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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 18, 2003

Now the Islamic spokesmen begin to distinguish between good killing and bad.

But the Saudis were supposed to be off limits to the terrorists

Ken Beste esplains what the mullahs have to say about terror inside The Kingdom
You see, Saudi Arabia was supposed to be off limits to this kind of thing. It would provide money, and only make token attempts to control the extremists, and in turn the extremists were supposed to make their attacks elsewhere. They were supposed to kill Jews and Americans; that was fine. But they weren't supposed to play in Saudi Arabia.

That was what the money was for. Rich Saudis would give lots of donations to "charities" who would funnel the money to terrorist groups, and the Saudi government would look the other way and pretend it wasn't happening. And in exchange for all this, the idea was that the terrorists would leave Saudi Arabia alone.

They didn't, however. Problem is, in all the kinds of places that the terrorists would really like to have made their attacks, the security has gotten too good. Lots of cells broken up, lots of attempts which were foiled. On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia, what with the government looking the other direction, it meant they could actually make their plans and carry them out, and any attack is a good attack, and better than a plan which is foiled. The idea that you can actually make a bargain with extremists and buy them off is, shall we say, overly optimistic.

So in the wake of last week's bombings in Riyadh, we're now seeing pious declarations of outrage, and condemnation of terrorism. Prince Fahd, for example, declares a zero-tolerance policy:

Saudi Arabia "will never allow any faction of deviated terrorists to harm the country and undermine the safety of its citizens and residents," King Fahd said in his first public comments on the Riyadh attacks that killed 34 people, including eight Americans, Monday.

And sermons at mosques in Saudi Arabia today condemned terrorism as an evil force unless, of course, if it was directed at Jews or Americans, who are themselves all terrorists and deserve to die:

A similar message was delivered by Mazin Rajin, a cleric who gave the noon sermon at the Abu Bakr Mosque in east Riyadh. He told more than 400 worshipers that the crisis was testing the country’s beliefs and that the “nation should revise its policies and accept advice from other people.” He described terrorists as “mentally twisted and unstable” people whose deeds are against human nature.

Citing announcements made earlier this week by a number of Islamic cleric organizations, Rajin recalled passages from the Koran, the Muslim holy book, to make the case that terrorists violate Muslim law and are doomed to hell. “When you kill a person intentionally, hell is the penalty,” Rajin declared, even if that person is not a Muslim. “Heaven is forbidden for a Muslim who kills a non-Muslim intentionally.”

Terrorism is an awful thing. Nasty, evil, obviously it is terrible.

But Rajin also said the reason for the attacks rested in the “injustice our Muslim brothers are facing around the world, in Chechnya, Palestine and Iraq.” He equated the “individual and group terrorism” practiced by the attackers with the “state terrorism” of Israel, which he said “steals, rapes, kills and burns with no control at all.”

Of course, we have to understand the root cause of terrorism, right? (And the terrorists are evil, but the Jews are worse, right?)

No. And let me say that no matter how holy and respected Rajin might be, he's totally full of shit. Because he, like everyone who's tried to make the "root causes" argument about terrorist attacks since 9/11, fails to explain why it is that Arabs are doing this but no one else is. There's a hell of a lot of suffering and "injustice" in the world, but no one besides Muslim Arabs (and non-Arab Muslims they've recruited) seem to be responding in this way.

Why, for instance, aren't Saudi Arabia's own Christian minority engaged in this kind of thing? They've been subject to at least as much repression as the Chechens.

The sheer hypocrisy of this sudden public outrage and condemnation is beyond gall. The idea that they suddenly have realized that terrorism is awful, or indeed that they are trying to pretend that they've always been opposed to it, is preposterous. It isn't that they condemn terrorism, it's that they are pissed off that they've suddenly become targets of it. Terrorism is just fine, as long as someone else is the target.

Update 20030518: I am informed that there is no native Christian minority in Saudi Arabia, and that the only Christians are foreigners