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Posted by admin on 2019-01-12 in 上海性息 with No Comments

MARK DAVIS: Gentlemen, thanks to both of you for joining us.


I’d like to consider the nature of these series of bombings around the world. Rohan Gunaratna, is there an organisational link, in your opinion, between Bali, Baghdad and Spain, the bombings in these locations?

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA, AL QA’IDA SPECIALIST: I believe that al-Qa’ida and its associated groups have conducted all these three attacks. Certainly the bombing in Bali was not by al-Qa’ida but by Jemaah Islamiah, an associated group. Most of the bombings in Baghdad have been conducted by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an al-Qa’ida associate. And the bombings in Madrid clearly has the signs of al-Qa’ida, or an associated organisation of al-Qa’ida.

MARK DAVIS: So a definite global network, in your opinion?

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA: Yes. Of course these are disparate organisations but they are united through ideology of a global jihad.

MARK DAVIS: Tariq Ali, in your opinion is there a guiding hand, is there a group behind these attacks?

TARIQ ALI, AUTHOR: I don’t think there’s a single group. I think there are several organisations who are making the most of this opportunity to hit the United States and its allies wherever they can. I agree with what was said that the Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia is not part of al-Qa’ida, but it is an Islamist organisation, which carried out those attacks. Where I would disagree strongly is there’s absolutely no evidence that al-Qa’ida was present in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. If some of them have crept in under the occupation that’s something very new, but most of the bombings and attacks on the United States and occupying forces in Iraq have come from Iraqis. As far as Spain is concerned, I think there’s no doubt that the video released recently indicates that this was an attack carried out by people close to al-Qa’ida to punish the Spanish regime.

MARK DAVIS: Rohan Gunaratna, it is essential, isn’t it, that we get this right? I mean if this is not a global network, if it is indeed a series of local networks are we applying the right strategies?

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA: I think that the disparate organisations in some cases they are operationally linked as we saw in the case of the Jemaah Islamiah bombings, al-Qa’ida financed those bombings. In the case of Iraq, I fully agree that al-Qa’ida did not have a presence in Iraq during the Saddam period and subsequently we have seen the hand of al-Qa’ida. We have also seen an associated organisation of al-Qa’ida al-Ansar al-Islami becoming active in Iraq. So these are disparate organisations. Some of these organisations are operationally linked. Some of these organisations are only ideologically linked, but certainly it would be wrong to characterise that this is one single organisation. What we are seeing…

MARK DAVIS: But this is how it’s being characterised, right, and often you’re quoted in these headlines. It’s this al-Qa’ida as this octopus type organisation around the world. I mean you probably bear some responsibility for that impression.

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA: Yes, al-Qa’ida is a very small group. Al-Qa’ida – estimate of al-Qa’ida membership in October of 2001 was between 3,000 to 4,000 members, but al-Qa’ida becomes a force multiplier because al-Qa’ida is working with so many other Islamist groups and many of those groups were trained in Afghanistan at the time the Soviets left – from the time the Soviets left until the time the Americans arrived and during that 10-year period we saw about 30 different groups that came to Afghanistan. They had a number of training camps and what al-Qa’ida has in fact done, is they have tried to unite these organisations, but al-Qa’ida has failed.

MARK DAVIS: Tariq Ali, your opinion on the nature of al-Qa’ida and the threat that al-Qa’ida poses?

TARIQ ALI: Well, I’ve always been of the opinion that al-Qa’ida itself, as Rohan correctly says, is a tiny organisation. You know, figures vary between 2,000 and 4,000 people. So if it was just a question of al-Qa’ida, it wouldn’t be serious at all. The serious problem is the following. Why are young people – because it’s largely people between the ages of 20 and 30, and even younger, attracted to this sort of politics today and here I think the West has enormous responsibility, including the Australian Government. That if you go and bomb these countries, occupy them, kill civilians, the secular groups in most of these countries are virtually useless at the moment in terms of secular politics to opposing the United States. So a big vacuum is created. In this vacuum step the Islamist organisations and immediately become a pole of attraction. I’ve spoken to lots of young people in the Islamic world who say to me “Well, what are you doing? you’re just writing books. We want action” and of course the people giving them action today are Islamist organisations, not all of them are al-Qa’ida. I think the threat of al-Qa’ida itself is overdone and for that reason, even if Osama bin Laden were to be captured over the next few months, I don’t think it would have any real effect on these activities continuing in other parts of the world.

MARK DAVIS: Well, you’ve raised one regional issue, that was Australia’s involvement in Iraq, increasing the threat of a terror attack in Australia. Did you discuss this issue with the head of the AFP, Mick Keelty?

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA: Certainly at the conference, the issue of Iraq was discussed and of course I’ve made my opinion public and to reiterate, I believe that the US invasion of Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism worldwide. It is because the invasion of Iraq has angered the Muslims and there’s tremendous resentment and unhappiness, even on the part of the moderate Muslims. And the terrorist groups and the extremist organisations are exploiting that resentment, that anger and generating support and recruiting more people as sympathisers, supporters and members. Iraq has become the new land of jihad. The Islamists desperately needed a theatre after the loss of Afghanistan for them to physically and psychologically water in. Iraq has created that opportunity.

MARK DAVIS: But is this a problem in Australia? This is the core question.

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA: I believe that there’s overall increase of threat as a result of US invasion of Iraq and certainly it will have a bearing on Australia.

MARK DAVIS: Do you agree with Mr Keelty’s original analysis rather than Mr Howard’s?

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA: Yes, I think the AFP Commissioner in this case, he was right.

MARK DAVIS: Well, let’s assume that we share the desire to end these bombings. Tariq Ali, what’s your solution?

TARIQ ALI: Well, look, when 9/11 happened some of us argued that as in the case of the IRA attacks on Britain and the British mainland when they almost knocked off the British Prime Minister in a sensational bombing attack, there were two choices – either to escalate or to sit down and find political solutions. And to its credit the British Government did sit down and finally we had a cease-fire. Now it’s not even the al-Qa’ida leaders themselves. What angers large numbers of people in the Arab world is you now have a dual occupation of the Middle East. You have the Israeli occupation of Palestine, where the Israelis literally get away with murder, where the Western liberal conscience is blind to Palestinian suffering and now you have the occupation of Iraq by the United States and Britain. This creates real anger and when the Arab regimes themselves can’t do anything about it, the result is stray and random acts of terrorism.

MARK DAVIS: Well, is Tariq Ali correct? If you resolve regional conflicts will you resolve a good part of the problem?

DR ROHAN GUNARATNA: I believe it is important to resolve the regional conflict such as Palestine, Chechnya, Mindanao in the Philippines, Kashmir, the Sri Lankan Tamil dispute because the continuity of this regional conflicts is what produces terrorism. But once again, it is not possible to negotiate with a group like al-Qa’ida. So there are some conflicts through international mediation, international arrangements you can end the violence. But there are other conflicts where the violence will continue.

MARK DAVIS: We’re about to lose our satellite so gentlemen thanks to both of you.

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