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Why Now? Mythical Causes of Terror at Home

In Jihad in Glasgow, Jacob Laskin asks the question and explains why the oft repeated claim - by al-Qaeda and anti-war activists alike - of "US foreign Policy" and the Iraq War as primary causes for terrorism at our doorstep is little more than opportunism.

That prompts the question: Why now? By way of explanation, some news reports in the wake of the Glasgow attack cited a posting last week on an Islamist chat room. Signed by one Osama al-Hazeen, reputedly a repeat visitor to the site, it threatened attacks in retaliation for the war in Iraq and the knighting of author Salman Rushdie, “who insulted and slandered Islam.” The first theory in particular appeals to those, on the antiwar Left and isolationist Right, who see the U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq as the wellspring of jihadist wrath. The obvious flaw in that argument is that Scotland is headed by a nationalist government whose first minister, Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party, has been the leading opponent of the war in Iraq, even supporting efforts to impeach Tony Blair over the invasion. The Glasgow attack thus demonstrates yet again that opposition to U.S.-foreign policy is no protection against Islamic terror, while exposing the hollowness of jihadists’ grievances and the opportunism of their apologists in the West.

Far more credible is the explanation suggested by Nile Gardiner, a fellow in Anglo-American security policy at the Heritage Foundation. “The timing of the attack is significant because al-Qaeda associates attacks with historical developments and we are just days away from the anniversary of the 7-7 bombings,” Gardiner told FrontPage yesterday. The recent attacks, he said, are also meant to test the resolve of the new British government. “Al-Qaeda thinks that, compared to Blair, [Gordon] Brown is the weaker link, and the attack in Glasgow is part of their strategy to split Britain off from the United States in the war on terror.” Gardiner speculated that Brown is unlikely to cave in to demands to withdraw forces from Iraq, though he noted that “many on the Left will be clamoring” for precisely that.