Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Is London Tora Bora? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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From within the Egyptian Torah prison emerged an intellectual revision put forward by Dr Sayid Imam al Sharif, the theorist behind the fundamentalist Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, entitled ‘Initiative to Reform Jihad’ in Egypt and the world so that indiscriminate killings, the targeting of civilians, the usurping of funds and the spreading of terror amongst people would be reconsidered.

Surprisingly, the reply, or rather the majority of attacks waged against these ideas, which seem to have taken place away from the eyes of the British, did not come from the caves of Tora Bora or from Al Qaeda in Iraq, or even from any Arab country. Rather, these attacks were launched from London where the ideas that call for reconsidering the rationalizing of murder and terror were deemed invalid and an act of surrender in order to improve Sharif’s prison conditions or to mitigate his sentence.

How alarming and frustrating to hear such arguments emerge from London, especially since we have only just watched Osama Bin Laden’s new recording in which he addresses Europe. We do not know if this tape is just another installment to his series of political speeches or if it is a coded message for his followers in Europe to carry out a terrorist act.

It is alarming because those who trade in death and destruction continue to flourish. A few days ago, Saudi security authorities announced the arrests of 208 people accused of having links to terrorism. The stated figure included those who wanted to carry out suicide attacks, others who intended to assassinate religious scholars with whom they disagreed and others who sought to mobilize public opinion via the internet.

One should never disregard the internet and the level of intellectual misguidance and the spread of terrorism that is taking place through it. It is enough to refer to the recent announcement made by Saudi intelligence authorities in which it stated that there are nearly 17,000 websites that adhere to the Takfir ideology. Fundamentalist websites in Europe have rushed to translate the Al Qaeda leader’s recent speech into English, French, German and other languages.

The reason for such surprise towards the rejections of intellectual revisions by fundamentalist groups in Egyptian prisons is not because objection is disapproved of but rather because the objection came from London which, like many other states, is still under threat from terrorist acts, whilst the Mufti of Saudi Arabia is calling for the application of the Hirabah penalty to be carried out against terrorists.

If only this issue was limited to revisions! The truth is that we have seen parties in London that oppose and sanctify fighters in Iraq. Could we describe this as freedom of opinion or as support for Al Qaeda?

Freedom of opinion can never call for the killing of innocents. Margaret Thatcher used to say, “Deny terrorism the oxygen of publicity.” In the media, we have fought and are still fighting a battle to expose terrorism, its instigators and those who justify it in the Arab world however; the problem is that we find that there is strong support for terrorism in London. Are we facing a problem of awareness or is it a result of what is taking place via the internet and the media?