There is a cancer eating away at all of us. It started, as many cancers do, as one or two small insignificant eruptions. They appeared to heal but unbeknown to us, the cancer continued spreading its invasive destruction beneath the surface. Then it erupted again with a huge devastating effect. The cancer would need to be cut out. However, it seems that all the operation succeeded in doing was to divide and spread the cancer further. Will it ever be cured?
I am talking about the cancer of terrorism, about Al-Qaeda. It probably all started with the bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993 followed by the killing of American soldiers in Somalia in October of that year. Then a truck bomb blew up outside the Khobar Towers military complex in Saudi Arabia in June 1996 killing another 19 US servicemen and injuring hundreds more. Two years later, in August 1998, US embassies in East Africa were bombed - 224 people died, including 12 Americans. In October 2000, the USS Cole was bombed in the port of Yemen - 17 US sailors died. In September 2001, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York were destroyed - at least 2,985 people died in this horrific attack.
In April 2002, there was an explosion at an ancient synagogue in Tunisia, the following month a car exploded outside a hotel in Karachi, in June a bomb exploded outside the American Consulate in Karachi. In October, bombs destroyed a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, killing 202 people, most of them Australian citizens. There was also an attack on a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.
In 2003, suicide bombers killed 34 at housing compounds for Westerners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Bombs went off in Casablanca, Morocco. There was a suicide car bomb at the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. More explosions in Riyadh, suicide car bombers attacked two synagogues in Istanbul and a week later, a British bank was bombed. In March 2004, ten terrorist bombs exploded on trains during the Madrid rush hour. In Iraq, there have been countless bombs and suicide attacks, Muslim against Muslim. It seems that civil war is imminent and that no one can stop it.
Now, this cancer has reached London with the attacks on 7th July followed by more bungled attempts to cause yet more carnage last Thursday. I hope they catch them - those four would-be suicide bombers. Thank goodness their bombs failed to detonate. These particular terrorists were weak mutations of the original cancer. It seems that they were ignorant, unskilled and probably stupid as well - 'Homo Hostilis Inscitus' an offshoot of Homo Hostilis! Unfortunately, it is the stupid and the ignorant who are dangerous, who are most likely to be 'brainwashed' into committing terrorist crimes. Now they have struck again in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh.
What on earth does Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda hope to accomplish by all this? It seems that their principal stated aims are to drive Americans and American influence out of all Muslim nations, especially Saudi Arabia. They also want to destroy Israel and to topple pro-Western dictatorships around the Middle East. Bin Laden has also said that he wishes to unite all Muslims and establish, by force if necessary, an Islamic nation adhering to the rule of the first Caliphs. According to his 1998 fatwa (religious decree), it is the duty of Muslims around the world to wage holy war on the U.S., American citizens, and Jews. Muslims who do not heed this call are declared apostates (people who have forsaken their faith).
I used to think that other religions were just different paths leading to one God and that all religions were intrinsically good. I was naive. The Muslim hatred of Jews as stated in the Koran is particularly unbelievable - see Stephen Pollard's article of 20th July, "Ban the Koran?", in which he highlights the stupidity of the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill. My dictionary defines 'religion' as:-
- The quest for the values of the ideal life.
- A particular system in which the quest for the ideal life has been embodied.
- Recognition on the part of man of a controlling superhuman power entitled to obedience, reverence and worship.
- The feeling or the spiritual attitude of those recognizing such a controlling power.
- The manifestation of such feeling in conduct or life.
- A point or a matter of conscience.
That reminds me of a marvellous description I once heard of the difference between heaven and hell. In hell, there was a very large banqueting table full of marvellous food laid out in the middle of the table. The people sitting around it had been supplied with very heavy long-handled spoons, spoons with which they could reach the food. But they were starving and screaming with anger and desperation because they could not manage to put one spoonful of food in their mouths to ease their hunger. In heaven there was an identical banqueting table and identical spoons but, unlike the inhabitants of hell, the people seated at the table were happy and laughing. Being good and kind, each person was busy using their long spoon to feed the person sitting opposite them on the other side of the table. The moral here is that the state of heaven or hell is a reflection of a good and generous nature or of an evil and selfish nature.
Sadly, there is no easy inoculation against the cancer of evil but we will continue to fight it, to tease it out wherever it erupts. We will show the terrorists that we are not afraid and we will prevail because we have right and justice on our side.