Terrorism and Nuance 934

There is no question to which the answer is to wander round killing people. It takes a few words or keystrokes for any right thinking person to condemn the killings in Paris today. But that really doesn’t take us very far.

It is impossible to stop evil from happening. Simple low tech attacks by individuals, a kind of DIY terrorism, cannot always be pre-empted. If you try to do so universally, you will end up even further down the line we have gone down in the UK, where people are continually arrested and harassed who have no connection to terrorism at all, often for bragging on websites. These non-existent foiled terrorist plots are a risible feature of British politics nowadays. Every now and then one hits the headlines, like the arrests just before Remembrance Day. Their defining characteristic is that none of those arrested have any means of terrorism – 99% of those arrested for terrorism in the UK in the last decade – possessed no weapon and no viable explosive device.

In fact the only terrorist in the last year convicted in the UK, who possessed an actual bomb – a very viable explosive device indeed, was not charged with terrorism. He was a fascist named Ryan McGee who had a swastika on his wall and hated Muslims. Hundreds of Muslims with no weapons are locked up for terrorism. A fanatical anti-Muslim with a bomb is by definition not a terrorist.

I am assuming that the narrative that Charlie Hebdo was attacked by Islamists is correct, though that remains to be proved. For argument, let us assume the official narrative is true and the killings were by Muslims outraged at the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

It is essential to free speech that it includes the freedom to offend. That must include the freedom to offend religious belief. Without such freedoms, the values of societies would freeze. Much social progress has caused real anguish and offence to some people. To have stopped Charlie Hebdo by law would have been wrong. To stop them by bullets is beyond any mitigation.

But that doesn’t make the unfortunate deceased heroes, and President Hollande was wrong to characterise them as such. Being murdered does not make you a hero. And being offensive is not necessarily noble. People who are persistently and vociferously offensive are often neither noble nor well-motivated. Much of Charlie Hebdo‘s taunting of Muslims was really unpleasant. That they also had Christian and other targets did not make this any better. It is not Private Eye – it is a magazine with a much nastier edge. I defend the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish whatever it wants. But once the shock dies off, I do hope a more realistic assessment of whether Charlie Hebdo was entirely admirable or not may be possible. This in no way excuses the dreadful murders.

The ability to say things that offend is an important attribute of a free society. Richard Dawkins may offend believers. Peter Tatchell may offend homophobes. Pussy Riot offended Putin and the Orthodox Church. This must not be stopped.

But that must cut both ways. Abu Qatada broke no British laws in his lengthy stay in the UK, but was demonised for things he said (or even things newspapers invented he had said). Most of the French who are today in solidarity for freedom of expression, are against people being able to express themselves freely in what they wear. The security industry who are all over TV today want to respond to this attack on freedom of expression by more controls on the internet!

I condemn, you condemn, we all condemn, and so we should. But the amount of nuanced thought in the mainstream media is almost non-existent. What will now happen is that conservative commentators will rip individual phrases from this article and tweet them to show I support terrorism. The lack of nuanced thought is a reflection of a general atmosphere of anti-intellectualism which has poisoned public life in modern western society.

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934 thoughts on “Terrorism and Nuance

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  • Clark

    Mary, I agree that there is a plan for a “Greater Israel”. One of the things I encountered at a “Jewish” news media site is a “conversion” facility churning out “Jews”, organised like a mass production line. I expect that most people undergoing such “conversion” have nothing to do with Judaism; they just want their piece of stolen land in the Middle East.

    But none of this makes the Saudi royal family innocent. I think you condemn them. After the effort I put into writing them, I hope you read and considered my comments above.

  • Fiona

    Am disappointed with your appraisal of Charlie Hebdo Your comments about them, taken with the collective of the (my) British left, are unfairly derogatory. Do we always have to be contrary? That does not make us nuanced. I read this kind of critique of them as just downright offensive muslim baiters when it was first put forward in the pages of the The Guardian, with growing unease. I read much of what is in The Guardian with unease, but am a masochistic reader I suppose. I don’t speak French, have little knowledge of French satire. I researched them as much as I could, looked at the careers and work of the individuals who had died and looked at what secular muslims had to say. My verdict on them is that if you value secularism, and, importantly, the rights of muslims as well as non muslims to aspire to this, then Charlie Hebdo were heroes. I do not say this of people often. Karima Bennoune, the Algerian leftist who wrote ‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here’ has a moving tribute to them in the Open Demcracy website. They were not racists, even of the inverted kind that the left excels in. They were not even really the provocateurs in this instance. Have we become affected by a collective Stockholme Syndrome on the left? A group of religious facists of any kind who give notice to satirists and writers in a secular society that their religion cannot be insulted,upon pain of death, must be mocked. It must be mocked and it must be mocked hard. Further, if we cannot satirize something like this, then the rest is hollow. This is what satire, at it’s best is surely for. The Pope tells us that we cannot disrespect someone’s mother without expecting a punch. I think he is right, but that he got who’s mother we were talking about wrong. Secularism is our mother. Religious facists have insulted her badly and Charlie punched for us all. Merci Charlie. RIP

  • Clark

    Fiona, I think you may be right, or at least partly right. In looking into this matter I encountered the following collections of cartoons published in Charlie Hedbo over the years:


    These are all by Caro, who was 75 when he was murdered by those angry young men.

    However, I am not familiar with the general content of the magazine, and some of the cartoons published recently do seem to be deliberately designed to offend Muslims.

    Sorry, I’m having trouble communicating clearly, and I’m short of time right now. This all has to be considered within the context of censorship in France, where there does seem to be anti-Muslim bias. Being moderate seems to have become an uncomfortable position. Thanks for your comment.

  • Jemand

    “Witness claiming one of the attackers had blue eyes ?!!;”

    *slow clap*

    Brilliant work of deduction there, Macky.
    Ergo, a secret agent working for the Establishment was leading the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Any more proof or should we just go with that?

    It looks like we haven’t come very far, have we? A cartoon that muslims are *free* to ignore but continue to “take” offence at, is held up by indigenophobic libturds as justification for murdering people. But the myriad hostile and violent references to disbelievers in the Quran are perfectly ok. Yep. There’s no hope for you dopes. None at all.

  • Jemand

    “..The extremists thus produced are already well primed in Wahhabism, ..”

    Primed for what? You’re not seriously going to blame this mayhem on a religious idea after insisting for so long that the real cause is a mysterious disease called “extremism”, are you?

  • Macky

    @Fiona, Just time for a quick few points; although there are there are contrasting levels of religiousness/devotion for those who follow Islam, there are no “secular muslims”, so you must mean ex-Muslims.

    “if you value secularism”; and if you don’t you can’t be a citizen of a secular State ? Seems to me that secularism is just another competing ideology, where a State is a type of religion, complete with sacred objects like flags/constitutions etc, even hymns called “National Anthems”. Why can’t minority religious groups live in multi-faith tolerate countries like they have done in the past ?

    “They were not racists”; even if they were not intentionally racists, a big “IF” in my view, they were/are perceived as such, especially by those bearing the brunt of their “satire”; without a doubt their campaign against Islam encourages/incites Islamophobia, and in view of the explicit nature of the cartoons, to state that they not “provocateurs” comes across as highly irrational on your part.

    @Jemand, your two little snarks betray your irrationality; I reported a strange discrepancy, and then examined/debated it, then researched it by engaging with a political French person, reported his explanation, and concluded “an inexplicable mistake due to a simple misunderstanding, which is quite possible, but still quite odd, as real life sometimes is”, which means I’m still to be convinced either way.

    Why don’t you do something rational & prove that you are worth engaing with, like address the counterpoints to your views that are in the middleeasteye articles I linked above ?

  • Clark

    Jemand, I try to avoid blame; blame is not particularly rational, and it looks only to the past. I try to understand structure, based on observations of what has passed, but useful in when trying to find ways to improve matters.

    Radicalisation of Muslims seems to emanate from the Saudi political structure. At least I hope that’s the case, as there might be something that can be done about it. Ancient books are ancient books; only the interpretation can change.

  • Clark

    Jemand, (1) did you read my comments about the Saudi monarchy and political Islam and (2) did you read the Wikipedia articles I linked to?

  • Clark

    Macky, Jemand, I have to go now.

    Macky, I read one of the articles you linked to, I’ve no time to check which one right now. Did you agree with my observations regarding the videos? I’ll return to this later.

  • Macky

    Further comment on Medialens iro “blues eyes”;

    “The le Monde quote:

    “Je l’ai regardé. Il avait de grands yeux noirs, un regard très doux.”
    En savoir plus sur http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2015/01/13/c-est-charlie-venez-vite-ils-sont-tous-morts_4554839_3224.html#4wUrpySRLbxJYx1s.99

    google translate:
    “I looked at him. He had big black eyes, a very soft look.”
    Learn more abouthttp://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2015/01/13/c-est-charlie-venez-vite-ils-sont-tous-morts_4554839_3224.html#4wUrpySRLbxJYx1s.99

    – But of course we don’t have the audio of the interviews.”

  • Macky

    Re Charlie Hebdo’s “satire”;


    And an interesting quote from William Blum;

    I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:

    “On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?

    “Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”


  • Macky

    Clark; ” Did you agree with my observations regarding the videos?”

    Well you say the guy’s hands were possibly cuffed, whereas to me they were definitely cuffed, as nobody runs with their two hands in that position; it’s immaterial wherever he was shoved or decided to run to the exit, as he was gunned down by officers who were close enough to see he was cuffed. The first officer who had entered was certainly Special Forces, and was the guy most likely to have been responsibly for the cuffing, and probably then aimed his weapon at the killer, perhaps causing him to run.

    Re the second video, I agree that the guy making the commentary is a bit of a dick, and that perhaps as you say the officer shooting did have a clear line of fire, but still very reckless to keep firing like that, both to the surrounding other officers, and to the hostages inside.

  • Clark

    Macky, yes, I too speculated that the first officer in was special forces and could have somehow tied or cuffed the wrists of the man who was shot, but it seemed quite unlikely. It’s not impossible that his wrists just got entangled somehow, like a wrist watch getting caught on a jacket cuff button (which has happened to me) or in this case maybe a weapon lanyard – reports said he had three firearms, and left behind explosives tied to a detonator – wires and tapes? Tangled in his own equipment possibly? He could even be holding a pistol two-handed. We only see his hands together very briefly. There are presumably other possibilities so we should avoid making assumptions. We certainly shouldn’t assume reckless sadism by the officers, who had every reason to believe that they and the public were in mortal danger.

    “and that perhaps as you say the officer shooting did have a clear line of fire, but still very reckless to keep firing like that”

    “Perhaps”? From 21 seconds to 27 sec on the “Observez,_voyez vous” video we can see that a position behind the bonnet of the black car gives a view through the centre of the opening, about 2 metre wide. The single officer enters at about 33 sec, and other officers stand in the doorway firing, but by 41 sec they have withdrawn from the doorway, except that one encroaches from the right and then withdraws.

    The flash (stun grenade?) occurs in second 52, but the camera angle is just too high to see the officers. But about a quarter-second later we can see that the doorway is clear; the officer behind the car would have had about one metre clearance either side – and from the “Busted” video we know that this was when that officer was firing, so he had a clear shot.

    As the target came through the door he dropped an assault rifle, and fell in the same direction. So imagine you’re one of those officers outside the store. You’d like to get home to your family alive. Your weapon is bearing upon the target and you’ve got a fraction of a second to make a decision. Personally, I’d shoot. No?

  • Macky

    @Clark, all that you say is possible, just like all I’ve stated is possible, but without further info all remains speculation.

    I did rewatch the first video, and now agree that although possible, it’s unlikely that the Special Forces guy did cuff him, as he goes straight to the right, and the gunman appear from the deep left, giving less than ten seconds for the logistics of the cuffing operation to have taken place, and all the while under an intense shooting barrage.

    I still do think his two hands are chuffed together, without no trace of them holding a pistol or anything else, which makes me thinks that perhaps he cuffed himself to surrender ?

    I don’t think the assault rifle was dropped, but was hung over his shoulders & fell with his body. He was making his way out when the blast occured, so perhaps either the force of the blast, or his attempt to escape from it, cause him to sprint at the very end.

  • Clark

    Macky, yes, the officer who entered went to the right, and the target appeared from the left, and there’s little time between. As the target ran to the door he suddenly seemed to spin; I said earlier that he appeared to stumble, but now I think it’s more likely that he was spun by an oncoming bullet causing him to hit the edge of the wall as he fell. No, I can’t see a pistol, but then I can only see the large firearm for an instant, before and after which it’s just a blur which looks much smaller, so maybe a pistol would be too difficult to make out. But yes, that’s pure speculation.

    I doubt he was trying to surrender as (1) the usual gesture is to hold hands up, apart, empty of weapons, (2) where would he have got the handcuffs? and (3) moments later it seemed he’d been carrying a largish firearm; he’d have had to slung it over his shoulder before shackling his own wrists. Surely not faking surrender by holding hands together but carrying a firearm slung behind him? No, it’s all getting too convoluted; how could that weapon have fallen if his wrists were secured together?

    But I think we can dismiss the “police firing blanks” theory along with the reasoning abilities of the Australian commentator and his parrot. Who is he anyway? Does he release other stuff like this? It misleads good people and wastes their time and effort.

  • Clark

    Far more importantly (Jemand, and sorry to say Mary), we have this:


    …Amedy Coulibaly, […] had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant…

    Coulibaly stated that he targeted the Jews at the Kosher grocery to defend Muslims, notably Palestinians. […] Coulibaly said his action was revenge for the Syrian government action and against the Western coalition actions in Mali, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    Those are POLITICAL motives; he’s even “defend(ing) Muslims” (ie. people he identifies with) rather than Islam or Mohammed.

    This is blowback against military interference and should be clearly identified as such. Calling it either “Islamic violence” (Jemand and the corporate media) or “false flag” (Mary et al) draws attention away from the Neocon state-perpetrated violence he was reacting against. We must not let that happen.

  • Clark

    On the other hand, regarding the murders at Charlie Hebdo, we have this:


    In March 2013, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, commonly known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released a hit list in an edition of their English-language magazine Inspire. The list included Stéphane Charbonnier and others whom AQAP accused of insulting Islam. On 9 January, AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack in a speech from AQAP’s top Shariah cleric Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari, citing the motive as “revenge for the honor” of Muhammad.

    This seems an entirely religious motivation, but what are the overall objectives of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)?


    Like al-Qaeda, AQAP opposes the Al Saud monarchy. AQAP was formed in January 2009 from a merger of al-Qaeda’s Yemeni and Saudi branches. The Saudi group had been effectively suppressed by the Saudi government, forcing its members to seek sanctuary in Yemen.

    Attacking a cartoon magazine seems an incoherent way of opposing the Al Saud monarchy, but the US has long pursued a policy of “decapitation”, killing Al Qaeda leaders by drone strike, or more conventional means as in the famous case of bin Laden. With leadership depleted only the pseudo-religious indoctrination remains, so incoherence is unsurprising.

    Nevertheless, the organisation is clearly a reaction to the corruption and oppression of the Saudi monarchy, itself supported heavily by the US and its corruption hidden by the likes of Tony Blair’s quashing of the investigation into BAE arms contracts to Saudi Arabia:

    Robert Wardle, head of the SFO, also stated (in a later High Court challenge, see below) that he had received a direct threat of a cessation of counterterrorist co-operation from the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UK, in the first of three meetings held to assess the seriousness of the threat: “as he put it to me, British lives on British streets were at risk”.


    This has the appearance of a protection racket; the Saudi monarchy told the UK to comply or they’d reduce suppression of organisations such as AQAP.

  • arsalan

    Hi Clark, good to see you too.

    Here is more on French hypocrisy. A young boy has just been arrested for posting a cartoon which is pretty much a duplicate of what they defend as freedom of speech, but about that news paper instead of Muslims.

    It just proves to show that freedom of speech is the right of non-Muslims to attack Islam and Muslims and and not much more than that. And illegal hate speech is whatever Muslims say that the master race disagrees with.


  • Clark

    Arsalan, France has had various restrictions on speech and expression for decades, and like all the “Western”-allied countries, it suffers from Islamophobia. It has a few Nazis, too.

    But say I was a drug addict, and got my drugs from an evil gangster who brutalised his extended family and gang members to control them, terrifying them with extreme and public violence, churning out enemies as he went. I’d be terrified myself, and scared of anyone who might be associated with him and his gang. Say I supplied him with lots of weapons so his gang could remain supreme; wouldn’t I be terrified that someone in his gang or someone who’d defected from it might turn that weaponry on me?

    Oil is the drug, the Saudi monarchy is the gang leadership, al Qaeda are the defectors, and the “Western” alliance supply the weapons. Madness.

  • Clark

    Arsalan, the countries and the powerful are guilty. The ordinary people are misled – even the gunmen who kill cartoonists are victims. I feel very sorry for the young men who end up “fighting for Islam”. Many never get to develop their lives, they live saturated in hate and anger, and they end up just as dead as those they attack.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    What has 40 years of the rise and rise of Islamism done for Muslims in Muslim-majority countries. What has it achieved for minorities in majority-Muslim countries? What has it achieved for Muslims in The West and elsewhere? What has it achieved for anyone?


  • Paul Barbara

    The CH attack has all the hallmarks of a ‘False Flag’ attack. Were there in fact ANY deaths, including in the Kosher shop? Certainly not the ‘policeman’ shot ‘in the head’ whilst on the ground. The ‘Patsies’ were almost certainly murdered, but we must presumably take the French authorities word that anyone else died, bit like Sandy Hook.
    For probably the best collection of articles and videos indicating ‘False Flag’, I suggest searching: http://www.911forum.org.uk/board/viewtopic.php?t=22577&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
    As for the number of deaths, just in Iraq, I suggest searching:
    ‘Study Claims Iraq’s ‘Excess’ Death Toll Has Reached 655,000′, on Information Clearing House. And that does not include the 500,000 children generally admitted as being killed by the pre-invasion ‘sanctions’ (which Madelaine Albright scandalously called ‘acceptable’).
    Crooks, even teenagers, have no trouble in the UK buying guns. If Muslims (or many of them) are so incensed by acknowledged Western War Crimes, how come they aren’t taking the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ route, and shooting up the cities on a weekly basis? Perhaps because the REAL authors of these ‘attacks’ (some fatal, some faked) know they only need to do it on an occasional basis, to create the necessary ‘Climate of Tension’, to enable the Governments to bring in ever more draconian laws, and to get a groundswell of public opinion behind their illegal invasions. Remember (or look up) ‘Gladio’ (CIA Terror Gangs in Europe).

  • Jemand

    “Coulibaly stated that he targeted the Jews at the Kosher grocery to defend Muslims, notably Palestinians. […] Coulibaly said his action was revenge for the Syrian government action and against the Western coalition actions in Mali, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    Those are POLITICAL motives; he’s even “defend(ing) Muslims” (ie. people he identifies with) rather than Islam or Mohammed.”
    _ _ _ _

    Defending muslims rather than Islam. Hmmm. He “identifies” with muslims rather than the ideology that makes them muslims. Yes, that makes perfect sense. Can you explain why he identifies with muslims but not because they both believe in Islam?

    And when jihadists cite contemporary hostilities by Western military forces as justification for their actions they are rational fighters for political justice who lamentably have to resort to violence to make their point but when they cite Islamic principles they are “extremists misusing Islam”. How do you get to choose which stated motives are correct and which are not? Sounds like propaganda to me. Pick and choose examples that advance your agenda.

    All Abrahamic religions are political, Clark. Or do you think that people of previous centuries viewed matters of God and His will as just a weekend hobby completely disconnected from political processes? I suppose you think the Vatican is a spiritual institution for people in need of emotional comfort.

    Slowly but surely, your views on Islam are becoming unravelled as one terrorist incident after another, the world over, demands an ever more elaborate explanation from you that continues to free the IDEOLOGY of Islam from its political consequences.

    But let’s not quibble about what that ideology is. Let’s have you and your likeminded friends ask muslims themselves to reinterpret their ideology so that it fits with the cute and cuddly version you prefer it to be. Will you do that, Clark? Without providing any evidence WHATSOEVER, you claimed that the Quran has different interpretations, with the implication that benign versions exist and might prevail. Would you care to elaborate on that and what you intend to do to ensure that muslims take your non-muslim advice regarding the rehabilitation of their religion?

  • Clark

    Jemand, your theory that Islam causes violence fails to account for the vast majority of Muslims not being violent. Suhayl’s a doctor, for goodness’ sake; do you think he wants to kill you?

    Coulibaly clearly stated that he was “defending Muslims” ie. people – He did NOT state that he was defending a religion or a prophet.

    You’ve again stated that Islam is monolithic; you wrote “Without providing any evidence WHATSOEVER, you claimed that the Quran has different interpretations”. You stated much the same initially, and then denied it, and are now stating it again…

    Whatever, Islam certainly does have different sects, and overwhelmingly, the one that incites intolerance and violence is WAHHABISM, projected for political purposes from SAUDI ARABIA, a key WESTERN ALLY. Please refer to the link below, the comment that follows it and the comment that follows this one and deal with the issues raised:


  • Clark

    The “Western” powers fund and support the Gulf Monarchies, which each plays its role in churning out well-armed so-called “Muslim extremists”. The Saudi monarchy directly commissions Wahhabist indoctrination in Saudi Arabia itself, and funds mosques and Wahhabist speakers, and distributes extremist books around the rest the world. It also brutalises and dehumanises its own population while brewing resentment with its corruption and gross hypocrisy. Meanwhile, billions of US dollars channelled through the Gulf Monarchies supply a steady flow of weaponry to the extremists thus produced.

    The whole sick mess is directly encouraged by “Western”, Neocon policy. But then it would be, wouldn’t it? Its violent and tragic results greatly help in the justification of the other Neocon policies such as perpetual war, anti-Islamic propaganda, total surveillance and destruction of civil liberties.

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