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West alone is
It's difficult to fault US President George Bush for being obnoxiously upfront and brutally honest while describing the jihadis and their cohorts who planned "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" by blowing up 10, probably more, trans-Atlantic passenger jets taking off from Heathrow as "Islamic fascists". British Conservative politician and writer Michael Gove, in his book, Celsius 7/7, in which he analyses the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism, is equally, if not more, scathing in his description of "the totalitarian nature of the ideology that drives jihad's warriors" who "are driven by a divine mission to ensure that the whole earth, in due course, learns to submit to Islamist rule".
If there's anything objectionable about Mr Bush's comments following the unravelling of the plot last Thursday, it's his insistence that the US is the main target of "Islamic fascists". Even the most cursory survey of jihad's global assault on free societies and democracies will make it abundantly clear that the threat posed by radical Islamism and its remorseless practitioners to the rest of the world is no less than that posed to the US and Americans.
This simple fact, however, is lost on those who believe that 9/11 marked the launch of the crusade against non-believers and, therefore, place the US and its allies in the centre of the unremitting assault by jihadis looking for spectacular hits with heart-wrenching consequences. Hence the Western media's astonishing refusal to list the July 11 Mumbai bombings, which left 187 commuters dead and hundreds of others physically and mentally scarred for the rest of their lives, as a terrorist strike of any consequence even while recalling other "mass murders" committed by those who repose their faith in radical Islam. Thus, in the wake of the unmasking of the London plot, people were asked to recall the Madrid bombings, the Bali bombings, even bombings in Turkey and, of course, the 7/7 terror attacks of last year.
There is also this amazing reluctance to acknowledge and accept that Pakistan continues to remain a hub for global jihad, notwithstanding claims to the contrary by Gen Pervez Musharraf and the West's description of him as a "valuable and reliable ally" in the war against terror. Ever since last October's earthquake which devastated large tracts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, based in Lahore, has been using human misery to collect enormous sums of money from "Islamic charities" for relief work. That money has been used for recruiting fresh cadre for Jamaat-ud-Dawa's armed wing, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, in acquiring arms and explosives and plotting attacks, like the plan to blow up passenger aircraft over the Atlantic or while they were landing in American cities, across the world, including India.
The money that was wired from Pakistan to the UK for the plotters, barring three all of whom are Britons of Pakistani origin, to buy air tickets most probably came from the funds provided by "Islamic charities" to Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Further evidence of this organisation's involvement is provided by the fact that its chief, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, was placed under house arrest around the same time the London plot was discovered. Pakistan's ISI, we have been told, "cooperated" with Britain's MI5 in busting the plot; arrests in Karachi and Lahore led to the conspiracy being nipped in the bud, or so it has been claimed.
Such selective "cooperation", however, should not be allowed to distract attention from how jihad factories continue to flourish under Islamabad's benign, if not encouraging, gaze. A recent issue of the Pakistani magazine, Herald, in its cover story, 'The Waiting Game', has disclosed details of terrorist camps at Hisari near Garhi Habibullaj and Manshera in North-West Frontier Province. It has provided a graphic account of how "thousands" of terrorists, affiliated to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Harkat-ul Mujahideen and al-Badr Mujahideen, are being trained with financial and material assistance from Pakistani intelligence agencies which cannot but include the ISI that is no stranger in this part of the world.
Yet there is no attempt, at least visibly so, by either the US Administration or European Governments to bring Gen Musharraf to heel. On the contrary, he remains the West's most favoured military ruler in uniform. Of course, Pakistan is not the only country where the standard-bearers of radical Islam are recruiting and exporting foot soldiers of jihad, not to mention convincing Muslims abroad to kill and destroy, to wage war against their home country if not motherland, in the name of religion. Bangladesh is not lagging far behind. Those in the West, especially the US, who find it difficult to believe that India's security, as also that of democracies around the world, is as much imperilled by jihadis from Pakistan as from Bangladesh, can cross-check this fact with Selig S Harrison's perceptive assessment that appeared under the headline 'A New Hub for Terrorism? In Bangladesh, an Islamic Movement With Al Qaeda Ties Is on the Rise' in The Washington Post on August 2.
"While the United States dithers, a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement linked to Al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence agencies is steadily converting the strategically located nation of Bangladesh into a new regional hub for terrorist operations that reach into India and South-East Asia," Harrison writes, adding, "For Pakistan's intelligence agencies, especially Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the legacy of the independence war has been a built-in network of agents within the Jamaat and its affiliates who can be utilised to harass India along its 2,500-mile border with Bangladesh. In addition to supporting tribal separatist groups in North-East India, the ISI uses Bangladesh as a base for helping Islamic extremists inside India." The Pakistan connection is undeniable, irrefutable, never mind whether or not the ISI is "cooperating" with CIA and MI5. Tragically, the West continues to ignore this truth.
In a sense, it is this duplicity of the West which has emboldened jihadis to look for increasingly bigger targets. True, unlike the 9/11 attacks, most of the subsequent strikes — the bombings in Madrid, London and Mumbai, to cite a few — have been carried out by homegrown terrorists. But it would be self-defeating to ignore the key role played by individuals and organisations located abroad. The sooner the world locates the epicentre of global terror, the safer nations will be, or, at least, we will be closer to waging an effective war against jihad and defeating "Islamic fascism".