Thursday, 13 January 2011

Loners, Terrorists and Sting Operations.

Mehdi Hasan writes in comparing the media response to the shooting of a Democratic politician Gabrielle Gifford and her entourage,

Did you know that Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the Arizona shooting spree that left six dead and 14 wounded, including the US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, had speculated beforehand on YouTube whether he would be labelled a "terrorist"? He needn't have worried. Loughner has yet to be described in such terms by the authorities or the media. "Loner"? Yes. "Extremist"? Yes. Terrorist? No.

Is it fair, then, to assume or pretend that terrorism is the sole or exclusive preserve of Muslims? Let's be clear: it would be foolish and dangerous to dismiss or downplay the threat from Islamist terrorism, to Europe or the US. There is a real and present danger from al-Qaida, its affiliates and self-radicalised fellow travellers such as Choudhry. And Islamist terrorists, unlike their separatist, far-right or anarchist counterparts, are bent on high-profile, mass-casualty "spectaculars".

But terrorism is a tactic and, as such, is agnostic: those who murder civilians to make a political point are called Joseph as well as Muhammad

.Hasan raises some important points here but the accusation of "double standards" does not really hold in comparing Loughners's case to Islamist terrorists.

There is no evidence that Loughner has been part of a terrorist network or was acting in accordance with furthering political goals through killing Democratic politicians. Nor was the Arizona killing designed to get a radical police clampdown on a "community" so as to radicalise them further.

The BBC carries and article on his profile that Loughner had,

....a deep distrust of the government and religion, describing US laws as "treasonous" and speaking repeatedly of his wish to create a new currency.

"The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar," he wrote.

"No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver! No! I won't trust in God!"

In a video dated 15 December, Mr Loughner describes himself as a "military recruit". The US Army has confirmed that Mr Loughner attempted to enlist but said he was rejected because he failed a drug.

There are a number of paranoid militia "patriots" in the USA who think the central government is a conspiracy against them by a usurping regime. Had a Muslim carried out such an outrage as gunning down a politician, the media courage might have tried to exploit it to suggest an Islamist threat.

But media coverage itself should not be taken as any necessary indication of the reality, not least in the USA given the way mainstream media acts too often as crude propaganda. But the description of Loughner as a "loner would appear to be borne out by the facts.

In any case, the propaganda that would portray a Muslim as part of a seamless threat is not to do with mere double standards, if that is meant as some indicator of hypocrisy or prejudice against Muslims.

It is due to the fact that the US media tends to support narratives such as the Global War on Terror in order to give legitimacy to any foreign policy or war that the USA embarks on in "the Muslim World". It is not about double standards but the manipulation of public sentiment.

In other words, the decision to portray attacks by Muslims as terrorist and attacks by loners as such is not even due to lazy stereotyping. It is more concerned with the way loners plotting Islamist terror acts are seen as acting in a cause even when not receiving higher direct orders.

The problem is that with Al Qaida and the proliferation of the Internet, any psychopath can tap into the world view and claim he is fighting for a global war. As a franchise operation, Al Qaida does not have a hierarchical structure with orders given by Bin Laden or his henchmen.

But what is also somewhat sinister is the way that the FBI have been ensnaring US Muslims into sting operations by faciliating what could be terrorist attacks by those who are given dummy bombs and detonators to carry out what the would be Islamist terrorist thinks are real bombs.

The most recent example was Faisal Shahzad who was convicted in October 2010 of an attempted car bomb attack in New York's Times Square and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A BBC article states,

The motive for the failed attack remains unclear. The Pakistani Taliban appeared to claim responsibility in three videos, monitoring groups said. But New York police commissioner, Ray Kelly, and city mayor, Michael Bloomberg, have said there was "no evidence" to support that claim.

The vehicle was parked near offices of Viacom, which owns Comedy Central. The network recently aired an episode of the animated TV show South Park that the militant group Revolution Muslim had complained insulted the prophet Muhammad by depicting him in a bear costume.

There is something deeply amiss about the FBI using these sting operations on a regular basis.

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