Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Michael Scheuer: Bin Laden was not (just) about the grievances, stupid!....

Omar bin Laden, third son of the arch-terrorist, seen here with his wife,
provides an insider's account of childhood with the al-Qaeda leader in 

Growing Up bin Ladenincluding tales of his father's abusive behavior.
Michael Scheuer, who pursued bin Laden for years from within the CIA's dedicated bin Laden unit, which he himself set up, is uniquely qualified to write a biography of his quarry. [source]
Yes, but:
Scheuer argues for instance that al-Qaeda is only engaging in defensive jihad when in fact anyone who has read Raymond Ibrahim's The Al-Qaeda Reader[17] cover-to-cover (which Scheuer acknowledges as an important but incomplete text) knows that both bin Laden and Zawahiri have taken great pains to disguise as defensive their plainly offensive jihad. Nonetheless, Scheuer accepts bin Laden's jihad as a defensive one largely due to the latter's portrayal of a U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia (beginning with Desert Shield in August 1990) as an "occupation."
The driving principle behind Scheuer's bin Laden narrative is the argument that the "status quo U.S. foreign policy generates Islamist insurgents faster than they can be killed" and that only a change in that foreign policy can change the situation. But again Scheuer is selective in his evidence. A glance at bin Laden's 2002 diatribe, "Why We Are Fighting You," shows that foreign policy is indeed a problem, for the polemic focuses about half of its attention on U.S. foreign policy, especially vis-à-vis the Israeli-Arab conflict. But the other half is devoted to matters that touch at the core of America, matters such as personal freedom, which bin Laden sees as our insufficient submission to God, the fact that Americans "separate religion from your policies," and U.S. law's refusal to prosecute people for "immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury." He complains that women in America are allowed to work and that sex is sold and traded "under the name of 'art, entertainment, tourism, and freedom.'" All of these complaints and others add up to bin Laden's lament that America is "the worst civilization witnessed in the history of mankind." The only solution he offers is that Americans convert: "The first thing we are calling you to is Islam." Scheuer seems earnestly to believe that a change in U.S. foreign policy will end al-Qaeda's war, but he arrives at that conclusion by selectively focusing on parts of bin Laden's program while ignoring others that do not fit his narrative. Sometimes he allows this stance to blind him to reality as when he claims of bin Laden's jihad: "The war is being fought, for now, only on Muslim territory."
I've written before about Scheuer. It's a shame. A man with such knowledge of the subject allows his vitriol for Israel to falsify his conclusion about what Bin Laden was -- and his acolytes now are -- up to.  For that's as much hatred of the west and its freedoms, as it is grievance about US policy and the existence of Israel.  Scheuer ignores at least 50% of the motivation of Jihadis, and arguably the most important part at that.  For even if the US were to throw Israel under the bus, and withdraw from all Muslim lands, the jihadi war against the "worst civilisation... in the history of mankind" is going to continue.
In that sense, we really are at war, at least with that faction of Islam....
Read the whole article here.