Why do they hate us?
When I mentioned Mullah Krekar in the post below, I thought of him as a possible inspiration for a radical Islamic community in Norway, not the actual cause of the threat itself. I didn't think he was all that important to al-Qaeda, or that what we'd done to him was all that bad. I may have been wrong. The official bet is still that al-Qaeda threatened us because of our contribution to the war in Afghanistan, but there are good reasons to think that our treatment of Mullah Krekar has made a strong impression on radical muslims around the world. That's what several Arab sources say, anyway, and when chosing between them and the overquoted and often unreliable experts at NUPI, I'll chose the Arabs. In Stavanger Aftenblad yesterday, the editor of the London newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi said:
In extreme Muslim communities, rumours and messages travel fast. That Mullah Krekar, a religious extremist, risks punishment and expulsion from Norway, is serious, seen with Muslim eyes. And besides, Norway was an eager ally in the war on Afghanistan.
Ibrahim Saif at the University of Amman also points out the Krekar connection:
The Norwegian foreign policy towards the Middle East, Palestine and Iraq, isn't extreme enough for Norway to qualify for such a threat. [..] But it looks like there's been an intensive cooperation between Norwegian authorities and the US in the war on terror. [..] It looks like [Mullah Krekar] has a connection to al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is at least concerned with him, possibly because he is a Muslim. There have probably also been rumours that he may be extradited to the US.
And in VG today, Omar Bakhri Mohammed, sort of an unofficial spokesman of bin Laden, and leader of the London based group Jama'at al Muhajirun, hints at the same thing:
I believe Norway has been added because it has arrested Muslims in the wake of September 11. I don't think there'll be a terror attack in Norway, but in countries with Islamic laws, Norwegian interests may be in danger.
Mullah Krekar is the only Muslim he could be referring to. All of this indicates that radical Muslims have followed Krekar's case closely.
I can't see what they're upset about, though. Coming to the "butterfly of Europe", as he put it, was the smartest thing Krekar ever did. It's the safest place in the world for him to be right now. He's been expelled, but we haven't actually kicked him out yet. He's been arrested and charged with kidnapping and with recruitment for a military organization, but he's walking about a free man. The Jordanians want him extradited for drug trafficking, possibly on behalf of the Americans, but we have refused. And while Krekar's been walking around here in Norway, free, safe, a flock of sympathetic journalists and skilled lawyers protecting his image, his followers in Ansar al-Islam have been completely obliterated by American forces. As would he have been, if we hadn't let him in here in the first place, ten years ago. Talk about ingratitude.
But the more I think about it, the more plausible this theory seems. We need to ask what it is that makes Norway different, that makes us stand out against all the other minor, full- or half-hearted allies of the US. It certainly isn't Afghanistan, (nor Iraq, in case they confused us with Denmark.) The one major difference is that we're prosecuting the leader of a guerrilla group with strong al-Qaeda connections. We know that when al-Qaeda was chased out of Afghanistan, many of their members were welcomed with open arms by Mullah Krekar in the mountains of Northern Iraq. They would be grateful with Krekar, and not at all happy to hear that Ansar's beloved leader had been detained in Norway, and was in danger of falling into American hands. Al-Qaeda's leadership would certainly have been told, if they weren't already there.
So the key, then, is gratitude, (in addition to any other possible importance Krekar has to al-Qaeda), and that gratitude may have made Krekar's arrest a personal insult to al-Zawahiri. There are still pieces missing here, but at least it's a possibility, and in my opinion more likely than the Afghanistan theory. (I still haven't discounted the theory that we've been selected simply because we're a good target. A reader asks what kind of security our North Sea oil platforms have. Security? What security?)
ct | 2003-05-23 23:11 | Link
For some reason I just don't see Arabs navigating the North Sea in a bomb-laden 'suicide dingy'.
Andrew Hagen | 2003-05-24 00:17 | Link
I think your analysis that Mullah Krekar is the reason is right on. The question then shifts. Will Norway expel Krekar or will Norway respond like a weakling to Al Qaeda's threats? I would hope that Norway is resilient against this petty group of murderous thugs. As a Norwegian-American, that is my hope.
Bjørn Stærk | 2003-05-24 08:22 | Link
Andrew: As there haven't been any concrete demands made, there's not much to respond to. The response from the government has in any case been that we're not going to chance our foreign policy.
I'm not sure that I want us to expel Krekar any longer. That was a good solution when I knew he'd go back to Ansar al-Islam, which would be bombed shortly anyway. Now I would like him to be tried, somewhere, for something - preferably in Iraq for his crimes there.
ct: No? How about hijacking a large ship, then steering it into a platform?
Jan, Bergen | 2003-05-24 16:26 | Link
The Mullah Krekar link is, I guess, about as good a theory as anything.
If al-Qaeda is up in ire over the Norwegian kid glove treatment of Krekar, it is obvious it would not make any difference if we dragged him out and shot him summarily.
After 9/11, successful terror attacks (apart from Israel) has been against countries that have been soft on terror. Al Qaeda has failed hitting the major targets, US and Britain, and also countries like Italy, Germany and France which has long experience in handling terrorism. Instead it is countries like Saudi-Arabia and Indonesia, which has been trying to appease terrorists at every level, that has been hit.
Apart from rolling over and being dead, there is nothing we could do to satisfy the insane demands of the terrorists. Being soft only invites terror. Al-Qaeda already hates all of us; but they seem to hit at the softer targets.
I think the best strategy Norway could follow would be doubling our forces in Afghanistan (however small) and make it obvious we are very proud of what our people are doing down there. And, yeah, send Mullah Krekar on the first plane to Baghdad, where he can be picked up by the US. Or maybe give him to the Kurds directly.
Michael Wagner | 2003-05-24 17:35 | Link
Norway should be proud to have enemies like Al-Quaeda. The countries that weren't threatened are the one's who need to do some soul searching.
ct | 2003-05-25 00:28 | Link
I have to believe even Norwegians have figured out that these large objects of transportation (planes, trains, ships, etc.) are highjackable and have put in measures, if not just become aware of it and thought through what they'd do, if such a thing were attempted.
Less attitude from you Europeans and more understanding that you've allowed these devil-worshiping garbage onto European land which, in a real way, ultimately effects the security of the United States as well. Atheism is great if you're living in a vacuum. It's easy to be juvenile and ignorant of the existence of evil and of the Devil and his followers if they are not currently threatening you on this planet. Time to wake up now.
And, yes, the U.S. has some garbage of the muslim 'faith' on its soil, but we're not a country of a few million. The stupidity of the European countries that have allowed your most evil political 'leaders' to screw you like this with this unchecked immigration from 'islam' is unforgiveable.
Bjørn Stærk | 2003-05-25 13:26 | Link
ct: Don't blame us - you people are the ones who started this whole freedom of religion nonsense. You should kick out your own atheists, muslims and other devil-worshippers before you start complaining about ours.
In fact, send them all to us. More than enough room.
Interesting to see, btw, that the scare quote has been adopted as a stand-in for arguments by your end of the spectrum as well. Me, I'm more oldfashioned. I call a leader a leader, a faith a faith, an Islam by its real name, and whatever I may think is wrong with these concepts I don't blame it on the terminology.
Alex Bensky--Detroit | 2003-05-25 16:08 | Link
Norway should think of this as an opportunity to take stock, for self-reflection and self-criticism. You should ask why they hate you, what you have done, what faults in your foreign policy, to have caused these people to threaten you.
If you need some help in understanding why maniacal terrorists should threaten Norway, any number of American academics would be happy to come over and explain it to you.
Markku Nordstrom, New York/Helsinki | 2003-05-26 03:36 | Link
Alex Bensky: That certainly would be the meanest thing we could do to Norway: send a bunch of American academics over there to explain it all for them. Why, it's positively French!
ct | 2003-05-26 03:39 | Link
You have no understanding of the foundation you blithely stand on, Bjorn.
Bjørn Stærk | 2003-05-26 12:00 | Link
Alex & Markku: The funny thing about anti-Americanism is that when you export it, it's still anti-Americanism.
Andrew Hagen | 2003-05-27 23:21 | Link
"I'm not sure that I want us to expel Krekar any longer. . . . I would like him to be tried, somewhere, for something - preferably in Iraq for his crimes there."
Well, I agree with that. My understanding is that Krekar is wanted in Jordan for heroin trafficking. He could be extradited there. In the long-run, he could be extradited to Iraq, which might try him for committing terrorist acts there. That's speculative, however.
It's not clear whether Krekar's group is tied in with the recent Saudi bombings, but there is a bit of evidence. Here's a good article.
It doesn't matter why Al Qaeda is trying to hit you. They hate, and ultimately, there is no explanation for it except that they hate. Just fight back hard.
ct | 2003-05-28 21:09 | Link
Bjorn, they call the Devil God, and they call perpetual jihad against anybody who's not a muslim peace. Among other untruths. They deserve all the quotation marks they get.
Islam claims its authority from the Old and New Testaments, while at the same time denying all the truths of the Old and New Testaments. This leaves them very much fair game for a Christian to call them what they are: false idol worshiping, spirit of antichrist infused, followers of the Devil. Filthy, resentful, ignorant, lying, murderous, women-beating, foul, demonic losers. Followers of Satan.
Putting 'muslim' and 'islam' in quotes is communicating that what they say those words mean those words don't mean. Submission to God? No, submission to the devil.
ct | 2003-05-28 21:13 | Link
Don't let your politically-correct, enforced sensitivity Norwegian education keep you behind the times, Bjorn... You have nothing to fear from your Greeny commissars. Tell them to go take a flying f***.
QuestionMark | 2003-06-02 03:36 | Link
Just found my way here, tracking down the al-Qaida story. Nice blog. Here's another possible connection I ran across: Norwegian support for the Tamil Tigers, who according to the muslims have been wiping them out for some time now. The Sri Lankan roster of Norwegian baddies includes Ambassador Westborg,
and a fellow named Balasingham, who appears to be an idealogue or commander for the LTTE.
None of this appears very recent. The complaint about Westborg providing Norwegian transmitters to the LTTE was 12/2002. But two weeks ago Sri Lankan ex-pat organizations issued a complaint about the Norwegian Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission tipping heavily to the Tigers:
I have no idea whether al-Qaida has connections with Sri Lankan muslims, although I imagine they would be sympathetic. I'm interested to learn what your group thinks.
Joe N., USA | 2003-06-10 02:58 | Link
They're asking the wrong question. They should bother less with "why do they hate us?" The militants and the populations of the lands of the militants should ask themselves why they are hated.
Mitch Townsend | 2003-06-18 05:09 | Link
Why do they hate us? WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
Trackback URL: /cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/228
Post a comment
Comments on posts from the old Movable Type blog has been disabled.