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Bomber Motivated by Religion?: Media Regurgitates Government Propaganda


(Update I and II below)

After the September 11th attacks, many Americans wondered, “why do they hate us?”  President George Bush gave his now famous explanation: “They hate our freedoms.”  Radical Islam, we are told, is to blame.

When someone dares counter this argument by pointing out that “Muslim rage” is due to U.S. foreign policy, accusations of disloyalty quickly abound.  Ron Paul was chastised when he had the audacity to claim that they didn’t attack us because of our freedoms, but rather “they attack us because we’ve been over there [bombing them].”  In other words, they terrorize us because we’ve been terrorizing them.

Yet, the terrorists themselves consistently explain why they attack us.  Osama bin Laden himself responded to George Bush:

Contrary to what Bush says and claims — that we hate freedom –let him tell us then, “Why did we not attack Sweden?” … Bush is…misleading you and not telling you the true reason.

The real reason, explained Bin Laden, was that

we had to destroy the towers in America so that they taste what we tasted, and they stop killing our women and children… Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.

Subsequent terrorists have consistently confessed similar motivations, whether it be the Times Square bomber or the Fort Hood shooter.  Time and time again, the terrorists give the same explanations: they attack the United States because the United States is attacking Muslims.

With the Boston Marathon bombings, once again Americans repeat Bushian explanations.  The vapid radio personality Adam Carolla explained:

They hate our culture. They hate our way of life.

Why Americans simply can’t fathom that it is U.S. foreign policy that motivates terrorists is understandable: it would be too difficult on the American psyche to admit fault–to admit that our own foreign policy is criminal and the ultimate source of a legitimate grievance.  It is far easier to lay the blame on another religion.

So, once again, we are told that the Boston Marathon bombers were “motivated by religion.”  This is what “anonymous U.S. officials” told the media, who then unthinkingly regurgitated it:

Two U.S. officials say preliminary evidence from an interrogation suggests the suspects in the Boston Marathon attack were motivated by their religious views but were apparently not tied to any Islamic terrorist groups.

The two brothers, from southern Russia, practiced Islam.

The U.S. officials spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

Notice that the U.S. officials “were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation”–but they discussed it with reporters anyways.  This is typical of the U.S. government-media relationship: journalists grant anonymity to government officials, who can then freely spread their propaganda while at the same time hiding behind the wall of anonymity when challenged.  (Glenn Greenwald has written extensively on this practice.)

And so, Americans will continue to believe the myth that the terrorists attack us simply because of their religious views.  This successfully shrouds the real underlying reason: U.S. foreign policy.

“Muslim rage” toward the United States has to do with the fact that the United States has been continuously bombing, invading, and occupying multiple Muslim countries.  This is a process that began in the early 1990’s–over two decades of U.S. warmongering in the region.  (And actually, U.S. interference in the Middle East begins way before that.)

The Tsaernev brothers may well have been becoming more religious.  But, that’s only half the story–and it’s the half that’s less important.  The more important half is what the government and media isn’t telling.

The Tsaernev brothers were ethnically Chechen.  As has been pointed out by many in the media, Chechens don’t necessarily have a particularly antagonistic view towards the United States.  Why should they?  Their “beef” is with the Russians.

However, the Tsaernev brothers were becoming more religious.  As such, it is only natural that their affiliation and self-identity became closer tied to Muslim.  Once they started identifying themselves more as Muslims, they naturally grew closer in affiliation to the Muslim community worldwide (the Ummah).  This sensitized them to conflicts in the Muslim majority world, including the U.S.-led incursions in the region.  Therefore, the turn to religion did facilitate their eventual commission of the terrorist attacks, but only because it caused them to identify with the people who are being attacked by the United States.

It is true that the Koran commands believers to come to the defense of other Muslims:

And why should you not fight in God’s cause when defenseless men, women, and children are being oppressed and cry out, “Lord, rescue us from this land whose people are oppressors! By Your Grace, give us a protector and give us a helper.” (Koran, 4:75)

But, is this not a universal moral principle?  Few people, aside from extreme pacifists, would argue that it is immoral to defend “defenseless men, women, and children who are being oppressed.”

That the Tsaernev brothers would respond to this call means that they identify the United States as the oppressor.  It is less that the religion itself caused the Tsaernev brothers to plan these attacks, and more the fact that the U.S. is bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.  If this weren’t the case, the Tsaernev brothers would hardly have identified the U.S. with the oppressors mentioned in the Koranic verse.

Islam does advocate fighting oppressors to save the oppressed, but this is hardly something immoral.  Rather, it would be immoral to deny the right of the oppressed to defend themselves against the oppressors.  Where the Tsaernev brothers left the Koranic injunctions and Islamic tradition was in their targeting of civilians instead of military targets. The Koran declares:

Fight in God’s cause only against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression, for surely, God does not love aggressors. (Koran, 2:190)

The Prophet Muhammad is said to have explicitly forbidden the targeting of non-combatants, specifically women and children.

Islamic extremists like the Tsaernev brothers are not following the Koran or Islamic teachings when they commit acts of terrorism against innocents.  Rather, they are flouting long-held Islamic prohibitions against targeting non-combatants.  The extremists justify this departure from Koranic and Islamic law by claiming that the times are so exigent that an emergency suspension of this prohibition must be declared, i.e. the only way to stop them from killing our civilians is by killing theirs.  This twisted logic is the same used by many in the West to justify nuclear warfare.

Other Muslims counter the Islamic extremists by invoking Koranic and Islamic injunction, declaring such suspension of the religious law to be religiously baseless.  So, it is misleading to say that the Tsaernev brothers were motivated by religion and just leave it at that.  Islamic extremists like the Tsaernev brothers follow the Koranic injunction to come to the defense of the innocents (at least in their minds that’s what they are doing), but they suspend and contravene the religious laws regarding the conduct of such defensive war.  In other words, they uphold (part of) the Islamic jus ad bellum (right to wage war) but refuse to follow the Islamic jus in bello (conduct of war).

It is thus important to remember that:

(1) the right to wage war that these Islamic extremists invoke is rooted in not just Koranic scripture, but is part of universal moral principles (and is enshrined in the Just War Theory).

(2) The U.S.’s actions, not religious scripture (since, as discussed in point #1, it is a shared universal moral principle),  are the ultimate cause of inspiration for terrorists.  If, for example, the Koran still existed but the U.S. hadn’t been continuously bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands, it is very unlikely that the Islamic extremists would have selected the U.S. to target.  (As Osama bin Laden asked, “Why did we not attack Sweden?”)  On the other hand, if the Koran and Islam never existed, the people in the Muslim world would still seek to defend themselves against U.S. aggression, the only difference being that their resistance would be colored in national or ethnic instead of religious colors.  (One could reasonably argue that religious motivation instills greater fanaticism to resistance movements, but nonetheless, people of any or no religion would seek to defend themselves against invaders.)

(3) The Tsaernev brothers may have been motivated by religion, but they ignored that same religion when it came to the conduct of war, which reinforces point #2: resistance is colored by religion only, but really it is a universal human desire to fight back against invaders.

Of course, it’s more reassuring to Americans to think that these terrorists keep attacking us because of their religion.  It’s far easier to point the finger at some other extrinsic cause rather than at oneself.  This makes us feel good about ourselves: we are the good guys being attacked by the bad guys.  It’s hard to accept that the pan-ultimate motivator for why they attack us is our own actions in their lands: bombing, invading, and occupying them for over two decades.

One could argue that I don’t know for certain that U.S. foreign policy is the ultimate motivator for the Tsaernev brothers because this information has yet to be released, but it’s a matter of such obviousness–and it has been proven over and over again once the motivations of previous Muslim terrorists were revealed–that I say it with utmost certainty.  It’s a simple answer to the question “why do they attack us”, as opposed to the simplistic answer that they hate us for our freedoms or because of their religion.

The Boston Globe declared: “It doesn’t matter why they hate us, they just do.” If fellow Americans really don’t think it matters why they hate us–or think “they just do” for no legitimate reason at all–we shouldn’t expect an end to such horrific terrorist attacks, and we can’t just keep claiming to be absolutely flabbergasted when the next attack comes.


Incidentally, Glenn Greenwald just published an article on the very same topic, and it is very much worth the read.


Just as I predicted: the Huffington Post reports (hat tip: JD):

Boston Bombing Suspects Motivated By Afghanistan, Iraq Wars: Report

The two suspects in the Boston bombing that killed three and injured more than 260 were motivated by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials told the Washington Post…

So, the primary motivation to target the United States was not religious but political.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.  Due to a hectic work schedule, Danios took a “sabbatical” from LoonWatch in 2012, but he plans to write from time to time in 2013, as time allows.

  • Géji

    Great isn’t , yet let be terrorism rain! after all the great empire of Terrorism and its Zionists slaves makes it easyyy!

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    Usually they don’t recruit people, people majority of the time come to them come to them.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    “I am not fearful of them, no its the trail they are creating for those who will follow them when the environment and conditions are right. … I view Pam and Spencer much the same way. They are setting everything up for the right moment.”

    An excellent point. Spencer and Geller generally can’t do that much damage personally, though I wouldn’t want to minimize their efforts in arousing opposition to mosques and in pushing for “anti-Shariah” legislation. But, the bigger potential long-term problem is if people think it is okay to rely on those whose tactics include things like calling members of a religion devil-worshippers and claiming to clarify misconceptions of a group they don’t belong to while instead actually pushing their own agenda.

    My only question is whether they are really so self-deluded that they think they are fighting for freedom. Ultimately, I’m not sure which would be worse: if people like Spencer and Geller recognized the hatred that they are stirring up now and for the future, or if they don’t.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    So do you believe the Tsaernev bothers really were motivated by their religion? If you do, do you care to show us an objective source that refutes Danios? If not, what are you doing here? Even if Islam is about “devastatingly backwards creed” as you claim, why even bring that up, here if you don’t think they were motivated by that creed?

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Unfortunately I think Fox News, as well as many others on the right have called them a human rights organization, and people in the “counter Jihad” are fond of portraying themselves as freedom fighters. In fact they often probably really do regard themselves as freedom fighters, off course that’s a joke.

  • Solid Snake

    It doesn’t have to be. The political and religious spheres are two completely different areas. They can be combined and they can be separated depending on the person. One can view or practice their religion through a political lens or practice politics through a religious lens.

    What do you mean by ‘the analysis here makes a version of the same mistake’?

  • Arab Atheist

    Yes, that’s exactly what I believe. It’s obvious you did not read Danios’ post. Muslim extremist are not attacking foreign countries which are not militarily involved in the Muslim world. The Chinese and the Japanese, for example, don’t live in fear in their homeland for the simple reason that they do not support the racist/genocidal entity called Israel and do not invade Muslim land. Period.

    In short, American imperialist ideology is as much of culprit as the extremist enemies it created. The world is insecure because these two extremist ideologies are at war. The only difference is that average Muslims did not elect the extremists or put them in power; on the other hand, average people under western imperialist democracies do elect their criminal leaders (this however, does not mean that these citizens are guilty for the crimes of others; many of them are brainwashed into imperialist capitalism).

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Firstly how would you know if its a good channel as you claim never to Watch it?
    Secondly it is Iranian TV presenting an alternative view not one I agree with some of the time but then I could play spot the propaganda on Fox And CNN if I wanted

    Sir David

  • Pingback: Bomber Motivated by Religion?: Media Regurgitates Government Propaganda | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper()

  • yitzgood

    I especially like their demand that Islam not be considered a religion

    The analysis here often makes a version of the same mistake. Who says the political must be divorced from the religious?

  • yitzgood

    which is for the most part a great channel

    You mean when it isn’t presenting David Duke, or Gordon Duff, or Alex Jones as experts? What’s “great” about it?

  • Pingback: Aanslagpleger door religie geïnspireerd? Media papegaaien regeringspropaganda | KRAPUUL.NL()

  • golden izanagi

    the crazy thing is the irony of that drivel raving about “equality” and “rights for all” even though what that list is clearly advocating is outright chipping away at the rights of muslims in fact it might as well have just said said “muslims should have there rights limited” but what makes me laugh the most is the finishing points at the bottom of it the part ranting on about how his group stands for freedom as opposed to the other guy who stands for oppression, from that it really seems like he sees himself and his group as the heroes standing against a great evil like something from an rpg and it really just makes me laugh considering the heroes from those stories either have traveled in time to stop an alien from destroying the earth (chrono trigger) entered a world through a tv that changes in accordance to a persons inner thoughts and hidden insecurities (persona 4) and another in which you can shout and cause storms and have to be careful not to take an arrow to the knee or you will have to retire from adventuring and become a town guard.(skyrim) what has spencer done go in front of cameras and rave about how islam is evil.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Thanks for the tip. Disturbing to say the least.

  • Solid Snake

    So basically a non violent (yet) version of the Taliban or Alqaeda or
    any extreme Muslim group? This is scary. I am not fearful of them, no
    its the trail they are creating for those who will follow them when the
    environment and conditions are right. Extremist Muslims don’t just waltz
    into a town and convince everyone to join, they mostly get ignored
    until something exploitable occurs, like a US drone strike on Civilians
    or a local government friendly with the West machine guns a bunch of
    protesters, then they are in business. I view Pam and Spencer much the
    same way. They are setting everything up for the right moment.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Yes, it’s still there.

    I really like how their brains don’t explode when they end by saying that AFDI and SION support freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. That is, you are free to agree with their repulsive views, or you can be deported.

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