Thursday, June 08, 2006

How Canada Reacted to Sikhs in 1985 Is Still Relevant

They arrested seventeen alleged Islamist terrorists in and around Toronto on Saturday, most of them young and Canadian-born. They had bought three tons of ammonium nitrate, and are accused of planning to bomb targets in southern Ontario. Shock! Horror! How could this happen here?


Thought Canada refused to take part in the US invasion of Iraq, it does have several thousand troops in Afghanistan, and Ottawa is actively seeking closer ties to the US. Enough, perhaps, to motivate a bunch of radicalized young Muslim-Canadians who couldn’t reach non-Canadian targets anyway.

Any terrorist attack on Canada is bound to be homegrown, because there is no shadowy but powerful network of international terrorists waging a war against the West. There are isolated small groups of extremists who blow things up once in a while, and there are websites and other media through which they can exchange ideas and techniques, but there is no headquarters, no chain of command, no organization that can be defeated, dismantled and destroyed.

There have been terrorist groups in the Arab world for decades, but there never was much of an international Islamist “terrorist network.” Even in Al-Qaeda’s heyday, before the US invasion of Afghanistan effectively beheaded it in 2001, there were only a few hundred core members.

According to US intelligence estimates, between 30,000 and 70,000 volunteers passed through Al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan in 1996-2001, but their long-term impact on the world has been very small. For most people who went to those camps, it was more a rite of passage than the start of a lifelong career as a terrorist. The average annual number of terrorist attacks in Arab and other Muslim countries has been no greater in the past five years than in the previous ten or twenty.

The West has been even less affected. The 9/11 attacks on the United States were a spectacularly successful fluke, killing almost three thousand people, but there have been no further attacks in the US. The two subsequent attacks that did occur in the West, in Madrid in 2004 and in London last year, cost the lives of 245 people. And those attacks were both carried out by local people with no links to any “international terrorist network.”

The contrast between the received wisdom — that the world, or at least the West, is engaged in a titanic, unending struggle against a terrorist organization of global reach — and the not very impressive reality is so great that most people in the West believe the official narrative rather than the evidence of their own eyes. There must be a major terrorist threat; otherwise, the government is wrong or lying, the intelligence agencies are wrong or self-serving, the media are fools or cowards, and the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

There isn’t a major terrorist threat; just a little one. The massive overreaction called “the war on terror” is due to the fact that 9/11 hit a very big and powerful country that had the military resources to strike anywhere in the world, and strategic interests that might be advanced by a war or two fought under the cover of a crusade against terrorism. If 9/11 had happened in Canada, it would all have been very different.

So where do the Sikhs fit in to all this ? Read the Full article to find out.

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