Upon entering his guilty plea back in June, Faisal Shahzad — recently sentenced for charges arising from an attempted attack on Times Square earlier this year — articulated the motivation behind his efforts. In what has become a consistent refrain from terrorists, Shahzad drew attention to the US military’s occupation of the Muslim world.
“[T]he drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he noted, “they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people.” Time and again, resolving any confusion as to what propels them toward destruction, terrorists have pointed out “U.S. terrorizing [of] the Muslim nations and the Muslim people,” describing their violence in terms of retaliation.
Fully aware of the practical implications of statements like Shahzad’s, the US government focuses its obscurantism on ensuring that Americans see terrorists as an enigmatic other — the faceless enemy in an us versus them.
This week, the US state enjoyed another opportunity to distort the causal interplay at issue when, as reported by NBC news, “[t]he Yemeni branch of al-Qaida on Friday claimed responsibility for the two mail bombs sent from Yemen …” The White House, eager to capitalize on the foiled attack, swiftly went to work congratulating themselves and the Yemeni government for their “ongoing cooperation,” stoking the fear and beating the drum for the security state.
Even prior to al-Qaida’s Arabian Peninsula branch taking credit for the bombs, the group had kindled the United States’s interest in Yemen. According to the Associated Press, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor could see up to $250 million in military aid next year, an increase of almost $100 million over this year’s apportionment. The irony of the plan, bearing in mind what inspires terrorists, is the palpable dissonance between the stated goal of quelling al-Qaida and the likely result of increasing the US dole to the Yemeni regime.
Nothing better serves the recruitment programs or enhances the appeal of groups like al-Qaida than the continued interference of the US, whether in actual military presence or in the dispensation of blood money. The word “terrorism” is itself misleading, representative of the state’s deceptive definitional approach.
In the statist lexicon, the United States, with its state of the art machinery of death, is a righteous force for freedom while the panicky strains of subdued people fighting against occupation are “terrorism.” The methodical devastation of an entire region of the world is regarded as morally legitimate, while a victimized population’s admittedly wrong and misguided attempts at self-defense are rebuked as the maniacal savagery of evil subhumans who “hate us because we’re free.”
The murder of innocents is, of course, always morally abominable, but it is critical that we ask why groups like al-Qaida are so intent on killing Americans. The proper aim of that inquiry, rather than exonerating terrorists, is recognizing that their crimes are a reaction to those of the United States, the premier global terrorist. Our censure of terrorist attacks like those planned by al-Qaida and Shahzad ought to come with a parallel condemnation of the United States’ murder missions, communicating to the rest of the world that we too are occupied by our own government.
This cycle of violence is what the unrelenting slaughter campaign of US military imperialism delivers us — death, replicated over and over for the bonanza of the ruling class. Does anyone really think that Washington cares if civilians die in terror attacks in the United States? They’ll just use those deaths to justify their spying, their killing, their favors to defense contractors, their theft, their rape of everything good and productive in society.
The state itself is a continuing war on humanity, reincarnated in every year, in every moment, since the first conscienceless gang of muggers decided it suited them to set a conflagration to fruitful, voluntary society. To extinguish that fire, we must denounce aggression in all of its forms, not just when darker-skinned people in strange garb lash out against American military colonization.