9/11 Ten Years On

Everybody likes to recall what they were doing on 9/11. It is a day in history that has truly changed the world. If you can’t remember what you were doing that day, you may as well have been living on Mars.
I have spent the last ten years going through a whirlwind of emotions. From shock, to guilt, to denial, to sadness.
I’ll be honest, the day the hijackers flew the planes into the twin towers in New York city, I remember a few people, chuckling. Not realising the severity of the attack, some Muslims were secretly smug about the fact that the Americans have been attacked on their own soil. It was nothing to do with Islam the fact that they felt this, it was because people felt that it was about time America experiences some destruction too, given what some of the Muslim world had been going through. The next few days following on from 9/11, nobody was smiling, as the death toll went into thousands. If anybody knew that so many people would die, I don’t think those initial feelings would have come into play. I don’t think even the hijackers anticipated such success. The fact that Muslims were being blamed for this attack as a whole rather than a few loopy extremists was hard to bear, and still is.

Since then, Muslims have been trying hard to separate themselves from the ideology that breeds these terrorists. Because the fact is, it is a minority who have these ‘extreme’ thoughts. The Muslim world is over 1 billion strong, how can it possibly be blamed for the action of nineteen so-called Muslims?
Since 9/11 the growth in groups of ‘Islamists’, ‘Muslim extremisms’, ‘Jihadis’, call them what you like, has increased enormously. This growth can only be attributed to the resulted action taken after 9/11. The ‘War on Terror’ was detrimental to Muslim civil society. It might have been called the ‘War on Islam’, that’s what it certainly felt like. Attacking Afghanistan and Iraq has been the cause of much of the terrorism carried out in the name of Islam since 9/11. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, and understanding why 9/11 happened, America lead by George W Bush undertook a war which has caused more fatalities than the event it was being avenged for. In the search for Osama Bin Laden, the war in Afghanistan then became an operation to ‘liberate’ Afghans. Following on from that Iraq was invaded based on fabricated intelligence stating it was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Then it was to remove Saddam Hussain, and then the cause became ‘liberating’ Iraqis. The American government talks about it’s successes in both regions. What an insult to the families of those soldiers who have lost their lives. What a slap in the face on the thousands of Iraqis who have lost their family members. Children and women, no one has been spared. Just the amount of depleted uranium shells lying around caused by the Gulf War and the current Iraqi war has left a generation of Iraqis with deformities and disabilities. The worst thing is that Muslims are being killed by other (so-called) Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan, who had little to do with anything has lost thousands of civilians from bomb blasts, suicide bombings and drone attacks from America. Are you with us, or against us? This was the impossible question that Pakistan had to answer. By being ‘with’ America, Pakistan has suffered such loss and destruction, and created a breeding ground for terrorists. Terrorists who want to destroy their own country and kill their fellow citizens. In Islam it is not permitted to kill anyone let alone another Muslim. So how do these terrorists, commit these acts in the name of Islam? Many have little choice. Many young men are drawn into these groups because they are poor and have no other aspirations in life. Similar to gang culture amongst black youth in London, joining an extremist group gives young men a sense of belonging, rebellion and averting their energy into something they think is positive. Of course they are not sold the ideology of violence as an extreme ideology. They are sold it as ‘jihad’. ‘Jihad’ meaning ‘struggle’ and not holy war, which is often how it is translated. It is certainly true that all Muslims are obliged to perform Jihad. I.e. they are asked to ‘struggle’ to become a good Muslim, to spread the word of God by doing good deeds. Sometimes that means rising against oppression and injustice. This is what the recruiters of these groups use to brainwash young men. That and a promise of entrance to heaven and of course those blasted virgins that we hear about so much. And if they actually go the whole hog, and blow themselves up, they are often promised that their family who are left behind will be rewarded money and safety afterwards. This perhaps is the biggest incentive for suicide bombers, rather than those virgins or hatred for the West. There were no such thing as suicide bombings in Pakistan prior to 9/11. Those people who talk about success, and how everything has been worth it because Osama Bin Laden is dead, are severely detached from reality. Osama Bin Laden is one man, and what he’s left behind is a warped ideology that only the desperate and bored share and want to be a part of. We’ve seen from the Arab spring, that change can come in the Arab world in the form of peaceful protest from the people themselves. Unfortunately this has also lead to yet another invasion led by NATO into Libya, freeing the Libyans from Gaddaffi. What this invasion will turn into, only time will tell.

All I want to say today is, that the harm that 9/11 has caused to Islam is immense and irreversible. Today we shouldn’t just mourn the tragedy of losing 3000 or so lives in New York, but also the thousands of lives lost as a consequence of military action as reprisal for 9/11. I hope God guides these terrorists who think they are doing God’s work, but are infact tarnishing Islam and making ordinary Muslim’s lives difficult. I pray that America thinks hard about their foreign policies, because at this rate the future is looking very bleak.

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Osama Bin Laden – The Aftermath

Today, a double suicide bombing killed about 80 people and injured more than a hundred in Northwest Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban has taken responsibility, claiming to avenge the death of Osama Bin Laden. The majority of the dead were young army recruits who had just finished a training course. How is killing 80 Pakistanis revenge for Bin Laden?
Bin Laden was killed by US forces that didn’t calibrate with Pakistan when the raid was carried out. I’m not saying target Americans, but why these young Pakistani men?
It’s been said, Pakistan has lost the most lives, since the war on terror began. 700 have died from drone attacks by the US forces. Thousands have died in blasts and suicide bombings. Why?

Pakistan has been under tremendous pressure since 9/11. According to George W. Bush ‘you’re either with us, or against us’. President Musharraf had little choice but to befriend America, much to the annoyance of most Pakistanis. Suicide bombings were unheard of ten years ago- this sort of terrorism only began in Pakistan post 9/11. Allowing America the use of its air space and allying with George Bush in the war against terror, President Musharraf did his country a great disservice. This gave the extremist ideology that is linked with Al-qaeda, a green light and an excuse to start a war of it’s own. In-bred extremists within Pakistan started creeping out from beneath the surface. The Islamic political parties started gaining more support. Ten years on little has changed. Except Osama Bin Laden was found in Abbotabad, apparently having lived there for years. So much for helping the world in the war against terror. Now that they’ve found him and killed him, can’t they just leave Afghanistan? If only it was that easy. The billions that have been spent by the Allies in Afghanistan are too precious for them to just leave. They’ve made a mess of it, and they’re going to stay until it’s not worth their while.

One thing that has stricken a chord with me was the chilling video that was supplied by Al-qaeda after Bin Laden’s death. I only read the transcript, and it left me feeling uneasy and uncomfortable. The line I cannot forget is this one – ‘America and anyone who lives in America will not enjoy peace until our people in Palestine enjoy it.’ Apart from the mention of Pakistan and America, Palestine is the only other country mentioned. Not Iraq and not Afghanistan. Their message is pretty damn clear. It all comes down to Israel, and America’s foreign policy and backing of Israel. If you want to understand Al-qaeda’s ideology and motivation, this statement says it all. When an organisation or people commit such acts of terrorism, it’s logical for us to look at the root of the problem. Why are there so many disgruntled people in the world? Why do so many people dislike America? Why is it so easy for young Muslims to become radicalised? Tell them a little about Palestine and America’s foreign policy and that should get them started somewhat.

There is much talk about what America should do in relation to Pakistan. What should America do? If it wants to tackle extremism and terrorism, it MUST re-think it’s stance towards Israel. The military and financial backing of Israel is the reason Israel is able to continue oppressing Palestinians. This is not negotiating with terrorists; this is about doing the right thing in the interest of all citizens across the Western world and the Muslim world.