The USA recently observed the 18th anniversary of 9/11. The attacks on the soil of the USA was committed not by a hostile state but reportedly by non-state Muslim zealots that were affiliated with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda. Nearly 3,000 individuals of all faiths died in the attacks.
Since the militant group was based in Afghanistan, the mineral rich country was attacked on October 7, 2001 as a retaliation by President George W. Bush. The Taliban regime of Mullah Omar was soon toppled with massive bombing campaigns from the joint Anglo-American forces. Nearly a quarter million innocent Afghan civilians who had no connection with 9/11 were pulverized in the USA-led barbarity.
Next, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had no connection with 9/11, was invaded. President Bush gave a new meaning to the word - savagery. Truly, never before had humanity seen so much brutality and plundering, especially in the post-World War II era by a government that touted itself as the model of civility and greatness. Probably, a million Iraqi civilians were butchered by Bush and his forces. [Note: Some reliable estimates like the Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted 12–19 August 2007 estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths. In the last 12 years, the casualty figures have grown higher.] The Ba’athist regime in Iraq (like the Taliban in Afghanistan) was promptly replaced by a puppet government.
Saddam Hussein was hanged in Iraq. OBL was killed in May 2011 in a raid inside Pakistan. And Mullah Omar reportedly died a natural death inside Afghanistan. Hostile regimes were replaced by friendlier ones to the USA but the elusive peace and security, let alone democracy, never set in. And as it appears, such goals were not even planned or intended by the US-led invaders. Out of all the chaos which have set in, deadlier foes than al Qaeda have emerged posing greater threat to the security not only to the entire region, but even to the West.
A resurgent Taliban continues to challenge the authority of the elected government in Afghanistan where the latter’s controls are mostly limited during the daytime; a quarter of Afghanistan remains a contested territory. A small contingent of American forces continue to provide air support and train Afghan government forces in what has become America’s longest war.
With its uncanny capacity to attract and recruit vulnerable youths worldwide to unleash terrors (e.g., in places like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and temporary success inside Iraq and Syria to hold on to and fight tooth and nail for conquered territories, Daesh (ISIS) with its highly flawed neo-Kharijite tendencies remains a global threat anywhere despite its defeat in the Levant.
The Arab spring blossomed and withered; the desire for a people’s participatory democracy has been ruthlessly subdued in all but Tunisia, and perhaps Sudan that now has a provisional government preparing the ground for democracy. Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian butcher, has been able to solidify his power through mass killings and destroying most of the country. With the on-going civil wars, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen have become failed states. Thousands of political dissidents have been executed while tens of thousands continue to rot in Sisi’s notorious prisons. Denied any medical care, Dr. Morsi, Egypt’s first and only democratically elected president, recently died inside the court room, which has been described by many observers including the Turkish President Erdogan, as a deliberate murder. Tens of thousands of unarmed civilians continue to die in US drone attacks in places like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The non-state terrorist outfits like the Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army continue to terrorize civilians and government alike in sub-Sahara.
The American-led wars – or perhaps more properly the 21st century neo-crusades – have uprooted 21 million Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani and Syrian people who are now refugees of war or internally displaced. Millions of them have found shelters in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon; a very small number of these refugees have also found asylum in Europe, the USA, and Canada.
Immigration issue has dominated the politics of many countries, emboldening and/or electing the far right supremacists to even catapult some of them to the citadel of power. Sadly, exclusion and not inclusion, intolerance and not tolerance, chauvinism and not diversity have become the new norms in many countries with sizable minorities – legal or illegal.
Ordinary Muslims are the worst victims of this new ‘world disorder’. They are often the targets of hate crimes and persecution under supremacist regimes who continue to exploit 9/11 to terrorize them. As a matter of fact, 9/11 has allowed anti-Muslim forces of all shades of color and creed to form a Kabilite alliance whose aim remains smearing Islam and defeating Muslims everywhere, while the OIC remains emasculated and the Arab League remains dysfunctional.
India has morphed into an anti-Muslim, intolerant county under prime minister Narendra Modi of the BJP, who was re-elected with a landslide victory. It did not matter an iota to the Hindutvadi voters that as the chief minister of Gujarat, he was complicit with the murder of thousands of Muslims and that under his watch lynching of Muslims who are falsely portrayed as ‘invaders’ or outsiders has become a daily phenomenon. He has recently annexed the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir. Millions of Assamese Muslims have lately been robbed of their Indian citizenship and face an unknown future, much like the uprooted Rohingyas of Myanmar. Under the BJP rule, history is distorted, and Muslim-sounding names of cities, towns and villages are now Hinduized to delink Muslims to the territory in which they and their forefathers were born.
The indigenous Rohingyas of the Arakan (renamed Rakhine) state of Myanmar (formerly Burma) have faced genocide in Buddhist Myanmar. As part of a very sinister eliminationist national project, tens of thousands of Rohingyas have been killed and raped in 2017; nearly a million Rohingyas have been forced to take shelter inside Bangladesh where they face an uncertain future with scant chance of ever returning to their ancestral land with dignity and citizenship restored.
Under the pretext of curbing potential terrorist threats, millions of Uyghur Muslims – already marginalized and deprived – are detained in the largest concentration/internment (dubbed disingenuously as re-education) camps in Xinjiang (formerly East Turkestan). Their academics and community leaders are arrested, tortured and face execution in Xi’s authoritarian regime, which is guilty of cultural genocide and Hanification of the PRC (let alone in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region – the historic home of the Uyghur people) to the perils of tens of millions of Muslims there.
Thanks to the power of the Israel-Lobby and colossal betrayal from the Arab leaders/monarchs, the Palestinian issue – that allegedly triggered 9/11 – no longer dominates news headlines. The latter have all but swallowed the Zionist narrative and abandoned their role as champions for an equitable solution to the decades-old problem. With the illegal, incessant annexation of the West Bank territories and Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, all the hopes for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem are fading fast. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on September 10, 2019 that he planned to annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the occupied West Bank, if he wins a closely contested election. As we have seen with India’s annexation of Kashmir, which has been overlooked as an ‘internal’ affair, we may not hear much hullaballoo about this latest move either, if it were to materialize.
The biggest winner from the 9/11 tragedy has been the settler state of Israel. With her mafia-like untouchable status rewarded and the massive failure of the world community to punish her for war crimes in Gaza, plus Arab disunity at an all-time high, with her foes Iraq and Syria decimated, and Iran isolated and denied rights to nuclear power, not-so-covert ties established with some Gulf states, while her capital city in the occupied Jerusalem is declared kosher by the Trump administration, and ‘game theory’ strategists’ meticulously designed plan towards setting the stage for asymmetric power dynamic, Israel is steadily capturing the center stage for global dominance.
Suffice it to say that Muslims are the biggest losers from 9/11. They are divided and weak. Worse still, ruled mostly by authoritarian leaders/rulers who fear no accountability for their criminal actions, they are betrayed by their own kind!
At home, the U.S. war in Afghanistan has led to the deaths of about 2,400 American service members, including 16 in combat action this year. Some 20,000 more have been wounded, many grievously. Data provided by the Pentagon shows that more than 775,000 U.S. service members have been deployed to Afghanistan at least once.
As of June 29, 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Defense casualty website, there were 4,424 total deaths (including both killed in action and non-hostile) and 31,952 wounded in action (WIA) as a result of the Iraq War.
As to the cost of the war, President Donald Trump said that US spent $7 Trillion on Middle East Wars (i.e., the so-called global war on terror). Interest costs would add another $8 trillion in the next four decades. Realizing that Bush-Cheyney-Rumsfeld’s wars, which according to warmongers were supposed to be quick, cheap, effective, and beneficial to the U.S. interest, have proven to be pyrrhic. Trump wants America to ‘get the hell out’ of Afghanistan.
He has done a great favor to humanity by firing his hawkish National Security Advisor, John Bolton – an architect behind the Iraqi invasion, who remains an unapologetic and unabashed drum-beater for the War Party and the ‘Amen Corner’ in the Capitol Hill. Bolton wanted America to go to war against Iran to help the Zionist cause. Experts have warned that the Iraq war would be child’s play compared to a war against Iran, who will put up a fight, far worse than all of the wars in the Middle East since 1948 combined. Much of the Middle East will be in flames. American casualties will be many times that of the Iraq war.
These days, political news about Trump’s tweets and debates of the Democratic hopefuls for the presidential nomination dominate the headlines. Even the news of the trial date for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and his cohorts did not make any headline. It is set for January 11, 2021. Most observers like Kelley Beaucar Vlahos don’t think it’ll happen, not in January 2021 or ever. Why? Torture - like waterboarding, sensory/sleep-deprivation, beatings, electric shocks and more.
According to Vlahos, “The U.S. military and the CIA took KSM and other high-level detainees who later spent time at the infamous GTMO off the battlefield and into “black” interrogation sites that most Americans would rather forget ever existed… They tortured these individuals for information before bringing them to GTMO and then tortured them some more. The reason why KSM and his four cohorts have not gone to trial yet is because there is a dispute over whether their confessions are admissible because they were gleaned through torture sessions in CIA prisons. By law any evidence obtained under these conditions is inadmissible.”
Many of the detainees at Guantanamo at its peak were low level Taliban fighters, Al Qaeda lackeys, or worse, they were innocent souls who were at the wrong place at the right time. Many were turned in for money or revenge. Most of those men have long been repatriated. As of 2018, 40 detainees remain.
With the death of OBL, KSM remains the highest-level 9/11 suspect alive. When he was captured in Pakistan in 2003, he was taken to different black sites for months and subjected to the CIA extreme interrogation techniques that the Bush Administration had approved early in the war. He was reportedly waterboarded 183 times.
Guantanamo Bay detention center, thanks to Bush Jr. Administration, will continue to stain America’s image as a nation that endorsed torture.
While Trump’s America appears more divided than ever before with white supremacist terrorism becoming the new norms, there is some silver lining in the post-9/11 era. Two Muslim women – first in the US history – now serve as congresswomen. They are not afraid to speak truth to power. They have been able to shake the establishment – the White House and unmask many of the closet fascists and robots at the service of the War Party.
Who knows one day America will self-correct itself and evolve into a more inclusive society that cares for all!
Let me close this essay with a short story that I heard from a shaykh.
There was a king who had a very wise man as his most trusted minister. The minister had a positive attitude on everything – believing that there is always something better (khayr) at the end of all troubles that we go through.
One day the king lost his finger in an accident, which made him very sad. When he complained to his minister the latter advised the king to be patient and told him that ‘maybe there is some khayr in this trouble that you faced; be patient.’ The king was very irritated by the comment of his minister and put him into prison. When the minister was led to the prison, he said, ‘May be there is some good that is in store for me.’
Within few days, the king, accompanied by his retinue, went on a hunting trip. In the thick of the forest, he got separated from his guards and others that accompanied him. He soon found him surrounded by a group of bandits who were mushriqs (idolaters). They were into human sacrifice that required them to slaughter a perfect human being without any physical imperfection in front of their idol. The captured king was brought to the slaughter place for their ritual slaughter. But when they noticed that the king was missing a finger, deemed thus physically imperfect, they set him free. The king found his way back to his castle and pondered about what had just happened. Had he not lost the finger, he would have been slaughtered by the idolaters. Thanks Allah that he lost that finger, thus enabling him to escape from death in the hands of the idolaters. He quickly remembered the wise sayings of his trusted minister. He was repentant and released him from prison. He then asked his minister, “I can surely understand the wisdom in your saying about my lost finger. But I don’t understand why you said that it was good for you when you were imprisoned?”
The wise minister said, “O king! If I were not put in the prison, I would have been with you in your hunting trip and would have been captured with you. Seeing that you are physically imperfect those bandits would have slaughtered me instead. That is why my imprisonment, which appeared to be apparently bad was, in reality, a very good thing for me, as it was for you when you had lost your finger. Allah had a better plan for both of us! Thanks to Allah for saving us both.”
It is difficult to see the future in the midst of immediate troubles that we often face. But we should never lose hope in Allah that He has stored something better for us. As we face troubles in our world that is seemingly becoming more hostile, may Allah put enough patience in this community of ours. Ameen.
[This essay is based on author’s Friday Khutbah in Pennsylvania on September 13, 2019.]