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January, 2003

Your Jihad, My Crusade
By Edward W. Miller

"The "War on terrorism" slogan has become an ideological skeleton key that can be used to justify actions that might seem dubious from the perspective of international law and democratic norms."

Boris Kagarlitsky, The Moscow Times, 5 Nov.2002

A poll taken this week in the United States shows that at least 66% of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein has been and is supportive of the Al Qaeda organization, despite the absolute absence of any credible evidence. It is well-known that Osama Bin Laden during the Gulf War volunteered his mujahedeen fighters to protect Saudi Arabia from invasion by Saddam's military.

The ease with which the human animal can be swayed by leaders wise enough to raise either religious or nationalistic issues has filled our history books, written librettos for our operas, and stirred the souls of epic poets. The inability of Americans today to comprehend the enormous anger being generated within the Muslim nations by the crimes of the West, attests, both to the failure to teach our children the lessons of history, plus the presence of a tightly-controlled western media which picks and chooses, and distorts to Washington's advantage the daily news.

A brief glance at the politics and passions which created that series of wars between Christains and Muslims toward the end of the 11th Century called "Crusades" might allow us to see today's so-called "terrrorists" in a different light..

In the Middle Ages, the church's "penitentiary-system" permitted the priesthood to deny their parishoners the sacrament of the Eucharist (ie forgiveness and return to communion) until penance had been performed. This penance might come in the form of a "pilgrimage" i.e. a journey to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. So-called "penitentiary pilgriages" began in Europe as early as 700AD and for centuries accomodations between the various rulers in the Mideast and the Church authorities in Europe supported such pilgrimages.

In 1071 the capture of Jerusalem by the Seljuk Turks altered the picture and access to Jerusalem and the Christian Holy Places was in jeopardy. Pope Urban II seized this opportunity and throughout 1095, travelled widely in Europe to preach the first Crusade. As the Encyclopedia Brittanica explains it was the "foreign policy of the Papacy directing its faithful subjects to the great war of Christianity against the Infidel"

Brittanica makes the point that in those days chivalry was both admred and practiced, so the preaching of a crusade directed the people's energy toward defending what was wrong, i.e. the possession by the "imfidels" of the Sepulchre of Christ, while "the knight who joined the crusade might ...indulge in the bellicosity of his nature under the direction of the church while attaining his spiritual goals of salvation and forgiveness."

There were in all, eight crusades, between 1096 and 1291 and of these only the first succeeded in the Christians capture of Jerusalem. (Brittanica pg. 792)

Mohammed, the founder of Islam was orphaned at the age of six and raised by an uncle. In 610 as a young man wandering alone in the mountains he suddenly envisioned a divine presence that altered his life, and he returned to his people in Mecca as a prophet. Throughout his life Mohammed taught his followers to practice "jihad" or self-discipline and respect for their fellow men no matter what their religion or status in society. Later in his teachings, Mohammed added a form of militancy to Islam, but such militancy was to be used only to protect the lives and rights of oppressed peoples.

It is in accordance with this seldom-addressed chapter of the Prophet's teachings that Oama Bin Laden has been addressing his "jihad" against the perceived enemies of Islam. A crusade aimed at the freeing of his brother Muslims from the savagery of a so-called civilized West.

Osama Bin Laden, in his rare interviews with the press and taped addresses on Arabic TV has targetted two largely Muslim peoples whom he sees as victims of US and British persecution: the Palestinians and the Iraqis.

Osama decries Washington's arming of Sharon's Israeli military with tanks, F-16s and helicopter gunships with the resulting savage mutilation of the Palestinian people, their homes, their children, their villages, their refugee camps their future as a people. He abhors Sharon's vindictive desecrations of both Christian and Muslim Holy places in Jerusalem and fiercely decries the ongoing genocidal war against the Iraqi people, a war crime which began during the Gulf War in 1991, and continues to this day.

Few in America understand there were two Gulf Wars, one to remove Saddam's forces from Kuwait, the other to completely destroy the infrastructure of Iraq. Not only did Schwarzkoff unneessarily butcher tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, many while in the act of surrendering, but he burned alive on the long desert highway stretching across the Kuwaiti border into Basra, thousands of retreating civilians and soldiers, fleeing Kuwait.

The 300 tons of depleted uranium missiles dropped on Iraq by the US and our allies are today producing leukemias, cancers and babies born with gross physical ddeformities. This radiation will remain active for milllions of years.

Along with the almost daily bombing missions which increased over 300% between March and November 2002 (See Pilger, UK Mirror 19 Dec) the genocidal bacteriological killing in Iraq continues to this day. While on TV Bush derides Saddam Hussein for hiding his "weapons of mass destruction" the US-Brit "weapon of mass destruction" our hidden biological weaponry of water-born diseases, since 1991 has been killing hundreds of Iraqi children eevery month. The total now reaches over 1.3 million deaths.

Before Bush senior started the Gulf War his Security operatives in Washington had pin-pointed every water treatment plant, every sewage-disposal plant, every viaduct, reservior and potable water distribution system in Iraq. Although Article 54 of the Geneva Conventiion clearly states that destroying or renderig useless items "essential to the survival of civilian populations," is both illegal under internatiional law and a war crime, the US bombed electrical grids that powered 1410 water-treatment plants for Iraq;s 22-million people. A 1998 Air Force Document entitled "Strategic Attack" chillingly explains "The electrical attacks proved extremely effective. The loss of electricity shuit down water treatment plants and lead to a public health crisis from raw sewage dumped into the Tigris River.

A second US Imntelligence Agency document, 1991's " Iraq water treatment vulnerabilities," predicted how sanctions would then be used to prevent Iraq from getting the equipment and chemicals necessary for water purification, which would result in "a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population "leading to ...epidemics of disease." (Material Breech: US Crimes in Iraq ) Using its political power in the UN Security Council the US and Britain have, since 1991, maintained an embargo on over 800 items to prevent the production of potable water for the Iraqi people. More than 1.6 millions deaths attest to the successof this US bacterial weapon of mass destruction.

Al Qaeda as organized by Osama Bin Laden and his associates, has followers in over 60 countries. US sources in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay prison have identified prisoners from over 62 countries, some non-Muslim.

Americans have choices. We can stop funding the Nazi-like military expansionism of Israel, force the Sharon government back behind their 1967 borders and recognize a Palestinian State as well as end the Iraqi embargo and make peace with Saddam, or we can continue Bush's "HUNKER-DOWN" imnsanity, and spend billions guarding our borders, stand in endless lines, and x-ray our shoes, while we lose our civil rights and allow an insane military budget to decimate our social programs... Attacking Iraq while destroying our already-failing economy, might well add thousands of volunteers to Osama's Al Qaeda.

The crusades lasted over 300 years , drained the resources of both Europe and the Mideast and ended in a draw as the attention of all parties was drawn to the Mongol invasions. Can we Americans learn anything from history?

 

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