Al-Qaida targets Israelis and Kenyan workers

Submitted by AWL on 7 December, 2002 - 1:23

Bush's war is not the answer
By Clive Bradley

Since September 11 it has often been said - and it is believed, it seems, perhaps by a majority in parts of the Muslim world - that the attacks on the World Trade Centre were not really the work of al-Qaida, but of Israel. As evidence, it is claimed that Jews who normally work in Manhattan had been forewarned.

The bomb in Mombasa, Kenya, on 28 November, which left 15 dead and scores of injured, and the simultaneous attempt to shoot down a charter plane, targeted Israelis in particular. No doubt some will claim that Israel did this, too, to justify further repression of the Palestinians. In reality, it was a further indication of the rabid chauvinism of al-Qaida, who seem to have been responsible - prepared to slaughter tourists and Kenyan workers to pursue their political objectives.

It is an indication, too, of how far the "war on terror" is failing, and, from al-Qaida's point of view, that was part of its purpose. The war on Afghanistan was supposed to eliminate the danger of further attacks like 9/11. It has not done so. It did not succeed in destroying the terrorist network associated with Osama bin Laden. Terrorists linked to al-Qaida were responsible for the slaughter of tourists in Bali a few weeks earlier. Now we are being asked to believe war on Iraq will achieve what the "war on terror" has so far failed to do. Rather, it seems we are being led into a world of ever greater insecurity.

The Mombasa bomb recalls 9/11 in many ways. Just as the WTC, and the USA in general, seems to stand for unbearable affluence in the midst of global poverty, so the tourist enclave in Mombasa is, apparently, sharply cut off from the local society and increasingly resented by it. Still, of course, Israeli tourists there, and on the plane which was nearly shot down, any more than people working in the World Trade Centre or aboard the planes smashed into it, are not individually responsible for this inequality.

It seems likely that al-Qaida (or forces linked to al-Qaida, which itself is a broad, indeed vague, umbrella structure) felt the need, politically, to hit out at Israel. Bin Laden's rhetoric has focused heavily on US backing for Israel, yet al-Qaida itself has "contributed" nothing to the Palestinian cause (and the Palestinian Islamist groups, Hamas and Jihad, seem to be completely independent of it). This bold terrorist act, therefore, signals not only that the "war on terror" has failed, but that al-Qaida puts its money where its mouth is on "Zionism".

There is a further level of pure, reactionary chauvinism here, too. Israeli tourists are considered fair game, but it goes beyond that. Bin Laden's organisation identifies its enemies as "Jews and Crusaders", which means, in other words, that the tourists in Kenya were targeted simply for being Jews. (In fact most of the fatalities were a members of a Kenyan dance group, which serves to heighten the indiscriminate nature of the attack).

Unsurprisingly, Jews elsewhere are likely to feel more vulnerable still - which, incidentally, helps Ariel Sharon and those in Israel who want to drive out the Palestinians in what they call "transfer".

Global inequality, graphically symbolised in local inequalities, of course creates the audience for the militant Islamists. Across the continent, in Nigeria, murderous communal rioting between Muslims and Christians, ostensibly provoked by a newspaper article on the Miss World contest, for sure in truth are rooted in social inequalities and a host of pressing problems for which conventional politics offer no solution.

Until these inequalities are tackled, there will be fertile soil for terrorists and homicidal communalists. Tackling them is not only our responsibility in the West; across the "third world"there are secular, democratic forces which aim to fight poverty, inequality, the lack of democratic rights, and also to oppose the Islamists.

In Indonesia, for example, where Islamists (apparently, some of them, linked to al-Qaida) are growing, there is also a growing workers' movement. Solidarity with that movement is the best way to help fight global inequality. This is one reason Solidarity supports the No Sweat campaign which does just that.

The atrocity in Mombasa dramatises the precariousness of the world we live in, and the need to build a movement which fights the two reactionary sides in the "war on terror". Bush and his allies threaten to plunge the world into a war which could escalate out of control. His enemies, though, from Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden, are our enemies, too.

Action against the war

Tuesday 10 December 2002 (1pm)
Labour Against the War public meeting at the House of Commons (Attlee Room) with Noam Chomsky.

Saturday 14 December 2002 (12 noon)
Mass Weapons Inspection of USAF Fairford in response to the arrival of US Stealth Bombers. Contact james@venables.plus.com for more info.

Tuesday 21 January 2003
Lobby of Parliament: organised by No War on Iraq Liaison Group and CND. Supported by the Stop the War Coalition.

Saturday 15 February 2003
Stop the War Coalition National Demonstration - London.

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