U.S. Foreign Policy, Not Islamic Teachings, Account for al-Qaeda’s Draw

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Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad
Alejandro J. Beutel



Recently Michael Scheuer, a former twenty-two-year CIA analyst and head
of the agency’s Bin Laden Unit, gave an interview with John Barry of Newsweek.
Scheuer observes that a new generation of middle-class, well-educated
Muslims are taking up arms to fight for al-Qaeda. Furthermore, he points out
that the main reason why bin Laden remains at large is because Washington
refuses to acknowledge – and tell Americans – that its longstanding policies
toward the Muslim world are the root of the problem. The main quote is:
Our leaders say he [bin Laden] and his followers hate us because of who
we are, because we have early primaries in Iowa every four years and
allow women in the workplace. That’s nonsense. I don’t think he would
have those things in his country. But that’s not why he opposes us. I read
bin Laden’s writings and I take him at his word. He and his followers hate
us because of specific aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Bin Laden lays them
out for anyone to read. Six elements: our unqualified support for Israel;
our presence on the Arabian peninsula, which is land they deem holy; our
military presence in other Islamic countries; our support of foreign states
that oppress Muslims, especially Russia, China and India; our long-term
policy of keeping oil prices artificially low to the benefit of Western consumers
but the detriment of the Arab people; and our support for Arab
tyrannies who will do that.1 (emphasis added)
Scheuer’s analysis is supported by opinion polls of the Muslim public.
A survey by the Project on International Public Attitudes (PIPA) in April ...

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