March 14, 2004

"..they are all infidels"

Mark Steyn distinguishes between "old school" terrorism and the new variety. Does it really matter whether the reason for the Madrid bombings is Islamist anger about Spain's support for the U.S. Iraq policy, or for a grudge that's 500 years old?

In his penultimate public appearance, the late Osama bin Laden, broadcasting from his cave in the early hours of the Afghan campaign, listed among his principal grievances "the tragedy of Andalusia" – that is, the end of Muslim rule in Spain in 1492. That's 512 years ago, but the al-Qa'ida guys are in no mood to (as the Democrats used to urge Republicans in the Clinton impeachment era) "move on"....

...Even if you'd avoided Iraq or Andalusia or British banks or Pilger or any other affront to Islamist sensibilities, you'd still be a target. As the PR guy for the Islamic Army of Aden said after blowing up that French tanker: "We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels." Commissioner Keelty is confusing old-school terrorism – blowing the legs off grannies as a means to an end – with the new: blowing the legs off grannies is the end. Old-school terrorists have relatively viable goals: They want a Basque state or Northern Ireland removed from the UK. You might not agree with these goals, you might not think them negotiable, but at least they're not stark staring insane.

That kind of finely calibrated terrorism – just enough slaughter to inconvenience the state into concessions – is all but over.

Posted by dan at March 14, 2004 9:03 PM