Read the London Times
Amir Taheri, an Iranian who often speaks on Middle Eastern affairs, poses the question so many reporters were asking him yesterday: What do the terrorists want?
It is astounding that, 4 years into our offensive against Islamic terrorists, this point still needs to be made. But since it does need to be made, Taheri makes it well.
That reminded me of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker, who was shot by an Islamist assassin on his way to work in Amsterdam last November. According to witnesses, Van Gogh begged for mercy and tried to reason with his assailant. “Surely we can discuss this,” he kept saying as the shots kept coming. “Let us talk it over.”
Van Gogh, who had angered Islamists with his documentary about the mistreatment of women in Islam, was reacting like BBC reporters did yesterday, assuming that the man who was killing him may have some reasonable demands which could be discussed in a calm, democratic atmosphere.
But sorry, old chaps, you are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything
specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it his divine duty to kill you.
So too does Gerard Baker. Anticipating the idiocy of the likes of George Galloway and Tony Benn, Baker says:
The fight in Iraq is not, as the opponents claim, a self-inflicted wound, suddenly giving rise to new threats on our homeland from people we should have left well alone. We are, steadily, beating the terrorists in Iraq. Not only in the military operations, but also by demonstrating who and what the enemy really is and thereby creating the only real long-term conditions for safety from Islamo-fascism free states that do not deny the most basic human rights to their peoples. The people who murdered innocent Londoners yesterday are the same people who are murdering innocent Iraqis.The lead editorial echoes this point.
There may be a few people inclined to make a link between the deaths in London and the intervention in Iraq. This is utterly flawed thinking. Al-Qaeda and its subsidiary branches began their sadistic campaign more than a decade ago and they did not require the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Baghdad as an extra incentive. London was not targeted because British troops are in Iraq or because of Tony Blair’s alliance with the Bush White House. Rather, London was attacked because these extremists want to ignite a “holy war” between themselves and democratic societies.The Times editorial did, irritatingly, include what seems to be the obligatory hand wringing about possible hostility towards the “Muslim community”.
It is equally important, on the plausible but unconfirmed assumption that Islamist fanatics were at the heart of this plot, that the Muslim community in Britain is not victimised by others in the population. Whether these terrorists were British citizens or outsiders who have infiltrated our borders, what they have done is also an attack on the principles of the religion whose name they have commandeered and corrupted. It would be wholly wrong to engage in guilt by association. The leaders of various bodies that represent Muslims in Britain have condemned yesterday’s barbaric cruelty. There must be no ambiguity in that message and it cannot be repeated by these organisations too often or loudly.For just once, rather than exhorting the rest of us to understand that the terrorists do not represent wider Islam, I’d like to see Muslims told to seize back their religion by taking dramatic steps to uncover and destroy the terrorists among them, which is something they more than anyone else are best situated to do.
But that is a quibble. The Times is excellent today.