Glenn Greenwald: The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of «Terrorism»

Glenn Greenwald / Salon: The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of «Terrorism»

For much of the day yesterday, the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo; that led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible, one that, as James Fallows notes, remains at the Post with no corrections or updates. The morning statement issued by President Obama — «It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring» and «we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks» — appeared to assume, though (to its credit) did not overtly state, that the perpetrator was an international terrorist group.

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Al Qaeda is always to blame, even when it isn’t, even when it’s allegedly the work of a Nordic, Muslim-hating, right-wing European nationalist. Of course, before Al Qaeda, nobody ever thought to detonate bombs in government buildings or go on indiscriminate, politically motivated shooting rampages. The NYT speculates that amonium nitrate fertilizer may have been used to make the bomb because the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, owned a farming-related business and thus could have access to that material; of course nobody would have ever thought of using that substance to make a massive bomb had it not been for Al Qaeda. So all this proves once again what a menacing threat radical Islam is.

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