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How the war on terror made the world a more terrifying place

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  • Zafar Khan
    How the war on terror made the world a more terrifying place New figures show dramatic rise in terror attacks worldwide since the invasion of Iraq By Kim
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2007
      How the war on terror made the world a more terrifying
      New figures show dramatic rise in terror attacks
      worldwide since the invasion of Iraq
      By Kim Sengupta and Patrick Cockburn
      Published: 28 February 2007


      Innocent people across the world are now paying the
      price of the "Iraq effect", with the loss of hundreds
      of lives directly linked to the invasion and
      occupation by American and British forces.

      An authoritative US study of terrorist attacks after
      the invasion in 2003 contradicts the repeated denials
      of George Bush and Tony Blair that the war is not to
      blame for an upsurge in fundamentalist violence
      worldwide. The research is said to be the first to
      attempt to measure the "Iraq effect" on global
      terrorism. It found that the number killed in jihadist
      attacks around the world has risen dramatically since
      the Iraq war began in March 2003. The study compared
      the period between 11 September 2001 and the invasion
      of Iraq with the period since the invasion. The count
      - excluding the Arab-Israel conflict - shows the
      number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to
      5,420. As well as strikes in Europe, attacks have also
      increased in Chechnya and Kashmir since the invasion.
      The research was carried out by the Centre on Law and
      Security at the NYU Foundation for Mother Jones

      Iraq was the catalyst for a ferocious fundamentalist
      backlash, according to the study, which says that the
      number of those killed by Islamists within Iraq rose
      from seven to 3,122. Afghanistan, invaded by US and
      British forces in direct response to the September 11
      attacks, saw a rise from very few before 2003 to 802
      since then. In the Chechen conflict, the toll rose
      from 234 to 497. In the Kashmir region, as well as
      India and Pakistan, the total rose from 182 to 489,
      and in Europe from none to 297.

      Two years after declaring "mission accomplished" in
      Iraq President Bush insisted: "If we were not fighting
      and destroying the enemy in Iraq, they would not be
      idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans
      across the world and within our borders. By fighting
      these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are
      defeating a direct threat to the American people."

      Mr Blair has also maintained that the Iraq war has not
      been responsible for Muslim fundamentalist attacks
      such as the 7/7 London bombings which killed 52
      people. "Iraq, the region and the wider world is a
      safer place without Saddam [Hussein]," Mr Blair
      declared in July 2004. Announcing the deployment of
      1,400 extra troops to Afghanistan earlier this week -
      raising the British force level in the country above
      that in Iraq - the Prime Minister steadfastly denied
      accusations by MPs that there was any link between the
      Iraq war an unravelling of security elsewhere.

      Last month John Negroponte, the Director of National
      Intelligence in Washington, said he was "not certain"
      that the Iraq war had been a recruiting factor for
      al-Qa'ida and insisted: "I wouldn't say that there has
      been a widespread growth in Islamic extremism beyond
      Iraq, I really wouldn't."

      Yet the report points out that the US administration's
      own National Intelligence Estimate on "Trends in
      Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States"
      - partially declassified last October - stated that "
      the Iraq war has become the 'cause célèbre' for
      jihadists ... and is shaping a new generation of
      terrorist leaders and operatives."

      The new study, by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank,
      argues that, on the contrary, "the Iraq conflict has
      greatly increased the spread of al-Qa'ida ideological
      virus, as shown by a rising number of terrorist
      attacks in the past three years from London to Kabul,
      and from Madrid to the Red Sea.

      "Our study shows that the Iraq war has generated a
      stunning increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist
      attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional
      terrorist attacks and civilian lives lost. Even when
      terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal
      attacks in the rest of the world have increased by
      more than one third."

      In trying to gauge the "Iraq effect", the authors had
      focused on the rate of terrorist attacks in two
      periods - from September 2001 to 30 March 2003 (the
      day of the Iraq invasion) and 21 March 2003 to 30
      September 2006. The research has been based on the
      MIPT-RAND Terrorism database.

      The report's assertion that the Iraq invasion has had
      a far greater impact in radicalising Muslims is widely
      backed security personnel in the UK. Senior
      anti-terrorist officials told The Independent that the
      attack on Iraq, and the now-discredited claims by the
      US and British governments about Saddam Hussein's
      weapons of mass destruction, had led to far more young
      Muslims engaging in extremist activity than the
      invasion of Afghanistan two years previously.

      Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of the Secret
      Service (MI5) said recently: "In Iraq attacks are
      regularly videoed and the footage is downloaded into
      the internet.

      "Chillingly, we see the results here. Young teenagers
      are being groomed to be suicide bombers. The threat is
      serious, is growing and will, I believe, be with us
      for a generation."

      In Afghanistan the most active of the Taliban
      commanders, Mullah Dadullah, acknowledged how the Iraq
      war has influenced the struggle in Afghanistan.

      "We give and take with the mujahedin in Afghanistan",
      he said. The most striking example of this has been
      the dramatic rise in suicide bombings in Afghanistan,
      a phenomenon not seen through the 10 years of war with
      the Russians in the 1980s.

      The effect of Iraq on various jihadist conflicts has
      been influenced according to a number of factors, said
      the report. Countries with troops in Iraq,
      geographical proximity to the country, the empathy
      felt for the Iraqis and the exchange of information
      between Islamist groups. "This may explain why
      jihadist groups in Europe, Arab countries, and
      Afghanistan were more affected by the Iraq war than
      other regions", it said.

      Russia, like the US, has used the language of the "war
      on terror" in its actions in Chechnya, and al-Qa'ida
      and their associates have entrenched themselves in the
      border areas of Pakistan from where they have mounted
      attacks in Kashmir, Pakistan and India.

      Statistics for the Arab-Israel conflict also show an
      increase, but the methodology is disputed in the case
      of Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories and
      settler attacks on Palestinians.

      * The US is joining the Iraqi government in a
      diplomatic initiative inviting Iran and Syria to a
      "neighbours meeting" on stabilising Iraq, the
      Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.
      The move reflects a change of approach by the Bush
      administration, which previously had resisted calls to
      include Iran and Syria in such talks.

      A nightmare without end

      Shahajan Janjua's story is a glimpse of what the war
      on terror means for young British Asian men

      Victoria Brittain
      Thursday March 1, 2007
      The Guardian


      How does a young man from west London find himself
      landed in a Kenyan police station, hanging from his
      wrists, his feet tied to buckets of freezing water?
      How does he find himself, soon after, being dined by
      MI5 officers at a Nairobi hotel one moment, then
      imprisoned underground in the desert the next?

      The story of Shahajan Janjua, a British Asian, is a
      little window into the "war on terror". As with the
      cases of the three young men from Tipton who ended up
      in Guantánamo Bay, MI5 officials in this case showed
      themselves apparently incapable of making a judgment
      of young British Asian men's likely links to
      terrorism. So, another has come back from an innocent
      overseas trip traumatised. Would it have happened if
      he had been white and middle-class?

      The backstory is to be found across Kenya's eastern
      border, in Somalia. That country's state weakness,
      acute poverty, and strategic position on the Red Sea
      made it a handy client for both sides in the cold war.
      In 1993, 18 US soldiers were killed there in an
      ill-advised UN mission. Subsequent years of warlordism
      and state collapse were ignored abroad. Then, last
      year, came six months of peace under the Union of
      Islamic Courts. The US responded recklessly,
      instigating - and aiding with spy satellites and a
      special operations unit - an Ethiopian attack that
      involved airpower and 15,000 troops. The Islamic
      government was brought down in days. Needless to say,
      it was all cast as a war against terrorism.

      On Christmas Day, Janjua was in Mogadishu for the
      wedding of a childhood friend to a Somali woman. He
      was the only guest from London. Janjua, a young man
      who had put a troubled inner-city past behind him,
      planned to leave the country on December 31, stopping
      over in Dubai to see friends before returning to
      London to celebrate his 22nd birthday in January.

      But he fainted at the wedding on Christmas Day, and
      was admitted to hospital with malaria. Mogadishu was
      under bombardment, and his passport was stolen. Within
      days he was taken from the hospital, still linked to
      his drip, and put in a van with cans of tuna, a
      gravely wounded Zimbabwean on a stretcher, another
      wounded Somali, and foreign fighters. It was a grim
      two-day trip to the southern port city of Kismayo,
      where the Islamic Courts were still in control and the
      streets seethed with men carrying AK-47s.

      When Janjua was offered the chance to head for the
      Kenyan border, he leapt at it, desperate as he was to
      find a British consulate. Still weak from malaria, he
      was put in one of two crowded vans along with the two
      wounded men.

      The border was closed and they split into three groups
      to walk. As an argument broke out about carrying the
      stretcher case, the Zimbabwean took a direct hit from
      Ethiopian troops. Janjua saw a Tunisian and Swede
      dead, too. Everyone ran. Janjua's group of 13 then
      began a two-week walk with no food and only muddy
      water to drink. After two days, during which time he
      heard them speak nothing but Arabic, he discovered
      that three were British.

      They were arrested by the Kenyan military after
      villagers turned them in. Janjua was smashed in the
      face with a rifle and his nose fractured. In police
      cells in Nairobi those in authority assaulted and
      interrogated him. Next he was taken to expensive
      hotels and quizzed by six different British MI5
      officials. They showed him pictures of British men he
      mostly did not recognise, and asked him repeatedly:
      "Who sent you? Who funded you? Who are your friends?
      Which mosque did you go to?"

      His lucky break came when he persuaded a Kenyan
      policewoman to lend him her phone and alerted lawyers
      in London. Kenyan lawyers then tried to visit the
      prison, but were not allowed in. MI5 had ample time to
      confirm his account of his visit to Somalia, but on
      February 2, police in London were telling his family
      that he had been caught on the Kenyan/Somali border
      with guns.

      Janjua and three other British men were flown back to
      Somalia and held for three days in an underground
      desert cell. Then he was flown back to Kenya, and on
      to London, where he was questioned by police, but not
      charged. It should all be over, but he has nightmares
      and headaches, and is haunted by the men he left in
      Kenyan or Somali jails. He, and they, are yet more
      casualties in a mindless, misbegotten "war on terror"
      which the US and Britain cannot win militarily.

      · Victoria Brittain is the co-author, with Moazzam
      Begg, of Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey
      to Guantánamo and Back.

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