Afghan bomber turned radical due to US Mid-East policies, reports say
The Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven CIA operatives at a US facility in Afghanistan was a long-time moderate who turned violently against the United States because of its foreign policies in the Middle East, a variety of reports say.
Time reported this week that Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, recruited by Jordan as a double-agent to gather information on suspected terrorist cells, was as recently as 2007 a “useful asset whose work helped the Americans target al-Qaeda leaders.”
In other words, Balawi was once a helpful ally to US interests in helping capture the radicals he eventually sided with.
Time added that Jordanian officials said Balawi’s “outrage at the high number of civilian casualties inflicted in the resulting strikes may be the factor that prompted him to go back to the other side.”
The reference is apparently to US military strikes and drone attacks on alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — among other Muslim nations — which have led to the unintended deaths of many of innocent civilians.
Balawi’s wife Defne Bayrak told Newsweek he “started to change” after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, at which point he began developing antipathy towards the West. But she said he didn’t join any group or act on those sentiments until much later.
Balawi’s younger brother told the New York Times that the 32-year-old doctor of Palestinian heritage was “changed” by the massacres of over 1200 Palestinians in the Israeli attacks on Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009.
The United States is widely viewed by Muslim nations as bearing some responsibility as a result of its longstanding military and diplomatic support for Israel, which was unaffected by the Gaza offensive.
Balawi described his sentiments in graphic detail in a 2009 interview he gave under a pseudonym to the Taliban publication Vanguards of Khorasan, which was translated by the research organization Flashpoint Intelligence.
“[What about] the images of naked Zionists with binoculars watching the city of Gaza burning with everyone inside of it like watching a comic film or a natural phenomenon!!” Balawi said. “The images of the corpses of children lined up there in the hallways of hospitals, and upon their faces pure innocence is drawn, not disfigured by the ugliness of the crime, until we ceased being able to recognize if they were sleeping or dead!”
“They have not left any excuse for any Muslim with a hint of honor to remain hesitant and accept the shame of staying away from the honor of participating in jihad,” he added, foreshadowing his killing of CIA officials on December 31, 2009.
Balawi’s claims suggest his anger and violent intent towards the West was at least in part motivated by the Gaza atrocities. US support for Israel’s actions in Palestine is often cited by Islamic militants as one reason for their anti-American sentiments.
While evidence suggests Al-Qaeda and Hamas are more concerned with their own influence than the well-being of the Palestinian people, there’s little doubt that Israel’s offenses in the region — and US support for them — are effective propaganda tools for radical groups when inciting young Muslims to violence.
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald claimed that while nothing justifies Balawi’s actions, the US hurts itself by “steadfastly refus[ing]” to examine the impacts of “our own actions in the Muslim world, and especially our undying devotion to supporting everything Israel does.”
“Just contemplate how many Balawis there are in the world,” he continued. “Muslims who begin with sympathy towards the U.S. and hostility towards Al Qaeda who are completely transformed into the opposite as a result of the constant civilian death we and Israel bring (regardless of intent) to that part of the world.”