Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
Re: Response to Horror of 11 September 19, 2001
The Muslim communities in the UK are shocked by the horror in New York and Washington they saw on their TV screens on 11 September. They are grief stricken at the loss of innocent lives that included three hundred citizens of the UK and one hundred Pakistanis. However, we have serious concerns that are shared by the overwhelming majority in the UK. The media engage carelessly in verbal overkill that focused on the religion of the hijackers, Osama Bin Laden being the prime suspect and Afghanistan being the main refuge of terrorists. This had the effect of demonizing Islam and Muslims resulting in attacks on Mosques, life and property of Muslim citizens in several Western countries. We are grateful to you for having spoken out in time to cool passions and directed your efforts and attention to developing the right response rather than a quick response.
We wholeheartedly agree that the perpetrators of the horror of 11 September be brought to justice. But we are deeply concerned that efforts to identify the culprits are focusing on those who have long been victims of great excesses and severe injustice. Afghanistan has nothing to do with the horror of 11 September. Yet, that country has been singled out as the main target for American retaliation. The political rhetoric of the US and majority of media comment in the West does not differentiate between terrorist groups and legitimate struggles for liberation. Muslims all over the world support the struggle of Palestinians, Kashmiris and Chechens for liberation. All of them fight foreign military occupation - a right recognized by the UN Charter. None of them have anything against any country in the West. It is very unwise to let the muddle continue. Struggle against military occupation must not be confused with terror to make some absurd point or to pursue a minority interest or to advance an evil ideology. This muddle would hamper the fight of the West against terrorism. We beg you to rise to the occasion and clear the muddle.
It is neither in the interest of the West nor of the World of Islam to start some sort of a clash of civilizations of Islam and Christianity are the two universal monotheistic religions. They have more in common with each other than with any other faith. Their interests are complimentary. The Muslim world is rich in resources, the West has the technology and the need to develop those resources. The Muslim world has surplus of capital; New York and London make billions of pounds re-circulating it. Muslim countries lie in proximity of all the points of world; it is in the interest of the West that these are in friendly hands for uninterrupted trade and smooth flow of the Middle East oil to its markets. If there were an asymmetrical long war between the Muslim World and the West - that would be the inevitable result of invasion of Afghanistan - we would both suffer world damage. There would be no winner, only losers.
Our principle concern at this time is that the objective of the 'war' that the USA is planning is yet unclear, whole efforts are under way to assemble a coalition. A coalition assembled by pressure and subterfuge is no coalition; it is a recipe for disaster. It could make the governments that make join the coalition so unpopular that they lose legitimacy to rule. At this moment it is not clear who committed the horror of 11 September. The news reports so far reveal that it could not have been the work of Osama Bin Laden. The facts of the case are indeed very disturbing, these must be investigated and the results publicized before it is decided who is the target of the war and why.
1. Philippines arrested Arab terrorists in 1995 who revealed that they had plans to hijack planes and crash them into valuable buildings - something that actually occurred 11 September. The information was conveyed to the FBI but not released to the press. It was that if such an attack were carried out it would be blamed on the same group. A mole must have passed the information to a country that had the technology and the organization to carry out the attack confident in the knowledge that it could start a long and damaging war between the US and the West and the Muslim World. The country has to be one in war with the Arab or Muslim World.
2. Unusually large number of shares in airlines, insurance and arms manufacturers were the object of 'short welling' prior to 11 September. (The Times, September 18, page 2). Someone knew of the terrible events to come. Their identity would reveal the identity of those who orchestrated the atrocity.
3. A very large number of Jews in New York did not come to their offices on Wall Street on 11 September. Why? They knew something. Who told them? What?
If a coalition did invade Afghanistan, it would be the most pointless, cruel and suicidal war in history. We cannot forget that the targets of the 'broad war' that President Bush talked about including Pakistan. The USA is developing some sort of a pattern in its foreign policy. It devastates those countries that help it in war. Its main ally in WWII was the USSR; during the cold war, Pakistan bore the brunt for being its ally, Iraq invaded Iran on a nod and a wink by the USA then encouraged it to attack Kuwait and was devastated in consequence. Afghans (including Osama bin Laden and the Taleban) were close friends and allies of the West in the fight against Soviet Occupation. They were on your side because they shared objectives with you. Their motivation was patriotism. The West must learn to respect the compulsions of patriotism of those who do not share your perception, merely interests.
We urge you, Prime Minister, to investigate the horror of 11 September thoroughly and bring those responsible for the heinous crime to justice: retaliation and revenge is the hallmark of thugs and not civilized states. It is impossible to imagine a worse reason to wage a war disinclination to reveal evidence in support of extradition request. Invasion of Afghanistan is illegal, immoral and unwise. We hope you would persuade your American allies to refrain from such action.
The Pakistan Solidarity Forum