Since 9/11, there has been little discussion of the motivation of people involved in terrorist plots. The two occasions when plotters spelled out their motives before the court indicate that our foreign policy – and not hatred of “our freedom” – was the prime motivation.
On February 22, 2010 Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan national, pleaded guilty to planning a terrorist attack in the New York subway system. He stated: “I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the United States military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan” (New York Times, Feburary 23, 2010).
The would be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, also pleaded guilty to all charges and told the court: “I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over because until the hour the US pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking the US, and I plead guilty to that” (New York Times, June 22, 2010). When he was sentenced to life in prison, he said that he felt no remorse. “We are only Muslims…but if you call us terrorists, we are.”
The Obama administration’s use of unmanned drones to kill terrorism suspects (and others in their vicinity) in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen, and the counterterrorism operations undertaken in a widening arc of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Sudan, Iran, Tajikistan, Kenya and Somalia, is making the “war on terror” ever more “global.” According to the June 4, 2010 Washington Post, Special Operations forces are now being deployed in 75 countries, compared to 60 at the beginning of 2009.
Although the Obama administration was viewed more favorably than the Bush administration in much of the world, in the Middle East it was failing to win hearts and minds. As Johann Hart wrote in the October 14, 2010 Independent (UK): “The real and necessary fight against jihadism has to have, at its core, a policy of systematically stripping them of their best recruiting tools. Yet Obama and the CIA are doing the opposite – to an accompanying soundtrack of the screams of innocent civilians, and the low delighted chuckle of Osama Bin Laden.”
Watch: DemocracyNow! and Jeremy Scahill on Wikileaks cables showing the extent to which US authorities have been less than truthful in regards to covert operations in Pakistan and elsewhere.
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