‘Safe haven’ for white terrorists?
Rafia Zakaria/ Dawn
THEY didn’t understand terrorism until it was too late. Ever since 9/11, and arguably even in the years prior to that, Americans believed that terrorism was a Muslim problem. Such was this belief that in the post-9/11 years the Department of Homeland Security was created to protect the US from Islamist militancy. And as everyone in South Asia and the Middle East experienced, that was hardly all of it. In Afghanistan, where the erstwhile 9/11 terrorists had hidden, a military campaign (still ongoing) killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. In Iraq, a functioning infrastructure of governance was dismantled, nearly a million innocent Iraqis were killed and several millions more rendered refugees. The weight of the cumulative carnage spanned decades and its true measure is still not known. When it became too costly to send soldiers, the Americans used drones, killing even young children with their approximate marksmanship and their penchant for mistaking funerals and wedding parties for terrorist convoys. At home in the US, every Muslim became a terror suspect, and mosques were filled with undercover FBI agents trying to find terrorists. Those days lasted until Jan 6, 2021. Until then, and despite the rising number of home-grown white supremacist terror attacks, Americans still soundly believed that terrorism was a Muslim problem, inextricably tied to something about the faith. If anyone, particularly a Muslim, interjected, the retort would always be something like, ‘Yes, maybe not all terrorists are Muslim, but so many are’. It would be the beginning of a circular and pointless argument, whose only value was how it exposed the extent of American Islamophobia. So deep was this denial that on Christmas Day 2020, when a member of the conspiracy group QAnon parked a camper truck full of explosives outside a building that housed a good bit of the 5G infrastructure belonging to the communications giant AT&T, US counterterrorism officials and media outlets refused to refer to the attack — which reduced two downtown streets in Nashville, Tennessee, to rubble — as a terrorist attack. “There was no political motive,” one such terrorism analyst held on CNN. It was a statement that was misguided at best and a downright lie at worst. The QAnon conspiracy group believes, in summary, that Democrats run an undercover paedophilia ring and that Donald Trump is fighting this ring. (Abridged, visit the site to read more)