Even if USA won't say it, terrorists want religious wargreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
By DeWayne Wickham
From the beginning of the war he declared on terrorism, President Bush has said its targets are the people who put America in their cross hairs, not the Islamic religion. But for those Muslims who are on the other side of the battle line, religious beliefs are at the heart of this conflict.
''Every Muslim should rush to defend Islam,'' Osama bin Laden said shortly after the United States attacked his forces in Afghanistan in retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Some extremists apparently have taken up bin Laden's call: In quick order this month, an American Green Beret was killed when an explosion was set off in a karaoke bar in the Philippines; a Marine died when two gunmen fired on Americans taking part in a military exercise in Kuwait, and 180 people, including several Americans, perished when bomb explosions ripped through a nightclub full of foreigners in Bali. All of this carnage is thought to be the work of Muslim extremists with close ties to al-Qaeda.
The world has been divided into two regions, bin Laden said in his post-9/11 message: ''one of faith where there is no hypocrisy and another of infidelity, from which we hope God will protect us.''
That argument seems to have taken hold in much of the Muslim world. In March, a Gallup Poll found that 80% of the people in Pakistan thought the U.S. military action against al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's Taliban government was ''largely or totally unjustifiable.'' That view was shared by 86% of Moroccans, 89% of Indonesians and 69% of Kuwaitis.
Officially not admitted
No one in official Washington or the capitals of Europe will admit it, but the world is being drawn into holy war -- one that pits the United States and its allies against al-Qaeda and the untold number of Muslims from Africa to Southeast Asia who sympathize with the goals of bin Laden's terrorist organization.
Publicly, the Bush administration has ignored the religious nature of this conflict, choosing to paint al-Qaeda and its supporters as a band of thugs and downplaying the way the terrorist organization has succeeded in using religion to lure Muslims to its side. On one level, this is understandable. Publicly acknowledging al-Qaeda's appeal to millions of faithful Muslims would make it even harder for the leaders of Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to support the U.S. efforts to defeat al-Qaeda and disarm Saddam Hussein.
But the painful reality is that what started out as a military operation to wipe out al-Qaeda -- a campaign that had fairly definable goals and objectives -- has morphed into something far more uncertain. With bin Laden now dead or in hiding, the war against terrorism has become a far-flung battle in which Muslim zealots in Tunisia, Pakistan, Yemen, Kuwait and Indonesia have attacked this country's forces or its allies, forcing the Bush administration to fight on an expanding number of fronts.
Sympathy fed by favors
A war against these religious fanatics will not be easily won. The likelihood is that their ranks will grow as the Bush administration moves closer to war with Iraq. To much of the world, Saddam is a brutal, sadistic dictator. But over the years, he has enhanced his standing among Muslim radicals and devout followers of Islam by giving a financial bounty to the families of the suicide bombers in Israel and providing a safe haven or sympathy for Muslim terrorists.
Bush didn't pick this fight; it was thrust upon him and the American people. But now that the battle has been joined, he must understand how consuming it is likely to become for the U.S. military and how dangerous the emerging Islamic holy war is to the world.
Last week, former senators Warren Rudman, R-N.H., and Gary Hart, D-Colo., who co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force that looked at this nation's vulnerability to attack, offered an ominous conclusion: ''A year after 9/11, America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil.''
Before this nation goes to war with Iraq, it must defeat al-Qaeda and the wider terrorist movement it has spawned. To do otherwise would increase the danger of another terrorist attack at home and swell the ranks of Muslim extremists abroad.
-- Anonymous, October 30, 2002