Why Did Terrorists Strike London?


Watching the major U.S. television networks after the London terror bombings provided little illumination about why that city was chosen for attack. The commentators on those networks first mimicked Tony Blair's self-serving "we're all in this together" assertion that the bombings were designed to disrupt the G-8 summit of industrialized nations. Later those media outlets latched onto the sizeable presence of radical Islamists in London. The real reason that the terrorists attacked London, however, appears to have been an attempt to compel Britain to withdraw its troops from the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

No one can deny that the terrorist attacks occurred during the G-8 summit being held in Scotland or that London has a radical Islamist community. But if the entire goal was to disrupt the summit-which has rarely aroused the passions brought forth by World Bank meetings and which almost never produces earthshaking results-why didn't the bombers travel to Scotland instead of bombing London? Furthermore, a large Islamist community in London makes local attacks easier to carry out but doesn't explain why they occurred there. In fact, sometimes, radical groups are reluctant to terrorize places with a substantial potential for fundraising.

More than likely, the real underlying purpose of the London attacks was similar to that of the Spanish train bombings in March 2004 on the eve of the Spanish elections. Al Qaeda took advantage of the Spanish government's support of the U.S.-led Iraq invasion and the Spanish public's intense dislike of that policy to drive home the high costs of being a Bush administration ally. The Spanish public realized that the Spanish government, in the name of national defense, was actually endangering the security of the Spanish people in order to score points with the United States. They promptly voted that government out of office and installed a replacement that withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq.

In the United States, no one ever seems to ask why the attackers are motivated to commit such horrendous acts. Much of the U.S. public seems to believe President Bush's erroneous claim that the Islamists are attacking the United States because it is "free" instead of honestly examining the history of the U.S. government's profligate meddling in the affairs of other countries.

Al Qaeda is likely looking for a similar outcome in Britain, a country much more vital to the Bush administration's war effort in Iraq than Spain. In contrast to Spain's primarily symbolic importance for the U.S. war and occupation, the British have about 8,500 capable troops in Iraq. Britain is the only nation in the world to provide more than symbolic support for the globally unpopular U.S. military adventure in Iraq.

Despite the British government's eagerness to please the superpower, the British public has never been enthusiastic about the Iraq War. Recently aggravating this unpopularity has been the release of secret British government documents admitting high British officials' knowledge of the Bush administration's duplicity in justifying the "illegal" war but going along with it anyway. Although barely making a ripple in the United States, the documents have made the war even more unpopular in the United Kingdom.

Thus, al Qaeda seems to want to replicate in Britain what happened in Spain. At least one al Qaeda website, claiming responsibility for the attacks, declared they were in retaliation for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. In al Qaeda's eyes, knocking the British out of the war would be a major coup. The British people are learning what the Spanish people learned in 2004 and the American people failed to learn after September 11, 2001-the high costs of an interventionist foreign policy.

Anytime non-combatants are purposefully killed, a monstrous moral crime has been committed. But in the United States, no one ever seems to ask why the attackers are motivated to commit such horrendous acts. Much of the U.S. public seems to believe President Bush's erroneous claim that the Islamists are attacking the United States because it is "free" instead of honestly examining the history of the U.S. government's profligate meddling in the affairs of other countries.

In fact, the United States is less free these days because of its interventionist foreign policy and the extra security needed to guard against such terrorist blowback. Recently, I noted the tragic irony of this situation firsthand when I had to go through Soviet-style military checkpoints to get onto the national mall in Washington, D.C. to watch July 4 fireworks to celebrate the nation's freedom. Noting the intense security for the yearly ritual, it occurred to me that by conducting a reckless foreign policy, the U.S. government was increasing the demand for its own services-a clear conflict of interest.

The British government, by loyally following U.S. foreign policy, is doing the same. But because the war has always been much less popular in Britain than in the United States, some hope exists that the British public will put a stop to its government's involvement in the U.S.-led Iraqi quagmire. Alas, things may move slower in the United States.

 

Ivan Eland is the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.

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  14 Comments   Comment

  1. H.A. from Yathrib

    The U.S., U.K, and the Europeans are to blame for the violence in their backyards...why?

    1. The .. fascist named Hitler tried to exterminate Jews....Jews got scared....needed a homeland....The U.K, which is already occuping Palestine partnered up with hypocrite, resource-seeking, masked and satanic U.S. gov't along with Zionists to create the self-declared Jewish State in Middle East....(Hmm...if America loves Jewish people so much why not make NEW JERSEY the new Jewish homeland for the Jews)...The would never do it....

    ...illegal state of Israel = today's conflict in Middle East. THe U.S. has been supporting state sponsored terrorism sinc 1948 (a big part of Middle Eastern Conflict)...The U.S. fed and clothed Al-QAEDA throughout 80's when it needed help against the USSR...

    The U.S. also supplied weapons to Saddam to start a war against Iran (wow! Amazing! How civilized the U.S. is !)

    Once the U.S.'s self-interest was fulfilled in Afganhistan...the civlized U.S. said "... me need you no more my dear Al-Qaeda..." now you(US) know the consequences of betraying your former lovers....

    It's long list of U.S. and UK's "civilized" actions over the past 50 yrs...no point listing them b/c these people will never be civilized....The US and UK are both built on terror, oppression, subjugation and hypocrisy.... Hence, Big and Bangs are unavoidable....That's how mother nature works...If you committ evil, evil will be the best dish on you dinner plate in the near future...Resistance would futile...

  2. Paul Morland from UK

    The writer blames the US's and UK's 'interventionist' foreign policies. But they are as criticised for not intervening (Bosnia, Chechnya) as for intervening (Iraq, Afghanistan). The point is that the US's foreign policy is not always and everywhere (although it is frequently and in many places) in the perceived interests of the Muslims. Unless the US and UK effectively always pursue Muslim interests they will be target to terrorist attacks.

    As for Palestine (Muslim spokesman in the UK often blame this for the bombing), what exactly has the UK done wrong? It did not vote for the creation of Israel, has sold it practically no weapons and has armed and (in the case of Jordan) officered those armies which have fought for Israel's destruction. Today it gives Israel not a penny in aid but generously finances the Palestinian Authority.

  3. Gumnaam Ashq from Netherlands

    What if?

    What if you are walking wearing a jacked when it is 70 deg F in London?

    What if you are followed by rowdy gang (which after shooting you to death reveals to be plain cloth undercover London police) and you in defense and seeking security run towards crowd in subway station...and then you are shot five times in cold blood murder by the rowdy gang who were chasing you?

    What if the media reports suspect or terrorist shot by London police to make sensational headlines..........when in fact it was a cold blood murder by plain cloth undercover police who chased, scared, cornered and shot you without any warning or purpose other than making some headlines and receiving medals for bravery which never existed?

    What if you were a Muslim should the conclusion be you were a terrorist?

    What if you reflect upon the conspiracy instead of sending or printing press releases, organizing visits to British Consulate Office and issuing apologies instead pray for the victims and send curse to the oppressors?

  4. Abu Rahim from USA

    London made its bed by supporting the US occupation of foreign countries along with the illegal war with Iraq. America has troops stationed in the Middle East against the will of the people who live there. Suicide bombers in Britain are a reaction to this foreign occupation and is a direct descendent of George W. Bush.

    Before America invaded Iraq there had been a few disgruntled moves against the sodomite regime- mainly during and after Iraq invaded Iran and then the US inspired & misguided uprising during the first American war with Iraq.

    But never-ever-not-even once were there ever any suicide terrorism within Iraq.

    As a foot note: America thought its great military might would brake the will of the Iraqi people (shock and awe it was called) Iraqis would just hand over that country to the American troops- pipeline, oil, refineries and all. Why were they too nave to factor in the 60% Shia majority, the power and influence of His Honorable Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani who as strange as it may seem INSHALLAH- is holding the country together - what a bunch of self-centered nave fools.

    So when you make your bed in another person house, (or support those who do) without their consent and they attempt to kick you out, don't come crying to me!

  5. NA from US

    I must condemn the act of London's bombing.

    Before the blame the attack on Islamic people.

    People must ask themsleeves why London?

    because of G8 no, England was pulling out from

    Bush's war on terrorist "Islam". After this

    attacked, England didn't pull out did they?

    With US & Israeli together war on Islamic countries.

    You be the judge....

  6. Salim from UAE

    Northern starr, americans to live "freely" is costing everybody's else life? What wrong did vietnam do? who separated Korea? who has made life imposible in hawaii? every body is wrong and America is right!!!. Mark you superpowers have come and gone from the times of alexander to the roman empire and british empire. Everybody had a time those days America didnt even exist my friend. Those empires died out as well. God gave Russia power what happened killing inocent people they ended as well, America also God has given them power they go on destroying countries like vietnam and Hawaii and panama Afghanistan, Iraq etc the list is endless for what to keep their presence there for freedom of Americans. So people should sacrificed. Now they created an enemy called terorists!!! Who is Osama Bin Ladin a person who was trained by the Americans, Who is Sadam he was given all the powers and weapons to fight Iran, Now they are the biggest enemies of the Americans? Or is it a reason for Americans to Attack all the Muslims in the world. The europeans and the west in Genral didnt like the fact that Islam is the fastest Growing religion in the World. So create anemity and wala it happened Amercians are now "free". They created an enemy themselves and they are out there to kill them its a programmer of the Playstation Games. My friend these are real people dying there stop all this stupid foreign policies and everybody lives peacefully. by the way one more point America is the only country to use Nuclear weapob so far so who are they fighting they dont want people to have the similar power like theirs.The UN should Warn Americans to stop the Nuclear manufacturing.The israellis who are killing millions of palestinians because of what "Land" then where are you guys why dont you create a country of palestine and everybody lives peacefully. No but power is what Americans want! we all have go to Allah back and asnwer for our deeds!!! Remember Allah is watching to everything!!!

  7. Hameed from Malaysia

    Violent is not the way to propogate whatever disatisfactions we are in today.If you are in the holly war you are forbiden to kill elderly citizen, women, children.

    Bring back the glory of Islam by acquiring knwledge and practice the good quality of behaviour.Let's bite hard to the teaching of Islam.

    But one thing wondering me, why such hediuos act is always linked to Al Qaeda?

    Why until now the American (BUsh) fails to capture ben Ladin? With so called sophiscated weapon they have and CIA arround the world yet cannot capture a singgle person. OR is it a kind of hide seek so that Bush and his al Ahzab have the very mean to declare war to Muslims?

  8. Hudd d'Aelia from Canada

    NorthernStarr are you bipolar or you swallowedm a tape? You keep on repeating yourself continually that makes me think that you are either mentally inflexible or you attempt to brainwash us with repetitive motifs like in induced hypnosis. You must be some far relative of Dr Mengele, I would presume. I have news for you pal, give it up, move to your Zionist or Patriotic homesite. The terrorists killed because that's what they do? Kill innocent people? For the sake of killing innocent people? No, I can't belive that you were such an idiot. Terrorism has to be stopped , you say? Like what? Carpet bombing the Middle East, guilty with unguilty, let God sort them out? The old racist slogan? You just proved yourself to be a racist individual and you lost all respect on this website. You and the rest of the Fascist shebang of the old and new are destroying America! USA today is less safe than she ever was. US citizens are hated all over the world. Their freedoms are jeopardized in their own country. All because the war on terror, the most imbecilic term ever coinede to a virtual reality war! You cannot stop the terrorists, this I reiterate, for the simple fact that the terrorists don't have a face, a nationality, a religion, they have a political and maybe economical agenda. The perpetrators are just poor recruits and mere pawns in the process. You still don't have the head, and mind you, OBL is not the head. The head is in the White House, Knesset and the House of Commons, now Russia follows suit as part of G8, how pathetic. This pal is like a game of chess. You scream like a moron: "Take the pawn, prevent the pawn!" The pawn is meant to be sacrificed. Now learn that, "For whom and what does he need to be sacrificed? Where is the king of the oposite side and how did we piss him off?" I can't give you a solution to the terrorist problem other than maybe try to tackle what you screwed up in the ME. Try to make some friends in the Islamic world by listening to their side too.

  9. Hudd d'Aelia from Canada

    Joe Bloggs, definitely the American foreign politics came first. US declared her commitment to Israel no matter what, whether Israel was right or wrong, this in 1948 and this is not the first time USA is stirring her marmalade in the Middle East!

  10. Paul from UK / Britain / England

    A rather timely article given that these phycopathic death lover's have attempted mass murder in London again.

    Iraq has undoubtedly been a rallying cry for suicide fanatics, primed and ready to kill Iraqis. A perverted inspiration for the youth of today. Why don't the preachers of hate and division do the very thing they justify and persuade the nave and stupid to do.

    Saddam Hussein was never Bin Laden's lover, although they do share the common trait of "my way or you die". Some might say the same of George Bush and Tony Blair. Imagine them sitting round the dinner table discussing Iraq and ending with a toast of "to the health and happiness of the Iraqi people". Maybe they all believe what they say, however the path to health and happiness is lined with the dead.

    Whether the British agree with the Iraq war or not, these terrorists do not understand the mindset of the British people. Have a look at a website set up after the 7/7 London atrocities:

    http://www.werenotafraid.com/index.html

    Peace (especially to the estimated 25,000 innocent civilians murdered in Iraq since 2003)

  11. Joe Bloggs from USA

    Which came first...American foreign politics or the mujahedeen?

  12. Nasser from USA

    Islamicity should not look to someone from one of these orginizations to explain why the bombers did this crime. Isn't it ironic how these people can explain what happened and no muslim can figure out how this was done by any muslim with little iman in his heart, and we also believe that suicide is against Allah's commands. These people who are expaining are the ones who are behind this, and they always belong to some orgingization. Isn't it ironic how they always mention some websit ran by Al quida, in the middle of the mountains in Afganastan or Iraq whare there not technology to do so or electricity, when we are commanded not to celebrate over the defeate of our enemy. Isn't it ironic that al quida decided to remind England that they are the terrorist when the Downing street memeo mentions otherwise, and the same for the Austrailian people were against going to Iraq, but then al quida decided to antagonize them into war by attacking innocent cizilians at Bali. The same will happen if any county announces that they are going to remove their troops from Iraq, Al quida is always there to remind them and antagonize.

    I am in denial. Muslims are not commiting these attacks. Wake up people.

  13. NorthernCross

    The answer to "Why?" is quite simple. Terrorists bombed London because they are terrorists. To claim that it innocent people would not be terrorist victims but for the Iraq war is ludicrous. Terrorists have been killing Westerners long before the War in Iraq, and they will continue to do so many years from now unless they are stopped.

    Y'all think that the terrorists haven't struck France because it wasn't involved in Iraq? Nope, it's because France has the toughest anti-terrorism law enforcement efforts anywhere in the West. Terrorists just can't get a murderous plot off the ground in France, and I doubt they ever will because the French are just too smart for them. On the other hand, The Brits have been too light on the extremists. As Malcom X would say, the chickens came home to roost on 7/7.

    We Americans need to be vigilant for those Islamic militants who abuse the freedoms in our country to destroy through terrorism the same freedoms for the innocent in our country.

    Anyone with the courage to debate me on this is free to meet me on Islam.com's open forums. No one-sided moderators to interfere with truly open dialogue. Otherwise, it just proves that all this talk of dialogue on this site is just typical militant Islamist lip-service.