According to President George Bush, the Islamic terrorists ‘hate us because of our freedoms.’ This, of course, is faulty, simplistic reasoning much the same as the logic he used to promote his ‘Global War on Terrorism’ which has served only to increase terrorist attacks. This discussion examines the question of why al-Qaeda attacked on 9-11, reasons which should have been understood prior to waging war against this organization or as an excuse to invade a sovereign country that had no ties to this action.
Top leaders of the Al-Qaeda network were identified as Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahri who was killed in a U.S. air strike on June 7, 2006. Al-Qaeda’s attempt to cause massive destruction would serve all the traditional purposes of terrorism: symbolism, propaganda and psychological impact, irrespective of the failure or success of the mission. There’s a faulty premise in the current strategy on the war on terrorism, that suicide terrorism and Al Qaeda suicide terrorism in particular is mainly driven by an evil ideology, Islamic fundamentalism, independent of other circumstances. However, the facts are that since 1980, of the suicide terrorist attacks around the world over half have been secular. What over 95 percent of suicide attacks around the world are about is not religion, but a specific strategic purpose – to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly. This is in fact a centerpiece of Al Qaeda’s strategic logic, which is to compel the United States and Western countries to abandon military commitments on the Arabian Peninsula. Suicide terrorists are not mainly depressed, lonely individuals on the margins of society. University of Chicago’s Professor Richard Pape studied 462 suicide terrorists from around the world since 1980 (cited in O’Brien, 2005).