Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Terrible Legacy Of Hatred And Death

Robert Fisk: A terrible legacy of hatred and death
This is the hell we have bequeathed to the Arab peoples of Iraq

Published: 18 November 2006

So the Ministry of Fear now has a Dowager of Fear, the good Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller who has discovered in the sanctum of MI5 another 30 "terror plots" to terrify us - and an entire generation of plots before the show is over. And how Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara admires her. "I think she is absolutely right that it will last a generation," he announces. Absolutely, indeed. The favourite Blair adverb, always trotted out when he really, truly and of course absolutely believes he is right; which is not the same at all, of course, as actually being right, which needs a lot more than belief to support it.

What is this trash? Accepting - which Blair can't do, can he? - that the risk to us is caused by his pusillanimous, mendacious policies in the Middle East (and that of his lord and master in Washington) would cut this latest bulletin from the Ministry of Fear down to a mere couple of years' worth of terror instead of a generation.

And note the smarmy way that officials in the Ministry of Fear now try to squeeze in a little bit of truth to take the edge off all those lies. According to Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the war in Iraq is not to blame for the "terror plots" we are facing. No, "it is now clearly the case that although the Iraq war did not create violent jihad, it has become a convenient excuse for violent jihad". Come again, my good Lord? Now, let me get this right. Iraq has nothing to do with the "terror plots" - this, he says, is "clearly" the case ("clearly" being a notch down the road of lies from "absolutely", which might be pushing Lord Carlile's luck on this occasion). So the threats have nothing to do with Iraq but, er, well, yes, he tells us that they have, because the inventors of the "terror plots" lie to us about the real reasons for their deeds.

Note the deceit in this. We are permitted to link Iraq to the "terror threat", providing we do so on the grounds that the perpetrators are lying to us about Iraq. And so what are the real reasons for the plots? Why - Lord Blair again - the answer is they hate our "values", values which Blair cared nothing about when he illegally invaded Iraq. And sometimes, wading through this drivel, I wonder what the Iraqis think of it, those who are paying - in their tens of thousands of lives - for our folly?

I am thinking of some real terror in Baghdad, the terror that comes through the letter box or is stuck on to walls. Now here are real terror plots for the Dowager of Fear to get her teeth into, plots to massacre and "cleanse" whole communities from their homes and cities on the grounds of their religious sect. And so let's take a look at some really ferocious terror, collected on the streets of Baghdad and from the front doors of those who are indeed facing a generation of threats, many of them scrupulously collected by local UN officials and put together by my Italian colleague, Mario Portanova, of the Milan magazine Diario. They are printed, not handwritten, and they are poisonous.

"To the ignoble rejectionists, who sold their religion and community for worldly rewards," begins one note from a Sunni group about its Shia Muslim countrymen. "It is clear that you must be classified among those who have betrayed the covenant of Allah and his Prophet, and are intellectually and actively involved in fighting against the mujahideen [holy warriors]. Therefore we grant you 24 hours to vacate this righteous [sic] district, otherwise punishment and retribution shall be your fate. Allah is greater. Praise and grace be to Allah [signed] The Islamist Army in Iraq."

It should be noted that many of these terrible notices of intent to murder are preceded by the first words of the Koran: "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful." Now here's another threat from the "Day of Atonement Brigades", a Shia group: "To the disloyal Palestinians, declared enemies and Saddamist Baathists, specifically those who reside in the al-Shououn district (of Baghdad). This is a warning that you will be liquidated if you do not move completely away from this district within a 10-day period. Let this be a warning to all, without exception."

And here's the literary work of the "Allahu Akbar Brigades", who are probably Sunnis, which specifically targets schoolgirls: "Death, crucifixion, amputation of hands and feet ... will be the retribution against those who defy Allah ... To all lascivious women who due to their mode of dress encourage sexual titillation, beware this will lead to worldly damnation. Bullets and the cudgel will be the punishment for those who have no morals, and those who persist in wearing short, provocative clothes. We are fully aware of what takes place after noontime in the school halls on Museum Road and elsewhere. We know about the ... secret meetings that are taking place. We are present among you and know all there is to know ..."

And now for the work of an al-Qa'ida affiliate, directed at Shia: "In view of the sectarian criminal acts which are being perpetrated by the so-called infamous Mehdi Army and the deceitful Badr Forces, including killing, abduction, deportation and displacement of the Sunni community in Mahmudiyah, Rashidiya, al-Shaab, al-Shattah and al-Hurriyah ... this formation has decided to respond twofold to each attack ... an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth ... accordingly it has been decreed that you (Shias) must leave the Sunni community areas, including al-Ghaziyah, within 24 hours, otherwise we will chop off your heads as the militias have been doing to the sons of the Sunni community."

There are many other pages. One calls on Shias to "leave their burrows" in Baghdad within two days or "taste the fire". Another warns Shias not to visit their local mosque. "To those who pray at al-Sajad mosque, a horrendous death shall be your fate should you come within close proximity of this mosque ... Cursed are the agents of the occupiers."

This, of course, is the hell we have bequeathed to all the Arab peoples of Iraq, this nightmare of genocidal threat and murder. All for non-existent weapons of mass destruction. And yet there is the Dowager of Fear trying to frighten us. That there may be "plots" I don't doubt. But given the hell-disaster we have helped to unleash in Iraq, is it any surprise?


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