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Sept. 8, 2011

Column #1567

Have We Learned Nothing Since 9/11?

By Mike McManus

            In these days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I keep scratching my head and wondering if we have learned anything about our enemy. 

            Fanatical Muslims who focused more on their faith than their own lives, led by Osama bin Laden, achieved those spectacular plane crashes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and another was likely targeting the Capitol where my son was working that fateful day.

            It was a brilliant terrorist act, striking terror into the American heart.  First we feared that there would be more 9/11s, and created an enormous “War on Terror” to counteract any such possibilities.  That was both wise and surprisingly successful.  There has not been even a minor follow-up act, not even a successful car bombing.

            However, America has overreacted. We have launched two major wars and many smaller covert ones on the apparent assumption that war will bring democracy to peoples who have shown no interest in it.  Understandably, we focus on our losses, 4,474 dead in Iraq.  In Afghanistan, 1,380 U.S. troops died.

            But do you know how many Iraqis have died? Officially, the estimate is between 102,000 and 112,000. But a noted British poll, Opinion Research Business, interviewed 2,400 Iraqis in 15 of 18 provinces.  (They were not allowed into the most volatile regions.)  People were asked if anyone in their household died as a result of the conflict. One in five said yes. That would be over one million deaths.

            And what did we gain?  We never found those “weapons of mass destruction.”  Some say we helped bring democracy to an Arab state.  In the last election, President Maliki lost, yet he is still in power. 

            More important, our wars have fueled a new generation of Muslim fanatics who hate America.  The scale of this challenge is only now becoming visible in country after country impacted by the “Arab Spring.”

            Americans who believe deeply in democracy and the right of every citizen to have a voice, naturally looked upon the ousting of dictators such as Mubarak and Gaddafi as progress. We hoped for the liberation of common people.  However, we know almost nothing, for example, about the rebels fighting in Libya.

            In a March column, I noted that Osama bin Laden was originally hired by the CIA to recruit 35,000 non-Afghan mercenaries to fight the Russians who occupied Afghanistan in 1980.  He recruited many of them in Egypt, set up training camps with the help of Al-Zahawiri who led Jihad Islami, now loosely translated as the Muslim Brotherhood.

            “Freedom movements arise and assert themselves.  They’re doing so on almost every continent populated by man in the hills of Afghanistan, in Angola, in Kampuchea, in Central America…(They are) freedom fighters,” proudly proclaimed President Reagan, knowing our CIA was funding them.

            When the Russians were defeated and left, bin Laden and Al-Zahawiri remained behind and their fighters became the Taliban, that imposed harsh Islamic law on easy-going Afghanis.  Of course, they were the architects of 9/11. 

            The killing of bin Laden was an important victory, but remember that the U.S. created him in the first place – a point I have rarely seen reported.  We must also take responsibility for Al-Zahawiri, who now runs Al-Qaeda.


            There is no comparable person in Libya, Egypt, or Syria.  But the Muslim Brotherhood or Jihad Islami has already emerged as a major anti-American, anti-Israeli force in Egypt in upcoming elections.  This has thoroughly frightened the Copts, who are Christians, some of whom have already been killed by Muslim fanatics.

             Fundamentalist Muslims are gaining control among Libya’s rebels. After they took over Tripoli, a Libyan imam preached hatred against even the U.S. who helped them oust Gadaffi.

            Raouf Ghattas, an Egyptian Christian and his American wife, Carol, were missionaries to Muslims for 20 years. He is horrified by developments.  He writes about the “same scenario taking place in Syria, Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain and throughout the whole Arab world.  We are actually helping the cause of Islam around the world.

            “If the President learned from watching what happened in the first country, where fundamental Islam took over, his decisions and statements for the next countries would have been different. What we see happening is that he is insistent to topple governments with moderate Muslim leaders knowing that more fundamental Muslim leaders will rise to power.

            “The President’s reasoning is that we want to bring democracy into the Muslim world. There is no democracy in Islam.”

            Ghattas has no hope of influencing Obama, but says, “I’m writing this to the only institution that can take a stand against evil in the world – the church.”

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