Looking for the roots of terrorism arising from Islamic countries I had to leave the field of the history of our Western civilization.
First of all I want to say that I condemn terrorist activity of all kind. Northern Irish terrorism is as bad as Islamic. There is no single fanatic organisation which has the right to do things in the way they are doing them, but looking back each of us can see that terrorist activity does not come into being from one day to another.
On September 11th, 2001, we all were shocked. We had never thought of an airplane, led by terrorists being able to destroy the WTC (World Trade Center). But why? Terrorists are planning their strikes for years, sometimes even for decades. We live in a good world, enjoying high economic and living standards taking for granted that everybody else lives like we do. But in reality we have to oppress others to ensure our high living standards, we have to force them to supply us with the luxury we want, and if they don't want to, or don't see that we are "only" oppressing them for their good, we attack them, humiliate them, and appoint leaders/governments willing to be oppressed again. The catastrophe of the Third World in all parts of the earth is explicable in our failure to grasp the nature of Western success, which springs neither from luck nor resources, genes nor geography. We don't see the misery accompanying corporations, colonialism, and racism. Neither does the Third World. We tend to say that they are themselves responsible for these fiascos. Governments in the Middle East should, in our arrogant opinion, have the courage to say that their countries are poor because their populations are half illiterate, beacuse their economies are not open, and because their fundamentalists impede scientific inquiry, and cultural exchange. Why are they unable to build up a democratic highly educated system with high values? Because we force them no to do so. We force them to be what they are now.
We do that in South America, where we prevent people from planting basic food for their survival, but coffee, tea, bananas and cacao instead, as an exchange for the cheap supply of these goods we give them the cheapest grain, and low standard products. We are forcing Africans to grow bananas and give them to us for the same reason, but we also supply them with weapons and they do use them against their brothers and sisters.
Finally the Arabs: During the Cold War, both the US and the USSR, made them fight each other instead of the superpowers. As the Arab countries are on the border of the former USSR, it was an obvious idea of the US that a war there would be a good thing to threaten the USSR. Afghanistan itself was occupied by Russians after a bloody coup of communist presidents in Afghanistan. Immediately afterwards the US started its underground work there, it supported mujahedeen with the latest weapons available, including air to air missiles, surface to air missiles and modern guns like the M16 machine gun. One of the great men of the mujahedeen in the early 80s was Osama Bin Laden, and the US gave him everything he wanted.
In 1989 the Russians withdraw from Afghanistan leaving their Islamic allies on their own. In the early nineties bitter factional fighting killed at least 50.000 in Kabul, mostly civilians. Various warring groups signed four peace agreements, but fighting was eventually resumed. In September 1994 the previously unknown Taliban rebels, an army of former Islamic seminarians, entered the scene. The Taliban soon (in 1996) drove the elected President out of Kabul, captured the capital and executed the former President. In May 1997 a brief alliance between opposition forces and the Taliban collapsed violently.
In August 1998 the Taliban finally took control of Mazar-i Sharif and massacred at least 2,000 people, most of them civilians, after they had taken the city. In the aftermath, General Dostum (died 2001) left Afghanistan for exile in Turkey. Shortly after taking control of Mazar-i Sharif, the Taliban also took control of the town of Bamian (there they destroyed two big Buddah statues), in the Hazara (Afghan tribe)-dominated central highlands. Some time after this the former Northern Alliance (opposition of the Taliban) enlisted the support of factions from outside their ethnic constituencies, including the Council of the East, a Pashtun group and renamed themselves the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, or short United Front. In August 1998, the United States launched air strikes against bin Laden\'s reputed training camps near the Pakistan border. Bin Laden had been believed to be responsible for terrorist activity for a long time. The strikes came in the wake of the terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam. In October 1999 the U.N. imposed sanctions on the Taliban to make them turn over Bin Laden, banning Taliban-controlled aircraft from takeoff and landing and freezing the Taliban\'s assets abroad. The Taliban\'s failure to hand over Bin Laden led to an expansion of the sanctions on the regime on December 19, 2000, including an arms embargo on the Taliban, a ban on travel outside Afghanistan by Taliban officials of deputy ministerial rank, and the closing of Taliban offices abroad.
Through out 2000 and 2001, fighting continued in the northeast between Massoud\'s (general of the Northern Allies) forces and the Taliban, with the Taliban taking control of Taloqan in September 2000, and driving the United Front further east. The town of Baiman changed hands several times between January and June 2001 ; during their last retreat from the area, Taliban troops burned down the town and many other villages in the district. United Front forces resumed guerrilla operations against the Taliban in mid-2001.
b) The Afghanistan War
On September 11th two airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. It didn't last long for the Towers to collapse and bury 3000 people under their masses. 3000 innocent people! In a first reaction US President George W. Bush called for a War against terrorism.
It didn't take long and the US was invading Afghanistan, hunting Osama Bin Laden, who was said to have organized and financed the destruction of the WTC. Immense military and economic power was taken into Afghanistan, to prevent further terrorist activities. In its hatred of the terrorists who blasted the WTC into ruins, the US tried to bomb Afghanistan back into ancient times. The Americans didn't care whom they killed, as long as they killed Muslims. They shot first and asked afterwards.
Many Afghans starved in the cold winter, or froze to death. Only small amounts of aid supplies were delivered to them, instead, the money was spent on new weapons.
Sceptical and humane voices have gone largely unheard in the present crisis as "America" prepares itself for a long war to be fought somewhere out there, along with allies who feel committed to assist the US on very uncertain grounds and for vague ends. The Taliban fighters, who have been caught till now, have been flown to Cuba. They have not been accepted as POWs and so the US is even allowed to use torture against them, without violating human rights.
And war will even increase. Attacks on third countries have already been planned, including Iran, Iraq and even Russia and China. Right on March 10th, 2002 plans got known in which attacks with tactical nuclear weapons on eight countries are described.
We need to step back from the imaginary threshold that separates people from each other and re-examine the labels, reconsider the limited resources available, decide to share our fates with other cultures, despite all the bellicose cries and creeds.
\'Islam\' and \'the West\' are simply inadequate as banners to follow them blindly. Some will run behind them, but for future generations commiting themselves to prolonged war and suffering without so much as a critical pause, without looking at all the past years of injustice and oppression, without the attempt to reach common emancipation and mutual enlightenment seems far more willful than necessary. Education for consideration, tolerance and equality will take patience, but will be more worthwhile than still higher levels of large-scale violence and suffering.