How did the terrorist attacks become a freedom issue?


Usery is charging interest on loans. [/nitpick]

This has already been covered to death in another thread.

  1. What is more democratic than a volunteer army? You can’t fight a war if no one shows up.
  2. It is unlikely that those in power or their loved ones will do much of the fighting anyway. I suspect that the sons of congressman and other influentual people would probably be bravely defending Montana from the Republican Guard if they were drafted.
  3. The military seems to favor an all volunteer force.

Well, I don’t want to hijack this thread into another one–esp. since you say the ground’s been covered. But just so you know where I stand:

re #1) What’s more democratic than a volunteer army? A representative one. (Oh, and people do show up when they’re drafted; indeed, what in US history, apart from a limited number of draft dodgers during Viet Nam and doubtless some previous wars made you think otherwise?)

re#2) Well it’s interesting you should mention that since during the good old days you’re hankering for the rich and powerful did often sacrifice their sons: many felt they had to because the sacrifice was so broadly distributed amongst the citizenry. Think of the Kennedy sons. Of course, the honor of hunkering down in the National Guard (with a mysterious service record to boot) belongs to our present warrior president, the most famous “chicken hawk” of our era.
re# 3) Of course the military favors an all-volunteer force. They also favor an all passive public rather than one clamoring for more transparency because their sons and daughters lives are being put at risk prematurely.

I’m sorry but in my view such rebuttals only reinforce the hypocrisy at hand.
Note too how increasingly difficult in these bellicose times it’s becoming to recruit for our volunteer armed forces, with the military now resorting to cold-calling high school students without open parental notice, like a bunch of shady telemarketers.
Ah well, you have the last word if you like it, msmith537; and I’ll let this thread return to where it began.

The bottom line is: 1)The military’s purpose is defense of the nation, not social engineering and 2)A modern military requires a level of professionalism incompatible with reliance on conscripts.

No, Steve MB, that kind of casuistry is just your bottom line and you are most heartily entitled to it.

Mandelstam: Donald Rumsfeld agrees with Steve MB on point number 2.

FWIW I would be in the Navy right now if it weren’t for a heart condition that I have. The recruiters were in love with me, I scored perfect on the ASVAB, they said I could have pretty much any job I wanted. I have a congenital heart condition, that was pretty much taken care of by surgery, but they stopped calling me when this became an issue right before I was supposed to be DEPed and take the DLAB. This was over the summer, not many years ago.

The military cold called me when I was 17 back in 95. It’s nothing new.

As usual I disagree with M Smith on pretty much everything. I think the idea of freedom from fear is a pretty convoluted argument at best. Changing the word “safety” to “freedom from fear” is pretty opportunistic.

Thanks Greco Loco, Tamerlane and even London_Calling for your great posts.


Greco_loco and Mandelstam – my short answer is; I’ll meet you both part way. The long answer is at the bottom of this (even longer) post :wink:

No, I never intended to give the impression OBL was involved in Lebanon in the early 80’s. I did say ‘formative period’ and everything I’ve read points to that era and those events as being key contributing factors in the formation of OBL’s personal political philosophy – here was a guy learning from and about the CIA in Afghanistan while at the very same time his ‘brothers’ were being slaughtered by American supported militia in Beirut. He learnt the game during that period; the duplicity, the immorality, the hedegemony …
On a more general note, one might think the radical nature of al Qaieda is wholly a product of the US having bases in Saudi as well as influencing the Saud family / oil production, but that radical nature, by itself, doesn’t sit entirely well (IMHO) with what is, in character, passive, non-violent (US) hegemony. Alternatively, perhaps I underestimate the power of the perceived grievance from a fundamental perspective…… Or is, in fact, Palestine a stimuli of itself ?

I suppose we could look at this from another angle; for example, is/was the US presence in Saudi of itself sufficient to motivate al Qaieda apropos 9/11 ? Here’s an extract from a CNN interview with OBL from 1997 – I’d ask you to consider the order in which he lists his grievances:

REPORTER: Mr. Bin Ladin, you’ve declared a jihad against the United States. Can you tell us why? And is the jihad directed against the US government or the United States’ troops in Arabia? What about US civilians in Arabia or the people of the United States?
BIN LADIN: We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation of the Prophet’s Night Travel Land (Palestine). And we believe the US is directly responsible for those who were killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. The mention of the US reminds us before everything else of those innocent children who were dismembered, their heads and arms cut off in the recent explosion that took place in Qana (in Lebanon). This US government abandoned even humanitarian feelings by these hideous crimes. It transgressed all bounds and behaved in a way not witnessed before by any power or any imperialist power in the world. They should have been considerate that the qibla (Mecca) of the Muslims upheaves the emotion of the entire Muslim World. Due to its subordination to the Jews the arrogance and haughtiness of the US regime has reached, to the extent that they occupied the qibla of the Muslims (Arabia) who are more than a billion in the world today. For this and other acts of aggression and injustice, we have declared jihad against the US, because in our religion it is our duty to make jihad so that God’s word is the one exalted to the heights and so that we drive the Americans away from all Muslim countries. As for what you asked whether jihad is directed against US soldiers, the civilians in the land of the Two Holy Places (Saudi Arabia, Mecca and Medina) or against the civilians in America, we have focused our declaration on striking at the soldiers in the country of The Two Holy Places. The country of the Two Holy Places has in our religion a peculiarity of its own over the other Muslim countries. In our religion, it is not permissible for any non-Muslim to stay in our country. Therefore, even though American civilians are not targeted in our plan, they must leave. We do not guarantee their safety, because we are in a society of more than a billion Muslims. A reaction might take place as a result of US government’s hitting Muslim civilians and executing more than 600 thousand Muslim children in Iraq by preventing food and medicine from reaching them. So, the US is responsible for any reaction, because it extended its war against troops to civilians. This is what we say. As for what you asked regarding the American people, they are not exonerated from responsibility, because they chose this government and voted for it despite their knowledge of its crimes in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and in other places and its support of its agent regimes who filled our prisons with our best children and scholars. We ask that may God release them.

My conclusion - fwiw - is that I can’t have a firm view on whether OBL used / uses the Palestinian cause / issue to gain his movement greater support and credibility or whether it was / and remains a key component (characteristic) in his political philosophy because I simply don’t know. Maybe it’s both. He did speak, however, of the Palestinian plight prior to 9/11 (as demonstrated in the interview extract above) but not quite in the clear terms I thought I remembered …interesting …
msmith537 – I think the problem the US has faced since Vietnam is that no first-termer will risk ongoing body bags because it’s perceived as being electoral suicide. That, of course, has nothing to do with the US military but it goes a very long way to explaining the obsession with technology in general and ‘smart’ bombs in particular: You can win wars and elections … Is Afghanistan a success ? Firstly I think it’s too early, secondly, I’d say the signs aren’t good.

mswas, Rumsfeld is far from beyond casuistry!

I’ve heard the military line on this issue, and I do not find it persuasive. It’s very easy to fabricate all kinds of reasons why a volunteer army is preferred. Under the draft, anyone with a heart condition was screened out. (I happen to know this for certain b/c a relative of mine escaped the Viet Nam draft due to high blood pressure.) The draft provides a pool of access that includes the entire youth of the country. There are all kinds of different roles involved in military service. Do you think the Israeli army isn’t “modern”? But 'nuff said on this hijack, ok? It is clearly another debate.

Greetings London_Calling: it’s always nice to receive a generous offer to be met half way, but I wasn’t one of the ones debating you on that issue! I think you must mean Tamerlane. (And without question all three of you know more about specific middle east affairs than I do–it is not a strong area for me.)

Oh dear! So sorry Tamerlane … apologies to all !! And greetings Mandelstam!


It’s the prohibition of usery by Christians–specifically Catholics, since the time period we’re talking about starts before the Reformation–combined with a lack of other opportunties in the job market, that gave us the avaricous money-grubbing Jewish banker sterotype.


S’okay - Nobody every notices poor, poor, ignored Tamerlane. sniff


L_C: Yes, but ObL’s first manifesto and substantive public statement and the one that seems to have framed his major grievance was issued on August 23, 1996 and while it does mention Palestine ( and has the obligatory reference to the “Zionist-Crusaders” ), it does so only once in 11 pages and more in passing. Far and away, the focus is on Saudi Arabia. Allow me to quote a bit:

*In the months preceding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in June, 1990, the posturing of Saddam Hussein - who was still despised by the jihadists-salafist faction as an apostate - worried Osama sufficiently for him to offer the kingdom the services of his jihadist corps for the defense of the Saudi frontier. But when King Fahd, the Custodian of the Two Holy Places, called in the troops of an international coalition led by the United States, bin Laden joined Sheikhs Auda and Hawali and their circle in adamantly opposing the presense of infidel armies on Arabian soil. Thereafter Osama was harassed by the regime until, with the assistance of family contacts, he contrived to escape in April 1991…

…A major turning point had now been reached in the life of the man who was to become the most sought-after outlaw in recent history. Like many other Islamist militants coddled by the Saudi system during the 1980’s, bin Laden broke radically with the monarchy and its American protectors over the Gulf War…

…In the summer of 1996, Osama returned to Afghanistan. In June, an attack on the American military camp at Khobar in Saudi Arabia that took 19 lives was imputed to him. Again, he did not claim responsibility, but on August 23 he released a Declaration of Jihad against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places. This eleven-page tract, best known by its subtitle Expel the Polytheists from the Arabian Penninsula, is crammed with quotations from the Koran, hadiths of the Prophet, and references to Ibn Taymiyya…
…After recalling the sufferings visited by the “Zionist-Crusader” alliance upon Muslims in various countries around the world, it describes the “occupation of the Land of the Two Holy Places” as “the greatest of all these aggressions.”*

The above excerpts from Jihad:The Trail of Political Islam by Gilles Kepel.

Here’s the one bit from that manifesto where Palestine is mentioned ( bolding mine ), with context:

It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had
suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn’t respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its’ allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves.

In otherwords it is part of his pre-spiel, setting the stage for his big beef.

Again, not to say the Palestine issue is unimportant to him. Just that it appears to be a lesser issue, compared to his ambitions to unite the Arabian Penninsula under his banner.

  • Tamerlane

So howabout we meet 3/4 my way and 1/4 your way ;)?

  • Tamerlane

Thanks for the clarification of your point L_C, and thanks to Tamerlane for the informative post, as usual; though I do think the 75%/25% split is pretty generous… :wink:

In case I wasn’t clear (looking over my previous post I may have been a bit severe): the Palestinian cause has been a serious issue to Muslims everywhere since the beginning; in the 70’s, relations between the Palestinians and the Israelis were uneasy, but nowhere near the level that preceded either the first Intifada or the current one. These last two events have tended to keep the Palestinian issue in focus for the past 15 years or so; before that, it tended to only flare up when a particularly egregious event occurred. In Saudi, at least, it seems that most charitable organizations that donated to the Palestinian cause really didn’t become widespread until the mid-to-late 80’s; I would still think it is safe to say that for most Saudis, it was “out of sight/out of mind,” at least until 86-87(the first Intifadah). Saudi was a key financial backer of the PLO, and King Fahd submitted a peace plan to the US and the Israelis in 1981; however, in both instances the initiative was taken by Arafat, in an attempt to have a strong Arab backing (to strengthen the legitimacy of the PLO as an entity).

As Tamerlane so effectively illustrated, ObL has been pretty much fixated on Saudi, the Arab homeland, and the Western (specifically US) presence in the Middle East; it is important to keep in mind that, in the interview you excerpted, the Qana incident had recently occurred, and it was definitely in the forefront of the issues for all Muslims, especially Arabs. I can’t connect to the link you provided (not your fault, evidently that website is not well-liked by the Qatari censors…); however, I have just read the interview on another site, in it’s entirety. The Palestinians are only mentioned twice in the whole interview, and both times alongside the mention of the Qana affair; in fact, I would have to say that ObL does not ever mention them directly, but only in reference to US support for Israel. Not to be obstinate, but if you really want to study ObL and understand his motives, you do have to focus on his sayings, deeds, and history; if you do, you will find that any points he makes in support of the Palestinian cause are almost completely “opportunistic.”

So if it had been me instead of Tamerlane that had acquiesced, I would have put it about 95%/5%; but I’m known at work as a hardass, so don’t take it personal… :slight_smile:



Tamerlane and/or greco_loco:

A while back I stumbled upon an essay written by a cleric in Saudi Arabia. (This was during some debate about whether or not Muslims approved of the actions of 9/11; I’m sure you’ve seen them.) I’ll have to paraphrase because I can’t find it again, but his main idea was this: OBL emerged from Afghanistan thinking that he had “defeated” the Soviet Union. (The Soviet Union is no longer.) Possibly in his mind he has an interest in “defeating” the US. He may or may not have a religious basis for this desire or be motivated by the suffering of fellow Muslims; he is after all a spoiled rich kid who isn’t bound to live within the confines of his society. The cleric was most interested in debunking the thought that all roads in Islam might lead to Wahhabism and jihad, and his characterization of OBL in reference to that. (It wasn’t a very flattering portrait of the US or OBL, maybe that’s why I took it at face value.)

So since then I’ve assumed that he is in search of glory, or something…more idealism than sense, and is using the hot topics of the day to lend legitimacy to his actions. A corollary in this country I guess would be if Bill O’Reilly (or somebody) took it upon himself to destroy downtown Riyadh on behalf of poor frightened Americans. Middle Easterners are enroaching on our soil, immigrating in huge numbers, building mosques everywhere in this Christian country, their societies are brutal to women, they control the lifeblood of our nation…whatever, we’d hear it all. These reasons might satisfy some, but the actions did nothing to influence a change in the problems cited, and so the motive remains suspect.

(continued, sorry)

so I wanted your opinions on what the cleric said - that OBL’s motives are purely secular and self-centered.

I say, “Yes, because of Palistine.”
(No, not because of our freedoms.)

Understand that it is as much cultural as religious.
My mentor in Islam, a Turk, told me in an aside that Jews were the root of all evil in the world. (I was too astonished to say anything.)
A Imam, from Medina, in a Nashville mosque said that no matter where a Jew is from he is an avowed enemy of Islam. (I walked out never to return to that mosque.)
As an convert I do not share that hatred however I also don’t share the seemingly prevailing American view that Israel can do no wrong.

Yes, because of America’s unflegging support of Israel.
This I consider the primary reason America was targeted.

The American military presence in Arabia is just added fuel. I don’t think this would be a problem if it weren’t for our support of Israel. I dare say even a fundamentalist Saudi govenment would welcome protection against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait.

I agree. I think that the US Military is very good at their job. But in the end, the military is simply a political tool of the civilian leadership (as it should be) .

I do not make the distinction between freedom and safety that you do. When you threaten a person’s safety you are exerting control and influence over that person. If a bully threatens to beat you up every day, does he not threaten your freedom? If you are afraid to walk into a mall or take a job in a high-rise building because some terrorist might blow it up, is that not a threat to your freedom?

There are more tangible example of actual freedoms being threatened. This is a war over idealogy. Fundimentalist Islam, as practiced by the Taliban, is very oppressive to personal freedoms. I don’t believe that groups like Al Quada would be satisfied if we pulled out of the Middle East and abandoned Israel. I think that like other religeous fanatics, they would continue trying to spread their oppressive, fundamentalist version of Islam.

Tee, just saw your post, and will try to give you a decent answer; however, it is pretty late for me, so I apologize if I flag at some point…

ObL did indeed leave Afghanistan feeling that he and the Islamic faith had defeated the Soviets; if you look at his CNN interview in March 97 (I linked to it in another thread today, but you can Google for it as well), you can see he clearly believes he and the mujahideen won that battle because they were on Allah’s side. I think when we consider him, we must look at him as a self-righteous zealot that believes most of what he says; certainly he has given that impression to those that have interviewed and met him, though I’m sure there is a streak of opportunist in there as well. As for the “spoiled rich kid” image, I don’t feel it is really apt in this case: he was born to a very wealthy family, but was one of over 50 children. There is no evidence that he actually used any of the wealth for himself, or that he acted in any way like many of the wealthy Arabs of the younger generations have (debauched trips to Europe, expensive tastes); he was serious in his religious studies, and followed his father’s religious demeanor. He did not distinguish himself in any particular field, but attended school from elementary to university in Jeddah. He was there when a group of radical Islamists seized the mosque in Mecca in 1980; it is stated here that he was not impressed by the group or their actions at the time. As it is fairly certain his father was a religious man who lived and decreed a spartan life for his family, I don’t think we can deduce that ObL is much of a glory hound; I would say that all evidence points us in the direction that ObL believes what he says, and is not being purposefully disingenous.

That said, I think the cleric to which you refer (I don’t know the particular article, so I can only guess) may have pointedly stressed the self-aggrandizing and secular angle as a way of deflecting the criticism of Islam that has so rapidly increased with the rise of ObL’s notoriety. Many in the Muslim world have distanced themselves from ObL and his pronouncements, at least among the moderate clergy; just because ObL believes himself to be on the “rightly-guided path” does not mean that he is, or that the Islamic leaders believe him. Obviously, he has a twisted sense of what Islam means; considering some of the teachers he purportedly had as a young man, he should certainly have a more moderate understanding and outlook. However, it is hard to tell what the Afghan years did to him: the things he saw and experienced are also a part of the whole picture. His return to Saudi would have contributed, as well: though large portions of the Saudi populace would have held him in high regard (the word “hero” was often used in reference to the mujahideen that gave up everything to go fight in Afghanistan and came back), the Saudi royal family, with which his father and family had been so close in the past, wanted nothing to do with him or his mujahideen brothers. At this point in their development, the last thing the Saud family needed was links to any more fundamentalist groups; they also didn’t want to show any public approval of men like ObL, as they were fostering relations with the West (specifically the US). It is easy to see how ObL would link what he felt as the hypocritical stance of the Saud to the US presence in Saudi: obviously, they were currying our favor and I am sure this had something to do with his disgruntlement. In addition, it is possible that, while working with the CIA elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he learned that the CIA had actually been involved in the support of the mujahideen before the invasion took place; Z. Brzezinski, Pres. Carter’s national security advisor, commented in a 1998 interview that the hope of the CIA at the time was to

*; by playing with the lives of over a million Afghanis, such a revelation would have left a bad taste in his mouth, to say the least. We do know that he left Afghanistan in '87, before the conflict was over; although he supported the fighters and refugees from Saudi, he did not return.

Anyhow, I hope this has helped to shed some light on a very complex problem; I don’t know if it clarifies anything, but there aren’t a lot of extent facts about ObL’s early life and his formative years. If there are any questions, please let me know and I will try my best.

*link to article here



Thanks greco_loco, I appreciate the informative response.

I don’t think this was the essay I had in mind (and it’s a whole lot longer, sorry) but it contains a lot of the same points, from Saudi Ambassador Dr Ghazi Al Gosaibi: Saudi Arabian Myths (scroll down page)

He of all people would probably be a spin-doctor…but because of his stance on the Palestinians I’m not thinking he’s going to say anything just to pacify people. If the end goal really is “the destruction of America itself” or killing as many Americans as possible…then yes, that might curtail a freedom or two.

Like I said, it was late…

Correction: he left, most likely, in 89, not 87. It is believed that the Saudi’s prevented him from returning; they revoked his right of travel (Saudis are not allowed to carry their passports, but get them issued when they are going to leave the country). From 87 to 89 he did travel back and forth from Saudi to Afghanistan/Pakistan; he even allegedly took part in battles against the remaining Soviet forces. However, once he returned to Saudi in the latter part of 1989, he was not able to return; the al-Qaieda training camp infrastructure stayed in place, but he was running it by proxy.

Sorry for the misleading statements…