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In the Enemy's Corner By: Carol Gould
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 10, 2004


Are you confused yet? Britain's Tony Blair recently came under fire from human rights groups over the treatment of British detainees released from Guantanamo Bay. In the same weeks, we heard of a Wembley-based Saudi dissident airing footage of UK Black Watch soldiers' deaths and praising the killings. According to the Sunday Times, Muhammad al-Massari defended the video and staunchly justified the slaying of British servicemen by insurgents in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Arab world is fulminating over the footage -- repeated endlessly on television -- of American Marines shooting a suspected insurgent in a Fallujah mosque. Causing far less uproar is the apparent murder of CARE International worker Margaret Hassan, who devoted thirty years of her life to the Iraqi poor and sick. (Robert Fisk in The Independent has an interesting theory about Mrs Hassan's killers not being insurgents at all; he suggests that her opposition to the Iraq war upset someone in a high place.) One can only feel drained and sickened by the images and punditry, as the gap between the Muslim world and the West widens with each traumatic event.

As November dawned, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered by a man who left a note pinned to the victim's body threatening the female Muslim MP who had appeared in van Gogh's film about women and Islam. Apparently the murderer acted in behalf of one of a string of Islamist groups flowering in the Netherlands and enjoying ample funds from local sources. In London, the aforementioned al Massari runs a similar organization from his base in Wembley, Middlesex. According to the London Times, al Massari expressed surprise at the grief of those who mourned the slain British soldiers. "I don't know which universe you are living in," he said. "I am coming from the point of view of a rational human being, let alone a Muslim."

The Tory government tried unsuccessfully to deport the aforementioned al Massari in the 1990's. The Sunday Times asserts that al Massari was instrumental in establishing an office for Osama bin Laden and was known to have called for the assassination of PM Tony Blair. Dr Azzam al-Tamimi, mentioned in FrontPage's article about the BBC's "The Power of Nightmares" series (al Tamimi was used as an on-screen 'expert' by the Beeb), volunteered to blow himself up in Israel, as the Jewish Chronicle reported recently.

This brings us back to Tony Blair, who was lambasted this week by Gareth Peirce, the lawyer for the freed Gitmo men known as "the Tipton Taliban." The Prime Minister has suggested that the men, reportedly still under 24-hour surveillance, are causing concern. One in particular has aroused the police's suspicions.

The outcry is deafening. Defenders of the men accuse Blair of slandering and defaming the former detainees. If Blair's intelligence on WMD before the Iraq war was flawed, why should we believe him now?

And what of the rest of us, who care for our safety in an age of terror? A bunch of young men, some with families and babies and wives, went off to Pakistan and Afghanistan while the rest of Great Britain slogged away from 9 to 5 to provide for themselves and their families. The "Tipton Taliban" were scooped up by the coalition after the start of the Afghan campaign and sent to Gitmo. In the Netherlands, the police continue to uncover more extremist violence. The killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in a brutal, ritualistic murder -- witnesses reported that he begged for mercy -- ignited local fury; the Dutch royal family had to intervene to calm the situation.

What are we to do? My well-meaning friends in the United States fume about the Patriot Act. In Britain, some concerned citizens have begun calling for a similar setup -- a Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security in the UK. But if the British Prime Minister voices concern about detainees released in good faith, he is branded "defamatory and irresponsible."

Dutch painter Chris Ripke erected a mural to commemorate Theo van Gogh bearing the Biblical sentence, "Thou shalt not kill." The local mosque accused him of racism, and authorities destroyed the mural. When reporter Wim Nottroth protested the mural's removal, he was taken into police custody.

Where are the human rights activists when Mr. al Massari extols the virtues of killing his country's troops? When al Massari shows footage of crazed Islamists stomping on the arm of a British serviceman? When Dr al-Tamimi tells a student group that the very existence of the Jewish State cannot be allowed? (I was in the audience last March when he said this at the School of Oriental and African Studies.) What if an Anglo-Saxon individual got up in front of a group of students in London or Philadelphia and called it intolerable that Christians, Muslims and Hindus have their own states? Melanie Phillips notes that in 2000 the Dutch "NRC Handelsblad" predicted that "the multicultural drama could become the biggest threat to social peace."

Today I sit in my room in Washington, looking out at the peaceful streets of this most influential of world capitals. My doctor recommended frequent trips to the USA after he noted the marked improvement in my health whenever I travel here, despite the exhaustion brought on by a long journey. In a British paper last weekend, yet another colleague of mine fulminated about the calamity of the imperialist, expansionist Bush empire threatening world stability. Yes, I would like to see Iraq at peace and our troops at home for Christmas. But are the cheerful, good-natured Yanks on every US street corner an evil force, or are the al Massaris of this world the real threat?

When I arrived in the USA last week, the immigration officer greeted me cheerfully: "Have a great Thanksgiving!" The customs officer said, "Welcome home, Ma'am!" Both were as tough as nails, and I felt protected. Once outside the airport, however, despairing Americans regaled me with worries that their country is sinking into Fascism. They see 9/11 as an isolated incident, an aberration, and blame only the Bush Administration for failing to prevent it. All of the 9/11 hijackers were nurtured in Europe and the UK. We have superb security services in those regions, but extremist groups continue to flourish, aided and abetted by human rights groups who scream "racism" at the slightest provocation.

Undoubtedly, a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian situation and an end to the conflict in Iraq would ease tensions in the Muslim world. How close were we to peace before? In the heady days of Oslo, Bill Clinton was in office and America was beloved. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres won Nobel Peace Prizes, and nations lined up to open consulates in Tel Aviv. Yet, one was told not to film at the London Central Mosque - or be killed. In that era, bombs exploded across Israel in unprecedented numbers. The carnage stunned an Israeli populace so determined to make peace with its Arab and Palestinian neighbors.

I look out at the immaculate streets of Washington, watching the warm, hospitable folks wander about their neighborhood, and I am afraid. I fear there will never be peace until we end the tragic disconnect from reality that inspires young men to want to kill us. Meanwhile, endless repeats of Marines fighting in mosques can only fuel the fury. Somewhere in the chain of command the OK was given for the reporter's footage to be aired worldwide. One wonders if some operations should be left unreported and classified in the pre-Vietnam tradition.

The deaths of 100,000 Iraqis in this war made huge headlines in Europe and Great Britain. The original goal of 9/11 hijackers was to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans; indeed, had Twin Towers had been full and the Capitol struck by a plane, the terrorists would have gotten their wish. After 9/11, the Munich Olympic Massacre, the Achille Lauro, and the African embassy bombings, the West cannot stand idly by as enemies clamor for a worldwide jihad.

I enjoy my concerts, my opera and ballet, and my drinks at the wine bar. Dutch nationals fear that the Muslim population is not integrating. If only we saw women in hijabs at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the Barbican, and Covent Garden -- but it rarely, if ever, happens. Until it does, there is reason to worry. The Muslim community must counter the madness infecting its youth in order to replace it with the values that inspired my penniless, persecuted ancestors: hard work, creativity and productive lives, not self-destruction in anger and violence.

Carol Gould is a Drama and documentary producer based in London, and the author of Spitfire Girls.


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