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Baghdad and London: Time to face reality - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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What is the connection between the killing of the Egyptian ambassador to Baghdad after he was kidnapped by Musab Al Zarqawi”s group, and the violent London blasts last Thursday morning?

Both terrorist acts committed by Muslim extremist are connected in more than meets the eye.

First, both heinous events represent a categorical and surprising development in the nature of terrorist operations. The terrorists did not target the diplomats of countries that are direct participants in the US campaign to reconstruct Iraq, such as Japan and Norway who each have 20 soldiers serving under British command. Egypt did not support the campaign to topple Saddam Hussein militarily, politically, economically, officially, or publicly. In fact, the Egyptian opposition press, and even some state-owned media, does not hid in its praise for the &#34heroic&#34 Iraqi resistance, nor in condemning the &#34Attacks of the Crusaders&#34. Let us not forget the Nasserist who occupy the Arab satellite airwaves with an inflated discourse of Arab glory in the 1960s.

So far, I have examined the chilling assassination of Egyptian diplomat Ihab al Sharif, which unsurprisingly, bears the hallmarks of Al-Zarqawi, known as &#34The prince of killers&#34 by his followers on extremist internet forums. As for the recent barbaric strikes in London last Thursday, the events are as surprising as the ambassador’s death in Iraq. Obviously, the bombings were not aimed at the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair. Rather, as London’s mayor stated, the attacks were directed against at the civilian population. Previously, the British capital, or &#34Londonstan&#34 as it is comically nicknamed, was fertile ground for fundamentalism and a city where it could flourish unimpeded.

The spiritual peddlers of Sheiks of terrorism, the Palestinian Abu Qatada and the Egyptian Abu Hamza to name a few, resided freely in the city and received taxpayers’ money because it was believed they were persecuted in their countries of origin for their opinions. It was Abu Hamza himself who compared his life in London to using a toilet, implying he was abusing the system. He also masterminded the idea of using air balloons in jihad (holy struggle) operations. For his part, Abu Qatada issued a series of religious edicts extolling the virtues of the violent in Algeria and elsewhere. Indeed, London was the ”Taliban” of the media and of fundamentalist media and perhaps still is.

The question remains however, why would Al Qaeda destroy its own media outlet and its safe haven?

The strike against the US on September 11 may be understood, from Al Qaeda”s perspective, as an attack against a city and country of minor importance; the US was a never a media outlet, nor a recruitment center. New York City never reached the richness and diversity of London nor its proximity from the Muslim countries. Therefore, the killing of the ambassador and the London blasts represent a loss for Al Qaeda and whoever rotates in its sphere of influence. This is the first resemblance between the two incidents.

The second similarity lies in the fact that the people hurt by both incidents share Al Qaeda”s desire to see the Americans out of Iraq. The commuters of buses and underground trains in London belong to the middle class, which made up the majority of the demonstrators against America and Blair for the invasion of Iraq. Last March for example, anti-Iraq war activists organized a demonstration to condemn the war, in London. The police said the demonstrators numbered 45,000, while the organizers said that 100,000 people attended the march. The spokesman of the British non governmental organization &#34Stop the War&#34, that organized the demonstrations said buses were transported hundreds of people from all over Britain to London to take part in the march. The very same buses that Abu Hafs Al Masri”s Brigades, affiliated to al Qaeda, claim to have bombed.

Most of those distraught by the killing of the ambassador belong to the rejectionist media and satellite television stations. They condemned the killing of the ambassador, yet continue to unconditionally praise all other violence committed by the &#34resistance&#34 in Iraq. One can’t help but notice the ambiguity of their reactions to attacks by Zarqawi and ex- Baathists on Iraqi civilians, let alone the operations targeting a specific religious group. Despite all the continuing violence and innocent loss of life in Iraq, I continue to wait for a clear and sincere condemnation from the satellite activists who cry for the murdered ambassador.

Those who slaughtered Ihab Al Sharif are the same as those who killed Izz al Din Salim, Iraqi Governing Council President, and the chairman of the interim council and Akila al-Hashimi, a Council member. The same people continue to detonated bombs across Iraqi cities and towns. Why condemn the killing of the ambassador and condone all the other acts? Perhaps, that can explain why those addicted to distorting the truth could only blame Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for the murder. This distortion reminds me of the killing of Amar bin Yassir, a companion of Prophet Mohammed, and an ally of Ali bin Abi Talib. Muawiyah, the leader of the Syrian army said in a famous statement, &#34We did not kill him. Those who brought him to battle are the ones responsible for his death.” Let me clarify, for those busy distorting facts; Zarqawi is responsible for the murder of the Egyptian diplomat.

The same applies to the fundamentalist conmen who live in London.

Hani Al Sibai, one of London”s most prominent Muslim extremists was silent in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, afraid of a possible backlash in Britan that resembled similar to that following the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. He soon returned to twisting reality, telling Arabia. Net that the London blasts were executed by an angry Serbian organization. This recalls the accusations of Mohammed Hassanein Haikal who has repeatedly stated a group in Serbia is responsible for the attacks on September 11.

It is time the Arab World wakes up and faces up to this new threat!The enemies of freedom have exploited the lack of restrictions across Europe to attack freedom itself and prevent it from taking hold in the Arab World as well as promoting fanaticism.

This is the case in London and in other European cities.

Mullah Karikar, real name Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, the founder of Ansar al Islam (Supporters of Islam), a Kurdhish fundamentalist group is a prime example of the abuse that has taken place. He currently lives in Norway with his family and has acquired Norwegian citizenship. His organization has supported Zarqawi when he first entered Iraq and Karikar is open about his admiration for Bin Laden.

A debate is currently taking place in Norway on whether to deport Karikar to Iraqi Kurdistan. He has always maintained that forcible repatriation will put his life in danger and is a breach of his human rights, because of the danger posed by over 3000 Kurdish special guards of leader Jalal Talbani. I would like to ask the Mullah a question: Are Zarqawi and Ansar al Islam making Iraq a safer place or are they weakening the country, in order to advance their fundamentalist madness?

I am not calling for a witch hunt. Civil liberties and the rule of laws are the rewards of progress in the Western worlds that should not be curtailed under any circumstance. In effect, I would like to see these values take hold in the Arab World. We do, however, have a duty to ensure that the majority of Muslims, especially those who live in the West, are not harmed as a result of the actions of a few extremists.

Fundamentalism and terrorism will not cease by themselves. Those who belive they can tame the monster should think twice, they might be surprised one day when it attacks them unannounced. It would be fatal to think the monster of fundamentalism will remain quiet because we wish it to be so. It is spurred by the poisoned worldviews of bin Laden and Mohammad Abdel Salam. The monster we are facing has nothing to loose. Will we succumb to the sleepiness that has swept the domes of Cairo and the parks of London?

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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