Sunday 28 April 2013

Delving into the Muslim’s mind ahead of the next terror wave

File pictures of Homs  (top) and Grozny (below)

This think piece by Jamal Khashoggi -- Saudi Arabia’s analyst, author and kingpin of the impending Al Arab TV news channel -- appears in Arabic in his weekly column for al-Hayat daily
Investigators crowding around Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, the second Boston bombings suspect, would wish to probe his mind.
But they find it hard to question him by the book, as he lies critically wounded in hospital.
They would be looking for an answer to the question puzzling them most. How, they wonder, did an immigrant Muslim teenager fully integrated in American society, who – in the words of one of his friends – “became like anyone of us Americans” and who (as he wrote on one of his social media pages) loved life and money, turn into a terrorist killer of innocents?
Amateur terrorists, who are not affiliated to any organization and who self-recruit through the Internet, are the security analyst’s nightmare.
The analyst is unable to find leads to track them down and expose them before they commit their crimes.
Two such cases came to light last week in Canada and France. In both instances, two young men mirrored the case of the two Tsarnaev brothers suspected of the Boston marathon bombings.
The phenomenon, best described as “the case of the two Tsarnaev brothers,” might trigger a new wave of Islamophobia.
Surely, someone must now be asking on rightwing American TV channels or printed media pages, “How can I make sure my Muslim neighbor, who seems gentlemanly, amiable and no less American than anyone of us, won’t suddenly turn out to be a terrorist?”
Though it sounds awkward to Muslim and Arab ears, the question is justified.
It reminds me of the words of my friend Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, head of Alarabiya News Channel.
Rashed came in for a lot of flak when he coined his famed phrase, “Not all Muslims are terrorists; sadly though, most terrorists in the world are Muslim.”
To help investigators striving to probe the mind of Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, let me map for them information from the brain waves of an angry Muslim.
I am already aware that an American or Western politician would automatically dismiss as “justification for terrorism” any attempt to dwell on reasons for a Muslim’s wrath.
The politician realizes that discussing anger motives inevitably leads to revisiting old files that better remain closed and the apportionment of blame.
Oblivious of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s key role in the Chechnya massacres, some congressmen are urging greater security cooperation between Washington and Moscow instead of setting up a congressional fact-finding panel, for example.
As world politicians are transfixed by global counter-terrorism cooperation, they would do well to brace themselves for the next wave of “Islamic” terror.
I anticipate such a wave by virtue of a “pattern” set by its antecedents.
The first wave in the mid-nineties was a reaction to the incidents in Bosnia and Algeria.
The next wave, in the early years of the second millennium, revolved around Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya.
The third wave will surge as a sequel to the massacres in Syria, now the fountainhead of Muslim ire.
The ire is fed by incessant images of injustice, desecration and abuses.
Angry Muslim youths are exposed to a daily flood of video clips showing Syrian regime forces torturing to death and killing civilians or cutting their victims’ limbs.
TV news channels bar such images, but they are for show on YouTube, when their rightful place should be the International Criminal Court instead of the social media platforms.
Contrasting the revolting clips from Syria are those emerging from Burma. They show opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi receiving her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo and Burmese gloating over newfound freedoms. But they recount little about the abhorrent persecution, hate, killing, burning and rape of Muslims in Myanmar.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhohkar might have watched such video clips, which could have reignited their indignation as ethnic Chechens.
They must have also seen loads of images showing the suffering of their countrymen and co-religionists. They could have come across images of Russian soldiers laughing as their officer uses a small Swiss knife to bleed a Chechen fighter to death.
Here again, the place for such images should be the International Criminal Court, though no Chechnya referrals as yet.
What Bashar al-Assad is now doing in Syria is what Putin did in Chechnya before. Pictures don’t lie. They show Syrian cities biting the dust, much like Grozny.
Today’s irate Muslim mind sees that the guardian angel of Assad and his regime is the same man who pulverized Grozny and killed more than 100,000 Chechens.
The irate Muslim mind pays no heed to things like the international situation or the balance of interests.
It’s an incensed mind turning thoughtless.
Had the Tsarnaev brothers been thinking straight, they would not have targeted the marathon in Boston, the compassionate city that embraced them.
The aftereffects of film recordings on the fuming Muslim mind are massive. They magnify in the Muslim’s mindset:
  • A sense of injustice
  • The feeling of belonging to a targeted minority
  • Suspicions that Americans are supporting Assad on the quiet and remain closemouthed on Putin’s crime and the Burmese opposition leader’s hypocrisy, and
  • A belief that Muslims have been on the receiving end of the nastiest crimes in the previous century and to date -- the two exceptions being the Jews’ suffering at the hands of the Nazis and the Armenians’ suffering at the Ottomans’ hands. But whereas Jews and Armenians received global apologies and reparations, there was nothing of the kind for Muslims.

In context, no one should underestimate the hurt the Palestinian Nakba etched on the Muslim Arab memory. No population was uprooted from its native land such as the Palestinian population. Yet no one is prepared to offer Palestinians an apology. And who would even dare launch a museum in New York commemorating the Nakba?
Also, who would dare call for an official Russian apology to the 1.5 million Chechens evicted from their homes and forcibly dispersed across the former Soviet Union, where tens of thousands of them succumbed to disease and starvation?
When Chechen survivors revolted in their quest for independence, they were met by Russia’s fire and brimstone as the world looked away.
One can imagine how stories of the horrors and crimes committed in Chechnya dulled the rationale of an angry Muslim’s mind, turning a civil young man into a dangerous terrorist.
Some will read into my think piece a justification for terrorism. It is not.
No one can justify terrorism. But the only way to eradicate it is to address its causes.
Someone needs to have the courage to stand up and tell the West in the face: Your double standards are causing the rage breeding terror.