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The Overlooked Case Of Mohammed Afroze

Al Qaeda's terrorism isn't really motivated by the Iraq War and Israel.

12:00 AM, Aug 11, 2005 • By EDWARD MORRISSEY
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AFTER A STRING OF BOMBINGS in London, the British media began peppering Tony Blair and John Howard with questions about the effects of Britain's presence in Iraq on suicide-bomber recruitment. During the hastily-arranged press conference the day of the second series of attempted bombings, journalist Paul Bongiorno noted that one Australian injured in the July 7 blasts had blamed the Iraq War for the attacks, prompting a tough response from the Australian prime minister. The unnamed victim is not alone; an ICM poll for the Guardian showed that two-thirds of Brits believe that the bombings have some linkage to military action in Iraq.

Today the political situation remains unchanged for Blair and the British. George Galloway, the Scots MP who recently declared his sympathy with the Iraqi "insurgents," told Syrians on July 31 that the British, Americans, and the West needed a cure for their imperialism, not the Arabs for their radicalism and oppression. In fact, Galloway told Syrians that the Arabs appeared to be doing nothing but standing by while the West raped their "daughters":

Two of your beautiful daughters are in the hands of foreigners--Jerusalem and Baghdad. The foreigners are doing to your daughters as they will. The daughters are crying for help, and the Arab world is silent. And some of them are collaborating with the rape of these two beautiful Arab daughters. Why? Because they are too weak and too corrupt to do anything about it.

Galloway this week referred to Iraqi terrorists conducting suicide attacks as "martyrs" and told the BBC that Tony Blair and George Bush were the real terrorists. Even though pundits consider Galloway a voice from the fringe, when he says that Islamist terror arose from the first Iraq War and the occupation of Jerusalem, he speaks for a not-insignificant number of Brits, and Yanks as well.

All of which makes the forgotten case of Mohammed Afroze all the more significant.

On the day after the failed July 21 bombings in London, an Indian court in Delhi sentenced Mohammed Afroze to seven years in prison for his participation in a wider plot which had been planned for September 11, 2001. Afroze led another al Qaeda cell which planned to use commercial airlines as missiles to destroy several international targets. The Islamist terrorists intended to send a global message through coordination with the attacks on America. Their plan failed when the terrorists lost their nerve and fled Heathrow.

Afroze and his compatriots from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan had planned on flying their Manchester-bound flights into the House of Commons and the Tower Bridge in London. Attacking Parliament would have sent a message to the British government about the continued sanctions on Iraq. Blowing up the Tower Bridge would kill a slew of British civilians, with the intent of terrorizing them into demanding a withdrawal of British troops from the Middle East and a halt to support of American actions in the region.

But Afroze had other targets as part of his plan--and these reveal something much deeper and broader than Galloway and the media wish to contemplate.

AFROZE HAS ALSO ADMITTED to targeting the Rialto Towers in Melbourne, Australia. Australia has a long history of courageous alliance with Britain and the United States, of course, but Australia never set foot in Iraq before the 2003 invasion. They had provided a naval support contingent of three ships with 600 sailors and their own air defense squad. Their mission consisted of interdiction on shipping in the Persian Gulf to ensure no arms made their way into Saddam Hussein's hands during the blockade that preceded the war.