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Terrorism’ and Political violence: man-made or inspired by God

Some world events and much propaganda have made association between Islam and political
violence, or ‘terrorism’ in particular, in a way that suggests it is something inherently linked to
Islam. This view is a serious distortion of the truth.
 
The phenomenon of “suicide bombing” was employed across other races and creeds – notably
Japan, Sri Lanka and India - and for different political ends long before the label was attached
to Muslims, and illustrates that it is driven by a number of political factors rather than theological
beliefs.
 
Professor Robert Pape’s study published in his book “Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism,”
includes a database of every suicide attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. Some of
his assertions will surprise some:
 
• The world leaders in suicide attacks are the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka – a Marxist, secular
group.
 
• Two thirds of Muslim 'suicide bombers' have emerged from countries where US forces have
had or are still maintaining military forces.
 
• The rise of suicide attackers in Iraq is due to the presence of US forces. There were no suicide
attacks in Iraq before the 2003 invasion.
 
According to his study the proponents of such attacks claim that political injustice is the
justification for these extreme actions. It is therefore crucial that acts of political violence are put
into the context of the theatre in which they occur and the type of people who engage in
them.
 
Regarding the July 2005 bombings in London, the British government was forewarned that its
involvement in the catastrophic US invasion of Iraq had increased Britain's vulnerability to the
threat of retaliation. The leaked report from the UK's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), which
predated the attacks, warned: "Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of
a range of terrorist related activity in the UK".
 
In April 2005, a report drawn up by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) entitled "International
Terrorism: Impact of Iraq" was even more explicit, stating: "We judge that the conflict in Iraq has
exacerbated the threat from international terrorism and will continue to have an impact in the
long term. It has reinforced the determination of terrorists who were already committed to
attacking the West and motivated others who were not."
 
The Iraq war does not justify the 7/7 attacks at all, but we need to understand the roots of the
problem, not simply to allow the label of terrorism to be lazily and falsely attached to Islam. Iraq
is but one specific case study, but those who engage in political violence from whichever
theological or political background will tend to act in response to an act of aggression or
repression, wherever in the world that is. It does not occur in isolation.
 
The Muslim world is at the mercy of autocratic tyrants and has been ravaged by poverty and
war with successive occupations by foreign powers. There are many political factors that inspire
violence but Islam itself does not. Islam is used as a justification by some for their political
grievances and this is to be expected as the people of that land are Muslim. Attributing such
violence to Islam fails to take into account the history of political violence across cultures,
religions and ideologies. Islam’s name has become caught up in the battle, but people should
be in no doubt the issue is about injustice and oppression.