28 March 2008

September 11th

The chickens have come home to roost.
What goes around comes around.
As you sow, so you reap.

These were the lines that went around in my head on the evening of 11th September 2001, as I listened to the news on my radio in Delhi. A black preacher in Chicago called Jeremiah Wright apparently agreed with me. Five days later he delivered a sermon in which he said, "America's chickens are coming home to roost." Why is this of any consequence? Because one of the members of Rev Wright's church is a man called Barack Obama. Yeah, you get the picture...

Americans are – incredibly – still not ready to accept that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a direct consequence of their country's actions. It all began in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. A Muslim country attacked by a non-Muslim country – this was jihad (holy war). Muslims all over the world responded to the call. Moroccans, Egyptians, Saudis, Pakistanis – all came to Afghanistan to fight the infidel invader. The US was quick to seize the opportunity. The CIA funded, armed and trained these mujahideen (holy warriors). Your enemy's enemy is your friend. Besides, religion was a natural ally in the fight against Communism. They were using Christianity in Eastern Europe (Pope John Paul II was Polish). Why not use Islam in Central Asia?

In 1989 the Soviet Union finally accepted defeat and left Afghanistan. The mujahideen were jubilant. They had humbled a superpower. What were they to do now? With all their money, arms and training? Well, they could humble the other superpower too. One of them, a rich Saudi named Osama bin Laden, decided to do exactly this. With another mujahid, Dr Ayman al Zawahiri from Egypt, he formed a group called Al Qaeda ("The Base") and declared war on America. If you feed a serpent, it's only a matter of time before the serpent bites you. On 11th September 2001, the serpent bit the hand that had fed it. The tragedy was that 3000 innocent Americans paid with their lives for their government's short-sighted foreign policy.

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