The horrific atrocities committed by ISIS (Daesh) in Paris this week are outrageous acts of terrorism that must be confronted by the world. The world needs to understand the true nature of this terrorist group and look at it beyond the normal madness of stereotypes and religious racism
By Ray Hanania
This week, in what is clearly a violent response to the killing of one of its propaganda leaders, Mohammed Emwazi, Daesh (ISIS) terrorists murdered innocent civilians in a wide ranging terrorist attack at at least six different locations in Paris, France.
The terrorism took the lives of more than 127 civilians and the death toll may rise as bodies are recovered from the carnage.
Daesh (ISIS) is not just a threat to the West. It is a threat to the entire world including to Arabs and Muslims and people in the Middle East, where the ISIS terrorists originate.
It is important , though, that the world properly understand and assess Daesh (ISIS) in order to defeat it. Responding to terrorism with hatred, racism, bigotry, anger and stereotypes, which has been the method used by the West int he past, won’t defeat the terrorists. It will only make them stronger.
How we address the terrorists is important because the terrorists are using social media to recruit misguided individuals, Arab and non-Arab, to join their cancerous movement.
The word “Daesh” is often used as an alternative to ISIS. Daesh is a derogatory Arabic word that attacks the credibility of ISIS, which claims to be an Islamic movement. It literally means the scrapings under your foot. It is an alternative label to challenge the terrorists’ claim to represent the Islamic people. The term “ISIS” is an acronym for Islamic State in Syria. Previously, ISIS was called ISIL, or the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (Middle Eastern region).
It’s also important that we recognize the truth of what Daesh (ISIS) is. The terrorists in ISIS are in fact the same terrorists who made up the organization Al-Qaeda in Iraq. They were an outgrowth of the Al-Qaeda terrorist movement created by crazed religious terrorist Osama Bin Laden who was gunned down while hiding in a lavish household in Pakistan in May 2011.
But Bin Laden had become a marginal leader by the time he was hunted down like the animal he was and executed by members of the U.S. Navy Seals. Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban.
The West attacked the Taliban. But the United States in 2003 decided to use the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as a political opportunity to achieve selfish political goals set by former Vice President Dick Cheney, and his cronies, J. Paul Bremer, Paul Wolfowitz and Halliburton which is the company that Cheney owned prior to becoming Vice President during the administration of President George W. Bush.
Cheney directed the war against Iraq, falsely claiming that Iraq was somehow involved with Al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11th terrorism. Cheney used Sept. 11 to achieve his personal goals. And in doing so, he created a nightmare that the world is now paying for. It is a terrorist nightmare that continues to grow.
The war in Iraq was a war crime. It resulted in the murder and killing not only of legitimate members of the dictatorship fo Saddam Hussein, but also innocent civilians. In fact, so many innocent Iraqis were killed that some of the incidents have received public scrutiny and have resulted in criminal charges. Not enough. The Iraq war policies also undermined the U.S. Constitution and the United States military violated the Fourth Geneva Conventions by employing torture tactics to extract information that in most cases was useless.
The torture did seem to satisfy and sooth American anger and emotion, but not completely.
The March 19, 2003 American led invasion of Iraq did not achieve its goal of destroying terrorism.
In fact, as we all now know, the Cheney directed invasion of Iraq helped strengthen the terrorist movement. Al-Qaeda was in disarray in Afghanistan and being hunted down. But the war in Iraq bred a new movement of anger by the survivors of the American massacres and war crimes there.
ISIS found its origins in the disarray that the American invasion created in Iraq. The terrorists found a base to operate and to grow and to recruit. The United States failed to defeat Al-Qaeda and only helped it expand and become stronger in a new generation of terrorists under a new name. Al-Aqaeda. Then Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Now, ISIS, Daesh.
Instead of defeating ISIS, our policies of stereotyping, racism and religious discrimination — as well as conducting illegal wars — has now created a situation in which the terrorists have expanded from their war in Iraq to the turmoil in Syria where a Saddam Hussein-like tyrant, Bashar al-Assad, is using the terrorism to justify his continued oppression.
Saddam Hussein in Iraq was a dictator and a tyrant. He should have been arrested and destroyed, as he was eventually hung for his own war crimes and atrocities against his own people. But people forget that Saddam Hussein was strengthened by his ties and support that he received from the United States in the 1980s when we used him to fight a 10-year long war with Iran.
The War in Iraq in 2003 was the wrong way to deal with Saddam Hussein’s atrocities and brutality against his own people. We attacked Iraq to satisfy Cheney’s selfish interests to build up contracts for his company, Halliburton, which made billions as a result of the invasion, and also Cheney’s rivalry. Cheney hated Saddam Hussein and was angry that Saddam Hussein was not taken out in 1990 when his army was routed out of Kuwait.
Assad needs to be taken out, too. But now we have to deal with the terrorism we helped to nurture through failed American and Western policies driven by militarism rather than reason, logic and strategy.
Today, we face the same dilemma. Do we continue to make the mistake of attacking the wrong people and making false associations in order to fuel a failed war against ISIS? Do we falsely associated the terrorism of ISIS with the resistance by Palestinians living under a brutal Israeli military occupation? DO we allow Israeli leaders to do as Cheney did, and exploit the suffering and the terrorism to achieve their own selfish agendas?
ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the terrorist attacks in Paris this week have nothing to do with Israel or the legitimate struggle of Palestinians to free themselves of Israelis oppressive and brutal and violent occupation.
If we fail to see the true causes of the Paris terrorism and exploit it for selfish agendas, ISIS will only continue to grow as it has in the past 12 years since our mistake in Iraq.
To defeat ISIS, we need to abandon the defeatist strategies that have in fact strengthened ISIS and the new terrorism. To defeat this ISIS terrorism, we have to address the wrongs we have committed and change them. We have to stop blaming Islam and Muslims for the problems, simply because crazed fanatics claim to be Muslim and representatives of Islam. They are not.
Osama Bin Laden never was a representative of Islam and the Muslim World. But Americans in their anger and racism allowed Bin Laden to achieve his goals. We Americans blamed all Muslims for the acts of fanatics. We blamed all Arabs for the acts of extremists.
And, we applied a double standard, punishing Arabs and Muslims for crimes while excusing and allowing crimes by our own soldiers, our own political leaders and our own allies, like the extremist Government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel.
To defeat ISIS, we must defeat our racism. We must abandon our corrupt strategy against terrorism that is built on racism and hatred, stereotypes and religious discrimination and recognize our own roles in making ISIS into what it is today.
Failure to do that will only allow ISIS to grow. And it grows. The violence is not going away. We have failed in our claimed goal of defeating terrorism. The terrorists are becoming stronger.
Worse, the number of innocent civilian victims of this terrorism will only increase.
The Arab World opposes ISIS. The Arab World opposes terrorism. But the Arab World wants justice.
American Arab organizations have strongly denounced the attacks in Paris, such as this statement issued by a leading American Arab civil rights organization in Detroit, Michigan, the American Human Rights Council (AHRC):
The American Human Rights Council (AHRC) joins peace loving people across the world in condemning the multiple coordinated terrorist attacks that struck innocent people in Paris, France. AHRC expresses its sincere condolences to the French government, the French people and the victims’ families for the loss of their loved ones and wish all the injured speedy recovery. Indeed, this is a very alarming tragic development. We echo President Obama statement that the attack is “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”
The Beirut attack and the Paris attack clearly indicate that terrorism is a global threat and that terrorism recognizes no borders. Terrorism is our common enemy resulting in horrific crimes against humanity that can’t be tolerated under any circumstance. Effectively dealing with terrorism requires a global effort. Terrorism is a threat to the human rights of everyone with the right to life being the first of these threatened rights.
AHRC calls upon all the countries of the world and people of conscience to rise to the global challenge of terrorism. It is time to address the deep roots of this challenge and create an effective strategy to contain it and defeat it.
“Again we see a terror attack perpetrated on innocent people trying to live a normal life as human beings. From Beirut to Paris, regardless of the identity of the victims and the identity of the perpetrators, we see terrorism stealing precious lives and we condemn it,” said Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive director. “Terrorism is a problem that needs a global response,” stated Hamad.
American need to recognize once and for all that Arabs and Muslims are not the cause of terrorism and they are not the enemy. The enemy is injustice that feeds the terrorists and allows them to recruit misguided volunteers into suicide terrorist attacks like the ones we witnessed this week in Paris.