While the bombings in Africa were a horrendous display of terror and malice, the United States’ response was no better. As a superpower, the United States prides itself on defending the weak and helping the oppressed, ideals we support as citizens of this country.
However, it seems our leaders and decision-makers think otherwise. Fighting terror with terror is not an effective means of putting a stop to terrorism. Through its actions, the United States has proven itself no better than those it claims to condemn.
It seems as if the United States took a drastic step without serious planning and consideration. Whether it was a ploy to cover the president’s sexual escapades or truly intended to stop terrorism is not important. The principle of the matter is that our government is responsible for an inhumane act – an act that left many jobless in Sudan by bombing a pharmaceutical factory declared guilty of producing chemical weapons, but without any factual evidence.
We, as Americans, should be angered at the fact that if Osama bin Laden is actually a terrorist, then we are to blame. It was the Central Intelligence Agency that trained him and his followers. It was the CIA that formed those camps that were bombed in retaliation.
As with most other “Islamic terrorist” cases, once again the evidence concerning justified retaliation is insubstantial. For example, if bin Laden was, in fact, a part of this heinous act of terror, and if he had been identified since 1995 as a “terrorist,” then why had no action been taken against him earlier?
As a matter of fact, the financial assets bin Laden controls in this country as well as in others, have been frozen only recently. Weak evidence also can be found concerning Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, the man charged with the actual bombing. He did not immediately confess to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In fact, the story Pakistani officials narrated to the FBI was not the story the FBI, in turn, narrated to the public. It was not until weeks after being turned over to American authorities that he confessed to the act.
If in fact, he is guilty and if in fact he confessed to the Pakistanis, why was there a gap in time until a confession was given to the FBI?
I do not intend to defend these bombings in Africa. As a Muslim, I detest them and demand that justice be brought to the responsible party. However, the ends do not justify the means. The ends are not even productive ends; we have done nothing but perpetuate a concept that we supposedly abhor.
Bin Laden still is alive, he still is a millionaire and he still has many supporters. So what exactly have we done? We sent a message? The only message sent was, “Hey, let’s play your game Osama, let’s fight terror with terror.” We have used power unwisely, killed innocent people and slandered a religion of more than a billion peace-loving, dedicated servants of humanity. Osama bin Laden, until now, is only a suspect. Yet, through a lack of evidence and a biased media, he is public enemy No. 1. If he’s a threat to mankind, why have we only heard of him recently?
In the future, the United States should be cautious in its reaction to threats and attacks against its interests and citizens. The United States should not add fuel to the fire and lower itself to terrorist acts and irrational decisions in self-defense. If the country stands for those ideals of helping the oppressed and fighting the unjust, then the country should use methods equal to the task.
Finally, the ultimate question remains of why do these acts befall America? What drives people to these extreme measures? It is not that Muslims hate Americans; nothing can be further from the truth.
However, in pursuing its own interests, the United States has angered Muslims. For instance, funding wars for one Muslim country against another, only to then attack that Muslim country, has simply kept the torch of colonialism and imperialism alive.
The United States has left the international Muslim community with the notion that it, as a country, does not care about Islam or Muslims. It has left the impression that Muslim countries are but pawns under U.S. control.
We must know that Islamic ideals are not hostile, nor are they incompatible with Western ideals. In fact, the West, as well as the Muslim world can benefit greatly from an open dialogue in which ideals are shared. Rather than creating hatred and enmity between both worlds, the United States should seek to bridge the gap and mend the wounds it has inflicted.
-The writer is a sophomore majoring in religion.