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4 August 2005Printer-friendly versionEmail a friend

Al-Zawahri: what a rip-off merchant
The al-Qaeda deputy is only parroting what’s been said on a thousand lefty blogs since 7/7.

by Brendan O'Neill

Someone should have Ayman al-Zawahri, lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, done for plagiarism. There's nothing remotely original in his statement about the London attacks. Instead he has ripped off sentiments already expressed by scaremongering politicians and in handwringing newspaper editorials here in Britain since the 7/7 attacks. He 's only doing what al-Qaeda bosses have consistently done since 9/11: taking the West's own fear and loathing and throwing it back at us in a supposedly scary, finger-wagging statement to camera.

Al-Zawahri 'blames Blair for bombs', says a BBC headline. 'Blair has brought you destruction in central London', said al-Zawahri. Where could he have got an idea like that? He might have seen it on the front cover of the New Statesman (or on the NS website if he's having trouble getting hold of the paper copy), which recently said 'BLAIR'S BOMBS': 'Blair brought home to this country his and Bush's illegal, unprovoked and blood-soaked adventure in the Middle East.'

Or if al-Zawahri prefers a right-wing read, he might have seen Thatcher's old friend Max Hastings say in the Daily Mail that the bombs were Blair's fault - they were 'the price for being America's foremost ally, for joining President Bush's Iraq adventure', a price which 'was always likely to be paid in London, in innocent blood'. Labour politicians and prestigious think-tanks have also said it, and have made headlines around the world. It has been said that al-Qaeda types like to surf the net (in the absence of having much else to do), in which case al-Zawahri might have got his 'Blair is to blame' line from any number of anti-war blogs or websites.

Al-Zawahri also says that the war in Iraq is a war for oil, and demands that the West stop this 'robbing of our oil and resources'. Since when has al-Qaeda been interested in economics? This argument is taken verbatim from the anti-war movement in the West, which has been chanting the mantra 'It's all about oil!' for the past two years as a quick, easy (and some might say lazy) way of denouncing the war. Now al-Zawahri is milking this simplistic but wildly popular slogan for all its worth.

And what's this all about, the bit where al-Zawahri talks about Americans having to watch the 'losses you are having in Afghanistan and Iraq, in spite of all the media blackout'? This echoes an obsession of various anti-war websites recently, which have argued that the US military is 'blacking out' information about the true number of injuries and fatalities suffered by coalition forces in postwar Iraq.

Al-Zawahri also warns of more attacks against Britain. Perhaps he has heard of the 6,000 police officers that have been deployed to protect 'nervous London' (as one report described it) every Thursday since 7/7. Or he may have seen reports such as this one from two weeks ago: 'EXPERTS FEAR MORE ATTACKS IN LONDON.' 'I hate to be a pessimist', said one counterterrorism expert, 'but my expectation is that the two London attacks are an overture and worse is coming.' Al-Zawahri's warning of 'more destruction' in London is not evidence that he or any of his cronies are directly planning something, but rather suggests that they are tapping into our self-confessed 'pessimism' and 'nervousness' and winding us up some more.

This doesn't only suggest that al-Zawahri has not got an original thought in his head - it also reveals an essential truth about al-Qaeda. They feed off our fears. Far from being the terrible enemy we have been led to believe - who are planning a 'holocaust' against the West, as one particularly overexcited author has put it - al-Qaeda is a ragbag of deluded nihilists and opportunists who thrive on tapping into our doubt and uncertainty. We are scaring ourselves, and al-Qaeda bosses merely cheer along from the sidelines.

We pretty much wrote that script for al-Zawahri and he just read it back to us in a scary, shouty Middle Eastern voice, like a James Bond villain circa 1980. Come on, people, are we really scared of that?

Read on:

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