How did the terrorist attacks become a freedom issue?

Why in all the rhetoric were the terrorist attacks viewed as an attack on our freedom? Our freedom to do what? Keep troops in Saudi Arabia? Support Israel? What freedom exactly was attacked?

Why do we have to turn it into an ideological battle to be spurred to action? Isn’t saying that our safety was threatened enough? Do people TRULY believe that Osama bin Laden woke up one day and said “Hey those guys are free, let’s get em!”?


Our freedom of or from religion. Freedom to watch porn and fornicate. Freedom to let women participate as full members of society. Freedom to commit ‘ursery’. (Dunno what that is, but sounds good to me!). Freedom to charge interest on loans. Crap like that.

Bin Laden hates America, and ‘The West’, for those freedoms and more. His first statement after 9/11 specifically listed most of the fun stuff we do, and said we should stop doing it (and convert to Islam).

Brutus: So the reason he attacked us was because of that? It had nothing to do with the fact that we have troops in Saudi Arabia or that we support the Zionists in Israel? He attacked us because of his ideological differences with us?

So why didn’t he attack Sweden or Canada?


I agree entirely with you, but it’s just a losing battle convincing some people around here. I think a look at OBL’s taped speech today shows pretty clearly that his beef is with American interventionism, what he calls “crusaders.” However, people like Brutus continue to believe that we would be the victim of suicide terrorism even if we didn’t intervene in the region, just on account of some nebulous vague hatred of America’s culture.

Yeah, the culture they don’t like, but I don’t think that’s what was really attacked. Polls conducted of Middle Easterners show that their concern with America is our support for Israel and intervention in the area. OBL’s speech today and all his prior speeches show that his problem with America is Israel and U.S. actions in the MidEast. I’ve been over and over this issue through the past few months around here and some people are just sticking to their position that it’s about American culture. Perhaps if we stopped meddling in the MidEast, we’d know for sure.

Would someone fly halfway across the world to suicide bomb a building in America, ending his own life, just because he thought Americans were decadent? Or would he need better reason to do it, something happening in the Islamic world, to motivate him? I’m convinced it’s the latter, but this had been a dead end argument with those who toss around this Rumsfeld-esque “choke on the sweet air of freedom” jargon.

America is the big boy on the block, and is the shining example of ‘westerness’ I suppose. And it’s not as if Al Queda/assorted Islamic terrorists haven’t been active in European countries. America just draw more attention.

Brutus: Those European countries and their colonial interests are one of the major reasons that the middle east is as fractured as it is to begin with.


Actually, mswas and Rex Dart, you are mostly correct; however, it is important to note that ObL and Al-Qaieda really didn’t say much at all about the Palestinian issue before 9/11. ObL’s main objectives, since the late 80’s, have been the removal of the Saudi royal family and establishment of a purely Islamic state; in the beginning of all of this, he was primarily concerned with Saudi Arabia, and only tangentially focused on the rest of the Muslim world.

Islamic terrorism, as such, really didn’t even exist before 1979; two events that year were milestones in “fundamentalist” terrorism - the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The US provision of covert support to the mujahideen in Afghanistan went over well, which is why there was little targeting of the US by fundamentalist Muslims until relatively recently. ObL’s biggest beef with us has always been our support of the Saudi regime: in his (and others) estimation, the royal family would not be able to survive if we did not provide them military and “moral” support.

Although ObL and other Muslim fundamentalists often decry the Western way of life, in most cases the sticking point with them is the effect of that way of life on their culture and their religious beliefs; they resent the encroachment, and feel powerless to stop it, in most cases. The US as a symbol of this way of life is all too easy a target; with our continued military presence in Islamic countries, we enjoy the singular opportunity of being the most obvious Goliath to their David. And our domination of the world economy is just as much of a concern to them: though the oil producers have a great deal of money, they lack the economic clout that the US has. There is a tendency to see the US as wielding our economic policies against the underdeveloped peoples of the world; Islamic fundamentalists often target “US imperialism,” as we tend to influence the economies of the lesser-developed countries so heavily.

Was this an attack on our freedom? No, none of the planners of 9/11 hated us for our freedom; however, they did use our freedom against us. It was an attack on what we represent (hence the targetting of the WTC and the Pentagon) to them; in many ways, the things we cherish most about being Americans are also our Achilles heel. The terrorist attacks can only “become a freedom issue” if we end up curtailing those self-same freedoms in response to those horrendous events. I , for one, hope we don’t go down that road.



I think greco_loco has some valid points but I don’t agree with the general analysis.

Everything I’ve read about and by OBL points to his – and his peers – formative period being Lebanon in the early 80’s. Sure the US presence in Saudi and the general hegemony – military and financial - in the region are also issues but it’s the perceived injustice propos his ‘brother’ Palestinians that is the prime motivation.

Lebanon is where he experienced the brutality of Israel / Sharon at first hand (in the massacre’s at Sabra & Shatila). And it’s where he ‘learned’ – his opinion – that the way to treat the US is to attack it because when you do, the US back’s off. For that reasoning he relies on the Beirut Marine barracks bombing and the later US embassy bombing in Beirut – after that he says that reasoning is confirmed by the way the US has responded to everything from Mogadishu to the USS Cole. I don’t quite know how he spins Afghanistan.

I do think the US presence in Saudi is an issue (he says it is) but, to an extent, I also think it’s used as a useful tool by which to whip up fundamentalist support. His real issue has always been Palestine, not least because of the injustices he witnessed in those formative experiences. And Palestine is, of course, a ‘freedom’ issue – 50 years / three generations of refugees must be.

That the US so actively supports the ‘oppressive’ Israel is why the US is the prime target, both the US presence (in Saudi) and general regional hegemony are contributing factors. IMHO.

And, yeah, I also find the irony surrounding the ‘freedom’ issue to be deafening.

Ironic indeed, with the ultimate irony being this: while the attacks were motivated neither by hatred of nor intent to curb American freedom, their effect has in many respects been precisely the latter. I.e., the so-called war on terrorism has justified serious incursions on individual and civil liberties, and, just as bad, has narrowed the acceptable range of public speech.

L_C, no offense, but are you sure you are speaking of Osama bin Laden and al Qaieda? ObL has nothing to do with Lebanon, Palestine, or even that part of the world; when the Marines were attacked in Beirut, ObL was most likely in Afghanistan or Pakistan, organizing the mujahideen with the help of the CIA. After the war, in 88 or so, ObL returned to Saudi, where he was expelled in 91 due to “anti-government activities.” He then moved his base of operations to Sudan, which is where most analysts believe he actually started the formation of al Qaieda as an organization (the name had existed since the late 80’s, as a reference to the mujahideen training infrastructure he created).

ObL was born to an extremely wealthy Saudi family; like many of the elite, he spent a lot of his time in pursuit of religious education, but, unlike most, he actually felt a calling when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. He and a few hundred other Saudis felt that it was their duty as Muslims to assist their brothers in Afghanistan; at that time, the Soviets were considered to be the epitome of an “evil empire” by Islamic fundamentalists (atheism is not compatible with Islam: if you are an atheist, and don’t believe in a god, then you effectively admit that you have no soul, which puts you on the same level as an animal). Their actions towards the Afghanis drew in ObL; he managed to recruit Muslims from many nations as mujahideen, and once the invasion ended, he returned to Saudi as, for all intents and purposes, a hero. He was not recognized by the government as such (none of the mujahideen were), but popular opinion in Saudi, to this day, idolizes those that gave up everything to help the Afghanis. This support is especially strong among the fundamentalists, of course, but even the average Saudi has a degree of respect for those that are known as mujahideen, to include ObL.

Unfortunately, your argument and assertions are very far from the truth: his “real issue” has never been Palestine, and there is no evidence to support your assertion that he was even there in the time frame you mentioned. Although it is entirely possible the events in Palestine had some effect on his thoughts and upbringing (it is an important issue to all Arabs), there have been no statements from either ObL or al Qaieda concerning Palestine directly (aside from oblique or tangential references) until after the events of 9/11 occurred. If you have proof of your claims, I would like to see it; as an intel analyst that has studied this area for the past 13 years or so, it’s news to me.

BTW - here is a website that gives a general summarization of the public facts known about ObL. No mention of what you describe.

Thanks -


London Calling: Hate to just “me to” it, but I have to agree with greco_loco. While I think ObL likely has drawn some strategic lessons from the Marine bombings et al., everything I have read has indicated that the Palestinian issue has always been very much a secondary ( if that - more likely tertiary or less ) interest.

It is true he does indeed have some theological connections with certain senior clerics in Hamas. Further I agree with g_l in that I think it is safe to say that the Palestine question is of some concern to virtually all the radical Islamists, just as it sort of is a backburner issue for most Arabs ( and many Muslims ) generally. However it really doesn’t seem to have been his prime motivator in life - More a useful popular rallying call in recent years to whip up support.

  • Tamerlane

London Calling: Or to put another way - I think you have exactly backwards ;). It is Palestine that is the useful tool to whip up support among moderates, while as a fundamentalist himself, with impeccable credentials as such, he has less need to whip up support among that group :).

  • Tamerlane

Tamerlane, thanks for the support. I also agree that the situation is the reverse of how L_C stated it; Palestine will always be the way to hit the guilt button of moderate Muslims, especially in the recent political climate.

BTW - the BBC has posted a translation of latest ObL tape; thank God, as I didn’t have the time to write one out myself (I heard it yesterday on al-Jazeera and on the radio, but didn’t actually sit down and type up a transcript - he’s too long-winded).

In my opinion, it is a good translation, that conveys the message well; as such, one should notice (as pertains to our recent conversation in this thread) that there is little mention of the Palestinians. He does state that this is all part of a plot to create a “Greater Israel,” but I think that is playing to the fears of the average Arab that the US and Israel are both trying to whittle away the Arab world, piece by piece. Most Arabs don’t hate the US, but find it very hard to reconcile what they see in the Occupied Territories and the US support of those activities. It is relatively easy for ObL to stir up feelings of unease and conspiracy in the current environment.

Thanks -


Oops - just saw that Beagle posted the link in another thread. Just want to give credit where it is due…


Hmm… Well, I’d like to post something, but it seems all sides have been covered well.

I agree with this. The “War on Turrra” has the effect of being a “War on Freedom”. The impression is that you’re “either for us, or agin us”. That is, if you disagree with unwarranted searches and seazures, racial profiling, etc, then you must be on the side of the terrorists.

In my opinion freedom carries the price of risk. We have a choice: We can live in a free society, or we can trade our freedom for security. Here is a [url=“”]quote from an article
from last November:

I think we have become more self-indulgent and less civic-minded. We expect the government to protect us. (Indeed, the government should provide certain protections from attack.) But IMO our self-centred attitude is allowing our liberties to errode. How many times have we heard “If we allow [this] to happen, then the terrorists have already won”? I generally hear it as a joke. But it’s not. The terrorists want to destroy America. If we allow our liberties to erode, then the terrorist have indeed attained a victory. I think that people should take the responsibility (because freedom also comes at the price of personal responsibility) to pay more attention to what’s around them; not only in their own neighbourhood, but also in the world. “The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance.” That’s three prices of freedom that I’ve mentioned. We should realize that freedom is not just a birthright; it’s a treasure.

[sub]Gods, I need some caffeine in my system…[/sub]

How about the freedom to not live in fear? That’s a pretty important freedom.

And the rest of your rhetoric, who declared Osama bin Ladin and Al Quada to be the representitives of the Saudi government, the Saudi people or the Palestinians? We are not in Saudi Arabia as a conquering army. we are there as part of an arangement with the Saudi government, similar to arrangements we have with a dozen other nations. If some crackpots in Germany or South Korea decide they are opposed to US troops being stationed there and decide to blow something up, should we simply pull up our tents and go home? I’m sorry, but I don’t think that foreign policy (or really any policy) should be dictated by who can make the most horrific display of violence.

The problem, IMHO, is that since WWII, our politicians are afraid to commit American forces to anything that either might get them hurt or make us look like we have the strongest military in the world. (the whole “limited war” theory) Vietnam was a bright shining exampe of fighting a war with one hand tied behind your back. Korea…great…we tied. We one the Gulf War 10 years ago…so what the fuck are we doing back in Iraq fighting the same dictator? Even though Afghanistan was a big win, our hesitation to commit ground forces probably led to a lot of Al Quada escaping. I miss the good old days when we would fight wars to win, not just tie.

How old are you ms? It may not be too late for you to join our volunteer army, sign up for the front lines of any ground assault and experience the good old days first hand.

With any luck you might even come home safe with a new sense of what freedom, and especially freedom from fear, is all about.

It’s not ms, its M Smith. I don’t call you [a]Ma** so kindly use my completely made-up alias correctly. Unless your talking to mswas, in which case disregard.

I fail to see what my joining the Army has anything remotely to do with our foreign policy. My point is simply that if we are going to go to war, we should go to war with the intention of winning. Or we shouldn’t go at all. When we put soldiers into harms way, they should have a clearly defined mission, the proper tools to get the job done, and the ability to properly defend themselves. And we should have the commitment to get the job done.

Every time we go into a Beruit or Somalia or any other place without the propery mission, tools, or commitment, we place our troops in unnecessary danger and we make the situation worse in the long run by encouraging our enemies think exactly the way they do now - a little show of force and the big bad USA will withdraw back into its borders.

Now I’ve never had anyone shooting at me so I can’t really say how I’d react. But I’m pretty sure if I spent all day fighting to take some hill or beachhead, I would be pretty pissed off over having to give it back the next day because some politician back home was uncomfortable with the casualty count. Then again, maybe I’d just be happy to be outa there.

Please let me know if there is something here you disagree with.

Also, I’m curious to know if you have ever served in the military and have seen any actual combat.

There are also “would you join the military” threads already out there should you want to further indulge in that topic.

“I fail to see what my joining the Army has anything remotely to do with our foreign policy.”

Which is precisely why there are people now calling for a reinstitution of the draft. That is, if there is to be an era of aggressive American unilateralism, involving serious military intervention–win, lose or draw–there ought in all fairness to be a draft so that the human costs of war are distributed more fairly and democratically.

If you yourself might be drafted, or your child or relative were subject to the draft you would probably–or so the argument goes–feel differently about committing your country’s armed forces to full-scale war. I think that’s a valid argument, especially as the present volunteer army is disproportionately composed of minorities and people with fewer professional options than you and I are likely to have. (I say “liikely,” b/c my sense of you from previous threads is that you are some sort of business professional and I’m guessing that you never thought of enlisting. Doubtless you will correct me if I’m wrong since you’re so touch about your moniker :wink: )

No, I’ve never served in the military and would never want to. Nor would I want any child or relative of mine to do so (though family includes a couple of Korean war and WW2 vets, and one uncle who was a marine for a short time but without seeing any combat).
But I definitely favor the reinstitution of a draft even though it could conceivably have an impact on loved ones of mine. I know for certain that if any child or loved one of mine were now on his/her way over to risk life and limb in this proposed war, I’d be even more vocal than I aready am that war be, at the very least, delayed and hopefully avoided entirely. I believe there are other good options out there, and ones that will also work better to protect Americans and others against terrorists threats. (If it’s of any interest my entire family is from New York City and I think about threats there and in other American cities as much as anyone.) And I believe that those who have something personally to lose–some immediate human cost at stake–are more likely to think in those terms. Whereas under the present circumstances for many the human costs—both American and Iraqi–are abstract and easy to shrug off.