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Action Alert 

Afghans the Victims of US Terrorism

17 October 2001

All the news bulletins and news channels nowadays have "anchormen" or "experts" parading in front of huge maps of Afghanistan, explaining the detail of the military assault on the country.

We are told of the type of bomber used and from what base, the aircraft carriers from where the tomahawk missiles are fired. Sometimes we are told of the "payload delivered".

And not a hint of the devastation these "payloads" deliver to the people of Afghanistan. The awful terror they bring, the devastation, the injury, the slaughter. We have become morally desensitized to the abominations that are clinically conveyed to us night after night on our television screens.

Nobody at any of the news conferences challenges George Bush or Tony Blair or Donald Rumsfeld or Colin Powell about the outrages they are perpetrating. We are all part of the consensus that it is OK to bomb a country to a pulp with the vastness of the military might the world has ever known.

Nobody asks Tony Blair about the "human rights of the suffering women of Afghanistan" that he talked about in that speech at the Labour Party conference two weeks ago.

How did the world get to believe that terror and slaughter delivered by a bomb in a car was an atrocity, while much more terror and much more slaughter delivered by airplane or missile is morally OK?

Remember all the talk some years ago about the godfathers of violence who sat in their comfortable, middle-class homes in Dundalk or Buncrana, while their cowardly minions delivered mayhem to the streets of Belfast or Derry or Claudy or Omagh? What about the godfathers of violence sitting in their stately mansions in the White House or Downing Street or Chequers or Camp David, and their minions dropping far larger bombs from the security of thousands of feet beyond range of retaliation, causing far more mayhem in the homes and streets of Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad?

And all for what?

Is it believable that the attack on America of September 11th could have been planned, directed and co-ordinated from caves in Afghanistan? Or that the organization that was responsible for that attack originates in Afghanistan? A great deal of the emerging evidence suggests otherwise.

Last Wednesday the New York Times published a lengthy portrait of one of the organizers and perpetrators of the September 11th attack, Mohammed Atta. Atta came from a middle-class family in Cairo, where his father was a lawyer.

He went to Hamburg for several years to get a degree in urban planning and he later worked there. "Officials" were quoted as saying there was "strong evidence" Atta had trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, but we are not told what that evidence is or what it is he could have been trained in that would have had any relevance to what happened on September 11th.

It is clear, however, that his radicalism emerged while he was in Hamburg, where he associated with people from the Turkish, Arab and African communities. He went to Florida in 2000 and trained as an airline pilot.

There is evidence that he received a large sum of money from someone in The United Arab Emirates, who "may" have had an association with Osama bin Laden.

A report in Monday's Los Angeles Times quoted FBI sources as saying there were several people involved in plotting further attacks on the US and they were "at large in the United States and across Europe and the Middle East".

The Los Angeles Times also reported that several people suspected of involvement either in the September 11th attack or in planning further attacks were from Saudi Arabia and were resident either there or in the US.

CBS News on Monday evening quoted Prof Vali Nasr of the University of San Diego as saying the Saudi government had "appeased" Islamic extremists by funding and promoting a radical form of Islam that sees the US as the enemy.

Other reports from the US suggest that the real source of terrorism is Iran, where there are several persons wanted by the US, and, of course, Iraq remains a major suspect as a terrorist sponsor.

So what is the point of the assault on Afghanistan? Yes, Osama bin laden and some of his associates are there, but if the vast bulk of those suspected of terrorism by the US are either in the US itself or in Hamburg or Iran or Saudi Arabia or Iraq, what good will it do if everyone in Afghanistan is obliterated?

How will it reduce the terrorist threat to US if the vast majority of terrorists are in places other than Afghanistan?

If the anthrax attacks are the work of terrorists, does anyone believe that the packages containing it were sent from Afghanistan?

And just one other thing. If the point of the assault on Afghanistan is not to defeat terrorism but get Osama bin Laden and bring him to "justice", why has the latest offer by the Taliban to send him to an agreed third country been dismissed?

What would it matter if he were taken to one of America's allies such as Egypt or even Pakistan or Turkey and "brought to justice" there?

The reality is that Afghanistan is being devastated and hundreds are being slaughtered, on the net issue of bringing bin Laden and his associates to justice in the US rather than to some other third agreed country. That's what the slaughter is about. And that's putting it at its best.

Vincent Browne.
Published in the Irish Times.

Index page on Response to attacks in US


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