Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Copenhagen Attacks February 2015: Public Diplomacy and the Uses of Terror.

"We feel certain now that it's a politically motivated attack, and thereby it is a terrorist attack"-Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmitt

Little is yet known about Omar El-Hussein, the Copenhagen killer responsible for two murders. It was clearly a criminal hate crime through its choice of targets, first a film maker at a free speech talk at the Krudttønden café and then later into the night a Jewish man near the Krystalgade Synagogue.

It is possible the gunman was a returning jihadist from Syria, all of whom were allowed to return by the Danish government so long as they agreed to undergo counselling and therapy.They were also rewarded by Denmark with welfare provision and jobs to help them integrate once more and so mollify them.

Until the facts are known, it is foolish to compare the murder of three Muslims in the state of North Carolina US, said by some to be a hate crime, with the Copenhagen shootings; it plays into the narrative put out by Qatar and Saudi Arabia that this too was a 'terrorist act'.  A vulgar global competition for victimhood began.

The Danish Prime Minister Thorning-Schmitt was unwise in immediately proclaiming the Copenhagen attacks an act of 'terrorism'' This was in line with the response to the Paris attacks of January 2015 which were also depicted in some quarters as either 'terrorism' or else even an 'act of war'.

Thorning-Schmitt later called it a 'cynical act of terror'. Yet it remains to be seen whether calling the Copenhagen attacks an act of 'terrorism' so readily is not in itself a cynical attempt at collusion with the sort of rhetoric ISIS and Al Qaida put out about there being a cosmic 'war' between the West and Islam.

Thorning-Schmitt's claim of terrorism pre-supposes she knew what the intention was. The difference between a hate crime and a terrorist act is one of intent and purpose. As no video or official statement came out to accompany the killings, a criminal hate crime should not have been conveniently elevated into an act of terrorism.

It is clear Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu regards any attack on European Jews as proof they are no longer safe from Islamists; in his view 'ISIS is Hamas and Hamas is ISIS'. So any act indulging the cause of the Palestinians of Gaza is thereby being weak towards terrorists because Palestinians vote Hamas.

Netanyahu had his own power agenda and needs to pose as the protector of Jews worldwide, just as Qatar and Turkey are doing with European Muslims. He is claiming that the Israeli state is always only concerned with protecting Jewish lives even in wars, such as those on Gaza in 2014, and nothing else aside ( e.g. Gaza Marine gas reserves).

Netanyahu did not even bother with the distinction between 'Islamic' and 'Islamist' when forthrightly calling the Copenhagen murders 'Islamic terrorism'. Consequently, 'mass immigration' from Europe to Israel was the only way Jews could be protected, it is implied, from the other mass immigration to Europe by Muslims.

Denmark's attempt to give its backing to the Palestinian right to have a recognised state and condemnation of Israel's 'disproportionate' use of force in the Gaza War means, for Netanyahu, that it cannot protect Jews from Muslim anti-Semitic hate crimes and terror: it is 'appeasing' terrorists in its midst.

So those claiming it is 'obvious' it is a 'terrorist' attack need to think more about the claim which, unless the killings have stated political aims and objectives, should be questioned. It is not 100% clear, especially before a police investigation gets under way, that it must be what politicians, perhaps with their own agenda, want to claim it is.

It needs to be recalled with the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris that the two gunmen there were killed and there was no explanation from them in a posthumously released video or even from ISIS or Al Qaida claiming responsibility. The exact links the Kouachi brothers had to either AQ or ISIS remain unclear.

In fact, it seems to have disappeared as an important issue in the media and as one that still requires investigation. The same is true of the Copenhagen killer. It would matter if he had been involved in Sunni jihadist groups fighting in Syria, whether ISIS or any movement aligned to it that until 2013 were supported by allies of the West.

Simon Tisdall, in the Guardian, was on the right lines when he criticised Britain's PM David Cameron  for his attempts at condemning the Copenhagen attacks as ones upon free speech by drawing attention to the fact that politicians would be better off defending their values in taking a look at failed foreign policies.
'They might be more usefully employed in acknowledging that many current problems can be traced back to the Anglo-American destabilisation of post-2003 Iraq, and to the west’s connivance in the suppression of Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings'.
However, it is clear that the Western powers were rash to have thought that democracy was on the march in Libya and Syria where it suited their geopolitical interests. The NATO military intervention, in Libya in 2011, forthrightly supported by Thorning-Schmidt, has led not to a democracy but a failed state where ISIS is gaining ground.

Making out that the killer is a straightforwardly a terrorist is useful if the Danish military involvement in the war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq is to be fought and rationalised as one that must be won to protect citizens in Europe rather than, say, oil supplies and the Gulf states which bankrolled jihadi groups in Syria.

The Gulf states are sensitive to this. By portraying the criminal murder of Muslims in the USA as "terrorism", Qatar and Saudi Arabia in particular could remind Sunni militants that they are staunch protectors of the global umma as well as reminding the West that it had better not go too far in criticising the Gulf states.

Qatar in particular would appear to be mobilising protesters to counter and deflect attention away from their having supported Sunni militants in Syria and Iraq. By projecting resentment outwards towards Western nations, they hope to expose 'Western double standards' and 'Islamophobia' as being factors in any domestic turmoil.

ISIS is a clear evil in the Middle East. Yet it has its uses in the cynical power game going on. People need to be aware of how oily spin doctors and PR sociopaths everywhere are vying to manipulate public opinion through social media and so, by the power of mass suggestion, help in the creation of the 'correct' way of seeing things.

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