As we approach the one year anniversary that marks the horrific attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, the only attack ever on American soil, that left 2700 people dead, countless injured, trillions of dollars in property damages and a nation in disarray and unbelief, our thoughts turn to what we have accomplished to bring justice and healing to the families of victims and to the soul of America.
A great deal has been accomplished to destroy the very fabric of the US constitution and the rights of its citizens, the lives and honor of the people of Afghanistan, the stability of the international community and to create a growing fear of this conflict escalating. From the time George Bush vowed to avenge the 911 events and rid the world forever of this “evil”, it appears he has managed to increase the anxiety of America’s citizens and failed the families of the 911 victims miserably.
Not all has been lost however, the Bush administration has managed to make crystal clear to the entire world that this war is a war against Islam, and that they have used and continue to use Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida network as the reason for everything from secret governments and locking up whoever they please without recourse to invading Iraq. It is now clear to almost everyone that this war is all about the balance of power in the Middle East and it?s a fraud.
Within 48 hours of the attacks, Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida network were named as the perpetrators of the 911 attacks and within three weeks, the US and the international coalition it assembled to rid the world of “terrorism” began raining daisy cutters and cluster bombs, in other words, weapons of mass destruction, on one of the poorest, most stricken nations in the world. Afghanistan, an Islamic country under the leadership of Mullah Omar was not in any way involved in the September 11th attack. The Taliban issued an official statement on the same day condemning the operation, however, they were quickly targeted as accomplices under George Bush?s “you are either with us or against us” ultimatum when they failed to hand Osama Bin Laden over to the United States, as their law prohibited.
America has continued over the past 11 months to terrorize the Afghani people, having run out of dubious “military” targets and destroying mud houses, hospitals, Red Cross warehouses, vehicles carrying refugees and even wedding parties. Professor Marc W. Herold, Ph.D., M.B.A., B.Sc. a professor at the University of New Hampshire documented 3,767 deaths from the beginning of the war in October, 2001 until December 6, 2001. The deaths averaged out to 62 civilians a day and even if we use only half that conservatively, the loss of Afghan life is more than three times that of the WTC attacks today. The problem is ? no one?s counting. Just like no one counted the Taliban and Al-Qaida who surrendered to US and Coalition forces and have now turned up in mass graves inside Afghanistan after they were suffocated to death inside military containers without air holes. Is American blood worth more or are we just “more equal” than people of other nations?
We all know that this was just the beginning. The Bush administration is terrorizing its own people, albeit Muslims whose blood is considered cheap. The Patriots Act was rushed through American congress in a blur (most congressmen hadn?t even received the full version of the document prior to voting) and gave President Bush unlimited power to conduct this war on Islam without question. American Muslim businesses and charities were raided without proof of wrongdoing and thousands of Muslims living in the US were rounded up and locked away without charges or recourse.
In Afghanistan, those Muslims that Coalition forces could get their hands on were rounded up and shipped to Camp X-Ray, a detention centre that can only be described as inhumane and illegal, where “detainees” are held without any charges and that operates outside the boundaries of the Geneva convention or any other law for that matter. One year later, the facilities have been expanded and new “detainees” continue to arrive at this point of no return, which now holds 656 “illegal combatants”.
American prisons inside Afghanistan house thousands more prisoners in appalling conditions, bringing wrath from human rights organizations who, with nothing other than vocal chords have tried to assist these detainees, none of who are Al-Qaida leaders but rather the majority of them were either working for a charity organization in Afghanistan, Pakistan or were doing business in Pakistan. And of course this war on “terrorism” gave new license to Ariel Sharon?s massacre of Palestinians and many other oppressive regimes that saw an opportunity to ride on the coat tails of American “Justice”. Now Iraq and the “axis of evil”, as well as long time ally Saudi Arabia appear next on the list of US invasions.
It doesn?t end there. America?s resulting Department of Homeland Security has managed to continue scaring Americans, issuing warning after warning of new attacks that have failed to develop; while individual freedoms are being severely restricted, pretty much without opposition, and entirely without checks and balances to ensure individual rights are maintained. American media has been the weapon of choice for Washington?s power hungry clique to rally the masses to war ? a war America is now waging against most of the Islamic Arab world.
But hold it here ? is all of this to bring one man, Osama Bin Laden, the accused perpetrator of 911, to justice? Have we forgotten the objectives of this war? And more importantly, is Osama Bin Laden actually guilty of these attacks?
It is now common knowledge that the British, French and Indian media revealed US officials threatened war against Afghanistan during the summer of 2001. These reports included the prediction, in July 2001, that “if the military action went ahead, it would take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” The Bush administration began its bombing strikes on the hapless, poverty-stricken country of Afghanistan October 7, 2001 and ground attacks by US Special Forces began October 19, 2001. Prior to September 11, the Bush Administration was negotiating with the Taliban about a pipeline desired by a U.S.-led energy consortium that would cross through Afghanistan. When the Taliban balked, the U.S. negotiators told them they either could accept a “carpet of gold” or face a “carpet of bombs.”
It is not an accident that these revelations have appeared in overseas media, rather than in the US press. The ruling classes in these countries have their own economic and political interests to look after, which do not coincide, and in some cases directly clash, with the drive by the American ruling elite to seize control of the oil-rich territory in Central Asia. America is a self-absorbed nation, with a Jewish-controlled media that offers little international news coverage and carefully shapes the coverage it does provide. It?s little wonder most Americans think Israelis are the target of terrorist attacks rather than understanding it is the Palestinians who are being terrorized, having been expelled from thier homeland, and who continue to suffer on a daily basis.
From the beginning of the “war on terrorism” the American media has conducted a systematic cover-up of the real economic and strategic interests that underlie the invasion of Afghanistan in order to sustain the pretense that the war emerged overnight, full-blown, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. And the biggest of these cover-ups is the guilt of Osama Bin Laden.
Within hours of the attacks, before a single body had even been recovered, fingers began pointing to Sheikh Osama Bin Laden. Isn’t it interesting that the very same people who have failed so catastrophically to prevent such a major attack “knew” within hours who was responsible and who to blame. Instead of starting a responsible investigation based on this breach of American security, the spotlight was then directed to one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan, and in the days that followed, Osama bin Laden was no longer a suspect but the accused, with no other suspects even investigated. With America?s fevered pitch and typical rush to judgment, Osama bin Laden had been tried and sentenced in the court of American public opinion, by Christians and Jews, Muslims and atheists alike, without a single shred of evidence. No wonder orders are to kill Bin Laden on sight ? where is the evidence to indict him?
On September 23, 2001, just one day after Secretary of State Colin Powell said on NBC?s “Meet the Press” that the government would soon “put out a paper … that will describe clearly the evidence that we have linking Bin Laden to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon”. Powell was responding to pressure on the US from governments in the Middle East, as well as some of Washington?s NATO allies, who were demanding something more than bold assertions that Bin Laden and his Afghan protectors were guilty of the attacks on New York and Washington before fully committing themselves to support American military strikes.
The day after Powell?s statement, banner headlines appeared in newspapers across the United States announcing the imminent report on Bin Laden?s guilt. A front-page article in Monday?s New York Times cited statements by government officials that the evidence “reaches from the southern tip of Manhattan to the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan.” But by Monday afternoon, the Bush administration was backtracking on making any public presentation of evidence. Ari Fleischer, Bush?s Press Secretary, said there were no plans to produce a report and that Powell?s remarks had been misinterpreted. Consistent with the media?s shameless promotion of the government?s war drive, by the following Tuesday virtually all mention of the promised “white paper” had disappeared from the media and we haven?t seen it yet. Can anyone seriously believe that if the administration had evidence directly tying Bin Laden and his organization to the September 11 attacks, they would not rush to make it public?
And then there was Prime Minister Tony Blair?s “mountain of evidence” and his document which he so faithfully promised to the British House on September 17th, 2002. Amounting to a hill of beans rather than a mountain of evidence, the document when it was finally released after the invasion of Afghanistan had already begun, opens with this statement:
“This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama bin Laden in a court of law. Intelligence often cannot be used evidentially, due both to the strict rules of admissibility and to the need to protect the safety of sources. But on the basis of all the information available HMG is confident of its conclusions as expressed in this document.” We are pleased that Tony Blair was “confident” but if as he says, we can?t make a case against Bin Laden ? why are we bombing Afghanistan to this day, locking up anyone America deems an Al-Qaida operative, without proof or trial, and now setting our sights on the next oil-rich country we want to control?
The document goes on to raise nothing more than the fact that bin laden and Al-Qaida were capable of the attacks ? a fact long disputed by the Muslim community. Most Muslims, particularly in the Middle East do not believe Bin Laden had the resources to commit these acts. Think about it. Four planes hijacked on American soil attacking various targets within minutes of each other is one sophisticated operation that could only have been organized with high-level knowledge of explosives, aircraft, flight patterns and national security procedures.
Training on a simulator one day and executing these precision maneuvers the next is frankly impossible. Interestingly enough, now that Tony Blair?s hands are being tied against the invasion of Iraq, CNN has managed to “discover” tapes that they say prove Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida have conducted chemical weapons tests and that they possess this capability. Out of the few snippets shown to North America and without these tapes even being turned over to the CIA, the White House has taken another giant stretch to say that Al-Qaida is testing chemical weapons inside Iraq. And where is the proof of this? CNN?
And of course there is the matter of the four hijackers who turned out to be alive. BBC reported on September 23, 2001 that Saudi Arabian pilot Waleed Al Shehri was one of five men that the FBI said had deliberately crashed American Airlines flight 11 into the World Trade Centre. His photograph was released, and appeared in newspapers and on television around the world. From Casablanca, Morocco, he told journalists there that he had nothing to do with the attacks on New York and Washington and had left the US a year earlier.
Abdulaziz Al Omari, another of the Flight 11 hijack suspects, an engineer with Saudi Telecom, had lost his passport while in Denver and Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, a London-based Arabic daily, interviewed Saeed Alghamdi, listed by the FBI as a hijacker in the United Airlines flight that crashed in Pennsylvania while Khalid Al Midhar, also turned out to be alive. Shortly after these reports, FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged that the identity of several of the suicide hijackers were in doubt. And let?s not forget Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen, currently the only man on trial in the government?s case, who was incarcerated at the time of the attacks. Moussaoui faces the death penalty for an act he obviously could not have committed.
While much of this information was being withheld from a nervous American public, and after two months of bombing having devastated thousands of lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan and more campaigns underway, the Bush administration came under scrutiny by some Allies who wanted to know where the investigation was really leading. And as if by magic, the “smoking gun” tape appeared, a most damning and callous account of the planning of 911 by Bin Laden, personally bragging and laughing at the outcome.
Too bad the person on the tape isn?t Osama bin Laden, who would have had to have gained and lost a good 50lbs between his October and November video addresses, as well as undergone facial surgery which wouldn?t have begun to heal within that time frame. The “smoking gun” tape got nothing more than a giggle from the Arab world, while some of the western public, hungry for atonement saw undeniable proof that Osama bin Laden was guilty. That was until the FBI failed to make the supposedly original Arabic tape available to international governments and questions began to arise close to home about its authenticity. The “smoking gun” fizzled quickly but still we kept on bombing Afghanistan.
And of course, Osama bin Laden stated himself, on September 14th, 2002, that he was not responsible for these attacks. It?s well known that Bin Laden is no friend of the United States of America, having declared war against it in 1996 and again in 1998, as it seems no one heard him the first time. He and his Al-Qaida network have claimed responsibility for several operations, including the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the USS Cole. Had he personally directed such a “spectacular” operation of this magnitude, I suspect he would have readily claimed responsibility for it. Instead he issued this statement on September 14th, 2001:
“After the recent attacks on the United States of America, its leaders have indicted us and accused us for standing behind these events. We are accustomed to America?s accusations as we are blamed on every occasion, even though America has many enemies. On this occasion, I confirm that I did not do this action that appears to have been done for personal motives of America. I reside in the Islamic princedom of Afghanistan and have sworn allegiance to the Prince of Believers, Mullah Omar, to obey all the laws in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar does not permit these kinds of actions from Afghanistan.”
And “it appears to have been done for personal motives of America” seems to have new meaning a year later and that leads us to the core of this matter. How is it that we can enact a full scale war against a country and devastate a population of Muslims, citizens with the same right to life as Americans, who had nothing whatsoever to do with these attacks and at the same time blame someone who was not in the country nor on any of the planes, who denies his participation and who we have no substantiated evidence against?
If we follow this same logic for Gary Condit, the US congressman who was tried and found guilty by the American press of murdering Chandra Levy, then we would be bombing the Whitehouse and offering bounties dead or alive for the head of George Bush, who is ultimately responsible for this “network”. Of course this is absurd, as is the implication of Bin Laden on the basis that all Islamic Mujahideen or “holy warriors” as they are often incorrectly referred to, are under his control.
Sheikh Osama bin Laden is a catalyst for change in the Muslim Ummah, or community. He has abandoned an easy life, the son of one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia, for a mission to awaken the worldwide Muslim community to resist the aggression, iniquity and injustice that the people of Islam, in Palestine, Iraq, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, Philippine, Afghanistan and almost every Islamic nation in the world that suffer as the result of corrupt regimes, and Israeli and American imperialism. This imperialism couldn?t be more substantiated than by the current US aggression against Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Iran. Osama bin Laden is a figurehead for the end of Muslim oppression, with millions of supporters throughout the Islamic world. As such, he is valuable to the Muslim Ummah and equally protected. The notion that he would carry out operations defies logic as he is much too valuable in encouraging Muslims to Jihad to be risked in this capacity.
If we take a closer look at how Al-Qaida is structured and how it operates, we see that Al-Qaida is entirely cellular in nature. Bin Laden provides the infrastructure including leadership and military training, and this infrastructure is used by independent Islamic resistance groups as a foundation to carry out specific operations the group is involved in.
As Bin Laden has said over and over again in statements he has issued, the resistance movement is not based on one man, Osama bin Laden, but hundreds and possibly thousands of Islamic resistance groups that exist throughout the world who have emerged to defend Muslim lands against the corrupt western-backed regimes in their countries. Contrary to popular belief, Al-Qaida is a loosely-knit organization with approximately 600 leaders that provide resources to these Islamic resistance groups who are actively involved in resisting American and Israeli control of their land, resources and their oil. And it is their oil.
In 1996 Osama bin Laden declared war against America in response to the continuing incursion of Palestinian land and the US military occupation of the Arabian Peninsula and the land of the Muslims’ most Holy Places. This defensive action took shape in the form of attacks against military installations and US embassies around the world. Unlike the Bush Administration who had yet to issue a declaration of war against Afghanistan, Iraq or any other country it is currently invading, Bin Laden did declare war however it was simply brushed off as extremism and was not taken seriously by the world?s leaders, let alone America or Israel.
Since 911, Bin Laden has made several statements by video tape in October, November, December 2001 and February 2002 calling the attacks of September 11th “blessed” attacks. This has some envisioning that this is an admission of guilt. On the contrary, he has stated very clearly that, for the first time, America has experienced what Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan have experienced for years as the direct result of American Foreign policy and that this should be a wake up call to America. Many have that same thinking ? does this make all these people guilty of the 911 attacks?
In recent statements issued by Abu Ghaith, unofficial spokesman for Al-Qaida and Al-Iraqi, a senior military commander leading Arab-Afghan Mujahideen against the US coalition inside Afghanistan, both have referred to the term “brothers” and “Mujahideen” as those carrying out the 911 attacks. This has created more finger-pointing from those who don?t understand the vast nature of these terms. Any male Muslim is referred to as a “brother” and with a billion Muslims worldwide; there is a great number of “brothers”. Furthermore, any Muslim who participates in Jihad or resistance in the cause of Allah is a Mujahideen ? again a vast number of these individuals exist.
It is very easy to see how this war is considered a war against Islam. If being a Brother or Mujahideen means responsibility for the attacks against America, is it any wonder? To compound this fact even further, the families of 911 have now sued Bin Laden?s family business, members of the Saudi Royal family, a host of Muslims charities and businesses who were clearly not involved in these events either. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that not only is this a war against Muslims but also Arabs ? and between the two, that is the entire Middle East, the last frontier for American globalization.
Osama bin Laden clearly did not fly a plane into the World Trade Center, nor the Pentagon and it would have been impossible to coordinate these attacks from any place other than US soil, so if he is not guilty, why have we not heard from him? On any given day in the mainstream press he is either dead, suffering from kidney disease, recovering from gun shot wounds or on the run, however if we stop and think a little, we see that bin Laden is waging the best defense with the very best weapon. It seems to me that Osama bin laden is doing exactly the right thing ? nothing.
Need we forget that there is a world wide manhunt on to locate this man? We have spent millions and millions of dollars paying informants and interrogating Afghans, Taliban, Mujahideen and even our own citizens. I suspect he needs to be a bit careful. And when he does appear, as he did on the Unseen Tape* that was quickly discounted and never aired to the public, if it doesn?t suit the US war objectives, it?s simply not acknowledged.
In the meantime, the U.S. government seems to be drilling itself into a deeper and deeper hole. There are heated debates over new invasions, any concern for fiscal responsibility has gone out the window; Bush Power is being wielded everywhere, civil liberties are being put in peril, the American economy is on a serious downward spiral and every other concern we have like education for our children has been shoved to the back burner.
And what has all this cost Osama bin Laden? Nothing. Not a single bullet, not a stick of TNT. Nearly a year ago some men hijacked four airplanes, crashing them and died with their victims. These men were the perpetrators. Since then, nothing has happened. While we have gone to war in Afghanistan, made an even bigger mess of the foreign policy that had earned us so many enemies to begin with, greatly alarmed our traditional allies and, frankly, conducted ourselves in pathetic and disgraceful ways, Osama bin Laden has done nothing.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose sees visions of evil Muslims floating in his head and a terrorist under every bed, seems to have lost all common sense. And it seems as if President Bush is ready to declare war on the rest of the world, and even now he wants to convert the military into a domestic police force, as well as set up civilian vigilante and block spy committees. Does anyone else think we might have overreacted?
It was traumatic for civilians to watch 3,500 people die in living television color ? over and over and over, thanks to videotape. But we Americans, ourselves, have killed a hell of a lot more than 3,500 people ? and, for that matter, lost many more people in Vietnam, for instance. The difference is that killing and dying “over there” has usually been off camera and that doesn?t have the same impact as it does on our own soil with round-the-clock TV coverage. And this war is still off camera ? thanks to the censorship of American media. We’ve caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. Every month 5000 children die in Iraq due to the sanctions according to WHO and UNICEF - imagine having 911 every two weeks only with children in these towers! If such an event happened here, with our TV coverage, the whole country would suffer a national nervous breakdown. And that means we?re vulnerable.
There is no question that this was a horrific and horrible event. But so is the suffering of the Palestinians at the hands of American-backed Israelis and the sanctions that starve children in Iraq and the list goes on and on. These are all horrific events that root in our greed for more and more resources to sustain our economic superiority. Unlike Robin Hood, we are stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. And we are paying for it in human life - both theirs and ours.
If we could give one thing to the families of 911 that would heal their loss it would be closure. Those who are responsible for these attacks are dead and gone. Those affiliated with these acts we are aren?t even looking for. We have used 911 to justify an invasion we already planned because we just have to have it our way. By continuing to shift blame to Osama bin Laden, who clearly is not guilty, to blame Muslims and Arabs as a whole, we are placing an even more dangerous weapon in the hands of a White House already out of control and that weapon is the fuel of hate that will bring with it more violence, more deaths and more consequences. We must act to find those who help plan these attacks and bring them to justice in a civilized manner and we need to start looking on our own soil. This is the dignity we need to show to those who continue to suffer from this tragedy.