The dust hadn’t even settled after the terrorist atrocities in London and already the conspiracy-theories and self-recrimination had begun. Unwilling to blame the actual perpetrators, members of the perennially paranoid among the Western left, the Muslim world, and even the mainstream media had to find someone, anyone else, to blame.
Websites such as WhatReallyHappened.com, Indymedia.com, and Al-Jazeera were filled with rumors that all was not as it seemed. Meanwhile, leftist groups accused “imperialist governments” of using the attacks to justify the war in Iraq and insisted on referring to the “so-called” war on terror even as the victims of suicide bombings lay entombed in a London subway.
Whether it be the Israeli conference attendees who were falsely accused of having foreknowledge of the attacks, or the idea that Western powers, by engaging the Islamic terrorists with which they are at war, had brought it on themselves, denial was running high.
Ever adept at promoting conspiracy-theories throughout the Muslim world, Al-Jazeera was quick to come up with plausible denial. Turning to the statement put out by the “The Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe” claiming responsibility for the attacks, they set their sites on the alleged errors in the Koranic verses it cited. Based on observations made by MSNBC translator Jacob Keryakes, Al-Jazeera wasted no time in labeling the document “phony.”
Since translations are hardly foolproof, this claim was premature to say the least. As we now know, the perpetrators were indeed British Muslims of Pakistani descent. The Al-Qaeda connection is still under investigation, but the link with worldwide Islamic terrorism is undeniable. The attacks in what has become known in recent years as “Londonistan“ may have been the unfortunate wake-up call that Britain needed to address the growing radicalism in their own backyard.
At the heart of Al-Jazeera’s denials is a larger issue: the inability of the Muslim World to take responsibility for its own actions. Whenever terrorism rears its ugly head, blame is laid elsewhere. Having read the various statements put out by Islamic clerics in the days following the attacks defending them as “blessed acts“ and “just desserts” for their enemies, it would seem that the shoe fits. Not to mention the usual celebrating among the Palestinians whenever Westerners are slaughtered indiscriminately. But, of course, the London suicide bombers couldn’t have been Muslims. As the director of London’s Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies Dr. Hani Al-Siba’i put it: “We do not rule out the possibility that it was done by the intelligence agency of another Western country hostile to Britain…or some Zionist Americans who wanted to overshadow the G-8 summit.”
While other Muslim organizations, leaders and individuals did condemn the bombings, trust has become a major issue for Western audiences in such instances. Also, these proclamations tend to focus more on concern for a real or imagined “backlash” against their own communities and less on concern for the victims of terrorism. Whether or not the London bombings will lead to the much-anticipated rejection of radicalism from within remains to be seen. In any case, only when the Muslim masses are able to withstand self-criticism will their dependency on conspiracy-theories disappear.
The other conspiracy-theory circulating the very day of the London attacks took the ubiquitous “Blame the Jews” angle. Sure enough, along came the accusation that the Israeli embassy and in particular Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in town for a conference aimed at supporting investment in Israel, had been warned beforehand of the attack. Actually, the attendees were told by British Intelligence to stay in their hotel after the first blast. They were staying at the Great Eastern hotel near the Liverpool Street subway station, one of the stations hit in the attacks. If anything, the Israelis may have been among the intended targets of the attack, but instead they were treated as if they were perpetrators.
Lest it be thought that such conspiracy theories emanated solely from the Muslim world or the fringe left, the Drudge Report featured a blood red headline on the morning of the attacks: “Netanyahu Was Warned!” The headline referred to an Associated Press article, which erroneously claimed that the warning was given before and not after the first bombing. AP later issued not a correction, but rather another article headlined, “Israel “not warned’ about London attacks.” Instead of removing the link to the incorrect story or replacing it with a correction, Drudge featured it prominently at the top of his homepage for the entire day.
To add insult to injury, AP soon generated another faulty story by misquoting Tony Blair as saying that the “easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians” is one of the “very deep roots” of terrorism. This article was later retracted. For anyone who still thinks wire services such as AP and Reuters (known as “Al-Reuters” in the blogosphere) and the mainstream media in general are immune to pushing conspiracy-theories, all of this was further proof otherwise.
Media outlets such as the BBC and Reuters that refuse to use the word “terrorism“ when referring to acts perpetrated against Israelis and sometimes Americans, but have no qualms when the victims are British, European or anyone else, bespeaks an agenda that goes far beyond conspiracy-theories. This too was exposed in the aftermath of the London attacks, when all of a sudden the BBC discovered
the T-word. Perhaps recognizing their own hypocrisy, they have since stopped using the term in their London reporting. Now it’s just called “bombing” or “bombers” as if such acts occur without any evil intentions.
When not engaging in rumors and conspiracies, the Western left did what it does best: self-recriminate. Taking the terrorists at their word, antiwar types immediately began blaming Bush, Blair, and the war in Iraq for the attacks. Nevermind that Islamic terrorist attacks on the West began long before the U.S. military stepped foot in Iraq, or that countries such as Spain, which did pull its troops out following the Madrid bombings, continue to be a target for terrorism. According to the apologists for terrorism, if Coalition troops withdrew from Iraq all would be well with the world.
Of course, this is the same logic that puts forward Israel’s destruction (couched in “peace in the Middle East” terminology) as the other solution to terrorists’ demands. In other words, just do what they say and they’ll leave us alone. In truth, nothing we do will shake their quest for world domination because it has less to do with our actions and more to do with who we are. Infidels, unbelievers, kuffar or in other words, non- Muslims.
Of those who jumped on the self-recrimination bandwagon before the bodies had even been counted was British MP George Galloway. Galloway put out a statement on behalf of his pseudo-Socialist political party, Respect: The Unity Coalition, blaming his own government and calling the attacks, “the result of a world that has become a less safe and peaceful place in recent years.” Apparently, Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with making the world a less peaceful place, at least in Galloway’s warped view.
Galloway would naturally share the perspective of terrorists since he seems to subscribe to their ideology. Several months ago, he played a prominent part in a rally organized by the British Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in which speeches were given calling not for only a general boycott of Israel, but also its outright destruction. In a recent appearance on Abu-Dhabi TV, he referred to British and American troops as “Crusader soldiers” and warned of the “hell-fires” that would consume the West in retaliation. Either Galloway’s been drinking the Kool-Aid down at the local Islamist mosque or he’s immersed himself in the self-loathing of Dhimmitude. Either way, he’s become a liability that the UK and the rest of us can ill afford.
The proliferation of conspiracy-theories surrounding the London bombings were reminiscent of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. It was only a week or two after those attacks that rumors began circulating alleging that 4,000 Jews had been warned beforehand and left the WTC before the attacks. Like the current “Blame the Jews” canard, this one had as its genesis an actual news story. A Jerusalem Post article trying to account for the number of Israelis in the areas of the WTC and the Pentagon at the time of the attacks was transformed into a conspiracy-theory for the ages. It later ballooned into wild speculations that Israel had some hand in the 9/11 attacks themselves.
Although this story spread like wildfire throughout the Muslim world, where such conspiracy theories are de rigueur, it was initially dismissed in the West as an obvious falsehood intoned only by the lunatic fringe. But the rumor had staying power and today it’s been accepted as fact by an embarrassingly large number of people, almost all of them either on the left side of the political spectrum or the far right (as in Neo-Nazis).
Added to the canon of 9/11 conspiracy-theories were the whispers of a Bush/Rove plot. Believers alleged that the Bush administration, with the collusion of the Pentagon, were either behind the attacks themselves or simply allowed them to happen in order to institute a quasi-police state. Gaps in what we know about the attacks as well as outright falsehoods all melded together in the feverish minds of those searching for hidden answers. Whatever one’s criticisms of the administration and its approach to the War on Islamic Terrorism, one would have to be beyond cynical to believe that they’d allow 3,000 Americans (or more) to die simply to accumulate more power.
I’m reminded of this cynicism whenever I receive e-mails from readers espousing such theories and encouraging me to “learn the truth” for myself. It never ceases to amaze me how many well-educated, otherwise rational people insist on pushing these fantasies. Unable to cope with the nihilistic and horrifying threat of Islamic terrorism, they instead turn to familiar demons. Having been inculcated all their lives with the belief that the United States and Israel are responsible for all that’s wrong with the world, they’re simply incapable of grasping the truth. How long these people can continue their delusions is unknown, but something tells me that a great number of them will simply have to be written off as functionally insane while the rest of us attend to the business of fighting Islamic terrorism.
In some ways I understand this need to find more comforting answers. There’s been many a day since 9/11 that I’ve wished this threat wasn’t real. But it is. At some point, all of us will have to shake off the conspiracy-theories and face that truth.