Iraq, or Kashmir?

I have already indicated that I consider attemps to deny all Iraq war connection to recent events in London pretty much stupid. I wonder how many people in the UK beyond Tony Blair and Jack Straw actually believe the contrary to be the case (assuming for the moment that even they themselves believe it, rather than believing it to be a political necessity to say it). (See this post, and this one). I’m happy to accept the Joint Terrorist Analysis Center June document view that:

?Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the U.K.?

But clearly the main issue is that there is no ‘one cause’ to be found here. If we want to get to grips with this, we need an explanatory model that has a number of levels, and which bases itself on multiple causality. Within that model, the situation in Kashmir would undoubtedly figure.

This is in part for the reasons given by Madeleine Bunting in a Guardian article on 18 July.

First, the families of the three Leeds-based bombers were originally, in all likelihood, from Mirpur, part of Pakistani Kashmir. Mirpuris form 70% of the British Muslim population (corrected by Madeleine herself: 70% of British Pakistani muslims), and the figure is even higher in northern towns. Just as the dominant role of Saudis in 9/11 led to a spotlight on the religion and politics of Saudi Arabia, so attention will focus on Mirpur.

This rural, impoverished district provided cheap, unskilled labour for Britain in the 60s and 70s. Most immigrants were from subsistence-farming communities and had had little or no schooling. They made a huge cultural and geographical leap to settle in the UK – the dislocation is hard to imagine.

One of the things they brought with them was the perception of a long history of dispossession and marginalisation. Partition brought terrible bloodshed and the division of Kashmir between Pakistan and India. (This was the issue cited until very recently as the most pressing political priority in the UK by the majority of British Muslims.) Within Pakistan, Mirpur is to the more dominant Punjabis what the Irish have historically been to the British, explained one Mirpuri.

However, this is not quite correct, since as Juan Cole indicates the family of Shehzad Tanweer is originally from a Punjabi village near Faisalabad, Kottan.

However, Cole also points out:

Shehzad Tanweer was very angry about what he saw as the repression of the Muslims of Kashmir by Hindu India. He appears to have been recruited by a British cell of Jaish-e Muhammad. His anger about Kashmir became a foundation for anger about other issues, including the United States.

So we might conclude that Kasmir was an issue in Beeston, but it was not presumeably such an issue for Germaine Lindsay, and it may have no connection with the new ‘London cell’, at least one of whose members seems to have come from Ethiopia:

The man arrested in South Lambeth, near Stockwell, was thought to be the son-in-law of an older woman living at an address raided by police. The arrested man’s wife and young son were also led away by police, according to residents living in the same block of flats.

David Benn-Hirsch, deputy chairman of the local tenants’ association, said the older woman had lived in the flat with her family for many years. He said they were Muslims originally from Ethiopia. He added: “I know them as peaceful neighbours and I’m shocked to hear about what has happened.”

Incidentally, while I’m posting, I really can’t agree at all with this Times opinion article from Mathew Parris. His self-proclaimed purpose is “to alert you to the enormous, insidious and mostly unconscious pressure that exists to talk up, rather than talk down, the efficacy of al-Qaeda”. Actually I would say the pressures to talk up, and to talk down are probably, using language stolen unshamedly from Alan Greenspan, about neutral. Some play up, and others certainly play down. My feeling is that the bias is more towards emphasising the ‘stupidity’ of Al-qaeda, and this would be to underestimate the problem. Whatsmore, the three pieces of evidence that Parris assembles – the explosives, the ‘chemist’, the Pakistan coordinator – may well all have disappeared without trace from the headlines for good reason: the security services may well have asked for this. On the explosives, too much reporting simply lets the terrorists themselves know the stage which the investigation is at, and excessive coverage of the Egypt and Pakistan arrests (and I think both *are* still arrested) can have negative and even explosive consequences (maybe literally, look what just happened in Egypt, and certainly the remaining part of this Al-qaeda net seems to consist of what could be described as ‘desparate men’). So all I would say is, don’t worry Mathew, all these details will one day be chewed over, and over, and over, but after the investigation has reached some interim conclusions, not before. At present we are still in the ‘throes’ of July 7 (I wish I could say with any feeling of certainty the ‘last throes’).

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

39 thoughts on “Iraq, or Kashmir?

  1. “So we might conclude that Kasmir was an issue in Beeston,”

    Okay, so we now supposedly have Palestine( a given ), Iraq, and Kashmir according to Edward. Bob B has thrown in prison rape in Yorkshire. Anyone else?

    The problem Edward, with ‘an explanatory model that has a number levels’, is that it never stops. Grievance culture allows no definitive boundry, for if his grievance is valid, why not mine? Eventually, you arrive at what is the overridingly dominant problem in this whole fiasco. The very attitude you are expressing. All issues are not valid.

    And you could do better than quote Juan Cole, who has over the weeks shown himself to be a tantrum prone, dishonest child. Cole also said that “Britain’s South Asian Muslim community is almost certainly not the origin of this attack.” Martin Kramer has been gleefully fisking Cole and is a much more valuable ME scholar than Cole, imo.

    Kramer says this: ‘Cole then goes on to speculate that Tanweer probably was recruited by a leading member of Jaish-e Muhammad, which is connected with Al-Qaeda …… But what if Tanweer’s “passage” began even earlier, with the “peaceful” Tablighi Jamaat in London?’

    London?! Another level to add?

  2. Hold on a second here. Kashmir is not just a Muslim majority area oppressed by those evil Hindus. In actuality, almost all the indigenous Hindus in the Vale of Kashmir are gone. The Pandits were all driven out by the jihadis. There are also substantial Hindu and Buddhist populations in Jammu and Ladakh.

    What the main jihadi organizations seem to want, as distinct from the independent-minded Kashmiris, who presumably would have very little to do with these guys, is a complete ethnic cleansing of Kashmir after or during its absorption by Pakistan. That’s a pretty hard thing for people to accept, even if the Indian Army and paramilitary forces are killing many people.

  3. I’d also be very careful about quoting Juan Cole on this developing story, since a lot of assertions he has made about the breaking news have turned out to be wrong. Most of us still don’t know how this is going to play out.

  4. I think this is a very well-balanced survey of the issue. As an American (and a human) I’m equally distressed by tendencies to, in one direction, absolve terrorists of all personal responsibility, and, on the other, to pretend history and current policy on the part of Western powers are completely irrelevant. Especially in this country, the lust for reduction that has boiled down a complex and enormous nation into Red States and Blue States has also led to a similar reduction to a victimizers-as-victims/ahistorical model. Hope that made some sense, it’s freakin’ early over here for the coffee-dependent.

  5. “All issues are not valid.”

    But Rupert, I never, for even one single moment, suggested any of this was valid. I just suggested that Kashmir might have moved the people involved on 7 July as much as or more than Iraq ever did. That was all. The claim was quite limited in its reach.

    I don’t have a multi-causal model to offer. At present no-one does. It would be a research project. But until we get one, and one which enables us to carry out targeted inteventions on both the pillars, we are just going to be going round in circles, using – as Scheur say ever more resources on ever more police chasing ever more terrorists. Now since one of OBLs declared aims is to bankrupt us, I simply don’t think we should be helping him out.

  6. What we clearly don’t need is a mono-causal model, and that’s what George Bush has. We shouldn’t have expected anything different I suppose from the 1970s Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the Sovietologist Condi, but they remain completely locked into a model of state actors and binary ideological clashes, sweetened only with the Cheney-Powell-Bush sense of unfinished business from the undoing of the Kuwait invasion in 1991. If this team was to pick one thing to focus on (and I fear the mono-causal model is partly related to what they think they can explain to Dubya), then why wasn’t it Pakistan and not Iraq? Sure, such a policy might have left Saddam in place. But we can’t do everything, we have to make priorities and choices. And it helps if one choice doesn’t make our other problems worse, as the JTAC believes it did.

  7. al-Qaeda has a habit of appropriating whatever causes it feels will resonate with segments of the Muslim population. If not Iraq, then Afghanistan, or Chechnya, or Gulf I (US troops on Saudi soil), or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc. Canada has been named as a target by al-Qaeda even though it refused to participate in the Iraq war, never engaged in colonial MENA adventures and has never been a major geopolitical player in the region. If al-Qaeda hits Canada, should Canadians regret the smattering of troops they sent to Afghanistan? Or does the “stated cause” not really matter?

    Militant Islamist ideology tends to favour complete and utter rejection of Western thinking and perspectives. Sure, the US and other countries have made a lot of serious blunders in the Mideast over the last century, but pointing out a few of them to explain why Muslim extremists blow things up doesn’t address the deeper ideology at play. al-Qaeda has framed every local conflict involving Muslims as part of a larger threat to the Islamic community, to suggest a concerted, purposeful effort by the West to destroy Islam/Islamic principles. This sort of vague conspiracy-thinking/solidarity movement is probably what draws some young, European Muslims (who might feel alienated by Western society and/or rarely interact with non-Muslims). By adopting this frame of reference, alienated Muslims begin to view things in an “us vs. them” way, and can easily incorporate personal slights and discrimination into this larger context. The danger of al-Qaeda’s ideology is that it’s so “inclusive”.

  8. “I’d also be very careful about quoting Juan Cole”

    I read Cole on a daily basis, mainly for analysis. I agree he jumped the gun on the British Asian dimension (in dismissing it, please note I didn’t). All these suggestions are fine but the only analyst I really trust is me. Hadn’t you noticed. I reckon – as a non ‘expert’ I’m doing fine up to now. Otherwise the London Times has definitely the most systematic ‘coverage’: they would have, they’re locked into the MoD and MI5, but precisely for that reason you have to be careful, since they are ‘managing’ information, as I think they have to and should.

    When we get to the endgame here we can have a nice review of where I’ve got it right, and where I’ve got it wrong, ready for the next one. We should be learning something every day here.

  9. “Hope that made some sense, it’s freakin’ early over here for the coffee-dependent.”

    Thanks Curt. It makes a lot of sense. And welcome.

  10. Nice commentary by Irshad Manji (author of “The Trouble with Islam Today”). His advice is that Islam could take some theology lessons.,0,1520327.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

    I believe thursday’s bombings in London, combined with the first wave of explosions two weeks ago, are changing something for the better. Never before have I heard Muslims so sincerely denounce terrorism committed in our name as I did on my visit to Britain a few days ago. We’re finally waking up.

    Except on one front: the possible role of religion itself in these crimes.

    Even now, the Muslim Council of Britain adamantly insists that Islam has nothing to do with the London attacks. It cites other motives ? “segregation” and “alienation,” for instance. Although I don’t deny that living on the margins can make a vulnerable lad gravitate to radical messages of instant belonging, it takes more than that to make him detonate himself and innocent others. To blow yourself up, you need conviction. Secular society doesn’t compete well on this score. Who gets deathly passionate over tuition subsidies and a summer job?

    Which is why I don’t understand how moderate Muslim leaders can reject, flat-out, the notion that religion may also play a part in these bombings. What makes them so sure that Islam is an innocent bystander?

    What makes them sound so sure is literalism. That’s the trouble with Islam today. We Muslims, including moderates living here in the West, are routinely raised to believe that the Koran is the final and therefore perfect manifesto of God’s will, untouched and immutable.

    This is a supremacy complex. It’s dangerous because it inhibits moderates from asking hard questions about what happens when faith becomes dogma. To avoid the discomfort, we sanitize.

    And so it was, one week after the first wave of bombings. A high-profile gathering of 22 clerics and scholars at the London Cultural Center produced a statement, later echoed by a meeting of 500 Muslim leaders. It contained this line: “The Koran clearly declares that killing an innocent person [is] tantamount to killing all mankind.” I wish. In fact, the full verse reads, “Whoever kills a human being, except as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be regarded as having killed all humankind.” Militant Muslims easily deploy the clause beginning with “except” to justify their rampages.

    (see link for remaining commentary and conclusion)

  11. Oops! My apologies, goes to show that general assumptions about persons and names do not have to be correct.

  12. @ everyone

    Comments on this blog *are* moderated. There is no attempt to ‘screen out’ any particular point of view, with the proviso that anti-semetic, racist, intenionally sexist and homophobe comments are not accepted. Also courtesy and respect towards other commenters is expected. People who have trouble with that will be warned, and then d*l*t*d if they persist. On my posts expletives will also be d*l*t*d.

    These are troubled times, and we need some sort of sense of common purpose within difference if we are to prevail. We are out to defend our values, but that doesn’t mean that ‘anything goes’. People often say things like ‘argument x isn’t valid because it is giving aid and comfort to terrorists’, well us falling at each others throats certainly helps the terrorists rather than hindering them. What we need now is maximum coolness, calm, reflecion and clarity of action: as I keep saying *Ian* Blair symbolises this right now for me personally. Now lets get the rest of the planet behind him.

  13. A few words here as an actual Middle East specialist in the private sector.

    First, in re Cole, if one reads his actual comments, his basic thesis in re the origin of the attacks based on the initial text was spot on. The text, if authentic, was clearly written from an “Aroubi” point of view. Cole took his comment a little farther than he should have in stating categorically what should have been a “likely”- based on evidence then available. Moreover, even in denying the possibility his analysis contained absolutel interesting and correct observations about (i)the style of Arabic used; (ii) the ideological implications involved; (iii) likely connexions involved. This sort of analysis is vastly more useful than his critics generic polite bigotry passing as analysis. Over the long run, and as someone with solid regional experience, and further whose actual real job is to follow MENA (i.e. this is not just talk to me) I have found Cole more oft right than wrong, and usually having useful things to say (in his real area of expertise) even when wrong.

    Kramer is a bigot, period, and a political axe grinder rather less reliable than Cole, whose Left biases are fairly transparent and in regards to cultural-religio-poplitical commentary on the Middle East, largely not problematic. His commentary on Euro and American politics sadly falls into somewhat stereotypical Academic Leftism, which one simply has to screen.

  14. Kramer is a bigot, period, and a political axe grinder rather less reliable than Cole

    A baseless statement, and you really shouldn’t be throwing those around without proof.

  15. Thank you Collounsbury.

    I think now we are really getting to the heart of the matter. I agree with this: “Cole… His commentary on Euro and American politics sadly falls into somewhat stereotypical Academic Leftism, which one simply has to screen.”

    Right. Exactly what I do when I read Krugman and Brad Setser (incidentally, I admire Brad a lot more than I do Krugman, I even think these days he’s a lot more able, since K has simply wasted his brain).

    I haven’t found a single writer in the US who, when it comes to talking about the euro and European economies really understands what he is talking about, but then – I screen that out. Stephen Roach would be another example.

    Now where Cole is interesting is on the dynamics of what is happening inside Iraq. The Kurds, the Shia, the Sunni’s, and on the possibility of winning this kind of ‘anti-insurgency’ war. He also seems nearer to the mark on just how many Al-qaeda people were inside Iraq before the invasion.

    Where I disagree with Cole, and I also politely take my distance from you (Collounsbury), is over just what is the relative strength of the centrifugal national tendencies over the centripetal sectarian ones. I think the latter will prevail, but it is my experience in post Franco Spain that leads me top think that, and I may well be wrong. We will learn going forward. In any event, when the US and the UK do pull out, Iraq isn’t exacvtly going to be ‘user friendly’. This part of the story Cole has understood, and he should be congratulated for that.

    N Ireland should have taught us something (but maybe we weren’t all listening at the time). Democracy had to be suspended for the best part of 25 years in N Ireland, since the majority could nopt be trusted not to ‘do in’ the minority. Well, if N Ireland needed 25 (and it still isn’t over), 50 would be a conservative estimate for Iraq. Too much killing and bad blood already exists.

    “with the “peaceful” Tablighi Jamaat in London?'”

    Look Rupert, you are very welcome here, as a representative of another point of view, and this, when politely put is always welcome, but you will note I didn’t mention this part of Cole’s post at all, because I don’t take things at face value. Please do me at least this piece of justice and recognise it. I accept I do change posts in the first five minutes after I put them up: this is just a question of cleaning up inadvertent stupidities. Otherwise I only change in comments, or with explicit connections between comments and posts.

    I am very proud that I have left untouched my initial ETa massacre in Madrid post title. I was wrong, and bigtime, even if I can explain the reasons now. I never want to falsify history in this way. So as my official “alter-ego critic”, can you point me to where I am going wrong in my analysis of the London bombings?

    I think you must now agree, the balance of evidence is that they were suicides. Don’t pay too much attention to NR, just read Afoe :).

  16. BTW I agree completely with the sentiments expressed in CapTVK’s first post link. It isn’t so far from Maalouf, but noone seems to want to engage with him. On Muslim clerics, well they aren’t so different from the Catholic bishops of Derry and Bilbao, they can’t distance themselves from their fold too far without burning their bridges with their flock. And if they do that it is us who are burning the bridges, so one step at a time please.

    You have to walk before you can run.

  17. Investigation update: below is the latest posting from my favourite source – the Times of London. Note the police believe privately bit, they are very well connected. And note the argument about ‘copycats’, where people dredge the so-called security experts who ran this one up from I don’t know. Interesting theory about the group training session.

    Police believe privately that it is likely Thursday?s botched attacks were linked to the July 7 suicide London bombings that killed 56 people and injured 700.

    One line of inquiry is the possibility that two of the men from last week?s attempt went on an adventure holiday in north Wales with two of the suicide bombers from Beeston, Leeds.

    Police are convinced last week?s failed attacks on stations at Shepherd?s Bush, the Oval and Warren Street, and a No 26 bus in Hackney Road, Shoreditch, could not simply have been an attempt to copy the earlier atrocities. Detectives say acquiring components and expertise would have taken longer than two weeks to organise.

    They are hunting between 20 and 30 people believed to have acted as associates to the two sets of attacks. ?Some of these people will be based here in Britain, some of them will be placed elsewhere, such as Pakistan,? sources said.

    Forensic scientists are still examining the ?home-made? bombs used in both attacks. A police source said the explosives from Thursday?s attacks were ?very similar to the stuff found in Leeds?.

  18. “N Ireland should have taught us something (but maybe we weren’t all listening at the time). Democracy had to be suspended for the best part of 25 years in N Ireland, since the majority could nopt be trusted not to ’do in’ the minority. Well, if N Ireland needed 25 (and it still isn’t over), 50 would be a conservative estimate for Iraq. Too much killing and bad blood already exists.”

    Which bad blood. Every Iraq knows that most of the “suicide” attacks are in reality American bombs just as every Pole knew that Katyn Wood was done by Germans.

    ps. I seriously doubt that the US or UN could do any less killing than just returning the country to the Iraqi people. Even the retribution will be smaller than the killings needed for the US or UN to stay in power

  19. Edward:
    I agree in large part, I believe you refer to my comments regarding Iraqi identity, which I stick to. However, I note that I also – and this even before Cole in my own modest blog – have stated that Iraq fell into a Lebanese logic of sectarian strife at least a year ago. No Way Out. No happy warm Iraqi family there.

    However in re your benchmark, I note that Lebanon took a decade, although there are signs it could slip back if all actors are not careful.

    That’s a rich rejoinder from someone who wrote this piece of tripe: “tantrum prone, dishonest child.

    I have neither time nor inclination to teach you about Kramer or his little band of hyper-likudnik axe grinders, nor would the effort likely make a difference.

    Wrong, every Iraqi does not “know” what you assert, indeed what is clear if you follow the ArabSats directly is that a goodly number of Iraqis know otherwise. Of course that does not stop a step further conspiracy mongering wherein the US is in bizarre cahoots with the bombers.

    Regardless, the sectarian hatred has already started.

  20. To have peace it is sometimes better to believe in a lie than in the truth.

    ps. Katyn Wood was done by the Sovjets.

  21. Hi Edward,
    One of the features of a post- 9/11 world is that there are so many more experts on terrorism now. Hope you won’t trust them too much because atleast some may have only taken crash courses.
    Atleast those bits from Cole and Bunting seem wrong to me. On many counts, but here are a couple of points:
    1) There’s no ‘Hindu oppression’ in Kashmir, most Kashmiri Hindus are refugees in other parts of India (and the claim for Kashmir to join Pakistan is based on the fact that Kashmir is supposed to be Muslim majority anyway)
    2)This Mirpur is in the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, which has been with Pakistan since 1948 (India and Pakistan have only been independent since 1947 anyway.) What sort of Indian oppression are we talking about here? Whichever religion constitutes the minority, it may be useful to compare the percentages of the minorities in Indian Kashmir and in Pakistani Kashmir.
    3) This ‘root-cause analysis’ about Iraq being responsible for the blasts in London is debatable in my opinion. (I was against the war in Iraq, and I live in London and take the tube n/w, but) to me it seems more likely that Iraq and Afghanistan were the RESULT of WTC on 9/11 than the CAUSE of London on 7/7. In my experience, this kind of analysis occurs when someone wants to a) use a tragedy to score political points, and/or b) rationalize his dastardly actions.

  22. Hi Harmonica,

    And thanks for the constructive comments.

    “use a tragedy to score political points”

    Yes, and unfortunately there is not a monopoly on any one side of the argument with this. I think part of the problems we are having is that we lack the necessary political consensus to see this through at the moment. And the necssary respect for the person who holds a differing point of view.

    “Hope you won’t trust them too much because atleast some may have only taken crash courses.”

    I’d better be careful here, since this is undoubtedly my case.

    “There’s no ‘Hindu oppression’ in Kashmir”

    I don’t doubt you are right, and it was never my intention to suggest this. The problem is that there is often a huge difference between what is the case, and what is ‘perceived’ to be the case. Unfortunately many Pakistanis from Mirpur perceive things this way, and those perceptions can motivate them, that is all. Unfortunately irresponsible declarations by some Hindu nationalists in India only fuel this. I m also suggesting that people in Pakistan may – as a matter of fact – be more focused on Afghanistan and Kashmir in general than on Iraq. Non of this ‘explains’ or justifies terrorism.

    My feeling is that in order to understand a terrorist movement, you need to understand its various generations. Obviously the jihadis in the late 80’s were very different from the radicalised urban young in Europe, and we’ve passed through Bosnia and Chechenya on the way. There is also obviously the Palestine-Israel conflict. My feeling also is that the ‘latest generation’ at any moment in time will be influenced most by what has just happened. Terrorism is – especially in its latest al-qaeda variant – a huge ‘viral marketing’ phenomenon. I also suspect that in the communities which form a ‘host’ to terrorism the distribution is more or less a flat tail one statistically speaking (ie it follows some sort of power law distribution), with mabye 90% of the population being explicitly opposed, and maybe 10% offering at least ‘soft support’.

    Undoubtedly the latest radicalising issue will be the unfortunate killing of that poor Brazilian boy. And the list of course becomes endless.

    The thing is, to fight terrorism I think you have to some extent to get inside the head of the terrorist. We can see this in London right now. However efficient your police services are (and unfortunately the British police seem to have been less than perfect) you cannot hope to offer 100% cover. So you have to address the recruitment issues and try and dry up the stream at source. It isn’t only what you do that matters, it is what you are ‘seen’ to do. There is a battle of ideas, and for hearts and minds, and we have to win this, especially among impressionable young people.

    “This ‘root-cause analysis’ about Iraq being responsible”

    I agree, simply there is no ‘root cause’, terrorism is a complex phenomenon. What I do think is that the Iraq war has made the terrorism problem worse, and that we will really see the impact of this not now, but in 10 or more years from now, when all those people in their early twenties who have been getting active service training in terrorism in Iraq reach their mid thirties, and start to call the shots somewhere or other.

    No/one who has watched the trajectory of Eta and the Ira can have failed to notice how the move through the generations is a move to increasing barbarity, this is an internal self-propelled dynamic, and unfortunately, we should expect to see it in the qaeda generations too.

    Finally a word on Juan Cole. I agree with the ‘screening-out’ comment of an earlier poster. You should never take what any one person says at face value. You need to read widely, and consider differing points of view (I said consider, not agree with necessarily). Juan Cole is a Mid East specialist. I think he doesn-t necessarily understand Europe too well, and he probably isn-t the most reliable person on South Asia. I think he is a ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to follow the debates about what is happening in Iraq, and to get a systematic idea of the order of magnitude of the casualties. After that he gets increasingly over extended.

    I think – eg – that the issues between him and Martin Kramer relate to internal US political life (even while apparently being about international issues), and can safely be given a wide birth by those whose main focus is elsewhere. The same I think applies to Krugman and his ‘critics’. I think noone comes out of this very well, and it is a shame that US poltical life is a place where the expression ‘liar’ seems to crop up so often. I for one continue to believe that there is no greater real tendency to lie in the US than there is elsewhere.

    I think the debate between Jack Straw and Robin Cook is very different, and, obviously, preferrable.

    Precisely because the links between Saddam and OBL, if there even were any, were very distant, I don’t see Cole as a major Al/qaeda commentator, although he obviously knows a lot about the Egyptian background and the Muslim Brotherhood etc.

    Well, I think that’s enough for now :).

  23. Screening out was me.

    And you’re precisely right supra on most issues (although as an objective observer I note it is pretty damned clear that there is ‘Indian’ state oppression in Kashmir – call it Hindu if one wants, or not. Dynamic rather like Northern Ireland and British forces there (not the underlying conflict, the quasi occupation dynamic)).

    As a real Middle East specialist myself (although priv sec and not academic, and economics / business first), Cole clearly gets “most” things right in re the Arab Middle East and Iran, his main specialty. He also knows modern Shia religious politics well in the context of the Sunni-Shia split in his area of specialty, which has some carry over value into Sub Con issues.

    Clearly, however, gets far afield when touching on economics (his economics are typical humanities soft left politics), Euro or US politics (where is of course a citizen, so as good as any but not a ‘specialist’) and the like.

    No problems that I can see there, blogs are for running off at the mouth, no? One reads what is interesting and perhaps not too annoying.

    The Kramer-Cole issue is part of a somewhat sordid and ugly McCarthyesque campaign in the US domestic political context, unworthy of attention except to comment on with contempt.

  24. There’s a big difference between Indian state oppression and Hindu oppression, which is where I think Juan Cole starts to go off the rails. India is a secular state with a diverse religious population. This is distinct from Pakistan, an avowedly Muslim state with only 3% of the population non-Muslim, this accomplished through rampant ethnic cleansing, which is still ongoing in Kashmir.

    India has shown no interest in ethnically cleansing Kashmir, but the fighters that Pakistan supports with weapons, training, and propaganda are interested in ethnically cleansing Kashmir and probably Ladakh and Jammu as well.

    This is the fundamental dilemma in Kashmir. The Indian state is very repressive and their actions are quite bloody, but if the jihadists and Pakistan were able to take control of Kashmir, the results would almost certainly be worse.

  25. Hi Edward,
    Thanks for taking my unsolicited comments constructively, and apologies for casting aspersions on Juan Cole (I’ve not read him, so my mistake)

    I’d like to add a few more thoughts on the subject though..

    1) re: 90% being opposed to terrorism. I think it more likely that maybe 1% actively support it, 1% actively oppose it, and the rest are caught up in finely graduated moral dilemmas between the various threads that bind them (this cleric v/s that cleric, religion v/s nation, god v/s humanity,’my god’ v/s secularism, etc.) God, and the perceived duty towards God and others who believe in your God, holds many in such a thrall that, often, otherwise fair people won’t fight a wrong.
    The siege mentality wrought about by the perception that they are being victimized everywhere is what the preachers of terrorism seek to exploit. And this perception of victimization seems to occur too easily. For instance, in India in the 1920s there was a ‘Moplah rebellion’ of supposedly great brutality. The reason? The Caliphate had been abolished in Turkey (far removed from India both culturally and geographically) by Ataturk. The formation of Israel (and that occurring only 2-3 decades after the bitter fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire) has, in my opinion, provided the sense of victimization that was exploited for Kashmir in the first place. America’s supposed role in degrading moral values, Afghanistan, Iraq are add ons.
    PS: The above is only my opinion.

    2) On the root-cause/Iraq issue, and on other things, I agree with you. Except that I’ve found that in Turkey, often pointed out as a progressive model, everyone I’ve spoken to who was not indifferent considered even the attacks on Afghanistan to be some sort of attack on muslims. Pictures of maimed children were often discussed (While I thought that Afghanistan, having been overrun by the taleban, providers of food, clothing and shelter to the Queda, was a correct first choice — given that Saudi Arabia, providers of cash and ideology, and Pakistan, providers of military strategy and logistics were more politically difficult)

    @ The Lounsbury: I would agree with the theory of “the quasi occupation dynamic.” But no one calls it Catholic oppression or Protestant oppression.

    I’m not sure if many people are aware of it, but Pakistan was formed to be a country for muslims, while India chose to remain secular. (BIG difference there – check the percentage of minorities in Pakistan & India in 1947 and compare to those now) Jammu & Kashmir, the princely state acceded to India in 1948. There was no ‘Hindu oppression’ in Kashmir until the 80’s, despite India already having fought 3 wars with Pakistan. It’s probably pure coincidence that the militancy in Kashmir began with the end of the Soviet attack on Afghanistan which left behind a lot of unemployed mujahideens,a Stinger on one shoulder and a chip on the other,in it’s wake… backed by a government which now had experience in sustaining a guerrilla campaign against an ex-superpower.

  26. “But no one calls it Catholic oppression or Protestant oppression.”

    They use different words in Northern Ireland but British oppression can be very easily subsituted by protestant oppression. The major reason why Ireland is independent and Scotland isn’t is because an esential part of being British is protestantisme (or atleast being anti-catholic) Why do you think that the war criminal isn’t a catholic yet

  27. Hi again Harmonica

    “90% being opposed to terrorism. I think it more likely that maybe 1% actively support it, 1% actively oppose it, and the rest are caught up in finely graduated moral dilemmas between the various threads that bind them (this cleric v/s that cleric, religion v/s nation, god v/s humanity,’my god’ v/s secularism, etc.)”

    Well we don’t really have reliable numbers so its hard to say exactly. And of course it depends what you mean by ‘active’. Obviously the number of active terrorists is very small, but this isn’t an especially interesting number.

    Also you need to talk about specific communities, and not very general religious – or even ethnic – categories.

    What seems to me to be important is identifying the issues that ‘radicalise’ people. When we do this we can address the ‘perceptions’ which lead to the radicalisation. If we slow down the radicalisation process, then we can slow down the rates at which people ‘pass over’ and become 100% fanatics. After this point there is precious little that can be done, except catch them when they move into active mode and incarcerate them.

    But if we are to break this down we need to break the flow of recruits and we need to do this on a number of levels.

    I have been very struck in the cases of European terrorism – like eta and the ira – how the overwhelming majority of people in the respective ‘host communities’ when asked condemn terrorist violence. But behind this condemnation often lie various levels of ambivalence. I don’t see why this should be any different in the ‘host communities’ which can feed what we now call international terrorism.

    Young British born and socially deprived pakistanis growing up in a culturally closed environment undoubtedly form one such potential host community. Right now I am sure Iraq is radicalising people there. But when Shezad Tanweer crossed the frontier (where-ever and when-ever that was) from being an angry young man to being a fanatical member of a sect, I doubt that Iraq was a big issue in his mind. That is all I am saying here.

    If we look at the second group, at least two of whom are Somalis – they seemed to have been ‘radicalised’ in the late ninetees. So again it wasn’t Iraq.

    Those who are now making the move they made back then probably won’t show up as ‘footsoldiers’ till 2010-2012. I think there is a relatively long process involved, and they won’t become generational leaders till 2015 – 2020. So it looks like we may have quite a long road in front of us.

    “The siege mentality wrought about by the perception that they are being victimized everywhere is what the preachers of terrorism seek to exploit.”

    Yes, I agree, and see the Maalouf identity post. You would also be right to point out that young punjabi indians (sikhs) living in roughly similar social conditions (Southall) in the UK haven’t responded in the same way, and some conclusions can be drawn from this.

    “that in Turkey, often pointed out as a progressive model, everyone I’ve spoken to who was not indifferent considered even the attacks on Afghanistan to be some sort of attack on muslims.”

    I imagine you are right. I think this varies across communities. But my argument about Afghanistan relates as much to the European debate as it does to any other. Opinion-blocks often hide as much as they reveal. The Iraq war has been special since it has produced a whole debate about why it was necessary, and what role it really plays (apart from a negative one) in the fight against terrorism.

    So Afghanistan is interesting, because it lets you see much more clearly where people are. The invasion of Afghanistan was legal in UN terms, so in theory the term ‘war criminals’ should only be applied to acts which infringe on the normal rules of war, as for example the suffocation of prisoners on mass by members of the northern alliance, and, of course, the multitudinous crimes of the Taliban themselves. Those people in Europe who oppose Afghanistan are effectively denying there is a terrorist problem, and I think it useful to filter them out in debate, from others who simply have genuine reservations about what is happening in Iraq (and this would be my case now, though I, like you, accepted the war when I thought it was mission search and destroy WMDs).

    In fact I think we have two different groups of people on the extremes, ones who want to deny there is a problem, and ones (at the other extreme) who want to hi-jack the problem onto ‘other issues’.

  28. @Edward
    As usual I agree on most of what you write.

    One line in your last comment I do not understand Obviously the number of active terrorists is very small, but this isn?t an especially interesting number.
    To me this looks like the most interesting number.

    On a more substantial level I would like to see more debate on your last paragraph: In fact I think we have two different groups of people on the extremes, ones who want to deny there is a problem, and ones (at the other extreme) who want to hi-jack the problem onto ?other issues?.

    The first group is very difficult to define but still much more easy than the second group.
    After reading this detailed refutation of Ken Livingstone?s defense of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to me the picture became a little bit more clear concerning the first group. Ken Livingstone surely belongs to the group. While Tariq Ramadan made a case of denfending Yusuf Al-Qaradawi too, my doubts are still growing about the defenders of Ramadan (here at Afoe too).
    I think it is extremely important that we further this part of the debate as rational as possible.
    The same goes for the definition of your second group, the ones who want to hi-jack the problem onto ?other issues?. It is even more difficult there because this group does not just include individuals with more or less informed opinions but governments as well. Most governments actually, but most specifically the US administration.
    (hence the caregory “believe it” on my blog)

  29. “To me this looks like the most interesting number.”

    OK, i understand and agree with what I assume you may be thinking, in fact your objection occured to me as I was writing the sentence. What am I talking about?

    Well look at the UK right now. Are there two groups or three (going by the vistors to the whitewater excursion)? If there are only two, then that puts the number of leading edge active terrorists at 8, if they are three, then maybe at 12. Add-in back-up of 10 per team, and we get around 50. This would be what I’m calling the number of active terrorists. But this number isn’t interesting, since we have no idea at all how many sleepers there are. 100, 300, 500. 1,000. And how many people perpared to provide safe houses. Or to go on demonstrations opposing the deportation of an OBL supporter. These are what I call the interesting numbers. The number of ‘active service’ terrorists at any one moment in time will be an operational decision, and to understand how these decisions are taken you need to get into following the weird and wonderful world of OBL.

    After they round this lot up we really have no idea at all whether in one month there is another group lined up to act, or whether they will decide to ‘park’ the UK, and move to another venue.

    Of course, from the point of view of the police trying to arrest them, the number of active terrorists on the loose is a critical one.

    When I get back from the summer perhaps a look at how the Spanish judge Garzon has addressed the issue of attacking the Eta ‘environment’ has been handled would be worth taking. I think there are lots of points to discuss, and perhaps things to be learnt.

    I am sure that attacking – in a democratic, and civil liberties oriented context – the ‘environment’ of terrorism is one of the keys to making things really difficult for them. One example: the Finsbury park Mosque. I was amazed to read that most of the known members of the present cell passsed through Finsbury Park at one point in time or another. Even I in Barcelona had heard about this one. Every second worshipper should have been an ‘infiltrator’ ages ago. If this was ‘anti G8’ people in Spain or Italy I’m sure this would have happened. The question is the security services – in conjunction with Egypt, Pakinstan or wherever – need to be prepared to recruit people who can do this kind of work, and in significant numbers.

  30. The Dutch AIVD (general information and safety service) close to doubled the number of employees. Still the had only three people knowing berber. One of this three turned out to be leaking to the terrorists.
    Yes there is a problem of human information gathering.
    Language is crucial.
    Language is crucial too, -unfortunately-, in seperating the moderate muslem from the ones with double tongue.

  31. @ Frans

    The latest in-depth on the UK bombings from the Jameston Foundation:

    which is worth a read in its own right, concludes as follows:

    “Intelligence officials admit that they are at the same ?level of penetration? amongst the Muslim community now as they were with the Irish republican community in the early 1970s, when the Provisional IRA acted with impunity. It took twenty years to effectively infiltrate the IRA, but that was a structured organization supported by a tiny community with distinct and realistic political goals. Now the potential pool of recruits is massive and the enemy is young British Muslim ?clean skins? who are engaged in what appears to be a global struggle.”

    So obviously there is a long way to go. Why are we so late starting, well I think they imagined that the Londistan dimension would give protection of some sort against internal attack.

  32. @ Frans continued

    BTW, following an earlier discussion we had, many roads now seem to lead to the door of:

    Abu Hamza al-Masri

    (and incidentally it *was* Juan Cole who pointed out at the very start what a strange coincidence it was that the bombs went off just two days after the start of his trial.

    The name Finsbury Park Mosque seems to come up a lot.

    Then there is Haroon Rashid Aswad. As noted on this blog, there were quite solid reports of his arrest in Pakistan – inculding the naming of the city of the arrest, and his transfer to Lahore. These reports were run eg in the Times. Then the British high commissioner in Pakistan said there was ‘no truth in the rumour that’ he had been arrested. Then Mussaraf says that no-one from Pakistan is in any way connected with the London bombings (they are all British), and Haroon Aswad shows up wandering around between Zimbabwe and Zambia. I don’t know what conclusions if any to draw from this, but it is decidedly strange. Let’s see where he is extradited to, and on what charge.

    I say lets see, because part of the tangled web now leads us back through Haroon Aswad and Abu Hamza al-Masri to the stange issue of a 1999 attempt to set up an Al-qaeda training camp in Oregon:

    According to CNN:

    Last week, an American once accused of trying to set up a terror training camp in the western U.S. state of Oregon was questioned about Aswat. That man, James Ujaama, a Muslim convert from Seattle, was charged in 2002 with trying to set up a terrorist training camp for Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for cooperating with terrorism investigations until 2013. Three U.S. federal law enforcement officials said on July 22 that Ujaama was being questioned about Aswat, who also was implicated in the 1999 plan to establish a training camp in Bly, Oregon. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The officials did not say whether Ujaama has provided any useful information on Aswat, and Ujaama’s lawyer, Peter Offenbecher, declined to comment. Federal officials have said Ujaama’s help was crucial in last year’s indictment of al-Masri on charges that included trying to establish the Oregon camp. Al-Masri, formerly the head preacher at London’s Finsbury Park mosque, also faces British charges of incitement to murder. He is being held in England. Aswat is one of two al-Masri associates who are referred to but not named or charged in the 2002 indictment of Ujaama by a federal grand jury in Seattle, officials said. The other is Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swede, who was convicted of weapons violations in Sweden in 2003.

    Also this piece from the Times,,22989-1694998,00.html

    It was first suspected that it was the work of a UK radical group that sympathised with Osama bin Laden?s ideas, and the operation had been planned and executed in Europe. That view may now have to refined.The mastermind, who is of Pakistani origin, is thought to have been trained in an alQaeda camp in Afghanistan and has been linked to previous terror operation…..Investigators are also tracing the mastermind?s alleged links to three major al-Qaeda figures. One of these is said to be in US custody. Intelligence is being re-examined from the summit held last year in a mountain village in the northwestern province of Waziristan. A month after he took part in that summit, Mohammed Barbar, a New York computer executive, was arrested near his home in Queens. He admitted to being an ?al-Qaeda sleeper?. He had arrived at the summit carrying cash and supplies for jihadis fighting in Afghanistan. Babar, 29, has betrayed a number of fellow sleepers during his interrogation and the information led to the arrest of 13 people in Britain. The US authorities have charged him with trying to buy materials to make bombs for attacks in the UK.”

    The unnamed ‘mastermind’ is – of course Haroon Aswad. From all this, I think two things can be deduced.

    Firstly Abu Hamza al-Masri is up to his neck in all this, and secondly talk, in the context of the London bombings of a ‘freelance’ operation, and ‘copy cats’ is ludicrous. If you look through the evidence we have to date, all the key people go back well before 09/11 or the war with Iraq. They are mid-ninetees people in the main (Bosnia?). They are all plugged in at quite a high level to the Al-qaeda command structure, and form one net. This is both good and bad news. It is good news since it means the key people here are quite a small group. Break them and you have a headless chicken. But it is bad news in that it begs the question of whether there may be other, quite separate networks already in place. Since the Abu Hamza al-Masri net has obviously long been known to have been penetrated what alternatives have been set up? And if so many disaffected young people have been radicalised by the Iraq war, just how many more volunteers are there ‘out there’ in the process of being pre-programmed?

    The answers to these questions will only become clearer as and when we get the kind of counter intelligence the need for which this comment started with.

  33. Following on from what I’ve been saying to Frans, the Jamestown Foundation also has this piece in its latest issue:

    which brings us round to the real big unknown about the European ‘theatre’, how all the theads fit together at a ‘pan-European’ level.

    Clearly there is no definitive answer yet, and guessing simply won’t do. We do have two rival theories (but they don’t need to be mutually exclusive).

    My feeling is that Cerwyn Moore is right to draw ttention to changing generational guard, but you may not need to go as far as this:
    ” the attacks on London present further evidence that it is the Salafi-Jihadist movement, rather than organizations such as al-Qaeda, which draws upon a slightly different network of support, that constitutes the current threat in Europe.”

    “rather than organizations such as al-Qaeda”: I don’t see the need for the contrast, and especially not in the case of the London bombings.

    Moore is right however to draw attention to the idea that this ‘new generation’ Salafi-Jihadist movement may be setting the pace in Europe, and indeed I was trying to say something similar in my early posts on the ‘Spanish Connection’.

    I think his last point is extraordinarily important:

    It is increasingly clear that many of those involved in the new terror networks do not recognize either the legal or the political frameworks associated with known terrorist organizations. Therefore, what is being proposed by some UK government officials and influential media circles runs the very real risk of being ? at best ? irrelevant to the real issues.

    The UK authorities would be better served by paying closer attention to three factors which are compounding the existing threat: first, the use of different tactics ? such as the failure to immediately claim responsibility and the use of home-grown bombers; second, the importance of networks aiding trans-boundary movement and implicitly aiding recruitment by appeals to non-territorial forms of identity; third, the connections with North African militants, suggesting that the terror threat in Europe is morphing, creating a new Salafi-Jihadist generation which is no longer in the al-Qaeda orbit.

  34. Edward,
    on your [July 28, 2005 12:10 PM]
    I agree that our numbers (10%, 1%, etc) are but guesses. What I was pointing out was that if you exclude the active proponents and opponents, you are left with a very large number who are ambivalent, and that that ambivalence is tiered — i.e. many amongst the ambivalents would be partial in one direction to varying degrees.

    Further, whatever the percentages, the sheer numbers are scary. The Lashkar-e-Taiba (the main amongst various the Pakistan-based groups that want to make all of India Islamic) boasts of a 200,000 following. And the L-e-T is a very new org formed after 1987 (interesting read: – The author is worth reading, btw. Not great writing, but a lot of facts that seem to hold together) Groups like the Hamas and the Hezbollahs are pretty well entrenched in their societies. Also, there are groups like the tablighi-jamaat which are not supposed to be militaristic but to spread the word of god to young wastrels, and in some countries these seem to be getting into the action.

    Also, in a sense, I agree with you that the 10% or 1% of proponents is not the important figure. If the world was made up of those for and against, you wouldn’t have any problem in taking effective action. If all muslims, or all muslims from pakistan, or all muslims from Karachi were active proponents, you would aggressively profile those groups and probably search them before entering tube-stations and avoid 7/7s. No, for me, the ones in the middle form the important figure for societies that cherish multiculturalism. They form the figurative ‘women and children placed as human shields’ which prevents an all-out attack on terror. Multicultural societies hold back to avoid hurting these ‘non-supporters.’ However, we have NO clue as to who exactly is wearing a scarf(the woman-shield), and who the Hamas bandanna. This needs Intelligence and infiltration, and the London attacks let me down on this: I used to get clues from the news right from the early-90s that the UK and Canada were major sources of fund-raising for terrorist groups operating in South Asia. Let alone the Islamist groups, the Sikh militancy owes a lot to the firm base they had here. The LTTE of Sri Lanka did too. In more recent years, I’ve read of so many anti-UK incendiary statements come out of Finsbury. I always assumed that inspite of the ‘soft stance’ the UK seemed to take was due to their wanting to avoid trouble in their backyard, there was also a parallel process of infiltration of those groups, but am much less sure now. (A must-read article here: Part1: and Part 2:

    Agree with the communities bit: e.g. more residents of pakistan, somalia, saudi may be supporters than those of the UAE.Further, if you assume 49% of Iranians to be moderate (51% being the slimmest majority I can give to hardliners) in normal life, this 49% number may be much lesser if muslims are seen to be under attack (even legitimate) from a ‘Christian’ US. So this number is a bit difficult to pin down.

    Also agree on the polarization of ideas post-Iraq. Sadly, this also affects the media, where even mainstream newspapers seem to colour their facts according to whether they were for the war or not. And there far too much excuse-making for jihadis in the media.

    A PS: on the Northern Alliance suffocating prisoners. This is one of the subjects that gave me the idea that the pundits on CNN had no clue at all. The NA was a very new entity. It was formed AFTER the Taliban took over most of Afghanistan. After the soviet occupation of Af’stan, the warlords who ruled bits of that country and had their own agendas got together: Ahmed Shah Masood, the US favourite, (an ethnic Tajik, if I remember correctly)seemed to be a nationalistic guy who wanted to get the country together. Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, with his MiG squadron and soviet backing was important to any coalition and was frequently supporting one group or the other. Burnahuddin Rabbani, a cleric, had a decent powerbase of his own, and being a cleric was the consensus choice for President. Then there was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Prime Minister (I think) with his large powerbase and Iranian support who subsequently quit the coalition and started shelling Kabul. So blaming the ‘NA’ for one thing or the other was a bit of intellectual laziness on the part of analysts in that no one bothered to check which group did the suffocating at what time, considering that Masood and Hekmatyar were chalk and cheese. Of these Hekmatyar was most Islamist, and fairly recently, he pledged his support to the Taliban. He reputedly has 100,000 men but I remember reading that Iran wanted him out of their territory to avoid troubles with the US.

  35. Hi Harmonica,

    And this time thank you for again taking the trouble:

    “you are left with a very large number who are ambivalent, and that that ambivalence is tiered — i.e. many amongst the ambivalents would be partial in one direction to varying degrees.”

    More or less I think you are right about this.

    “However, we have NO clue as to who exactly is wearing a scarf(the woman-shield), and who the Hamas bandanna.”

    Yes, this is the issue.

    “This needs Intelligence and infiltration, and the London attacks let me down on this:”

    You and me both.

    “I used to get clues from the news right from the early-90s that the UK and Canada were major sources of fund-raising for terrorist groups operating in South Asia.”

    Well the diaspora effect is important. Look at the IRA and the US. It is always easier to romanticise from a distance. Curiously (this doesn’t exactly fit here but it is relevant to something) I read an interesting report from Shezad Tanweer’s village about how when he was there he didn’t go out much since he felt that – being British – he wasn’t accepted. I think this is revealing about something important in this ‘in-between’ world.

    “the Sikh militancy owes a lot to the firm base they had here. The LTTE of Sri Lanka did too. In more recent years”

    And the Algerian GIA in France, and now Morrocan groups in Spain (maybe Eritrean goups in Italy?). There *is* a pattern.

    “I’ve read of so many anti-UK incendiary statements come out of Finsbury.”

    Again, me too, the inability to track these people out of Finsbury Park is just incredible.

    “there was also a parallel process of infiltration of those groups, but am much less sure now.”

    I think you are right to be worried. The mistaken identity of that poor Brazilian boy *outside* the block of flats doesn’t seem to augur well.

    I’ve mentioned this article before:

    It’s actually hopelessly erroneous balderdash, but something here is interesting. The Spanish security got hold of the perpetrators of 11 March so quickly because they had an ex member of Al Fatah working for them:

    “Cellphones used for March 11 were unlocked in a phone shop owned by… a Spanish police officer. And not just any police officer: It was Maussili Kalaji, a Syrian born citizen who had been granted Spanish citizenship several years ago and entered the police department when he arrived in Spain [despite] his past as an Al Fatah member and as an agent for the Soviets’ intelligence services.”

    This seems to National Review evidence for a conspiracy, I would say that it is exactly what you need to do, recruit people with some intimate knowledge of the ‘terrorist environment’.

    “Apparently as soon as [Kalaji] left the [Spanish] police academy, he was assigned to infiltrate extremist groups and so he got acquainted with such nice guys as Abu Dadah, currently under trial for the 9/11 plot and who will be on trial again in the future for his role on March 11. He also was assigned to the security detail of Judge Garz?n, now on leave and teaching at a New York university ? who insisted that, no matter what Aznar was saying on March 11, he knew from minute 1 that?the bombings had been by Islamic terrorists, not ETA. I think we know now why.

    WellI think we know why too, because of good police strategy, good informants, and a highly sophistocated anti-terrorism judge. This is the same judge who got Pinochet pinned down in London, he has effectively ‘bust’ eta, and he now has a warrant out on Osama Bin Laden himself. As you may gather if you read my posts, I am an unshamed admirer of Garzon. If you were to put him in charge of the global anti terrorism campaign, I would expect to see early results.

    And there’s more:

    “And that’s not all: Kalaji’s sister was the translator for the police in charge of translat[ing] the wiretapped conversations between the alleged March 11 culprits before the bombings. And his ex-wife, also a police officer, was the first to arrive at the scene where another key [piece of] evidence pointing to Islamic terrorists and not ETA was found: a white van with detonators and some tapes with Koranic verses.”

    Obviously she was one of the first called to the scene, she would have been one of the few people in Spanish police at that stage who could assess the tapes! So what Gaffney, El Mundo and blogger Franco Aleman deem – in their paranoia – to be evidence for a conspiracy, I would say offers another reading, with clues on how to go about all this. And the resistance they have to what the Spanish police were actually doing (mining the terrorist movement) may give clues as to why others have so far not done so.

    Finally, thanks for the background on the Northern Alliance.

    So one more time thanks for the comments. This debate is obviously to be continued, and the more informed and thoughtful participants we have the better. Your information and point of view will be more than welcome, so please stick around. I’m closing this down now, as I really am off for the summer, and I don’t want mindless spam clogging up the works. So have a nice summer youself, and hasta septiembre everyone.

  36. Without getting bogged down in the general debate over Kashmir beyond noting that I’m a non-Muslim, non-South asian supporter of Kashmiri self-determination and human rights, I’d like to comment on one remark by “harmonica”:

    “It’s probably pure coincidence that the militancy in Kashmir began with the end of the Soviet attack on Afghanistan.”

    By chance, I was in both Kashmir (on both the Indian-occupied and Pakistan-administered sides of the Line of Control), and on the Afghan border, in 1989 when the (current and continuing phase of) militancy in kashmir was just beginning, as I’ve discussed at:

    The impression I got from people I met then as to the relationship between the Afghan struggle against Soviet occupation, and the renewed assertion of Kashmiri resistance to Indian occupation, was that the successful (as it was then perceived to be) Afghan struggle gave renewed *hope* to Kashmiris for possible success in their struggle.

    That source of *hope* was much more important than any Afghan, Pakistani, or other foreign military suppoort or training in inspiring the renewed outbreak of mass protest against Indian rule in 1989. It’s important to realize The renewed armed struggle in Kashmir against Indian rule came some months later, mainly beginning in 1990, *after* and in response to India’s large-scale violent repression of what was at first in 1989a very largely nonviolent movement. (c.f. the role of violent repression of mass protest in leading people to armed struggle in other places I’ve visited like South Africa, Northern Ireland, etc.)

    Kashmiris took further hope that Central Asia was becoming the next great world region of decolonization in 1992 when the Central Asian republics that had been colonized and forcibly annexed by Russia into the Soviet Union acheived their independence. This was portrayed in the USA and Europe mainly in in relation to Communism and as “breakup of the Soviet Union”, but was perceived by people I met in 1992 in Uzbekistan and (to a lesser degree) Kazakhstan as primarily a step in decolonization rather than “de-communization”.

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