stated: "Even if the investigations have not yet uncovered which [group] Shahzad, who tried to explode a car [bomb] in Times Square, belonged to, this New York incident is one instance of insane delirium. Even if the [police] never get a lead on this attack, its ramifications for the entire Muslim world are deadly. This is because we are incapable of restraining the emotion of the [Western] peoples when they see sights that harm them – even if the U.S. administration headed by [U.S. President Barack] Obama is closer and more open to the Muslim world [than the previous U.S. administration]. Moreover, this attack has become a motive for criticizing Obama for his efforts at rapprochement with the Muslims.

"Another problem is that the ramifications of this affair will ignite enmity towards the Muslims and Islam worldwide...

"Terrorism will exist as long as it has repositories of human and material supplies, and as long as there are forces, and perhaps even countries and organizations, that support [it]. [These elements should know] that even if [their] adversary is harmed [by terrorists,] he is [still] stronger and has greater capabilities to hunt them down and to start a war [against them]. This happens whenever a superpower [targeted by terrorism] needs to defend its national security."

"The Muslim world, including all its governments, institutions, and regimes, must condemn this [Times Square] incident – not out of sycophancy towards the U.S., but because our religion vehemently opposes such actions. Furthermore, if we deal with these events wisely and in accordance with our own interests, in order to protect the reputation of our religion and our collective conduct, this will prove to others that we are a society that hunts down terrorism of any kind whatsoever. It is not enough to reject terror on the grounds that the terrorists harm more Muslims than non-Muslims – because the principle [of opposing terror] is the same, whether [the target is] a foreign country, an Islamic country, or members of other religions.

"In addition, we see no serious Islamic cooperation in hunting down and exposing terrorist cells. On the contrary, some accuse Islamic governments and secret organizations of helping these cells, with the aim of settling accounts with some country or other, or of vengeance..."

"We must realize that we are in partnership with all the countries of the world, and that the situation as it is today means that all the Muslims are persecuted when they try to obtain a visa to a European country or the U.S. Even when [Muslims] are [already] in one of these countries, every move they make is secretly monitored...

"What is painful is that this destructive state [that has harmed our reputation as Muslims] has sprung from the Muslims' own loins, and that [the Muslims] tried [by these means] to spread enmity among nations. This is a dangerous thing, [which harms] not only our relations with the governments of the world, but also [our relations] with their peoples. This problem will not go away [just] by wishful thinking, as long as terrorism is associated [in people's minds] with Islam and the Muslims.

"In order to persuade the other nations [not to equate] Islam with the actions of the terrorists, we must prove that we are share the responsibility [for fighting terrorism], along with all the countries of the world and their peoples."[2]

Elaph Columnist: Most Muslims in the U.S. Harbor Hostility Towards It and Feel No Loyalty To It

Khudayr Taher, an Iraqi columnist who lives in the U.S. and posts regularly on the liberal website, posted on this website an especially harsh reaction:

"In democratic countries that respect the law and human rights, these wonderful virtues become a risk, and a loophole through which terrorists infiltrate [the country] to perpetrate their crimes. The attempted car bombing in New York exposed a problem, [namely] that the Muslim diaspora in the U.S. is not carefully monitored, due to the laws [protecting] human rights. The Pakistani terrorist was able to act freely in forming contacts inside and outside the country and in preparing his criminal plans. Even though he comes from a country that is considered to be one of the strongholds of terrorism, [the American authorities] did not keep an eye on him.

"In the past, this happened with others, who were similarly left [to their own devices], e.g., the Yemeni terrorist [Anwar] l-Awlaqi, who served as Imam in an American mosque. He was a member of Al-Qaeda, and was visited by the depraved [Al-Qaeda] operatives who [later] perpetrated the 9/11 [attacks]. After this, he was lightly interrogated and then left alone, and he traveled freely to Yemen. Eventually he emerged as one of Al-Qaeda's devils and started to operate in the open. Thanks to the American laws that prohibit arresting people or torturing them without evidence, he escaped without punishment, when [in fact] he could have easily been exposed and made to confess.

"America is home to about seven million Muslims. Most of them, even if they are not terrorists, do harbor hostility towards the U.S. and feel no loyalty to it. As an Arab and Muslim, [I tell you] that it is difficult to find a Muslim who loves America; those [who do] constitute a tiny minority among all those millions.

"The rationale and need to defend American security and protect [American] lives make it necessary to make sacrifices and infringe on the [existing] laws and charters of human rights. The Muslims must be subjected to the principle of collective suspicion. Individuals whose presence [in the country] causes concern or who have a potential to cause problems must be monitored, pursued and placed in preventive detention, which is not subject to time restrictions or require [the presentation of] evidence. They must [even] be stripped of their citizenship and deported.

"The collective deportation of all suspicious Muslims, and all those convicted of misdemeanors, is the best way to pressure [potential offenders], in order to deter them, threaten their personal interests, and cause them to follow the rules and inform on the terrorists among them. The U.S. and the European countries must first of all think of defending themselves against the threat of terrorism, [even if it means] sacrificing democracy, law, and the human rights charters – for this is a matter of life and death."[3]

[1] Al-Masaa (Egypt), May 6, 2010. According to journalist Hassanein Kurum, who follows the Egyptian media, the column written by 'Arabi Asil is actually Al-Masaa's editorial.

[2] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), May 6, 2010.

[3], May 6, 2010. Khudayr Taher is known for his controversial articles, many of which appear on In 2005, Jabbar Yasin posted an article on this website in which he noted Khudayr's extreme and provocative positions, and called for examining the "phenomenon of Elaph's Khudayr Taher.", September 27, 2005.

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