Of all the autopsies performed on 9/11, the most revealing is the one conducted by the commission assigned to dissect it.
More than enumerating the administrative failures that led to the tragedy, and making sensible suggestions to rectify them, the 9/11 Commission has said something more profound:
America remains ill-informed about the people and places that pose the greatest danger to it.
War alone will not defeat terrorism.
That all 19 Sept. 11 terrorists were Al-Qaeda Muslims does not mean all Muslims are Al Qaeda.
America defeats itself when it abandons its moral core.
The 10-member panel also faults George W. Bush for abandoning Afghanistan too soon.
On Iraq, the panel speaks volumes with its silence on Bush's claim that Iraq is the "central front" in the war on terrorism, which it demonstrably is not.
America must rethink its approach to the Muslim world, especially failing states that can become terrorist havens. Afghanistan was. Parts of Pakistan, West Africa and Southeast Asia are, particularly slivers of Philippines and Indonesia.
All these ideas would be very familiar to readers of this column over the last five tumultuous and tragic years.
Yet the commission does not go far enough. Not so much in faulting Bush more, but in shying away from pushing its own assessments to their logical conclusions.
For example, the spectacular failure of America's $40 billion (U.S.) a year intelligence operations cannot be explained solely by bureaucratic silos and ineptitude or the shortage of spies because of too much reliance on satellites and pilotless drones.
The larger point has to be that you cannot possibly comprehend the intelligence from a country, a culture and a people if you don't have a clue about them or their language. Or you are hostile to them for religious, racial or ideological reasons.
Post-invasion Afghanistan and Iraq prove the point.
I will cite other examples as we go through the commission's key findings sideswiped by the ones that were headlined.
Rather than the Bush formula of going guns blazing hither and yon, the commission says we need a "global preventive strategy that is as much, or more, political as it is military." Amen.
That's exactly what Jean Chrtien said, and got pilloried for it.
On Muslims, the panel says: "The enemy is not Islam, the great world faith, but a perversion of Islam." Correct.
"The enemy is the threat posed by Islamic terrorism, by Osama bin Laden and others who draw on a long tradition of extreme intolerance within a minority strain of Islam that does not distinguish politics from religion, and distorts both."
That's only half true.
The intolerance does not emanate from a failure to separate religion and state. Theologically, they're inseparable. Many Muslim-majority nations are constitutionally Islamic. That does not make them all terrorist.
Bin Ladenism is a political polemic, violent and terrorist, wrapped in religious terms.
The commission ignores the issues that won bin Laden many adherents. It tiptoes around the occupation of Iraq, which has spawned a wave of scarier bin Laden clones.
It is not surprising, then, that the panel ends up prescribing a vacuous PR initiative:
"The U.S. must define its message ... Communicate and defend American ideals in the Islamic world, through much stronger public diplomacy to reach more people, including students and leaders outside of government."
But no amount of propaganda can cure the problem of America not living up to its ideals. You cannot soft-sell the double standards that mark most of your dealings with the Muslim world.
It's not enough to say in the abstract, as the panel does, that "we should offer an example of moral leadership in the world," but stay silent when America invades Iraq unilaterally in the face of worldwide opposition.
Or kills thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of freeing them.
Or violates human rights by being a direct or indirect party to torture and, worse, whitewashes an Abu Ghraib.
Or arrests thousands and deprives them their day in court.
Such of my reservations aside, the panel comes as close as any American group can in taking on a "war president." No wonder the White House is peeved.
The commission is right to assert that America is still vulnerable, more than any other open democratic society, but that it is safer now than before 9/11, having rightly attacked Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and captured or killed most Al Qaeda leaders.
The panel is also mostly right in its analysis of the countries where the war on terrorism is being waged.
On Afghanistan, the U.S. mission is "overwhelmingly orientated toward military and security work," not civil institutions. And the troops are "narrowly focused on Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants," not on stabilizing the country, so life can improve.
On Pakistan, the panel urges continued support for President Pervez Musharraf, a man of "enlightened moderation" who urges his people to shun extremism.
"It's hard to overstate the importance of Pakistan in the struggle against Islamist terrorism," the panel says.
It suggests money for military and education. But what about leaning on the general to bring democracy?
On Iran, it says there's "strong evidence" that up to 10 of the 9/11 hijackers transited through that country, but "there is no evidence" Iran was aware of their plot.
Saudi Arabia, from whence hailed 15 of the hijackers, had no involvement in 9/11 or financing Al Qaeda. But bin Laden did raise money there.
However, Saudi Arabia remains "a problematic ally," in that both sides "prefer to keep their ties quiet." Better to "confront problems in the open and build a relationship beyond oil, a relationship that both sides can defend to their citizens and includes a shared commitment to reform." Well said.
The commission's report - more than 500,000 copies of which are in bookstores - is not only a useful but also a highly readable document.
Too bad the commissioners couldn't bring themselves to telling the whole truth.
Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. [email protected].
Source: Toronto Star
How can you be so deluded??? The Ummah has done the USA a favor by populating, mostly unwillingly.
May Allah guide you. Dont you know that the West is the one that created this whole mass migration, tantalizing muslims to leave their homelands by placing puppet regimes (after the initial brutal colonization done to them)...the West practically made the muslims migrate by degrading our societies and taking our best and brightest to power their OWN economies. Wake up brother! Your comment that this is a "great" country is absolutely disgusting. Go ask even nonmuslim US citizens who actually know what their government is doing; they hate the way this country is being run. Oklahoma City bombings ring a bell? It is unislamic to support such a country which actively supports Israel and Muslim killings around the world. You will be answerable to Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement that you supported the Kuffar and not the innocent Muslims. My statements are not condoning acts of terrorism but they are debunking the myth in your warped mind that somehow the USA has done the Muslims a favor. Moreover, there was no proof that muslims committed the 9 11 bombings. All that proof is unavailable to the public and more so very weak. Even nonmuslims in Europe and the US admit to this. It is only this administration's stringent censorship of the media that has led many to believe otherwise.May Allah guide you brother. Protect yourself from the Wrath of Allah (swt) on the day of judgement for such blasphemous comments. Just because you throw away more food in a day than you used to eat back in your homeland, does not make this country great.It is rather a punishment from Allah to give such ppl NOTHING in the hereafter. DO TAWBA
This is in response to brother Abdullah Hakim' comment - being patriotic and taking up for one' country is understood but while doing so one should also not ignore the double standards included as part of every American policy. If all the facts listed in his comment about crimes committed by some ill willed or illiterate so called Muslims are true, not sure how he arrived at a conclusion that they are going unoticed by muslims around the world. Every believing Muslim is bound to and I believe active in condeming them to the fullest of his capacity. They are due to inadequate islamic education and ignorance. As a muslim it would serve better for brother Hakim to do something about educating such wrong behaving Muslims then sit in all the comforts and defend actions of some selfish and hypocite people and nations. He should go into the homes in Palestine and see the suffering caused to the Muslim Ummah by the American Israeli actions masked by terminology such as human rights, homeland secutiy, etc if not satisfied with that he must further travel to Afghanistan, Iraq to see the barbaric American bloodshed. If the world calls the Darfur crisis the biggest of humanitarian crisi of its kind. I wonder why they fail to see the crisis in Palestine which in the past few decades has wiped out atlest a race of people due to unjust actions by those responsible. America cries about WMD in other countries - Are the Americans blind? Don't they see their land is the poineer in producing, stockpiling and using such weapons?? Nothing can justify what some inhuman Americans did by dropping Atomic bombs in Japan. The effects are active till date affecting human life - I wonder what brother Abdullah Hakim has to say to such actions. Igrnorance serves nothing. Believing muslims its high time we set aside our opinions and follow the divine will gifted to us in the form of the Quran and the Sunnah - failing which the Muslim Ummah can only go from bad to worse. AllahHaafiz
HELLO "CIVILIZED WORLD"! Where is the trial for the thugs of America and Britians? You are obviously no different from Saddam.
Why waste time on discussing 9/11? Focus on the root causes. Stop blaming Islam and Madrasas. It is time you start looking yourselves in the mirror.
There are too many zionists, evanlegists, and enemies of Islam in the U.S. gov't. The U.S. gov't is also feeding too many puppets in many Muslim countries who never listen to their public. So what do you expect other than spectacular BIG BANGS in your dear country?
Here is the problem:
STOP ACTING TOO SMART and stealthy. It's good to be smart, but not too smart. That's why you even could not prevent 9/11.
& observe what your SMART-BOY, Bush jr, has done to America....No wonder you hide in boxes when travelling overseas. EXTREMELY SAD!!!
In conclusion, MATURE UP!
--Qur'an 49:12 (Saheeh International)
I wish to add that I am grateful (to Allah) for observations shared by Adam Ibrahim Muhammad. "Islamic terrorism" would seem the sort of service only the angels could perform.
GO TO ANY MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN AMERICA AND YOU WILL SEE STREAMS OF MUSLIMS COMING IN
EVERY DAY. MANY OF THEM ARE FUNCTIONALLY ILLITERATE AND DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CROSS A ROAD. YET THIS GREAT COUNTRY ALLOWS THEM IN. WHY DO MUSLIM SCHOLARS FIND IT EASIER TO BLAME THE SO-CALLED UNILATERAL INVASION OF IRAQ BUT IGNORE
THE STALINIST GENOCIDE PRACTISED BY SADDAM HUSSEIN FOR 35 YEARS. OBVIOUSLY, A MUSLIM
CAN DO NO WRONG AND THAT INCLUDES SADDAM!! WHY DO THESE SAME MUSLIM SCHOLARS NOT RAISE A VOICE AGAINST THE ARAB MILITIAS SLAUGHTERING OTHER AFRICAN MUSLIMS IN THE DARFUR REGION OF SUDAN? AGAIN, MUSLIMS CAN DO NO WRONG. WHY DO MUSLIM SCHOLARS NOT HAVE THE GUTS OR DECENCY TO DEMAND THAT TERRORISTS AND AL QUAIDA SUPPORTERS STOP CREATING CHAOS IN PAKISTAN. HERE AGAIN MUSLIMS CAN DO NO WRONG. WHAT ABOUT THE MADRASAS CREATING THOUSANDS OF FUTURE TERRORISTS AND FUNDED BY SAUDI ARABIA. SHOO, MUSLIMS CAN DO NO WRONG. LASTLY, THE DETAINEES AT GUANTANAMO ARE WAR COMBATANTS CAN YET THE ISLAMIC NATIONS WANT THEIR RIGHTS TO BE RESPECTED AND THAT THEY SHOULD BE TRIED BY AMERICA'S CIVIL COURTS. IS THIS A JOKE? WERE NAZIS TRIED BY CIVILIAN COURTS?
WHEN AMERICA UNDERTOOK REGIME CHANGE IN NAZI GERMANY NOBODY REQUIRED IT TO FIND WMD WITHIN A SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD. AMERICAN TROOPS ARE STILL IN GERMANY - 70,000 OF THEM. ITS TIME FOR THE
ISLAMIC UMMAH TO STEP BACK AND TAKE A LOOK AT ITSELF AND SEE THE CHAOS IT IS CREATING. AMERICA-BASHING WILL NOT HIDE THE NAKED FACTS. AMERICA HAS BEEN TOO GOOD TO FUNCTIONAL ILLITERATES ABUSING ITS HOSPITAL
Now the comission is uttering the term 'Islamic terrosim'. What is the meaning of this term? Does any right thinking person wants me to believe that it refers to Alqeda and its activities? No Sir.
The fact of the matter is that Bush has not nor is he ready, to withdraw that statement, crusade is still going on. The next point of call is Sudan, under a trumped up charge of 'genocide'. Allah knows who is next!
May Allah protect the faithfuls.
One thing should be clear though, that even if there is not a single rightly guided muslim left in on this earth, ISLAM will be ALIVE and functioning and the promise of Allah shall and MUST come to pass!
Muslims never waged war on America, on the contrary, America attack Iraq in early 90s on the pretence that it was defending Saudi Arabia (who gives a damn about the Saud family?) which infact meant, Kuffar in the Land of Islam, attacked Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan.And it was the backbone to the decision of Sactioning Iraq, which meant killing hundereds of thousands of millions of children in Iraq. Now that was Terrorism.
They have no proof that Muslims were behind the attack on New York and Washington. All they know for sure is that there were Muslim passengers, now does that mean they were hijacking the plane?
Anyone who believes in the Media blindly is truly lost. America has killed over a million people in Iraq on the basis that it had weapons of mass destruction. But do you know how many countries have WMD? America,Israel, Korea, India and none of them have being attacked on the basis of Terrorism....does that ring a bell? Maybe the U.S is just targetting Muslim countries.But why? Because they are enemies of Islam.
Osama and other brave others have stood up to the hypocritical regimes in their lands, such as the Saud Family, the leaders of Egypt,Joran and Syria who work for the interests of America.
Israel is the biggest terrorist ever seen. Killing,raping and imprisoning thousands of Palestinians, demolishing homes...what country other than Israel does this?
They can kill whomever they want, they can even kill Osama but that will not eliminate Islam.Ever.
There will always be those who stand for the truth and Justice throughout the world. And I dont mean the United Snakes of America.