Shining Light on Roots of Terrorism

Posted: November 18th, 2009 by Militant Libertarian

by Ray McGovern

Media commentary on the upcoming 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has raised concern that state secrets may be divulged, including details about how the Bush administration used torture to extract evidence about al-Qaeda.

“I think that we’re going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to look at” is how American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denney LeBoeuf put it, according to The New York Times on Saturday.

No problem, says Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims to have “great confidence” that other evidence – apart from what may have been gleaned from the 183 times Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, for example – will suffice to convict him.

Maybe so, But what the Fawning Corporate Media (or FCM) have so far neglected is the likelihood that the testimony will be so public that they will have to break their studied silence about why Sheikh Mohammed and his associates say they orchestrated the attacks of 9/11.

For reasons that are painfully obvious, the FCM have done their best to ignore or bury the role that Israel’s repression of the Palestinians has played in motivating the 9/11 attacks and other anti-Western terrorism.

It is not like there is no evidence on this key issue. Rather, it appears that the Israel-Palestine connection is pretty much kept off limits for discussion.

Yet, as Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 conspirators go to trial, the FCM’s tacit but tight embargo will be under great strain. Eyes will have to be averted from the sensitive Israeli-Palestinian motive even more than from torture, which most Americans know about (and, God help us, are willing to explain away).

The Bromides

To refresh our memories, let’s recall the bromides we were fed by the likes of President George W. Bush about why the terrorists attacked on 9/11.

Rather than mentioning long-held grievances expressed by many Arabs – such as Western intrusion into their region, Washington’s propping up of autocrats who enrich themselves in deals with multinational oil companies, and Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territory – Bush told the American people that “the terrorists hate our freedoms.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney reprised that feel-good theme in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute on May 21. Cheney said the terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world – for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences.”

Some observers might have found those qualities strange for Cheney to cite given his role in violating constitutional rights, torturing captives and spreading falsehoods to justify an aggressive war against Iraq.

But Cheney also slipped up in the speech, presumably because he had lost his best speechwriters upon leaving office. He inadvertently acknowledged the Israeli albatross hanging around the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

“They [terrorists] have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel… – these are the true sources of resentment,” Cheney said.

Yet “our support for Israel” is hardly ever included in these formulations, but Cheney at least got that part right.

Rarely in the FCM – and not even often on the Web – does one find Sheikh Mohammed’s explanation for what motivated him to “mastermind” 9/11. Apparently, few pundits have made it as far as page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report.

The drafters were at work on the report when they learned that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been captured. They knew that he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T in Greensboro in 1986, before going to Afghanistan to fight the Russian occupier.

And it seems their first assumption was that he suffered some major indignity at the hands of Americans in Greensboro. Thus the strange wording of one major finding on page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report:

“By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

Moreover, the footnote section reveals that KSM was not the only “mastermind” terrorist motivated by “U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel,” although in the footnote the Commission dances around a specific reference to Israel, leaving it to the reader to infer that point from the context. Note the missing words in the footnote on page 488:

“On KSM’s rationale for attacking the United States, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Sept. 5, 2003 (in this regard, KSM’s statements echo those of Yousef, who delivered an extensive polemic against U.S. foreign policy at his January 1998 sentencing),” the footnote said.

Was Yousef, who happens to be Mohammed’s nephew, perhaps upset about U.S. foreign policy favoring NATO expansion, or maybe toward Guam? Obviously, the unstated inference in the footnote was about Israel.

The First Attack

The family connection between Yousef and Mohammed was not incidental, either. “Yousef’s instant notoriety as the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing inspired KSM to become involved in planning attacks against the United States,” the 9/11 Commission Report noted on page 147.

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing occurred on Feb. 26, 1993, when a car bomb was detonated below Tower One. The 1,500-pound urea nitrate-hydrogen gas-enhanced device was intended to knock the North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower, bringing both towers down and killing thousands of people.

It failed to accomplish that, but the bombing did kill six people and injured 1,042.

Motive? Ramzi Yousef spelled out his motive in a letter to The New York Times after the bombing:

“We declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building. This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel, the state of terrorism, and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region.”

Yousef was captured in Pakistan in 1995, imprisoned in New York City, and held there until his trial. On Nov. 12, 1997, he was convicted of “seditious conspiracy” and was sentenced the following January to life without parole. He is held at the high-security Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Regarding the touchy Israel connection, the 9/11 Commission stepped up to the plate in the “Recommendations” section of its final report, which was issued on July 22, 2004, but then bunted:

“America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. … Neither Israel nor the new Iraq will be safer if worldwide Islamist terrorism grows stronger.” (pp 376-377)

A more convincing swing at this issue was taken in an unclassified study published by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board on Sept. 23, 2004, just two months later. The board stated:

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States.

“Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”

The report directly contradicted what Bush had been saying about “why they hate us,” letting the elephant out of the bag and into the room, so to speak.

But, you say, you didn’t hear much about that report either, despite 24-hour cable “news” networks and the “change-everything” importance of 9/11 in justifying U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq?

Creative Editing

If you’ve read down this far, you will not be surprised that the FCM ignored the Defense Science Board findings for two months. On Nov. 24, 2004, The New York Times, erstwhile “newspaper of record,” finally published a story on the report – but only after some highly instructive surgery.

Read the rest at this link.

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