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Articles after 2005
The real enemy
Learning from the anarchists
Four years later
Taking responsibility... or not
Osama on the run... or not?
Three years later
The new face of Terrorism: how to conquer the West without fighting a war
Bush was more right on Iraq than on terrorism
What the terrorists want in Iraq
Two years later
As Osama said, Saudi Arabia and Morocco
Khalid, not Osama, did it
One year later
Osama's and Saddam's supporters in Europe
Who did it?
We don't defend freedom anymore
False myths about the war in Afghanistan
Al Qaeda going nuclear
Why are we hiding the evidence?
Americans still don't get it
Who is winning the war?
What the Muslims think
Al-Jazeera and the real axis of evil
The US list of terrorist states
Get rid of the oil economy
Who do we bomb next?
Did poverty cause the September 11 attacks?
Jihad is the shortest road to Paradise
The US list of terrorist states
Osama Bin Laden fools America
America at war
What did the CIA know?
Nothing but praise
Not in our name
One month after
Who benefits from terrorism?

  • (November 2005) The real enemy. Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama's deputy, wrote (in a 2005 letter to their deputy in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi): "More than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. We are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of the umma (community of Muslims)". Zawahri knows what he is talking about. Terrorism has always been, first and foremost, about manipulating the media. There was no terrorism in the Roman empire because there were no media to spread the news of a terrorist attack. Therefore it was pointless to carry out such an attack. Terrorist acts make sense only if there are media willing to broadcast the news, either because they make money out of it or because they side with the terrorists. The main media chosen by the terrorists is Al Jazeera, which is clearly part of the anti-democratic jihad (see Best Al Jazeera lies). Al Jazeera is the front of this battle. But no less important is the role of western media. One wonders what would happen if the media were forced to ignore terrorist attacks. Would terrorists still behead foreigners if no foreign media reported the beheading? Would terrorists still blow up shiites if the Iraqi media did not report it? Would terrorists kill western tourists in Egypt if neither the Egyptian nor the western media reported it? If terrorism does not make sense without media, wouldn't it make sense to deprive terrorists of the media?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (September 2005) Learning from the anarchists. A century ago, the western world was shaken by a series of terrorist attacks carried out by the "anarchists" (more a loose association of people who believed in violence than an ideological movement). Among the people who got killed were heads of states of Russia, Austria, Italy, Spain and the USA. They also bombed the opera in Barcelona, cafes in France and a market in Chicago. The countries that were most "terrorized" were Germany, Italy and Spain. Despite the fact that travel was not terribly easy or cheap in those days, anarchic terrorists managed to create an international network and support each other. There were few terrorists, but they could count on the huge frustrated masses of western Europe and the USA: millions of disenfranchised people who would not quite help the governments catch the terrorists.
    Anarchic terrorism eventually faded away. So much so, that today few people are aware that the West already lived once under the threat of international terrorists.
    One could argue that the same will eventually happen to today's international terrorists. The similarities are obvious: just replace the poor working masses of the West with the poor unemployed masses of the Arab world.
    If history has to repeat itself, one should be aware of two side-effects of anarchic terrorism. The first one was World War 1. While the assassination that started it was not carried out by an anarchist (it was carried out by a Serbian nationalist), it is a fact that the bloodshed of World War 1 was largely responsible for making anarchic terrorism look pathetic and anachronistic. In other words, it took the millions of dead of World War 1 for anarchists to decide that their terrorism was pointless. One would hardly wish to repeat history in this case.
    The second warning has to do with what happened to the three countries that were most affected by anarchic terrorism: all three eventually drifted towards the worst kind of state terrorism (Hitler, Mussolini and Franco). Again, hardly a desirable price to pay in order to defeat today's terrorism.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (September 2005) Four years later
    • Very few people around the world remembered the september 11 attacks. Osama's biggest defeat so far is the almost shameless resilience of the western world. Life goes on as if the september 11 attacks never occurred.
    • Osama bin Laden is still alive and free, despite the promise made by George W Bush four years ago to capture him. Osama has in fact become a legend for millions of young Muslims who see him as winning the war against the USA.
    • Almost everything they told us about Osama was false. There were no high-tech bunkers, there were no modern weapons. Osama's followers brought down the World Trade Center with knives.
    • The Taliban still control areas of Afghanistan, and seem to control some areas of Pakistan, where Al Qaeda can train and plot in relative freedom. The leader of the Taliban (Mullah Omar) had never been captured.
    • We now know that Osama Bin Laden was not the mastermind of the attacks Khalid has. (See Khalid, not Osama, did it). Khalid has been arrested by the USA, but the news media have been forbidden to interview him. What we know of him (a decadent lifestyle) does not sound very Islamic.
    • We do not know what the prisoners held in Guantanamo are telling ( What's the secret all about?)
    • We still do not know who speculated on airline stocks in the days preceding the September 11 attacks.
    • We still do not know who carried out the anthrax attacks in the weeks following September 11. That person is still at large, just like Osama.
    • The USA still relies on airplanes for mass transportation, i.e. it the USA economy is as vulnerable as it was in 2001. There hasn't been even the slightest effort to develop a significant network of fast land connections (such as the bullet trains that are common in Japan, France and Germany).
    • The Islamic world still does not believe anything of what the US is telling them.
    • Saudi Arabia and the other sponsors of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have paid virtually no price for the September 11 attacks. Only Saddam Hussein (Iraq) has paid a (very high) price, but no terrorist was from Iraq.
    • Most of the jihadists have moved to Iraq, where they are routinely slaughtered by USA forces. They inflict heavy casualties to Iraqi civilians, who are, ironically, Muslims, but very few casualties to foreigners.
    • The good news is that no terrorist attack has been carried out in four years in the USA. This contrasts with what has happened in Europe, India, Russia and the Arab countries (four places where terrorists have been more, not less, successful). It is a mystery why something as easy as a suicide bombing has not happened in the USA since 2001. If tens of thousands of fanatic Muslims want "death to America" (their favorite slogan), what keeps them from entering the USA through the unguarded border with Mexico and blowing themselves up in shopping malls. stadiums, amusement parks, casinos, etc?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2005) Taking responsibility... or not
    See Steve Coll: "9/11 Ghost Wars" (2004)
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (October 2004) Osama on the run... or not? The new Osama Bin Laden message is "new" in many ways. First of all, and this started after september 11, he is courting Arab public opinion. When he started his terrorist campaign, this was not true: he was simply interested in hitting the USA wherever and whenever possible. After september 11 he seems to have realized that his actions resonate with the Arab masses, or, better, that the counter-actions by the USA resonate (negatively) with the Arab masses; and he has taken to speak to them, claiming to be inspired by the Palestinian struggle (he never said it before 2001, and, a wealthy man, never did anything for the Palestinians).
    Secondly, he behaves like a head of state. He was even reading from a prepared statement, like heads of state do. He is no longer a messiah sent by Allah, but thinks of himself as the head of a nation, the real Islamic nation. He talks to the American people, not to the Muslims.
    Thirdly, for the first time he mentioned the possibility of peace. He said that "those who don't attack us will not be attacked". Like many Arab rebels, ultimately he wants to save his own life. He may be feeling that he stands a real chance to become a political leader for the dispossessed Arab masses, but the hunt by the USA forces him into a cave. If he could only make a deal with the USA, he could live a dream.
    In fact, Osama seems willing to "forgive" Iraq: his message focuses on Palestine and a general anti-Islamic behavior by the USA, but hardly mentions Iraq at all, despite the fact that Iraq is now, according to George W Bush in person, the real battlefield for the war on terrorism. Osama seems quite unprepared for Bush's claim that Osama's followers are pouring into Iraq: if they are, Osama does not seem to think much of it, or does not seem to be aware of it.
    If one looks at the way people like Qaddafi operated over the years, Osama's transition from reckless terrorist to peace broker has obvious precedents.
    It will be sobering for Rumsfeld to look at the video: Osama looks like in good health and quite relaxed (Rumsfeld once said that Osama is "freezing his butt in a cave"). In fact, it looks like Osama may outlast Rumsfeld.
    It will be sobering for the Islamic world to listen carefully to Osama's confession that he was indeed behind the September 11 terrorist attack. The Islamic media have been spreading the rumour for three years that the September 11 attacks were masterminded by the Israeli secret services, and that all the Osama videos were simply manufactured in Hollywood. It is time for Muslims worldwide to wake up from their century-old sleep.
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  • (September 2004) Three years later
    • Osama bin Laden is still alive and free, despite the promise made by George W Bush three years ago to capture him. Osama has in fact become a legend for millions of young Muslims who see him as winning the war against the USA.
    • Almost everything they told us about Osama was false. There were no high-tech bunkers, there were no modern weapons. Osama's followers brought down the World Trade Center with knives.
    • The Taliban still control areas of Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda can train and plot in relative freedom. The leader of the Taliban (Mullah Omar) had never been captured.
    • Afghanistan is still in anarchy. The United Nations has failed (as usual) to create security. Afghan president Karzai is just about the mayor of Kabul.
    • We now know that Osama Bin Laden was not the mastermind of the attacks Khalid has. (See Khalid, not Osama, did it). Khalid has been arrested by the USA, but the news media have been forbidden to interview him. What we know of him (a decadent lifestyle) does not sound very Islamic.
    • We do not know what the prisoners held in Guantanamo are telling ( What's the secret all about?)
    • We still do not know who speculated on airline stocks in the days preceding the September 11 attacks.
    • We still do not know who carried out the anthrax attacks in the weeks following September 11. That person is still at large, just like Osama.
    • The USA still relies on airplanes for mass transportation, i.e. it the USA economy is as vulnerable as it was in 2001. There hasn't been even the slightest effort to develop a significant network of fast land connections (such as the bullet trains that are common in Japan, France and Germany).
    • The Clinton administration had enough information about Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network to foresee and possibly prevent an attack against the USA.
    • The Islamic world still does not believe anything of what the US is telling them.
    • Saudi Arabia and the other sponsors of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have paid virtually no price for the September 11 attacks. Only Saddam Hussein (Iraq) has paid a (very high) price, but he was not connected in any way to Al Qaeda (they hated each other).
    • The good news is that no terrorist attack has been carried out in three years in the USA. 25 million flights took off in three years from the USA, and none was attacked. This contrasts with what has happened in Europe, India, Russia and the Arab countries (four places where terrorists have been more, not less, successful).

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  • (April 2004) The new face of Terrorism: how to conquer the West without fighting a war. On march 11, Islamic terrorists achieved something that Islam had not achieved in centuries: decide who will govern a piece of Western Europe. The Spanish elections that were held a few days later resulted in the defeat of the prime minister, Aznar, who was a strong USA ally, and the victory of the opposition, which, until a few days earlier, had no chance of winning those elections. That might be remembered for a long time as a turning point in the history of Western Europe.
    Of course, it is not the first time that terrorists have tried to influence the outcome of elections. It is the first time, though, that they succeeded in such a clear way. It is also one of the first times that the terrorist attack did not backfire against the terrorists: usually, ordinary citizens rally around their leaders. In Spain, the terrorists learned that they can be a very effective political force.
    The same terrorists offered Spain a truce: if Spain withdraws from Iraq, they will stop targeting Spain. Spain (both the new Zapatero government and ordinary Spaniards from every corner of the country) has tacitly accepted the terms of the truce. The terrorists, again, have learned that they can be a very effective political force.
    On april 15, the father of Islamic terrorists showed his new face, by offering a truce to the entire European continent if all European countries withdraw from all Islamic countries. Europeans may not have noticed, but anybody outside Europe has noticed: 1. Osama is behaving like a head of state, not just a gangster hiding in a cave; 2. Europe is listening very carefully to what Osama is, thus legitimizing his posture as a head of state.
    The a new face of terrorism is one in which the terrorist does not aim at terrorizing the people for the sake of terrorizing, but aims at changing governments and their policies by using much more subtle tactics.
    Needless to say, Osama and the new terrorists do not provide a definition of "Islamic world". Does Turkey count as "Islamic"? Does that mean that all westerners must leave Turkey? Do the Balkans count as Islamic? Do pieces of France and Italy count as Islamic? Needless to say, the trick can be extended to just about any part of the globe where Muslims live.
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  • (March 2004) Bush was more right on Iraq than on terrorism. After having spent one year shouting all sorts of accusations against the USA for invading Iraq, the critics of the Iraqi invasion are now finally finding a story that makes sense. Instead of childishly accusing the USA of stealing the oil, or violating international law, or causing one million refugees, or starting a world war (all popular theories before and during the war), the critics are now focusing on the fact that the invasion of Iraq took away resources from the war against terrorism. This was, incidentally, precisely the criticism leveled against Bush by the likes of Carter and Gore. But the Europacifists and assorted anti-Americans were too busy marching in the streets and hiding behind the most ridiculous theories to listen to Carter and Gore. That is, in fact, one theory that makes sense. Those 170,000 soldiers employed in Iraq could have certainly been useful in Afghanistan. Osama is still free, while Saddam was captured. Many terrorists moved to Iraq to fight the Americans there. All of this can be summarized in the statement: "the war against Saddam Hussein has weakened the war against terrorism". We have to be pleased that, after only one year, the anti-Americans have already found a consistent theory of why the Iraqi war was wrong (it usually takes several decades for all the conspiracy theories to die away).
    But this theory works only if one assumes that Osama (or Afghanistan) is more important than Iraq, a thesis that only people with little knowledge of history and geopolitics can defend. Iraq is infinitely more important than Afghanistan, from pretty much all viewpoints: militarily, strategically, culturally.
    • If Iraq becomes a USA ally, the USA will have turned a region with one ally (Israel) surrounded by enemies into a region with two enemies (Syria and Iran) surrounded by allies (Israel, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia).
    • If the USA indeed succeeds in creating a democracy in Iraq, it will have not only achieved a historical milestone (no Arab country has ever been democratic) but created a shock wave likely to perturn all the totalitarian regimes of the area and thus contribute to spread democracy in the Middle East (something that the western powers have never been able to achieve). In a recent poll, 71% of Iraqis said that they think life will be better than ever before: there is hope in Iraq, a marked contrast to the frustration of the other Arab peoples.
    • Iraq is the cultural cradle of the Muslim world (in fact, of the entire western world, since western civilization was born in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago). The regime of Saddam Hussein marked a low point in the history of Iraq, but the new open society could mark a high point in its history.
    There is no question that these goals alone justify the war against Saddam Hussein. These are monumental achievements, the kind that ends up in history books.
    On the other hand, the war on terrorism is mostly political fluff. Osama got lucky once, but mainly because the USA were not defending themselves from him. It's like the bank robber who gets lucky once or twice because the local banks did not expect to be robbed. Sure, he killed a lot of people, but his men used knives, not high-tech weapons, to carry out the september 11 attack. The war against terrorism is largely a war against an imaginary enemy, against the imagination of what terrorists "could" do. It has no military, strategic or cultural value. In fact, it has helped blurred the border between freedom fighters and terrorists: the rebels who created the USA, Italy and many other nations would be labeled "terrorists" if they lived in 2004. It has helped countries like the USA, Russia, India, China and Europe find a common ground, but at the expense of the obvious differences that exist among them, differences (criticism) that in the past had helped improve the lives of ordinary people (e.g., communism fell largely because of the USA pressures against the Soviet Union).
    So the war in Iraq was and is much more important than the war against terrorism. If terrorism is defeated in a few years, it will hardly feature in any history book of the future. But the regime change in Iraq will feature, and prominently, in any future history of the Middle East and of the world in general. At best, the war against terrorism will preserve life as it is. At best, the war against Saddam Hussein will greatly improve the lives of hundreds of millions of Arabs (and, hopefully, of all the peoples who deal with the Arabs, including Europeans and Americans).
    In a sense, it is a contradiction in terms to criticize the Iraqi war on the ground that it undermines the war against terrorism. The real alternative to Islamic terrorism is democracy (the objective of Islamic terrorism is the destruction of democracy). Indirectly, the war in Iraq is a slap in the face of Islamic terrorism, because it creates another democracy.
    Bush rarely says something meaningful, but he said something that beats the obsolete dialectis of all anti-American pundits: "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe".
    There is also another way to frame the war against Saddam Hussein and the war against terrorism.
    An incredible number of people around the world (particularly anti-American militants) buy into Bush's theory that there is a "war against terrorism". This is a view that Bush created and that constitutes a very partial view of the world of 2004. According to Bush, there are about 180 legitimate regimes in the world, and then there are terrorists that try to overthrow them. We all have to unite in the fight against terrorism. Millions of Europacifists and assorted anti-Americans agree, although they don't realize that they are agreeing (and thus belong to Bush's party): whenever they criticize Bush for increasing terrorism, they basically subscribe to his theory.
    There is another view that has been mostly neglected (and that says a lot about the power of the president of the USA to influence world opinion), and it is the old view that there are legitimate governments and illegitimate ones: the totalitarian regimes of the world are not legitimate at all. Terrorism is certainly a problem, but one can strongly disagree with Bush's view that Osama Bin Laden (who killed 4,000 people in his entire career) is a more serious problem than totalitarian regimes that have caused the deaths of millions of people. It's like focusing on a capturing ashoplifter while a serial killer is still at large.
    Europacifists and assorted anti-Americans routinely subscribe to George W Bush's theory of the "war against terrorism" whenever they complain that Bush's style is increasing the danger of terrorism: that danger is a negligible problem anyway compared with the dozens of barbaric dictators of the Arab world, of Burma, of North Korea, etc.
    Saddam Hussein was indeed a major problem on planet Earth. Osama Bin Laden and the entire Al Qaeda network are a problem, but not comparable to a man who invaded two countries, killed 200,000 of his own people, terrorized his country and the entire region for 24 years, and caused the deaths of one million people in three wars.
    One could argue that Osama Bin Laden was not worth the war in Afghanistan: the Taliban were worth that war. Removing the murderous regime of those Islamic fanatics was definitely worth a war. Arresting Osama and a bunch of outlaws is not worth bombing a country to hell.
    Deposing Saddam Hussein was worth a war (incidentally, there was no "war", since neither the army nor the people of Iraq fought for Saddam).
    So, again, Bush was right on Iraq: removing Saddam Hussein from power was a good idea, and it was worth the "war". But he may be wrong about terrorism: terrorism is not a priority that compares with the regime of North Korea, or even with the thousands of dissidents oppressed in China, and certainly does not compare with the decades of terrorism inflicted on the Arabs by mad dictators such as Qaddafi and Assad, who are still in power. Terrorism is a (very large) police operation, but not a "war".
    Anyone who says that there is more "terrorism" now in Iraq than there was before, is, like Bush, assuming that dictators are not terrorists, but legitimate leaders, and that it only depends on whether they side with us (in which case we tolerate them) or not (in which case we fight them). But that flies in the face of the definition of "terror": all dictators are terrorists. There was more terrorism in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in power, because the Iraqis killed by Saddam Hussein are human beings just like the Americans killed by Al Qaeda.
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  • (March 2004) What the terrorists want in Iraq. Islamic terrorism, as conceived by Osama bin Laden, was born to hit the infidels, first the Soviet Union (defeated in Afghanistan) and then the USA and all western countries. After the USA invaded Iraq, a defensive (not offensive) ideology has taken hold among Islamic terrorists: first of all, make sure that the USA do not export their political model to the lands of Islam. Iraq is sort of last ditch for the Islamic terrorist: they cannot afford that a country at the core of the Islamic world becomes democratic and capitalistic. They started by attacking the USA troops, trying to repel the Americans from Iraq. When that failed (fewer and fewer American soldiers are being killed and in any case the killing has not detered the USA), the terrorists began targeting the Iraqi society itself. In the current stage, they target anything that contributes to create a free, democratic and wealthy Iraq.
    Unlike terrorists in other parts of the world, that fight for the independence and well-being of their people, Islamic fundamentalists fight for the exact opposite: they need people to be poor and desperate, and they need countries to be chaotic, in order to prosper. They need the political and economic progress in Iraq to fail if they want to have a chance to expel the USA from the region and to establish an Islamic government. As long as the people of Iraq feel that there is progress towards a better future, the USA are winning and Islam is losing. If things get so bad (politically and economically) that the people of Iraq start feeling desperate, then the USA is losing and Islam is winning.
    Islam wins only if society collapses.
    The bombings in Iraqi cities are meant to demolish the economic infrastructure, to discourage international businessmen from investing in the reconstruction, to create hatred between different ethnic groups and possibly a civil war, to make the Americans look responsible for worsening not improving the lifestyle of ordinary Iraqis. The bombings in Europe and the Middle East are meant to steer away the allies, to scare Europeans into abandoning Iraqis to their destiny, to isolate the USA so that it will be easier to kick them out of Iraq.
    Al Qaeda is clearly on the defensive: most of its leaders have been captured in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and no terrorist attack has succeeded in the USA. Worse: it has lost all of its sanctuaries (Afghanistan has been invaded by the Americans, other Middle Eastern countries have simply switched sides and now help the USA).
    Since they cannot strike the Americans at home, the new strategy of Al Qaeda is to expel the USA from Iraq and to punish anyone (whether Islamic or European) who helps them. Islamic terrorism has widened its reach, but, in doing so, it is admitting that, so far, it has lost the battle against the USA.
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  • (September 2003) Two years later
    • The Al Qaeda network of terrorists has suffered a devastating blow, but it is still far from extinct. Osama bin Laden is alive and well, and planning a new network of terrorism. We still know very little about their plans and actions. Basically, we put the entire planet on a permanent state of alarm, because we don't really know what/where/when they will do next.
    • The Taliban still control areas of Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda can train and plot in relative freedom. The leader of the Taliban (Mullah Omar) had never been found.
    • Afghanistan is still in anarchy. The United Nations has failed (as usual) to create security. Karzai is just about the mayor of Kabul.
    • The USA has never presented the evidence that led to target Osama Bin Laden as the mastermind of the attacks. Already in the days immediately after the attack, the US stated that they had damning evidence against Osama Bin Laden. We have never seen that evidence. In fact, we now know that Khalid, not Osama, did it, and Khalid has in fact been arrested and charged with it. So Osama was, at best, the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda, but not the actual planner of the terrorist attacks, contrary to what Bush claimed on September 12.
    • We still do not know who speculated on airline stocks in the days preceding the attacks.
    • The USA has tried in every possible way to link Al Qaeda (Osama) with Iraq (Saddam) but not a single speck of evidence has ever surfaced.
    • The anthrax attacks are still a mystery.
    • The Clinton administration had enough information about Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network to foresee and possibly prevent an attack against the USA.
    • The Islamic world still does not believe anything of what the US is telling them.
    • Saudi Arabia and the other sponsors of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have paid virtually no price for the September 11 attacks. Only Saddam Hussein (Iraq) has paid a (very high) price, but he was not connected in any way to Al Qaeda (they hated each other).
    • The role of Saudi Arabia in the September 11 attacks is still a mystery: the pages that discussed it were omitted from the White House report
    • We do not know what the prisoners held in Guantanamo are telling ( What's the secret all about?)
    See also One year later.
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  • (May 2003) As Osama said, Saudi Arabia and Morocco were to be liberated. In a message broadcast by Al Jazeera on February 11, 2003, Osama bin Laden listed the following countries as "apostate" States that faithful Muslims were called on to liberate by waging jihad: "Honest Muslims should move, incite, and mobilize the Islamic nation to liberate themselves from those unjust and renegade ruling regimes, which are enslaved by the United States, and establish the rule of Allah on earth: Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen." Sometimes one doesn't need the CIA to find out where he is going to strike next: one just has to listen to what he says.
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  • (October 2002) Khalid, not Osama, did it. We finally know who masterminded the September 11 attacks. Confessions of terrorists who have been recently captured in Pakistan and Indonesia implicate Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, whom the USA also considered the head of Al Qaeda's "military committee". In 1993 he lived in the Philippines with his nephew Ramzi Yousef, the terrorist responsible for the first World Trade Center bomb. Khalid was also the one who planned to blow up 12 airliners over the Pacific in 1995. The FBI arrested Ramzi Yousef before they could carry out that plan, but Khalid escaped to Afghanistan. In 1999 Khalid came up with the plan to attack the USA and assigned it to Yemeni terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh, who had trained in Afghanistan and had now moved to Hamburg. Binalshibh recruited his housemate Mohammed Atta and others. In 2000 the cell moved to the USA and the rest is history.
    Osama was told of the planned attacks only on Sep 6, only five days before they happened and two years after they had been planned by Khalid.
    Khalid is the real man. Osama was just a big mouth and maybe the fund raiser.
    Khalid is from Kuwait.
    The man considered to be the financial supporter of the operation, Omar al-Faruq, who was arrested in Indonesia in connection with Al Qaeda's operations in Southeast Asia (leading to the deadly Bali bombing), is also from Kuwait.
    So the military arm AND the financial arm of September 11 were from Kuwait, the country that the USA defended in 1991. Ironic, isn't it?
    None of the "martyrs" are from Kuwait, only the leaders. Basically, the Kuwaitis were preparing the attacks and hiring dumb people from other countries to carry them out (17 of the idiots were from Saudi Arabia, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon).
    BBC summary of Al Jazeera's interview with Binalshibh
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  • (September 2002) Osama's and Saddam's supporters in Europe. There is widespread contempt in continental Europe for the way America behaves. No doubt the USA is often to blame for double standards and for ignoring international treaties. However, European adversion to the USA goes back to Hitler and Mussolini, and today's arguments against the USA are not all too different from the old days of fascist and nazist propaganda.
    The argument against the USA usually works like this: let us ignore what caused the war, let us ignore the people saved by the war, and let us only count the people killed by the USA.
    When it comes to Iraq, let us not count the thousands of civilians killed by Saddam and the thousands more who would have been killed; let us count only the ones killed by American bombs. When it comes to September 11, let us not count the thousands killed by the Taliban and by Al Qaeda; let us count only the ones killed by American bombs.
    The same argument is routinely used by today's nazists and Japanese fascists to blame America for World War II: let us not count the 50 million people who died in Europe because of Germany's folly and let us not count the 10 million people who died in Asia because of Japan's folly; let us count only the Germans who died under American bombs and the Japanese who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    By the same token, it was not Germans who massacred six millions Jews, it was evil Jews who killed a couple of German soldiers in Poland.
    Coming from the continent that, in just one century, has invented colonialism, fascism, nazism, communism, world wars, extermination camps, gulags and ethnic cleansing, these accusations sound grotesque and disturbing.
    Anti-American propaganda routinely quotes 100,000 "innocent" Iraqis killed by the Americans during the Gulf War. This figure obviously includes the Iraqi soldiers: America was guilty of fighting a war and killing the soldiers of the enemy (note: after giving the enemy several weeks of time to withdraw). It also includes all of the people killed in Baghdad, mostly Saddam's friends and guards of his arsenal. Anti-Americans routinely consider all of these as "innocent civilians". They never mention the fact that Iraq killed Kuwaiti civilians: it is ok for a dictator to kill civilians of the country he invades. Anti-Americans do not mention the fact that the Gulf War was the very first war in the history of the world in which very few civilians were killed (a fact of momentous historical significance). Anti-Americans do not mention the thousands of civilians killed by Saddam before and after the war: the Gulf war was pretty much the only time when very few Iraqi civilians died, because Saddam was busier defending himself than killing dissidents and ethnic minorities. Bombing Saddam avoided more Iraqi wars and ethnic cleansing, but anti-Americans only mention the people killed by the USA, not the people saved by the USA.
    Anti-Americans routinely accuse the USA of having helped Saddam Hussein become what he was. However, the truth is that Saddam's arms came almost exclusively from the Soviet Union and Western Europe. The USA's traditional ally in the region had been Iran. After the ayatollah's revolution, the USA did not help either country. Iraq and Iran fought a vicious war in which one million Iranians died. Iraq used weapons of mass destructions kindly offered by the Soviet Union and sophisticated weapons sold by France, Italy and Germany in return for oil.
    Anti-Americans accuse America of supporting dictatorships around the world that caused the death of thousands of innocents. True. Although one should also add that the USA used those dictatorships to fight against the communist dictatorships, and statistically many many many more people have been killed by the likes of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Kim Il Sung than by the likes of Pinochet and Marcos. Again, anti-Americans mention the people who were killed, but not the people who were saved.
    The history of Afghanistan gets often completely distorted in the eyes of anti-Americans, as if America was behind the Taliban while the Soviet Union was fighting them. The truth is that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the Afghani people fought a courageous war in which one million people died, brutally executed by the Soviet troops. The USA helped the freedom fighters against communism. Eventually, the Afghani freedom fighters won and the Soviet Union withdrew. Unfortunately, the USA lost interest in Afghanistan (the USA's most frequent mistake) and the country became a mess. The Taliban arrived six years after the Soviet Union had left (so the Soviet Union never fought against the Taliban). The Taliban were welcome by the Afghani people because they restored a semblance of order. The Taliban were never (never) recognized by the USA. In fact the USA continued to recognize the government in exile, the one that eventually helped the USA dislodge the Taliban. The USA and the Taliban never had any formal or informal relations: so much so that Pakistan had to mediate between the two.
    Anti-Americans accuse the USA of having killed innocent Serbs to defend Kosovo, and, again, forget the Albanians and the Bosnians killed by Serbia. Again, for the European pacifists it is ok that a dictatorship invades and slaughters; it is very bad to oppose that dictatorship. The same European pacifists who protest against American intervention never protested for the crimes committed by those dictators. There never was a march against the thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by Saddam's troops and there never was a march against the Taliban dictatorship. But there were plenty of marches against the USA's bombing of Afghanistan and against the USA's war against Iraq.
    Anti-Americans forget to mention the one massacre that the USA is truly responsible for: half a million Tutsis slaughtered live on tv. Clinton refused to intervene. There was no economic interest in Rwanda. The life of a Rwandan was worth zero to the USA. Anti-Americans forget to mention this because from their point of view the USA's behavior in Rwanda was correct: from their point of view, Hutus massacring Tutsis was a good thing and noone was supposed to interfere. The Americans did not interfere, therefore in that case anti-Americans have nothing to reproach the USA for. Had the Americans killed a few Hutus to save the Tutsis, the anti-Americans would now be lamenting the American killing of "innocent" Hutus.
    Today's anti-Americans often masquerade as "liberals". However, their arguments defend fascism around the world and sound eerily similar to Mussolini's and Hitler's.
    Today's anti-Americans often masquerade as "pacifists". However, they are merely defending the wars and the massacres started by the worst dictators on the planet.
    If you plan to invade a country or two and exterminate some ethnic minorities, count on the European "pacifists" to be on your side.
    Disguised as pacifists, these are the ultimate fascists.
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  • (September 2002) One year later
    • The Al Qaeda network of terrorists has suffered a devastating blow, but it is still far from extinct. Throughout the Clinton administration it had time to grow and prosper, while the CIA was spying on the old enemies of the Cold War. The US operation in Afghanistan was a massive failure: despite the claims of the Bush administration, very few Al Qaeda operatives were captured or killed. In fact, almost every single Al Qaeda fighter managed to escape to Pakistan. The operation was a massive failure because now it will be even more difficult to capture them: they are spreading around the world. We had the chance to get rid of all of them when they were in the same place (Tora Tora), or at least in the same country. It will be much more difficult to get rid of them now that they are spreading throughout the Middle East.
    • The US has never presented the evidence that led to target Osama Bin Laden as the mastermind of the attacks. Already in the days immediately after the attack, the US stated that they had damning evidence against Osama Bin Laden. We have never seen that evidence. Months later, the US showed a video in which Osama discusses the attacks, but we have never seen the original evidence. The odds that Osama was not the mastermind increase by the day. If that is the case, we have been after the wrong guy the whole time, and the real mastermind has been free to plan the next one. (See Khalid, not Osama, did it).
    • We still do not know who speculated on airline stocks in the days preceding the attacks. At the time several officials said that only people familiar with the attacks could have speculated on those stocks. If the investigation found out who was speculating on airline stocks, those names have never been revealed.
    • The USA has tried in every possible way to link Al Qaeda (Osama) with Iraq (Saddam) but not a single speck of evidence has ever surfaced. Independent organizations from all over the world have proven the opposite: that there never was any link, and that Osama and Saddam even dislike each other. No known terrorist is from Iraq. None of the September 11 terrorists were from Iraq (most were from Saudi Arabia). Iraq never recognized the Taliban (unlike Saudi Arabia) and never provided any funding to Al Qaeda (unlike Saudi Arabia). However, George W Bush continues to link Iraq (and not Saudi Arabia) with Al Qaeda and September 11. This, obviously, does not help prevent another terrorist attack against America.
    • The anthrax attacks are still a mystery. However, we now know for sure that the anthrax came from a US laboratory. The search for the terrorist who did it has stalled (to say the least). The FBI has never investigated the april 1997 and february 1999 anthrax cases (both bear several similarities to the 2001 case and may contain the genetic fingerprints of the author). This does not help prevent another anthrax attack.
    • Bush has compromised the fragile "coalition against terror" by targeting an "axis of evil" that includes three countries which happen to have nothing to do with September 11: no connection has been found between Iraq and Osama (rumours of meetings have been proved false), Iran was the only country to actually fight the Taliban (Iran is a shiite country, fiercely hated by Osama's sunni muslims), and North Korea is not even an Islamic country. The rest of the world thinks that Bush is trying to exploit September 11 for his own agenda. This agenda seems suspiciously similar to Israel's agenda, as those three countries do pose a threat to Israeli security. Needless to say, this has hurt the credibility of America's war on terrorism.
    • There is mounting evidence that the September 11 terrorist attack could have been prevented because both the FBI and the CIA (and probably the Bush administration itself) had enough information to investigate some of the terrorists, but all investigations were boycotted from Washington. We still do not know the names of the FBI and CIA officers responsible for delaying the investigations that could have prevented the attacks, and their motives for doing so. Apparently, John Ashcroft in person issued an order to consider anti-American terrorism "not a priority". It has not been clarified yet whether he was merely an idiot or an accomplice of the terrorists. The Bush administration is not investigating these intelligence failures. On October 10, 2002, Bush vetoed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the September 11 attacks that had just been announced by Democrats and Republicans jointly.
    • The one and only person arrested for the September 11 attack, Zacarias Moussaoui, has repeatedly admitted to be an Al Qaeda member and seems very intersted in talking. Unfortunately, the USA seems very little interested in letting him talk. Instead of letting Zacarias be interviewed by the independent press, the USA has focused on legal proceedings whose purpose is not to discover the truth but to convint (i.e., kill) Zacarias as soon as possible.
    • The Islamic world still does not believe anything of what the US is telling them. Islamic radios and tvs routinely ignore the US-led war on terror and focus on the Palestinian calvary. Islamic media doubt anything Bush says. Islamic media still treat Osama as a reputable man. No Islamic leader or organization has taken responsibility for the anti-American feelings that inspired these terrorists. Obviously, the premises of these terrorist attacks have not been eradicated.
    • The Taliban have dissolved. Alas, the terrorists were Arabs, not Afghans. In any event, very few Taliban leaders have been captured or killed.
    • Neither the leader of the Taliban (Mullah Omar) nor Osama Bin Laden have been arrested.
    • Saudi Arabia and the other sponsors of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have paid virtually no price for the September 11 attacks.
    • We do not know what the prisoners held in Guantanamo are telling the USA. Not a single word has been revealed, other than generic warnings against possible terrorist attacks (none of which ever occurred). Journalists have not been allowed to interview the prisoners (journalists are usually the ones who find out important facts in the USA). This is raising the suspicion that the Bush administration has simply something to hide and does not want the world (and particularly Americans) to hear what these prisoners have to say.
    • The Afghan campaign caused the deaths of way too many innocents (more Afghan civilians were killed by US bombs than Americans died at the World Trade Center), but that campaign was successful in bringing about a more democratic and humane regime in Afghanistan (Karzai is by far the most popular Afghan leader in half a century)
    • The main success in the war against terrorism has come on the financial front: the main sources of Al Qaeda's funding (almost all related to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states) have been disrupted.
    • It is now official that the World Trade Center will not be rebuilt. Ever. The terrorists won this war, no matter what Bush or others claim (they created the terror they wanted to create, they destroyed what they wanted to destroy, and they are even still at large).
    • Bush has approached a number of foreign policy issues in an arrogant way, going as far as to defy the United Nations. This has squandered the capital of world sympathy that the USA gained on September 11.
    • The US makes no mystery that its next target is Iraq. While Iraq is not directly linked to the September 11 attacks, and does not support any terrorist organization, the US feels that Iraq is potentially the number one terrorist state. This is causing a major distraction to the war against terrorism, as if the Bush administration wanted to keep Americans from realizing the many failures of that war.

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  • (July 2002) Who did it? More and more evidence (from both Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Germany) seems to prove that Osama did not plan and did not direct the September 11 attack. He knew and blessed it, but probably had nothing to do with the plan itself. So, technically speaking, the Taliban were right in requesting to see the evidence before surrendering Osama to the USA. Any country would have done the same: a man is innocent until proven guilty. The US never produced that evidence. We now know why: the evidence against Osama didn't and doesn't exist. George W Bush demanded the surrender of Osama regardless of the international law, and even destroyed the Taliban for not obeying his orders. This played well with the American public, thirsty for blood and revenge, but, ultimately, it may backfire against the USA. If the evidence proves that Osama was innocent of this specific crime, or had a very limited role in it, the USA will not look good in the eyes of the world. If the USA does not comply with international law and treaties, why should any other country?
    Of course, Osama was guilty of many other things, and certainly of inspiring anti-American terrorists worldwide. Therefore a rightful target for the USA. Of course, the Taliban deserved to be destroyed because they had created an awful regime, they had destroyed a world monument and they treated women like animals. Bottom line: nobody is going to be too sorry that the USA wiped them off the face of the earth.
    However, the closer we look, the less clear their responsibility for September 11 looks. Their involvement seems to have been limited at best. In the Taliban's case, it is likely they didn't even know what was going to happen. Osama may turn out to be not much more than a big mouth who likes to boast of being behind anything that hurts the USA. That leaves one crucial question unanswered: if Osama didn't do it, then... who did it?
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  • (March 2002) Six months later: see One year later.
  • (February 2002) Al-Jazeera and the real axis of terror. On january 31, CNN aired an interview with Osama Bin Laden that was made by the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera network on october 21, three months earlier. The interview had never been showed before.
    First of all, it proves that Al-Jazeera knows how to get in touch with Osama Bin Laden. Second, it proves that Al-Jaazera airs only the information it wants to air, not all the information that it obtains.
    An interview with Osama Bin Laden made while America is bombing his troops seems like a very important piece of information, but Al-Jazeera instead never showed it. Worse: it even denied it existed.
    Now Al-Jazeera admits that the interview is real but it claims that it did not meet its "standards". Here is what Al-Jazeera had to say about this incident: "Al-Jazeera does not feel it is obligated to explain its position and its reasoning of why it chose not to air the interview." Al-Jazeera's attitude is perfectly consistent with the attitudes of the Arab dictators that roam the Middle East: I do what I want to do and I don't have to explain it to anybody. (We would not be surprised if the Al-Jazeera employees who gave CNN the video were tortured and killed).
    Why was the interview not ever televised? Why did Al-Jazeera initially deny the existence of the tape? What other tape does Al-Jazeera hide? How much information does Al-Jazeera have about Osama Bin Laden? Why is Al-Jazeera hiding and protecting him?
    And, finally, why is George W Bush including Iran, Iraq and North Korea in his list of the "axis of terror" (three countries who have nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden), but does not include the obvious sponsors of terrorism (Saudi Arabia, Arab Emirates)?
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  • (January 2002) What the Muslims think. A quick poll of newspapers, tv stations and ordinary folks in Muslim (mainly Arab) countries:
    • America never produced any evidence that Osama is guilty
    • Osama's tapes were doctored by the CIA
    • Jews were told to stay home on September 11
    • The CIA knew about the attacks and didn't do anything to prevent it
    • Osama has managed to escape and therefore America has lost the war in Afghanistan
    • Osama is the only Muslim leader who has managed to attack the West
    • Most of the events were fabricated by the US media
    • There is a wide-spread anti-Muslim conspiracy led by the USA
    • The real victims of terrorism are the Arabs, not the Americans
    • The real cause of terrorism (and of most evils in the world) is America's attitude
    • The Jews are bad, America is bad, Europe is bad, India is bad, China is bad, Russia is bad, everybody is bad except the Muslims
    These assertions obviously contradict each other (did Osama or did he not blow up the World Trade Center? the same Arab will give you two different answers depending on the context). Those assertions often challenge human intelligence, denying the most blatant facts (there is absolutely no proof you can bring to an Arab of anything: he will always find the possibility, no matter how remote, that your "proof" has been manufactured by the CIA). These assertions show a scary level of arrogance (the attitude of Western countries is to be changed, but not the attitude of countless Muslim countries that are run by brutal dictators and live in devastating poverty, even if every year millions of Muslims choose to emigrate from their Muslim countries to Western countries).
    Contrary to what many Westerners believe, Muslim hostility has grown since September 11. Muslims, basically, resent that America is not accepting the punishment of September 11 and, instead, wants to avenge it. Anti-American sentiment has reached an all-time high.
    What Muslims want to say is that America is to blame, period, and they twist reality to reach that conclusion. There is a deep hatred in the Muslim (mainly Arab) world against the West and America (Why Arabs hate the West). Part of it is simply inferiority complex: the West is so much better, the West is the place where millions of Muslims want to emigrate, the West has democracy, the West has fun and culture. Part of it is the humiliation of centuries of defeats: in the past the West colonized the entire Muslim world, and today the West is so much more powerful and wealthier. But Westerners underestimate how much of this hatred is written in the Quran. Every child who studies the Quran in school is being trained to hate non-Muslims. That is the ultimate cause of terrorism.
    A few Arabs admit that all the problems in the Arab world (the brutal dictators, the poverty, the awful quality of life, the wars) are due to the Arabs, and to Islam in particular, and everything else is but an excuse. But these are a very tiny minority.
    Secretely or not, a huge number of Muslims root for Osama: it is written in the Quran. (See Islam kills).
    This "is" a war between Islam and the West. It was not declared by the West, it was declared by Islam. It is being declared every day in countless schools, offices and houses around the world.
    Nothing has changed since September 11. Terrorists are still being trained everywhere in the madras of the Islamic world, Jihad is still being preached in countless mosques as the duty of each and every Muslim (see Jihad is the shortest road to Paradise ) and it is just a matter of time before some Islamic nuts strike again. We are mathematically certain that Islamic terrorists will use nuclear, biological and chemical weapons against Western civilians if they obtain them. We are mathematically certain that this is not the end: it is just the beginning.
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  • (January 2002) Who is winning the war?. Osama Bin Laden's goal has always been to kick the United States out of Saudi Arabia. He repeatedly mentioned that objective as the drive behind his anti-American terrorism. In his stubborn war for the "liberation" of Saudi Arabia from USA influence, he and those who work with him eventually tried to blow up the World Trade Center. They failed the first time. They tried again. Eventually they succeeded. Osama Bin Laden has also mentioned the Palestinian cause as one reason for attacking America.
    In recent weeks it has become apparent that
  • The World Trade Center will not be rebuilt (if nothing else, because nobody would want to work in it)
  • In fact, no new high-rise buildings will be built anywhere in America
  • America will withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia
  • America has declared that it favors the creation of a Palestinian state
    Who is winning the war, in your opinion?
    (Note: it may well be a very good idea to pull out of Saudi Arabia and to grant Palestinians their own state, but it is hard to believe that it is a coincidence that the US is doing it after the terrorist attacks).
    It may be worth reminding Americans that there have been two other instances in which terrorists struck at America: in Lebanon and in Somalia. Ronald Reagan withdrew the marines from Lebanon after terrorists blew up their barracks and Bill Clinton withdrew the special forces from Somalia after warlords (funded by Osama Bin Laden) dragged corpses of American soldiers in the streets of the capital. In both instances America solved the problem by basically bending to the will of the terrorists. There have been no further attacks against America in Somalia and in Lebanon simply because America withdrew from both. This would not be the first time that terrorists win against America. In fact, it is hard to remember one case in which America won.
  • (January 2002) Americans still don't get it. They are responsible, in many ways. America's double standards and America's indifference towards the problems of the world (many of them caused by America's own foreign policy) are as responsible as Osama Bin Laden for September 11.
    • For five years the Taliban killed thousands of Afghan civilians and destroyed two giant Buddha statues that ranked among the world's artistic tresures. The USA ignored what was going on in Afghanistan... until 4,000 Americans and two skyscrapers were affected. The rest of the world did notice the double standard. Why should the rest of the world care about the USA if the USA does not care about the rest of the world?
    • While Bush is asking all countries of the world to join the coalition against terrorism, the USA has withdrawn from the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and boycotted both the Kyoto protocol against polluting the atmosphere and the world conference on racism (just days before the September 11 attack). Why in heaven should the world join a USA-led coalition when the USA ignores world agreements and does not even abide by the treaties it signed?
    • Terrorism has killed thousands of people in countries such as Great Britain, Colombia, Algeria, Sri Lanka, etc. The USA has never offered to create a coalition against terrorism when the civilians being killed were British, Colombian, Algerian, or Sri Lankan. Why in heaven should the world care now that it is the Americans who are dying of terrorism if the Americans never cared when others were being killed by terrorism?
    • Why is it suddenly illegal to sponsor terorism if, in the past, the USA sponsored all sorts of terrorist groups, from the IRA in Ireland to the Contras in Nicaragua, from the Jewish "haganah" in British Palestine to Al Qaeda itself?
    • Freedom fighters worldwide are now labeled "terrorists". No matter what dictatorship or occupying army you are fighting against, the USA is with them and against you: do we expect all these freedom fighters to be on our side if and when they win their liberation wars? (By George W Bush's new standards, George Washington himself was a terrorist).
    Osama is a much easier culprit that America itself: it is America's foreign policy that fostered terrorism around the world; it is America's selfishness and indifference that let terrorism grow around the world. It is easy to assign blame only on Osama Bin Laden and bomb a country that cannot defend itself. It is more difficult to assign blame on all the Americans who only care for sex scandals and ignore what happens to the rest of the world. You cannot bomb all countries all the time: you could, on the other hand, read good press and watch good tv to learn more about what is going on in the world and, especially, what your presidents are doing to the rest of the world. That would prevent terrorism more than anything else.
    I recommend this Nexus article
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  • (January 2002)
      Why are we hiding the evidence?
    • We still haven't seen the evidence that Osama Bin Laden planned and directed the September 11 attack (except for an ambiguous videotape that would hardly be considered as evidence in a US court of law). Nobody in his own mind doubts that Osama is a dangerous criminal and has funded terrorism against the USA and was probably involved in this act as well, but the USA still has not provided the international community and its own public with the evidence that it claims it found right after September 11.
    • The USA has never revealed who speculated on arline stocks right before September 11, even if it was widely reported that only people familiar with the planning of the attacks could have had a motivation to do so.
    • There have been reports of suspicious movements, calls and meetings by diplomatic representatives of Saudi Arabia and Egypt (including an Egyptian official who took a room overlooking the World Trade Center and had a radio device capable of intercepting airplane's communications), but the USA has never commented on this.
    The question is simple: why not?
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  • (January 2002) False myths about the war in Afghanistan:
    • Most of the terrorists involved in the September 11 attack were from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Most of the terrorists wanted by the USA are from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The religious schools in Pakistan that support Osama Bin Laden and brainwash students into becoming martyrs are funded with money that mainly comes from Saudi Arabia. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt are allies of the USA (and their rulers are good friends of the Bush family).
    • The Taliban did not attack the USA. They had no involvement whatsoever in the September 11 attack. None of the hijackers were Afghans. No Afghan is among the terrorists wanted by the USA. There are no Afghans in the Al Qaeda organization.
    • The Taliban are only guilty by association: they took Osama's money and let him live in Afghanistan. So did the USA and the UK, where Al Qaeda opened offices at various points in time.
    • The Taliban are certainly not the only ones responsible for Afghanistan turning into a haven for terrorists. That haven was created with USA money (originally to fight the Soviet Union) and directed over the years by Pakistan (the closest US ally in the region).
    • There was no war to speak of: Congress never declared war to anybody. And no country in the world declared war to the USA. (Technically, George W Bush could be impeached for claiming that "we are at war": only Congress can declare a state of war, and a president who declares war to anybody is guilty of violating the constitution of the USA)
    • Bush's claim that we are at war (and the panic it generated among citizens and markets) was followed by requests for: "anti-terrorism" legislation to limit the rights of citizens; millions of dollars in help for the troubled airlines (that were already troubled before September 11) and more tax cuts for corporate America (both sponsors of the Bush administration); military prisons and tribunals to deal in secret with suspected terrorists; tough anti-immigrant actions that do not target Hispanics (the largest body of illegal immigrants, but also a very important source of votes for the next presidential election). And, needless to say, suddenly the terrorists are also responsible for a recession that started well before September 11. One can seriously wonder if the war in Afghanistan is also grounded in dirty domestic politics.
    The war is a just war by any western standard of "just" war, given the cruel and barbaric regime created by the Taliban. But these are simply false myths.
    There are disturbing omissions in the story presented by George W Bush to the world. The US public is being told only what is convenient. Osama Bin Laden is a much easier culprit than, say, the many princes and businessmen from Saudi Arabia who funded his organization. Not to mention the organizations (CIA, ISI) that created it. (See "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden" by Steve Coll, Penguin 2004).
    We can only wish that the USA was consistent in fighting "all" dictatorships around the world, for example the cruel regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt (which also happen to be the countries where most terrorists come from).
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  • (January 2002) We don't defend freedom anymore. The September 11 attack has had a monumental impact on history, that it will take years to fully appreciate. Modern history has been made, to a large extent, by rebellions and revolutions, by freedom fighters and independent movements. France, America, China and countless countries around the world owe their very existence to that "kind" of history. After September 11, that kind of history has a name: "terrorism". The nations of the world have decided that anybody who fights an existing government is a "terrorist" and must be destroyed. We don't care anymore for justice, freedom and democracy. We only care for stability. It is the ultimate capitalistic principle: instability and uncertainty are bad for business, so we want none of that. The freedom fighters of Kashmir are obviously right in claiming that India illegally occupies their land (there is even a United Nations resolution that says so). The Palestinians have their reasons for fighting Israel (right or wrong, but very similar to the reasons and to the actions of the Jews under Turkish and British rule).
    Al Qaeda itself has been fighting two of the worst dictatorships in the world: Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are ruled by dictators who are extremely unpopular among their own people. They would never win a fair election. From now on, anybody who fights against those dictators is a terrorist. Countless movements around the world are fighting dictators and occupation armies, from the Kurds of Turkey to the Tibetans of China. From now on, they are not allowed to use violence in their struggle, even if their oppressors have used violence to occupy their lands.
    This is the major consequence of the September 11 attack: the United States has decided that the "status quo" is more important than the principles on which the United States was founded. It is a sad consequence. In a sense, those four thousand people in New York died not for freedom, but for the very opposite.
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  • (December 2001) The US list of terrorist states: here we go again. The USA does not learn from its own mistakes, no matter how many Americans die. For decades now the USA has been obsessed with enemies such as Cuba and Iran, while treating countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and United Emirates as friends. And recently the USA has added Russia and China to the list of most friendly nations. The facts have always been in sharp contrast with this stand, but today, after 4,000 people were butchered in the September 11 terrorist attacks, it borders on the criminal to keep that stand.
    First of all, Castro has never harmed one single American. Leave Cuba alone. We can only wish that all dictators in the world were as harmless as Castro.
    Secondly, Iran is one of the very few Muslim countries that allows the opposition to run in democratic elections and, lo and behold, even allows the opposition to win the elections. The current president won over 70% of the popular vote and represents the opposition to the ayatollahs. Iran was the only country to actively oppose the Taliban when Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were supporing their terrorist campaign with the tacit approval of the USA. The last proven terrorist action against America by Iran was the bomb on the Pan Am flight, which was in retaliation for the missile that shot down an Iranian plane with 300 civilians on board. This was more than 20 years ago and, at best, both countries were to blame. Why in heaven does the USA still list Iran as a terrorist country? Iran has been by far the most cooperative country during the war against the Taliban, the first country to seal the borders, the first country to promise assistance to the US soldiers, the first country to help deliver humanitarian aid. Instead, the USA has been derailing the project to carry Kazakh oil to the West through Iran, even if every single participant in the project, including US companies, favor that solution. Why is the USA so obsessed with Iran? Who has a personal interest in all of this and is willing to sacrifice US national interests for his own personal schemes against Iran?
    Thirdly and most embarrassing, why are the obvious supporters of terrorism not listed in the US list of terrorist states? It is public knowledge that Saudi Arabia funded the Taliban, that Osama Bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia, that his sponsors are from Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates, that most of the September 11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, that Saudi Arabia was one of the only three countries in the entire world that recognized the Taliban. What else does one need in a court of law to prove a case against Saudi Arabia?
    Pakistan was and still is the number one ally of the Taliban. The vast majority of foreign soldiers in Afghanistan (the ones who truly ran Afghanistan and the ones who are fighting to death) were from Pakistan. The Taliban were raised and trained in Pakistan. Their ideology comes from the Pakistani madrasa. The Pakistani secret services have very close ties to Al Qaeda. What else does one need in a court of law to prove a case against Pakistan?
    Most of the funds tied to Al Qaeda come from the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. We even know the names of the people who collected and delivered the money. Why none of those names has been publicized as much as the names of the terrorists who actually carried out the attacks? The terrorists were simply executing orders, and are dead anyway. Don't we think that those who provided the money and are still alive and free are much more dangerous?
    Finally, let us assume that Iraq is a terrorist country as the USA claims (although there isn't a speck of evidence tying Iraq to any terrorist action anywhere in the world, before or after the Gulf War). Then why is Russia not on that list of terrorist states? Where do you think Iraq is getting its weapons from? Iraq owes Russia eight billion dollars for all the arms that Russia has sold them (incidentally, there is at least some evidence that Iraq is using humanitarian aid to paid off that debt). Nobody doubts that Saddam would use those weapons to destabilize the region. Russia is to Saddam exactly what Osama is to the Taliban.
    Naturally, the USA list of terrorist states includes anybody who helps the Palestinians fight against Israel. While one may consider Hamas and Hezbollah and so forth as terrorist organizations because they do attack civilians, one should at least be honest and explain to the American people that they are only targeting Israelis and that their terrorism is not terribly different from the terrorism of George Washington against the British and certainly not different at all from the terrorism of the IRA against Britain (most IRA money always came from America).
    Naturally, the USA list of terrorist states ignores the states that do not currently support terrorists but would offer a perfect haven. Afghanistan never supported terrorism: it provided the perfect conditions for terrorists to move there, help overthrow the government and run their operations. The list of terrorist states never included Afghanistan. So maybe it is also important to find out which state could be the next Afghanistan: poor, chaotic, authoritarian. Choices abound: Myanmar (run by druglords and warlords), Somalia (a federation of militias), and especially Nigeria (a country of 120 million with huge natural resources and where Islamic law has been slowly spreading). None of these countries have hurt other countries, but they all provide the ideal conditions for terrorist organization. Helping rebuild these countries around strong democratic conditions may be more useful in the long-term than overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
    The USA list of terrorist states is completely wrong, useless and even dangerous, because it distracts the US from the real enemies.
    Find out who in Washington manipulates this crazy list of terrorist states and you may find out some serious and dangerous allies of terrorism who live and prosper in the USA.
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  • (December 2001) Jihad is the shortest road to Paradise: this is what is written on the walls of countless homes in Pakistan and around the Arab world. Muslims wants us to believe that this simply means that Muslims have to pray in order to go to Paradise. But every Muslim knows very well what that sentence means: it is a call to arms against Westerners. What "jihad" means today is very simple: it means "killing westerners". The shortest road to Paradise is killing westerners (especially Americans and Jews). That is what the clerics teach in hundreds of madrasa of the Muslim world. That is what millions of ordinary Muslims are taught to believe. That is what millions of young Muslisms dream of doing. We will not uproot terrorism for as long as there is one home that boasts the graffiti Jihad is the shortest road to Paradise. Every family that displays that graffiti is as much an enemy as Osama Bin Laden. Unfortunately, those are the words of the prophet Mohammed: ultimately, the problem is Islam, not Osama (see Islam kills). Killing or capturing Osama will not remove the roots of Islamic terrorism.
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  • (November 2001) Did poverty cause the September 11 attacks? Many commentators, especially in the Arab world, begin any analysis of the September 11 attacks with a note on how desperately poor many Arabs are and how this widespread poverty is creating terrorists out of faithful Muslims. This is certainly true of Palestinian terrorism against Israel: Palestinians who grow up in refugee camps with no prospects in life are turning to suicide bombings in scores. But not a single Palestinian was among the terrorists who struck against America: Palestinian terrorists target Israel and only Israel (so far). Many commentators thought that Osama's terrorists were caused by a similar phenomenon of poverty and desperation, but this time directed against the USA.
    Unfortunately, we were all wrong. The more we study the facts the more clear it is that it was wealth, not poverty, that caused these people to become terrorists. First of all, mastermind Osama Bin Laden has never been poor in his life. He is the son of one of the wealthiest families in the Middle East. Secondly, this kind of terrorism (distributed around the world, armed with sophisticated military bases in Afghanistan, dispatched to America, patiently prepared for years) would not exist without massive financial contributions from wealthy Arabs. Thirdly, the majority of the September 11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, a country were hardly anybody is poor and many families are very rich by Middle Eastern standards. Incidentally, they own their wealth to the USA, the main customer of their oil industry and the main (sole?) protector of their independence. Finally, none of the 19 terrorists who attacked America on September 11 comes from a desperately poor family or a refugee camp: they mostly came from middle-class families and many had a few got a good education in European universities.
    What caused the September 11 attacks was a huge investment by wealthy Arab families. They invested in Osama Bin Laden, they invested in the madrasa that (in Saudi Arabia as well as in Pakistain) train fanatical Muslims, they invested in an army of "Afghan" Arabs whose goal was to create a pure Islamic world. The USA never attacked the sources of anti-American terrorism because those sources were wealthy Arabs, friends of the US oil industry (friends of the Bush family, for example). It was well known that huge amounts of money were being funneled by rich Saudis to terrorist organizations worldwide, and it was well known that those funds traveled through New York and London, under the eyes of the American and British secret services. Before the September 11 attack, nobody did anything to stop the traffic of terrorist money.
    This is in many ways similar to what happened with drugs. The "pusher" who works in the park selling drugs to kids works for a much larger organization that relies on money to smuggle drugs and defend itself. The terrorist who blew up the World Trade Center worked for a much larger organization that relied on money to smuggle terrorists and weapons. It took thousands of dead junkies before the USA decided to attack the sources of the drug traffick: the druglords. It took 4,000 dead Americans in the World Trade Center before the USA decided to attack the sources of the terrorist traffick.
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  • (November 2001) Who do we bomb next?. Everybody's favorite is Iraq. No doubt Iraq has so far escaped the destruction that it deserved the first time around. No doubt many Islamic countries would quietly be happy to see Saddam removed. And no doubt UN inspections of Iraq's arsenal must resume as soon as possible because Saddam has certainly hidden tons of biological weapons. But the truth is that Saddam has never had any connection at all with Osama bin Laden. As a matter of fact, Iraq is hardly ever mentioned as a sponsor of terrorism anywhere (unlike, say, Syria, that is the home base for several terrorist organizations). In the past Osama has shown contempt for Saddam. No single Qaeda operative is affiliated with Saddam. No Iraqi citizens are wanted by the US as terrorists. And Iraq never recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
    It is a mystery why everybody wants to bomb Iraq and nobody bothers to look at the birth certificates of the September 11 terrorists and even Osama's and most foreign volunteers helping the Taliban: there are more terrorists from Saudi Arabia than from all the other countries combined. Osama bin Laden was initially sponsored by Saudi Arabia, as were the Taliban. Until very recently, Saudi Arabia was one of the three countries in the world that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan (more than 160 countries begged to disagree even before September 11). Saudi Arabia is the source of the money that financed the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia is the ideological source of this wave of terrorism, as the terrorists and the Taliban are inspired by the puritanical form of Islam (Wahabite) that comes from Saudi Arabia. Last but not least, the Saudi royal family is as loved by their subjects as Saddam by his subjects: they rank among the most ruthless dictators in the world.
    So why do so many politicians and commentators ask for Saddam's head while completely ignoring Saudi Arabia? Because Saudi Arabia sells us all the oil we want, while Saddam was trying to steal our (Kuwait's) oil.
    The main lobby behind the idea of attacking Iraq is represented by a dangerous semi-clandestine organization called "Defense Policy Board", which does not belong to the US government but includes people who used to be in the US government. Among its members there are politicians of dubious competence (such as former vice-president Dan Quayle, protagonist of some of the US' most embarrassing moments in recent history) and politicians morally responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity of the last 50 years (such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle). They also happen to be tied to some extent to the oil lobby. Their favorite to replace Saddam Hussein is Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, an organization founded in London by exiled Iraqis. You can bet your life's savings that, should Chalabi replace Saddam Hussein, oil would start flowing cheap and plentiful to the US oil industry.
    It's the oil, not justice, freedom or security. It's only the oil that matters.
    That said, there is one good reason to get rid of Saddam Hussein: Saddam Hussein is the reason that US forces are deployed in Saudi Arabia, something that neither Arabs nor Americans particularly enjoy. As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, the US will maintain a presence in Saudi Arabia (and will be asked to maintain that presence by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, emirates, etc), and that presence will create the perfect pretext for anti-American demonstrations and terrorism. America will get out of Saudi Arabia only after Saddam Hussein gets out of Bagdad. If that is the case, then this is a good reason to bomb and invade Iraq. But make no mistake: this is still about oil, not about freedom or justice. If America could get rid of its dependence on oil, America would care less what Saddam Hussein does to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or anybody else.
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  • (November 2001) Get rid of the oil economy. Ultimately, the cause of Islamic terrorism is oil. Islamic extremists have always existed, but over the last few centuries they have had almost no impact on the rest of the world. When oil was discovered in Muslim countries, two things happened. First, western intervention: the West invested massively in those countries and, of course, defended those investments. Second, money started flowing in the coffers of the Muslim rulers. This was a lethal mix, and Osama bin Laden is merely the current stage of that explosive mix. The real problem is not the fanatism of this or that crazy terrorist: the problem is the dependence of the West on oil. The West has built a fantastic economy that has provided its citizens with unprecedented wealth, but at a price: an almost absolute dependence on oil. Take the oil away and all the western economies will collapse.
    One fact that should be clear to everybody, but doesn't seem to be, is that oil is not infinite: eventually the planet will run out of oil. Pessimists have been forecasting an end to oil since the 1960s. Oil reserves have consistently proven pessimists wrong, but there is a limit. It may be 50 years or it may be 70 years, but we know it is highly unlikely that oil will last more than one century. As developing countries start using more and more of it, as western countries continue to increase their oil consumption, there is going to be less and less oil available, and the reserves will be drained faster and faster. Therefore, the West (and the entire planet) needs to think about the oil-less future.
    Instead, the US dependence on oil is increasing.
    We are keeping the oil economy going mainly because the people who have the power today belong to lobbies that represent wealth dependent on the oil economy. Take away the oil, and suddenly Chevron, airlines, General Motors, etc are in trouble. But even they are lying to their investors: all their plans are focused on short-term returns, but their long-term reality is bleak.
    It turns out that the very same oil that is, indirectly, the cause of terrorism and of Arab-West confrontation is also a time bomb for the world economy.
    Nuclear energy produces about one fifth of electricity in the US. Nobody has ever died of nuclear energy in Western Europe or the US. The worst accident ever, Chernobyl, killed a total of 31 people, and is widely considered impossible in the West because of better design. Oil and gas produce pollution and carbon dioxide that indirectly kills thousands of people and may even jeopardize life on this planet (without counting the people who have been killed in oil-related wars and terrorism). Modest investments in nuclear power plants would make America completely independent of foreign oil (not to mention less polluted and less indebted). Alas, the US is run by the oil lobby, not by the "nuclear" lobby.
    Imagine a world in which oil has been replaced by solar, wind and nuclear energy. Imagine a world in which Islamic extremist cannot feed on western money anymore. Imagine a world in which energy is produced locally and not imported from faraway countries. Sounds like a dream? Tell the president.
    The first country to get rid of the oil economy will rule the world.
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  • (September 2001) Who benefits from terrorism? Who are the winners, twenty days after the attack that killed 3,000 people in New York and Washington?
    • Bin Laden: if he is killed, he's a martyr for eternity; if he is captured, nobody will believe that he can get a fair trial in the US; is he escapes, he becomes a myth
    • Bush: the most incompetent and inefficient US president in recent memory is now almost guaranteed a re-election; now he can blame the economic catastrophe (that he created) on the terrorists, now he can blame the budget deficit (that he created with his tax cut for the rich) on the terrorists
    • Sharon: he can now muster American public opinion in his favor against the Palestinians, whose only arm was terrorism, and he is free to kill any number of Palestinians, because any number will look small compared with the 6,000 killed by Laden
    • Afghans: the Afghan people will probably get back their country and a bit of stability
    • Pakistan: Pakistan was becoming a pariah country and losing America's sympathy, and it is instead becoming one of the key countries in the middle east
    • Iran: Iran has been the only country to battle the Taliban since they seized power in Afghanistan and is now helping the US deliver food to Afghan refugees, a sign that Iran is likely to become a strategic partner if nothing else because it shares its two worst enemies (Iraq and Taliban) with the US
    • Putin: suddenly America begs Russia to help out, and Putin did not miss the opportunity to make Russia's brutal oppression of Chechnya as perfectly legal
    • China: China is the one country that is potentially surrounded by enemies and by terrorists (having invaded Tibet and Turkestan and having made war with just about everybody, from Russia to India to Vietnam) and can now look like the anti-Islamic bastion in Central Asia
    • Northern Alliance: finally the world noticed that someone somewhere somehow was fighting the Taliban, and they are now likely to replace the Taliban at the head of Afghanistan
    • Arab regimes: they are all dictatorships (no exceptions) but now they are legitimized by America's request for help and will become the police officers of the middle east against terrorism
    And who are the losers?
    • Palestinians: Sharon can massacre as many of them as he likes, and Arafat will now accept what he would not have accepted before the terrorist attack, plus the US war to terrorism is almost certain to eventually strike at Palestine, one way or another
    • Islam: thousands of Muslims celebrating in the streets and sympathizing with the Taliban have proved that this terrorist attack and the religious violence that spread from Nigeria to Indonesia have something in common, and it is not poverty or anti-capitalism, it is the Quran nobody will miss them
    • Kashmir: they are now officially labeled terrorists
    • Chechnya: Russia has now the world's recognition that Chechnya's rebels are terrorists
    • Tibet: China can now label "terrorist" anyone who plots against Chinese rule and can then apply the same logic that America is applying against the Taliban
    • All freedom fighters in the world: they are terrorists, and they now become targets of the US-led crusade/jahid against terrorism
    • Africa: the continent with the most wars and the most deads will be completely forgotten just when America was beginning to acknowledge its plight

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  • (October 2001) One month after.
    • Russia has never been such a close ally of the USA. This is truly an epochal event. The cold war is now truly over.
    • Iran is helping the USA deliver food to Afghan refugees and has promised to rescue US soldiers if necessary. This is the first cooperation between the two countries since the 1970s. Hopefully, they will both begin to realize that they have the same enemies in common and they share democratic and moral values, besides geopolitical interests.
    • Bush has been virtually pushed aside by his collaborators. He was doing more damage than anything else. Powell is managing foreign relations and dealing with foreign governments. Rice is running the show at the White House. Rumsfeld is conducting operations on the field. The only risk is one of disconnect between the White House, the US foreign policy and its military operations. But these three people are far more competent and reassuring (to the rest of the world and to America itself) than the president.
    • The USA has finally begun to spread its message in the Muslim world. A long overdue process of educating the Muslim world about America is underway for the first time since Muslim countries became independent 50 years ago. This process is not easy because all Arab countries are dictatorships and information is strictly controlled by the government. It is also difficult in countries like Afghanistan where only 30% of the people are literate, and where radios and tv sets are illegal. But it is encouraging to finally see Rice, Powell and Rumsfeld travel to the Middle East or just grant interviews to Arab reporters to vent their frustration and explain the USA's stand. Hopefully, this process will not end when the war against the Taliban is over.
    • The Arab tv station Al Jazeera (sort of the CNN of the Arab world) has been promoting the terrorists' agenda and helping Osama Bin Laden send messages to his operatives around the world. Al Jazeera has hardly ever publicized the USA's version of the facts, but shows around the clock any propaganda that it receives from the Taliban or Osama Bin Laden. Al Jazeera has repeatedly shown angry Taliban after a US bombing but hardly interviewed the thousands of Afghan civilians who praise the US bombing and are surprised at how precise they are. Al Jazeera has repeatedly shown angry Pakistani crowds protesting the US bombing but has hardly interviewed the millions of Pakistani (not to mention Iranians, Uzbeks, etc) who favor the USA. Al Jazeera has not reported of the widespread resentment against the Taliban and the millions of Afghans who are voicing hopes for an American invasion. We know at least one friend of the Taliban and of the terrorists: Al Jazeera.
    • we know another good friend of the terrorists: Israel. Israel never misses an opportunity to kill Palestinians while the USA is trying to convince the Arabs that the USA is a friend, not an enemy. How can the USA fight terrorism if its main ally in the region, Israel, keeps killing Palestinians? Israel is by far the country that has killed the highest number of civilians in the middle east over the last few years. How can the USA proclaim that they fight terrorism if their ally Israel is the number one terrorist in the middle east? The truth is that Israel has a vested interest in increasing tensions around the region. Israel's prime minister Sharon dreams of a world war III in which Arabs are annihilited. Sharon has a biblical vision of complete destruction of every non-Jew person in the world, starting with Israel's neighbors. Israel could care less about American lives and America's war against terrorism. Otherwise, Israel could just wait a couple of months to settle its scored with the Palestinians: the fact that does not wait even one day tells us a lot about the sinister strategy of its prime minister Sharon. In other words, Israel is taking advantage of America's tragedies to advance its own cause. Israel's behavior is, at best, selfish and cynical and, at worst, criminal. Israel certainly shows precious little gratitude for 50 years of American support. Israel shows a lot of gratitude for Osama Bin Laden's terrorism. America should deploy soldiers in Palestinian cities to protect them from Israeli tanks. This would be the single most powerful act to prevent future terrorist acts and to clarify that America is not at war with all Muslims.
    • It is regrettable that nobody is talking about the number one victims of the Taliban regime: women. Even as the USA is planning a new coalition government for Afghanistan, not a single woman is asked to attend. Women have been scientifically eradicated from Afghan society and the world seems to be happy with it. Western journalists are happy to be invited by the Taliban into the country, even though only "male" western journalists are invited. The Taliban embassador refuses to meet women from the United Nations or even Pakistan, because they are... women. Guess what: both the United Nations and Pakistan gladly remove women from their staff to please the Taliban. On the contrary, the USA and the United Nations should make a point of creating a women-only government for future Afghanistan. After all, women are more than 50% of the Afghan population. And they are by far more peaceful than the men.
    • Saudi Arabia is, at best, the most ambiguous country in the world. On one hand, it pretends to be an ally of America: it sells oil to America and it lets America use bases in Saudi Arabia to strike at Iraq. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has always been the main patron of Islamic fundamentalism. Saudi Arabia has been and is funding madras (religious schools) around the world and specifically in Pakistan where pupils are taught daily to hate America and to become "martyrs" for the cause of Islam. Today, in those madras the clerics have been instructed to teach their pupils that the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center was carried out by Israel (even though Bin Laden in person has praised the terrorists as good Muslims). Thanks to those teachings, thousands of Islamic religious students firmly believe that America's attack against Afghanistan is wrong. This is all paid by with Saudi Arabia's money. It is not surprising that so many of the terrorists that destroyed the WTC were from Saudi Arabia. Incidentally, Saudi Arabia is one of the worst dictatorships in the world: if America attacked countries based on the level of freedom that they grant to their people, Saudi Arabia would be one of the top-10 targets.
    • The West is underestimating the "madras", the religious schools of Islamic countries. They are considered "schools" but they are truly weapons of mass destruction. In these schools students are only taught the Quran and they are bombarded day and night with the interpretations of their teachers, who are mostly Islamic extremists. These madras are brainwashing generation after generation into believing that the duty of a good Muslim is to kill infidels. These madras are the equivalent of biological warface against the rest of the world.
    • Contrary to what Bush told the world in an emphatic speech, the coalition against terrorism is far from being "us against them". It is not true that "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists". In fact, only one country (Britain) is completely with us. The extent of cooperation has varied greatly, from Germany's and Palestine's (yes, Palestine's) unconditional support for America's actions, to Russia's offer of political support, to Uzbekistan's and Pakistan's logistic support, to Arab countries' sympathy. There are even countries tcaseihat are not cooperating at all: as of october 11, Belgium has refused to provide US investigators with any data about the suspected terrorists that were arrested thanks to US tips. We are far from bombing Belgium, or anyone else, for not fully supporting US actions. There is no coalition to speak of. There is a general sense that the civilized world needs to do something to prevent terrorists from killing thousands of civilians, and that awareness translates into different behavior in each country of the world.
    • Hopefully, Americans will now realize how important it is to mediate regional conflicts before they escalate. This operation in Afghanistan would be a lot easier if the USA was at peace with Iran (there is really no reason to be on such bad terms, since Iran never hurt a single American), if Pakistan and India had not been fighting for 50 years over Kashmir, and especially if Israel wasn't killing scores of Palestinians every day. The average American is totally confused by the complex web of alliances in that part of the world: welcome to reality. If the world was simpler, we would all be safer. In the future, let's spend a little more time and money to make sure that there are no conflicts, no crazy dictators, and no popular resentment, so that foreign policy does not require lengthy negotiations but simply a phone call.
    • Hopefully, Americans will eventually realize that all the trouble begins with the oil. America could live without worrying about the Middle East and without meddling into the murky politics of Middle Eastern dictatorships if it weren't for the oil. How many more Americans have to die before America will come up with a plan to get rid of its dependence on oil? Is it really so important to drive an SUV? Is it really so difficult to build the same network of fast trains that Europe and Japan built, so that we don't need to rely on a plane to travel from Los Angeles to New York? Is it really so difficult to save energy at home and at the office? Do Americans prefer to spend trillions of dollars in sophisticated weapons or in research for alternative energy sources?
    • Americans are more aware than ever of how many people around the world hate America. Most Americans grew up thinking that America's good will is so self-evident that it does not require any "marketing". More and more Americans are now openly facing the truth: that America is hated by millions of people worldwide and that number is growing by the day. This is a positive development. First of all, Americans realize that there is a price to pay for all that hate: hate creates anti-American terrorism. That is a very good reason to deal with the problem. Second, in the future (whether they like to admit it or not) Americans will be more careful in their foreign policy, which has been erratic at best over the last 50 years. Thirdly, America will do a better job of presenting itself to the world. There is no doubt that America is, by far, the best place to live in the world: millions of people want to leave their country and come to America, more than all the immigrants to all the other countries of the world combined. There is never been such a "preferred" country for the entire planet. That alone is strong evidence that America is the best place in the world. Those who hate America are obviously neglecting the fact that their friends and relatives want to emigrate to America or already did. America should remind the world these basic facts. America should remind the world that "American" is a very vague term, because it now includes people whose ancestors came from every single country of the world: from Africa to Palestine, from Vietnam to Europe. Whatever your country, you cannot deny that millions of your compatriots have preferred America over your country and that millions of "Americans" are simply descendants of your compatriots. America must do a better job of presenting itself to the Arab world, to Africa, to Central Asia, to India, to Indonesia, etc.
    • Caught in the excitement about the bombing of Afghanistan, very few people have noticed that we have not yet seen a speck of evidence proving that Osama Bin Laden directed the terrorist attacks (and even the USA admit that the Taliban have not engaged in international terrorism, they are being bombed for refusing to hand over Osama Bin Laden, not for being responsible of any terrorist action). No doubt Osama Bin Laden knew about this terrorist strike, but not all people who know about a bank robbery are necessarily bank robbers. If the USA is so sure that the mastermind was Osama Bin Laden, it is a little odd that, one month later, it has not showed the evidence to the entire world. Is it possible that we do not yet know who masterminded the attack and that we are going after Osama Bin Laden simply because he has a big mouth? and that we are waging a war against the Taliban simply because they are the weakest (the easiest to defeat) of all the armies in the middle east?
    • The Anthrax scare is probably not related to Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein (it is certainly the action of yet another deranged American if it is true that it makes reference to "911" as september 11: America is the only country in which the date is written month/day instead of day/month, so everywhere else it was "119", and in any event "911" has a special meaning only for an American). Right-wing extremists like Timothy Tobiason (author of "Advanced Biological Weapons Design", a treatise widely distributed at gun shows) have the motivation, the skills and the means to manufacture and spread lethal germs (and it is a mystery why an Osama Bin Laden is a criminal but they, and their readers, are not). Hopefully, it will help remind Americans of two tragic facts: 1. Iraq still has not accounted for thousands of liters of anthrax and 2. many more Americans are killed by Americans than by terrorists (about 25,000 a year, thanks to the ridiculous number of handguns).

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  • (October 2001) Not in our name. Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and many others are simply mass murderers. But thousands of people who volunteer to die for them are not mere mass murderers: many of them are or were nice people from good families who never hurt anybody. And millions of Muslims rioting in the streets in favor of Saddam and Osama are just ordinary folks with ordinary lives (jobs, families, friends, hobbies).
    Americans are just beginning to realize the extent to which people around the world hated America. It is a visceral hate that, no surprise, can cause ordinary, nice man to leave their families and become suicide bombers. The terrorists came from Morocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and even France. We know that violent demonstrations against America went on in Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines and even Turkey (a member of NATO) and that the local governments had to arrest leaders and cordon off crowds to avoid full-fledged riots.
    Anybody who has traveled in South America or Africa has noticed similar hostile attitudes against American interests (if not against American citizens tout court). It is just that nobody in Africa or South America has the money Saddam and Osama have to finance anti-American terrorism.
    Americans must come to term with one of the main sources of terrorism: America's own foreign policy. You can't kill all the people all the time. Eventually, you have to come to terms with the fact that something in your behavior is causing at least some of that hate.
    As far as the middle east goes, we don't need political experts to figure out a few fundamental reasons why America became such an object of hatred:
    1. Oil: America is the largest consumer of oil in the world and its economy, its entire wealth, would collapse without oil. America's survival depends on middle-eastern oil, and that has led America to adopt all sorts of double standards (dictatorships are bad, except when they guarantee oil to Americal; America is not the police of the world, except when Iraq invades the oil fields of Kuwait; etc).
    2. Israel. America has often been the only country in the world to support Israel against the Palestinians. Now that Israelis are killing unarmed Palestinians in Palestinian cities, America is widely seen by Arabs as supporting one kind of terrorism (Israel's) while condemning another kind (Osama's), yet another double standard.
    3. Islam kills. Thousands of Islamic clerics around the world teach their students that Islam is a superior religion and that a duty of all Muslims is the "jihad" against the infidels and that America is the leader of the infidels
    4. Dictators. America has consistently supported unpopular dictatorships around the middle east and fought against the freedom fighters who were trying to overthrow them and broken relationships with those countries that managed to overthrow the US-supported dictator (such as Iran)
    The reason we don't hear of African or Southamerican terrorism against the USA is because those countries don't have oil money and therefore few people in those countries would have the money to finance a terrorist network. But America's behavior has been exactly the same. America supported cruel dictators all over South America and Africa. Thousands of people were jailed and killed in Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, etc by US-supported dictators. One generation later, hundreds of thousands of relatives, friends and students around the world nurture anti-US hate. Luckily, their hatred is not kept alive daily by images of poor people killed by Israel and is not fed by an anti-Western ideology like Islam.
    No matter what the reasons, American presidents spent 50 years terrorizing the developing world. Are you surprised that today the world terrorizes America?
    Why did American presidents terrorize the developing world? They did it in your name, in the name of American interests, American ideals and American security. They failed badly to defend American ideals, since millions despise America these days. They obviously failed badly to provide security to Americans, since no American will ever feel secure again anywhere in the world, including their own homes. They did succeed in defending American interests: today, America is the wealthiest place in the world. Needless to say, the fact that Americans are so wealthy when so many countries are so poor only fuels more hate against America. America is paying a very high price for its wealth
    America's interests, ideals and security were served well when America fought dictators like Mussolini, Hitler and Hirohito. After World War II, America was almost forced to become a world power. It was not prepared for it. It knew too little of international politics and of world history. Instead of fighting dictators, America embarked on a broad campaign against Communism. America won the war, but the price is a gigantic mess for which people like the Arabs blame America (the winner) not Russia (the loser).
    America failed on at least three counts:
    1. to understand the long-lasting consequences of its foreign policy
    2. to educate people around the world about its motives
    3. (last but not least) to educate its own people, so that Americans could truly exercise the democratic right of voting
    American presidents terrorized the world in the name of ordinary Americans. If ordinary Americans did not realize what was being done to the rest of the world, something was not working in the homeland of democracy. Americans were being cheated.
    Most Americans know absolutely nothing of the rest of the world. How can they determine what is right and what is wrong? It's like letting a blind man drive a bus at very high speed through the congested streets of a metropolis.
    Educating Americans may turn out to be the best recipe against terrorism. Americans have always neglected world history as a boring and unnecessary topic. If your goal is to become a billionaire, who cares about world politics? That may have been the single biggest mistake. Americans could not control the foreign policy practiced in their name by American presidents and today Americans are left to pay for the consequences of that foreign policy without even exactly knowing what the heck it was all about.
    Instead of watching the sex scandal of the week, read a book on the middle east. Instead of running to buy gas masks, make sure your children study history and geography. Those may be the most patriotic actions Americans can take right now.
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  • (October 2001) Nothing but praise for the American bombing of Afghanistan. Destroying the Taliban is a humanitarian act, period. If Allah exists, he is blessing the destruction of the worst dictatorship in the world. May the Taliban rot in the hell where they came from.
    If only we had done it earlier: we would have saved the lives of thousands of Afghans who were massacred by the Taliban, we would have saved a wonder of the world (the two Buddha statues that were cowardly destroyed by the Taliban), we would have avoided years of humilation for Afghan women, and the World Trade Center would still be standing. Western powers must learn what they seem to have forgotten: you stop dictators "before" (not after).
    Western powers must educate their own public opinion and make sure they know all the time who the enemy is. Americans did not even know where Afghanistan is and who the Taliban are (they still don't, as all sorts of blunders on tv shows prove). Americans should have known all the time what was going on in Afghanistan: the US government would have been under pressure to destroy them years ago.
    That doesn't mean that uprooting the Taliban will solve the problem of terrorism: millions of Muslims are still raised thinking that Islam is a superior religion and that killing infidels grants them heaven, and hundreds of thousands are still growing up in refugee camps where they only learn to hate the West and they dream of sacrificing their lives for the cause, and millions of Muslims worldwide still think that America has been unfair to the Palestinians and too biased towards Israel. Destroying the Taliban is a humanitarian act, but does not remove the desperation and hatred that feeds terrorism.
    For the time being, let us enjoy the sight of the Taliban hiding like rats in their holes and running like rabbits from the American bombs. Now it should be obvious to them on which side Allah is.
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  • (September 2001) Who are the cowards? The most commonly used word to describe the terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center is "cowards". That is odd because you are hardly a coward when you plan for years your own death and carry it out in such a dramatic manner. You may be a crazy, deranged maniac, but certainly not a coward. (How many Americans would be willing to be a suicide bomber for their own country?)
    There is no question that those terrorists were not cowards. And such is the way they are viewed in the countries were they grew up. Every man in those countries nurtures a secret admiration for young people who are willing to give up their lives.
    The way to obliterate this admiration is, of course, to be even bolder than they were. During World War II, American soldiers proved to be at least as bold as Germans, fighting from town to town, and restraining from killing civilians as much as possible. That was courage. Europeans understood and still admire that generation of Americans.
    Things started getting a little less clear with Vietnam, because American soldiers vastly outgunned the vietcongs, used napalms and god-only-knows what else, and Nixon bombed the women and children who were working in the rice fields. (Now, that is cowardice).
    Neither were the Gulf War or Serbia shows of courage by Americans who hardly ever risked their lives. In Iraq, more Americans were killed by friendly fire than by Saddam's troops. In Serbia more Americans died in accidental helicopter crashes than on the ground. Neither Arabs nor Serbs were too impressed by American courage.
    Nor were the Somalis and the Lebanese, who saw American troops land with pomp and then hastily retreat after the first few casualties.
    Bush can prove that America is more courageous than those terrorists by capturing their leaders and their protectors, and by liberating innocent people from terrible dictatorships.
    Alas, the world is confused about Bush's intentions. First, he went on tv to talk about "war", a word that caused more psychological (and then financial) devastation around the world than the terrorist attacks themselves. He dispatched forces to the middle east and called reservists. Cool. This sounds like the beginning of one of those Hollywood movies that the whole world (even our enemies) truly enjoys to watch. Maybe the Americans are about to land by the thousands in Afghanistan, airplanes obscuring the sky, helicopters zigzagging over the heads of the fleeing taliban, bombs destroying every terrorist sanctuary. And the Afghan people will celebrate their first day of freedom flying the American flag over Kabul.
    Or not. Now it appears that, after all, the only thing that Bush really wants is the head of Osama Bin Laden (don't forget Bush's culture is that of gunslingers, duels at high noon, and "wanted dead or alive" posters). It sounds like all the Taliban have to do is deliver Laden. If they do, America will let them continue their campaign of terror over the Afghan people. Feel free to torture dissidents, treat women like animals, and exterminate minorities.
    Can you imagine how impressed the world would be if the mighty American forces sailed to the middle east with all this pomp and then, once Laden is delivered by the Taliban, they simply turn and go back home? if America lets the Taliban continue their terrible dictatorship? It's like John Wayne letting the evil killer walk away and resume his oppression of the terrified citizens.
    A land invasion and the liberation of (at least) Afghanistan is the only way to prove to the entire world that America is more courageous than the terrorists.
    Contrary to what Bush declared the first day (and then carefully avoided repeating), nobody has declared war against us and we are not at war. But maybe we should be. Contrary to what Bush declared, this would be a very clear war, there is a very clear enemy, and it is very clear how to fight this war, and that is the most traditional way in which wars are fought: troops that land and chase the enemy until it surrenders. Russia, China and Iran, who all have their problems with the Taliban, would probably be happy to help (now, this is what I call a "coalition").
    Any other kind of war would contrast the courage of those 19 Muslims who gave their lives to kill 4,000 Americans against the mighty American military forces that are afraid of losing even a finger in combat.
    The Taliban may not be directly guilty of this terrorist attack, but there are plenty of reasons to get rid of them. Nobody on this planet will miss them. And this will prove that America is powerful, courageous and just.
    Last but not least, it will prove that enemies of freedom, far from being invincible, lose and are destroyed. They are not models to imitate. Millions of Arab teenagers grow up dreaming of becoming like Saddam Hussein: he stood up to the west and is still in power. You can't show the world all the time that the Saddam Husseins and the Taliban of the world can thumb their nose at the USA and remain in power.
    Ultimately, the question is: who is the enemy? If the Palestinians and the Afghans who grew up in refugee camps are not the enemies, if the average inhabitant of the Muslim countries are not the enemy, who is the enemy? Are you sure that the enemy is only a crazt man hiding in Afghanistan?
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  • (September 2001) What did the CIA know? In june 2001 Bakri Attrani, the correspondent for the Middle East Broadcasting Centre in Pakistan (a center that has ties with Saudi Arabia, a close USA ally), warned that he had just met Osama Bin Laden and learned of a forthcoming terrorist attack against the USA. This was meant to be something unprecedented and directly on the soil of the USA. This news was published in the Russian newspaper Pravda and broadcast in Europe. Apparently, not a single news media in the United States deemed it worth of attention. Apparently, the CIA too did not deem it interesting.
    We don't know why the terrorists decided to postpone the attack to September (maybe they wanted to kill Masood first, maybe they were waiting for a major US-Israeli act like the boycott of the conference on racism in South Africa), but we now know what they were planning to do.
    The people who carried out this action were mainly notorious terrorists or working for notorious terrorists. Several countries had information about their movements. Some of them entered the US on their true passports.
    The USA spends billions of dollars to keep the CIA alive. There is no more cold war, no secret messages to decipher, no spies to kill, but somehow the CIA was too busy to care for these terrorists who were quietly preparing a terrorist act in America (not in Afghanistan) for several years (not in five minutes). The CIA had no clue, just like all of us, despite the fact that they have billions of dollars to spend.
    The rash of arrests all over the world is no less disturbing: it means that secret services and police around the world knew about this network of terrorists. Why didn't the CIA request to monitor them before they struck?
    Osama Bin Laden's organization has been hitting American interests around the world for ten years, not ten days. The CIA had all the time to prepare, organize, plan, act. Apparently, they did very little.
    When they arrested Yousef in Pakistan, they found plans to bomb several US airlines simultaneously and to crash a plane full of explosives into the CIA headquarters: does it ring a bell?
    A thorough review of the CIA's activities is long overdue. It is not clear what the CIA does with the money and it is not clear why it has been always so ineffective against these terrorists.
    Either the CIA knew and did not do anything or the CIA is run by a bunch of incompetent idiots. Either way, America has a right not to feel very safe.

    See also Steve Coll: "9/11 Ghost Wars" (2004)
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  • (September 2001) America is not at war There is, of course, no war. There is no country attacking the United States. There is just one organization that exploited a colossal blunder in American security and, armed with knives, caused the death of 4,000 Americans. As terrible as this tragedy is, let us remember we are talking about knives, not nuclear weapons, and we are taking about a few dozen people, not entire countries. (In fact, there has seldom been a time when so many countries sided with the United States). Let us not forget this happened because airplanes were not defended: a Los Angeles gang could have done the same. It didn't take an "army". Somebody was smart enough to figure this out and cause maximum damage.
    What makes this tragedy more than a criminal act is that the perpetrators came from other countries (several countries) and were part of a network of individuals determined to hurt Americans. But it is still, fundamentally, a crime, a crime committed by individuals who traveled and lived in a number of countries (including the US and Britain). It is not a war waged by a country: it is a very horrible crime staged by a bunch of criminals.
    (See the history of the Middle East for more details).
    Like most crimes, this one too is steeped in poverty, desperation and ignorance. And those are the ultimate causes of this tragedy.
    Far from being a war situation, this is a situation in which one has to decide what is the priority: do you want to punish the people who committed this crime or do you want to provide peace and security to your own people? What is your goal?
    It would be ideal to achieve both, but it looks like you have to choose: if you punish them, you are likely to punish them in such a way (killing innocents, worsening povery and hunger, damaging essential infrastructures) that will generate more terrorism; if you want to break this loop of violence, and therefore provide peace and security, it is likely that you have (to some extent) "forgive" the perpetrators or, at least, the supporters of this crime.
    Do not forget that this people were willing to die in order to pull off this crime: killing them is "revenge" but not punishment, as they will be happy to die for their cause. When you "punish" a bank robber, you are deterring, dissuading, discouraging other people from robbing banks. The "punishment" against, say, the Taliban will not deter anybody who is willing to die for their cause. In fact, it may help them recruit more "martyrs".
    If, on the other hand, you want to restore peace and security to America, you have to uproot the causes of terrorism: poverty, desperation and ignorance. Muslims (and not only Muslims) have plenty of reasons to be angered by America. While Americans were getting wealthier and wealthier by exploiting the resources of the middle-east, the peoples of the middle-east were getting poorer and poorer thanks to the "geopolitics" of the time. (It may also be their own fault, but that's another story).
    So what should president Bush do? Exactly the opposite of what he announced:
    • Be compassionate (not in words, but in deeds). Show solidarity for the tragedies of the rest of the world: show solidarity for the regimes that have been suffering from terrorism, show solidarity for the people who have been suffering from dictatorship, show solidarity for the people who have been living in refugee camps all their life, show solidarity for the dispossed and the forgotten of the world. America has never shown much solidarity for the tragedies of other peoples. Why should other peoples be shocked by the death of 4,000 Americans when many more of their own have been killed in the past and America hardly noticed?
    • Eliminate poverty. Support economic and social development in the third world.
    • Educate the people of the Middle East, who sometimes have never watched a tv set or read a newspaper. You can't expect them to know the truth, and they are very vulnerable to any kind of propaganda.
    • Offer some kind of political, financial and military integration to moderate Arab regimes that are as threatened as America by the likes of bin Laden. Treat Morocco, Egypt, Jordania, etc as confederate states, not as dubious allies. Make them feel "American". (And somebody please explain to Bush that calling this a "crusade" is not a good way to rally Arab countries...)
    • Bomb Israel until it stops every (every) activity in the occupied territories and accepts an international settlement for Jerusalem.
    • Bomb India until it allows a referendum in Kashmir, the referendum that the United Nations requested in 1948.
    • Apologize to the Iranian people for having supported the dictatorship of the shah and for downing one of their civilian airplanes.
    • Put pressure on all Arab allies to move to a free, democratic society.
    • Respect international treaties and the United Nations. Why in heaven should Russia help the Americans build a coalition when Bush has decided to unilaterally scrap the ABM treaty and build his missile defense against Russia's will? Why in heaven should the world follow America when America has often vetoed United Nations resolutions against Israel?
    • Reassure the American public and peoples worldwide that there will be no large-scale war at all, and that they can return to their normal lives.
    • Revamp the CIA, that is the real culprit of this terrorist attack: there was plenty of information about the activities of these terrorists but nothing was done to stop them (some entered the US with their own passports), and Osama bin Laden has been a fugitive for longer than any other wanted criminal. Yet another blunder of the American intelligence agency after a decade of bigger and bigger blunders.
    • Ask all countries involved to help investigate the whereabouts and the movements of the network of terrorists that perpetrated this crime (most likely, those countries knew as little as the CIA about it, but they can now start investigating in cooperation with the CIA and the FBI)
    • If you want to do something useful for mankind, help the Northern Alliance liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban, who have little to do with the World Trade Center attack but a lot to do with countless atrocities at home
    Bush's call for a jihad... sorry, I meant a "war" against terrorism and their supporters is not only inappropriate but clearly hypocritical. The country that created these terrorists is the United States of America: are we going to bomb ourselves for the support and money we originally provided to bin Laden and the Taliban? A country that has "helped" bin Laden manage his wealth is Switzerland, where so many banks are based: are we going to bomb Switzerland? The talibans received their weapons from Pakistan, a U.S. ally: are we going to bomb Pakistan? Pakistan got most of those arms from China: are we going to bomb China? And some of those arms are still the ones donated by the U.S. ten years ago: are we going to bomb the U.S.? Afghanistan may have provided the land where bin Laden trained his men, but certainly not the weapons and certainly not the money.
    America is directly responsible for what happened in Afghanistan, and morally responsible for not doing anything to stop it when the entire world knew of the ethnic cleansing, of the draconian Islamic laws, of the repression of women, of the killing of thousands of innocent Afghanis. Had Bill Clinton acted against the worst dictatorship in the world, had Congress paid more attention to the thosands of innocents who were dying across the world, had the life of an Arab child been more important than the sex life of Monica Lewinsky, today thousands of New Yorkers would simply be returning home to their families. Had Americans found the time, between one sex scandal and the other, to watch the talibans destroy two giant Buddhas that had never hurt anybody and stood as two giant monuments to peace, America may have seen a preview of the attacks against the towers of the World Trade Center.
    What Bush is doing (declaring war to ghosts) is simply depressing the financial markets by promising years and years of depression (but increasing his own chances of re-election, which may explain...) He is certainly not scaring terrorists who are willing to give their lives, who are just waiting for a chance to blow themselves up and take with them as many American soldiers as possible.
    Bush is calling for an international coalition against terrorism, but that coalition can only be created through coercion, bribes and betrayal: coercion of the states that refuse to cooperate, bribes to the corrupt government that need to salvage economies they have destroyed, and betrayal of peoples like Tibet and Cechnya (Bush will probably give a free hand to Russia and China to crush those freedom fighters in return for Russia's and China's free hand in dealing with middle-eastern countries). These are precisely the causes of terrorism.
    America may end up leading a war not against terrorism worldwide but against freedom fighters worldwide. America will pay back Russia, China and other countries for their support by supporting their own fight against "terrorists", which often means "dissidents". Desperate people do desperate things: they will now be asked to remain desperate in silence. America will legitimize the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Russia's human rights abuses in Cechnya, Turkey's oppression of kurds, and, in general, will oppose any violent act of rebellion against a dictatorship or a military occupation.
    Implicit in Bush's speeches is even the promise to the Taliban that they would be forgiven all of their heinous crimes against humanity if they decided to collaborate with America. What a display of moral values... Bush would be willing to reward the worst dictatorships in the world if they promise to help him out. Does America want to become the best friend of these assorted dictators, fanatics and criminals?
    Calling from a campaign against all terrorism in the world may not be a good idea, in fact it could be a very bad idea: George Washington and all the Americans who fought for independence were considered "terrorists" by Britain; and "terrorists" are all freedom fighters in the world, who fight overwhelming police and army forces from China to Iraq. Are we now fighting George Washington, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Simon Bolivar, and all the other heroes of independence around the world? And if we decide that killing civilians is always bad, what do we have to make of the millions of German and Japanese civilians killed by the United States during World War II? What are 4,000 Americans perished in the World Trade Center compared with the 200,000 Japanese who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? George W Bush is promoting ideas that may backfire against America.
    Unfortunately, America has a president who grew up in the south of gunslingers and ku klux klans (see his call for bid Laden "wanted or alive", what a show of erudition for the entire world to appreciate). In a sense Bush is behaving like a terrorist, creating terror among innocents around the wolrd.
    Wouldn't it be impressive, instead, if America did not kill a single person in retaliation for this attack? Imagine how impressed the whole world would be if America did "not" strike back, and how much stronger the image of America would be worldwide, how much respect it would inspire for being so strong "not" to strike back. Imagine how disappointed the enemies of America would be when learning that there will be no holy war. They went through all this trouble just to be called "criminals" by the entire world, including their own Islamic spiritual leaders. The end of this tragic attack would simply be the condemnation of terrorism by every state, religion, people.
    Imagine if America only asked for help in a regular criminal investigation, and let other countries conduct the investigation and arrest the terrorists. Imagine how cooperative all countries of the world would be with America, on this and any other future case.
    Calling for a "war" against the perpetrators of this crime is a sign of weakness and fear. This is the image that, right now, America is projecting around the world: it makes innocent countries weary that America may kill innocents, and it makes guilty countries happy that America is finally on the defensive. President Bush may be playing into the hands of the terrorists.
    Bush is waging a terror campaign of his own against America. How does he expect American consumers to return to normal lives and shopping when they have just lost trillions of dollars in the stock market crash, a crash largely ignited by Bush's war dances? How does he expect people to return to normal life when it now appears obvious that the government will run a deficit again and social security will receive the first hit (i.e., you'll better start saving money for your retirement because the government won't have any). How does he expect people to return to normal life if he himself predicts years and years of protracted war?
    (Reports from all European and middle-eastern countries consistenly tell us that people feel reassured by Powell, not by Bush).
    There has seldom been a time when so many countries joined the United States. Because so many of their citizens died in the World Trade Center, this has been the single biggest terrorist attack against Britain, Israel, Pakistan, India and many other countries. It would be a terrible act of stupidity to waste the only good thing that came out of this tragedy: all the countries of the world, for the first time in the history of mankind, are united in denouncing the perpetrators. In a war, that is exactly what you would be destroying: not the hostility of your enemies, but the sympathy of your friends.
    Now for the Muslims of the world... No doubt anti-Muslim racism has no place in any civilized society. But it is not completely unfounded, just like hatred against Catholicism was not unfounded after the crusades or after the holocaust. And Muslims must come to term with it. The truth (the naked truth) is that every Muslim has read the sentence in which the prophet Mohammed calls for the "jihad" ("holy war") against the infidels: every Muslim must join in that "war" against the infidels. Of course, it all depends on how you interpret the word "war". But a text that calls for a "war" certainly lends itself to the interpretation that Muslims should kill any other faith. No wonder that Islam is by far the most violent religion in the world today, from Nigeria to Indonesia, from Algeria to the Philippines. It is not only in the middle east: it is everywhere people read the Quran. There is always going to be a Muslim somewhere who interprets that sentence as a command to kill infidels.
    Muslims must denounce and renounce the Quran. They must recognize and admit that, as it is, the Quran is an evil book, written by evil people for the purpose of inciting people to violence. They must repudiate that sentence publicly, unequivocally. No more jihads. Every kid who grows up in a Muslim country must learn that jihads are as bad as holocausts, as bad as crusades, and that Mohammed was plain wrong about that.
    It is appalling that the reaction of most Muslims, inside America and out in the world, is to be worried about the Muslim civilians who could die in an American retaliation but they have hardly showed any sympathy for the 4,000 Americans who died. Imagine if a western organization killed 4,000 Muslims in one day: Muslims worldwide would be burning churches and impaling Christians everywhere. Instead of being impressed that Americans are reacting calmly (except maybe for their president), that days later no blood has been shed, they keep asking for guarantees and some even accuse the US of having provoked this incident. The last thing that comes to their minds is to feel sorry for the victims. Even bombing the Taliban, who are the worst dictatorship in the world, worries them. To an American, it certainly sounds like most Muslims (inside and outside America) are protecting the terrorists and those who harbor them.
    If we must defend Muslims from anti-Muslim racism, we need to know that Muslim countries are defending us from anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-Buddhist, anti-Hindu, etc racism. Right now, around the world, this form of racism (Muslim attacking other faiths) is the most widespread religious persecution of our times.
    In a sense, the thing Bush should do is precisely what he has pledged not to do: declare war on Islam (not the countries or the peoples, but the anti-infidel ideology itself).
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  • (11 September 2001) Osama Bin Laden fools America, but maybe it is non only Laden who is fooling America. As the saying goes, sometimes you are your own worst enemy.
    No doubt Osama bin Laden (or whatever network of terrorists hides behind his name) outsmarted the United States: he destroyed three huge buildings and killed thusands of Americans... with knives. Armed with simple knives, his people boarded four planes, hijacked them and turned them into missiles (perhaps thumbing their nose at Bush's much vaulted anti-missile shield, which would be powerless against this kind of attacks). It wasn't just a multiple, coordinated attack, it was the work of a real genius. The cost? A few knives and, of course, somewhere somehow, training a suicide commando to fly a plane.
    Pearl Harbour was carried out by the entire Japanese air force and caused fewer casualties.
    Of course, Laden (or whoever is leading these terrorists) is not in Afghanistan anymore. He is too smart to sit there and wait for the American bombs. He is probably as far as one can be from Afghanistan, either in South America or, why not, in the United States itself. Americans have been looking for him for about ten years now, and never even found his footprints. They won't find him this time, either. He must have taken extra precautions before this attack. (Read an interview with bin Laden). If he is found in Afghanistan, then you can doubt that this is the powerful, cunning leader of an international network of thousands of terrorists: if he is powerful enough to strike the World Trade Center, then he is not in Afghanistan any more; if he is there, then he is not powerful enough to strike anything and we are after the wrong guy.
    Note that Laden could have easily struck on Disneyland or a shopping mall and killed even more people. Contrary to what the president is saying, Laden is obviously not interested in killing Americans for the sake of killing Americans. He always goes through very elaborate and risky plans in order to pull off attacks that cause relatively little damage (two embassies, one ship, two buildings). He has the capability to smuggle in toxic gases and kill thousands of people in a subway, or to blow up Disneyland on a crowded weekend day. It would have been a lot easier to plant a bomb in Disneyland than to train suicide terrorists for flying Boeing aircrafts, figure out which flights to hijack and how to fly them into the World Trade Center. Laden is obviously not interested in US civilians. He is after the symbols of American might, which is, after all, the thing he truly resents.
    Now Bush will bomb Afghanistan to show that he is tough, and maybe will finally dismantle the evil apparatus of the Taliban who have protected Osama bin Laden all these years. The problem is that the bombing will also kill many innocents who are already desperate (and who have lost a lot more relatives and friends than anybody in New York today). Let us hope at least Bush catches Osama bin Laden, otherwise his evil genius will come up with another fantastic plan to shock America. Let us hope that Osama bin Laden is, indeed, the man behind these terrorist attacks, otherwise Bush may be "smoking out" a pathetic figurehead, while the real mastermind will be free to act in America while we are bombing Afghanistan.
    Hopefully, not too many innocents will have to die before the United States realize that what they need is not trillions of dollars to build an anti-missile defense but more security guards and cameras to guard its territory; and, maybe, a few billion (not trillion) dollars to spend in humanitarian aid around the world, so that kids in Palestine and Sudan start dreaming of finding a good job instead of becoming suicide terrorists. (Americans bear some responsibility for all these kids left with no hope, no family and no land by Israel).
    A few hours after the fact, both the FBI and the CIA disclosed that they had "evidence" Laden's men were behing this terrorist act. Americans should ask why no evidence was available the day before to prevent the tragedy. Possibly because too much money is spent on highly-sophisticated weapons that are totally pointless in today's world while much less money spent on human intelligence would have saved thousands of lives?
    Hopefully, the CIA will also start investigating what it has always refused to investigate: the source of money that keeps Laden in business. His own wealth (if it ever existed) can hardly explain the continued war he has waged against America. Wherever his wealth is, it cannot be in a regular bank account under his name, right? Where is Laden's money? If there are no coffers, where does he get the money to finance his plans? Who is paying a salary to Laden? American officials have always hinted that countries like Iraq could be behing Laden: somehow the US thinks that it is more important to bomb Iraq (it happens almost every week) than to stop payments to Laden.
    There has been speculation that Laden is working jointly with the drug lords and that is an interesting suggestion: it would be ironic if Laden were killing Americas using the money that he makes by selling cocaine to Americans. It would be a typical strike of evil genius in Laden's style, wouldn't it?
    How many Americans are aware that America made Laden who he is now? In the 1980s, the CIA helped the Saudi and Pakistani intelligence organize an international brigade of muslim freedom fighters to expel the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia helped (respectively) with the logistics and the funding. The operation needed a leader and none of the Saudi princes was willing to lead the brigade. The closest thing to a prince that the Saudis could find was the young son of a Saudi tycoon, Osama bin Laden, who was eager to fight for Islam. Alas, the international brigade won the war and inspired the Taliban, that eventually took over Afghanistan. Thanks to the money poured into his brigade by the Americans and the Saudis, Laden quickly became the leader of an international network of muslim fighters, and that network is responsible for the vast majority of terrorist acts today in the world, from the Philipines to Algeria. Americans should realize that they created this monster.
    Americans should also reflect on the fact that so many people around the world were secretly celebrating, from Palestine to Serbia ("finally, they know how it feels"). Just bombing countries is not a solution to any problem: it tends to create a new problem, even when (Serbia) it solved the old one; and in many cases (Iraq) it did not even solve the old one. Americans should think twice about bombing Afghanistan or anywhere else: indiscriminate bombing is likely to create more hatred against America and more suicide commandos. It really depends on what your goal is: if your goal is to punish, then maybe you should bomb. But if your goal is peace and security for future generations, then bombing is likely to achieve the opposite. Make sure you know what your goal is.
    Land invasions (for the purpose of restoring freedom and justice) were not such a bad idea, after all: had America invaded Bagdad, today Iraq would probably be a US ally; had America invaded Serbia, today Serbia would not accuse Americans of being cowards; had America invaded Afghanistan, today there would have been no sanctuary for Laden to train his men; should America invade Israel and Palestine, it could enforce a sort of "pax romana". After all, western Europe (the only place that was invaded and occupied by America) is now the most peaceful region in the world. Of course, invading a country is not as easy as bombing it from a distance... it involves using soldiers, not bombers, and losing many of them in battle.
    Also, one wonders how many more innocents have to die before Americans realize that the source of all these problems with the Arab countries and fanatical muslims is Israel. It is not that Israel does not have a right to exist, but certainly America has dealt with the issue of Israel in a manner that has angered and empoverished hundreds of millions of Arabs: no wonder a few dozens of them decided to become suicide commandos and target America. It is hard to describe the mood of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have always and only lived in refugee camps. It is hard to describe the plight of the Iraqi people after America told Turkey to steal water from the Tigris and Euphrates, after America has curtailed sale of necessities to Iraq, after America has polluted the atmosphere with the cancer-causing depleted uranium of its arms. The list of grievances goes on forever. You can't kill all the Arabs all the time. You got to find a way to make those people understand the reasons of Israel and to convince them that America is a defender of every people in the world. So far, America has totally failed in this aspect. Even the most moderate Arabs believe that America is biased towards Israel. How do you expect to control hundreds of millions of people around the world who think America is biased against them? There is always going to be a terrorist cell somewhere that is plotting to kill Americans; unless you solve the problem at the source.
    One problem is that the Arab world is the only region of the world that is entirely ruled by dictators. It could be a good idea to force (as in "force") Arab countries to allow for democratic elections (no matter who wins). Right now we are making deals with dictators who do not necessarily represent the will of the people and who may even be highly unpopular.
    And Israel should be bombed into inaction: it is disgusting to watch Sharon attack Palestinian cities after the World Trade Center collapsed, taking advantage of the fact that the whole world was looking elsewhere.
    It is certainly a sad day when America is attacked like this and its president has to go into hiding. But this is only the beginning: life in the western hemisphere will never be the same again. We now know that terrible, gigantic acts of terrorism can be committed, not only because they are technically possible but because there are people willing to commit them (one wonders if even Hitler would have balked at the idea). By placing a police officer on each and every flight, we can avoid the repetition of these attacks. But we know that something worse is around the corner: Laden's organization is already planning the next one, that will be completely different (like this one was completely different from Kenya and Tanzania), and is already dreaming of, not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands of victims. He may already have the nuclear or chemical ingredients that he needs and it may just be a matter of months before we see scenes that will make these ones look trivial the way today the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania look trivial compared to ten thousand New Yorkers buried in the ruins.
    Finally, Americans should reflect on the fact that this tragedy could have been prevented. The whole world has known for years what was going on in Afghanistan. Thousands of shiites have quietly been killed, without a single American protesting. Women are treated like animals. There is absolutely no freedom and the craziest laws have been enacted. Two giant Buddha statues, one of the world's greatest monuments, have been blown up to pieces. The ruling Taliban have been helping terrorists that now operate in Algeria, Sudan, Russia, China, Philippines, Iran, besides America, with more than one hundred thousand total casualties, and Americans did not even bother to sympathize.
    Iran has stood alone against the Taliban, the only country in the world to openly threaten them and sabotage them. America, on the contrary, trained them and armed them (originally to fight communism) and, to this day, the Taliban' only friend is Pakistan, which has been America's ally ever since. Far from acknowledging that Iran was right in fighting the Taliban, America has done everything it could to classify Iran as a terrorist country, when, in fact, it was the only one to fight the very terrorism that would take the lives of 4,000 New Yorkers. People from all over the world have asked for the world powers to unite and restore order in Afghanistan. America has never listened. Russia has been hit repeatedly by fundamentalist terrorism (hundreds of people have been killed by bombs downtown Moscow without the American public paying much attention to it) and has repeatedly asked for international cooperation to fight terrorists which are, most likely, trained in Afghanistan. Last but not least, Americans have been killed in Kenya and Tanzania and Yemen, and US officials have found evidence of involvement by Laden, but America has never issued a formal request for Laden's extradition: not to Sudan, not to Afghanistan.
    Why here? Why now? There are at least three "coincidences": 1. When Bush became president, he declared he would stay out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thereby giving a "carte blanche" to Israel to kill as many Palestinians as they liked. 2. The United States has just withdrawn from the international conference on racism in South Africa in which the US refused to accept the Muslim condemnation of Israel as a racist country. 3. A suicide commando has just killed Masood, the leader of the anti-Taliban coalition. 4. And, of course, Sharon was killing Palestinians like flies. It may be that 3. was the pre-requirement for a strike against America. It certainly was another blow to the government of Afghanistan and another victory for the Taliban, but Americans could care less. It may be that 1. and 2. helped increase the level of anger and urgency in these terrorists. They caused outrage around the world but Americans could care less about one billion Muslims being outraged.
    Had America listened, had Americans read more political magazines and watched fewer talk shows about sex scandals, had American politicians helped Iran instead of bashing it day and night, had America formed a coalition with Russia against terrorism, today the World Trade Center would still be standing.
  • Osama bin Laden

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