The old cliché that the first casualty of war is truth has never been so blatantly evident as we witness the making of further wars and conflict.
As 2010 heralds in with fresh hopes and expectations and sentimental songs of love and peace will be sung at end-of-year parties, our leaders have already signaled that occupation and war will be continuing in the New Year.
Ironically US President Barack Obama, fresh from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, had already ordered 30,000 troops to be deployed to Afghanistan to basically "get Al-Qaeda' which Obama has declared is still "holed up there and a threat to US national security."
As history has shown, the first casualty of war is not only the truth but also a free press. In more autocratic regimes blatant censorship is the rule; however the twisted phenomena practiced in the Western media is to abhor censorship but at the same time omit the truth. The main trend after 9/11 has been not to question government policies while at the same time omit the facts that do not fall in line with "our reality."
The mainstream prominent broadcasters and newspapers today continue the same unquestioning narrative that led President Bush to start the "unending war on terror".
Many critics view the war in Iraq as a failure. Far from transporting democracy, American occupation turned the country into one big violent insurgency. Attempts were made to link the insurgents to Al-Qaeda, yet the truth could not be disguised; the insurgents were just mostly Iraqis against American occupation. In the same way that the Taleban which after 2001 was just a weak and dispersed group have turned into a strong fighting force. Many Afghanis disagree with their ideas, but joined it just to fight against occupation of their country.
Most Western journalists continue to omit the facts in their news reports and push the government line that all insurgents are linked to "Al-Qaeda".
Very few have actually questioned the existence of Al-Qaeda and the illusive Osama Bin Laden. Most of the main press continues to describe them as a subhuman organization with tentacles reaching out to every corner of the world. And most of us only know two of its members, the video stars Osama Bin laden and his deputy Ayman Zahwari. The rest of the cast is supposed to be mostly in Guantanamo, many having admitted their membership of the terror group through torture.
And we all know the legality of accepting evidence through torture.
Any Islamic group fighting for independence or occupation is now linked to this illusive group; from the struggle for independence in Kashmir to Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya and Somalia.
If one looks at the BBC website "Investigating Al-Qaeda' even the July 7 bombings in London by Muslims who clearly said they carried out the bombings as a protest as they were against the killing of innocent Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and the West's blind support for Israel - the BBC website has explained it otherwise, stating "analysts say the attacks bear the hallmarks of groups linked to or at least inspired by Al-Qaeda".
Just before Obama took power there had been many reports in the press that Al-Qaeda as a fighting force did not really exist anymore in Afghanistan. The National Security Adviser to President Obama Gen. James Jones told Congress: "The Al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies".
The press who is aware of the general's statement ignored the facts and continues to exaggerate the threat of Al-Qaeda supporting Obama's policy of sending more troops. This makes one wonder who really owns the media and why are they pro-war?
We have already had evidence through 'Spinwatch' investigations of how so-called terror experts linked to neocons and Zionists had planted fake scare stories of
Al-Qaeda attacks in the media and how those stories had been published without question.
The press continues to perpetuate the fear factor associated with the "Al-Qaeda threat" there were no probing questions asked about "why one of the excuses used to attack Iraq was that Saddam was linked to Al-Qaeda; and how can the public trust anything after their governments lied about weapons of mass destruction to go to war? Very few have asked why every "uncovered" terror plot is linked to Al-Qaeda and at the same time no one has found any real evidence linking the two.
Much has been written about the existence of Al-Qaeda as a terror group with sleeper cells worldwide. However in a climate of lapdog journalism those asking too many questions about its existence and its so- called threat are relegated to the "island of conspiracy theorists" along with those asking how could Third World jihadists used to fighting in caves, carry out a plot that needed powerful technological and organizational skills to cause the destruction of the twin towers.
The former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook shortly before his death told the House of Commons that "Al-Qaeda" is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujahideen and arms smugglers used by the CIA to channel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan.
And since then it has been a database that compiles names and numbers of every Muslim resistance fighter who attempts to fight American and British imperialist ambitions in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
As a result of this, innocent men and women have been incarcerated in prisons like Guantanamo - many put in there as a result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, some guilty through association and some because they felt it their right to fight against American occupation.
According to Jason Burke who as The Observer's chief reporter and author of "Al-Qaeda - casting a shadow of terror" writes: "Al-Qaeda in fact does not exist. It was made up in January of 2001 in order to prosecute Osama Bin Laden in his absence. Under the law if such an organization exists then the head of the organization can be prosecuted."
In his analysis he wrote, "there is no international network with a leader, with cadres who will unquestioningly obey orders with tentacles that stretch out to sleeper cells in America, in Africa and in Europe".
Adam Curtis in his powerful documentary "The Power of Nightmares" argues that whenever one looks for this Al-Qaeda organization from the "mountains in Afghanistan to sleeper cells in America - the British and Americans are pursuing a fantasy." He points out that the West is wasting its time, while in the process it is missing the real threat that is from the increase of Islamist radicals.
The increase in suicide bombings and resistance groups in places like Pakistan which had relative stability is a result of growing anger in the Muslim world; the incessant American drone attacks on innocent civilians, the innocent lives lost as "collateral damage" has led to a backlash.
Arthur Scahill of The Nation has revealed the mercenary group Blackwater infamous for killing innocent Iraqis, with the knowledge of the US government is operating secretly in Pakistan under the name of Xe - they changed their name after they were exposed causing death and destruction in Iraq.
Al-Qaeda as described in the western media is to some extent a mythical organization. However what is not a myth is that there is growing resentment and anger in Muslim countries, and if the West wants to ignore these facts and continue to attack countries they believe are harboring Al-Qaeda they will only be creating more resistance movements and an increase in terrorism.
- Shabana Syed can be contacted at: [email protected]