Notes From the Margins…

The Terror Brothers

  • April 24, 2013
  • by

So now we know that the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings were Muslim ‘jihadists’ after all – or at least they thought they were.  And law enforcement officials, the media and assorted experts and terrorologists are engaging in the familiar search for an explanation and a motive.

Were they ‘self-radicalized lone wolves’?    Or were they ‘radicalized’ by foreigners or by some charismatic evil preacher,  such as the ‘mysterious radical’ known as ‘Misha’, who Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s uncle in Maryland  says  “steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam”?

These distinctions matter, not only because of the entirely logical impulse to try and understand what would lead two young Chechen refugees with promising futures in their adopted country would perpetrate an act of terrorism with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – as pressure cooker bombs with nails and shrapnel are now being somewhat bizarrely categorised.

After all, we’ve just seen an entire city shut down and placed under curfew in a search for one wounded teenager – and this in a country where young men with guns commit murder virtually on a daily basis without any such response – and these developments may well be the shape of things to come.

Predictably,  the ‘counter-jihad’ movement has seized on the bombings,  with Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) unveiling what her cohort Robert Spencer calls a new programme for ‘defending free societies.

This programme, according to AFDI’s ‘executive director’ ie. Geller, calls for the recognition that

Islam in its mainstream theological formulations and its dominant form throughout its history, not “extremist Islam” or “hijacked Islam” or “Islamism,” but Islam in the Qur’an and Sunnah as understood by Islamic jurists and theologians, can and should be regarded as an author’itarian and supremacist political system as well as a religion, and thus that Muslim groups should be subject to all the scrutiny and legal requirements of political organizations, without being able to shield their political activities behind the protection of religious freedom.

So there you are: it’s Islam’s fault again, and what we need is no Islam – or at least an Islam under lock and key.    The AFDI’s prescriptions for “defending free societies” include  the profiling of Muslims at airports, “surveillance of of mosques and regular inspections of mosques in the U.S. and other non-Muslim nations to look for pro-violence materials”,  in addition to “curriculum and Islam-related materials in textbooks and museums to describe the Islamic doctrine and history accurately, including its violent doctrines and 1,400-year war against unbelievers”.

Geller and her fellow ‘human rights activists’  also want “an end to the ‘crippling rules of engagement under which our soldiers are forced to labor” in order to give them “the freedom to defend themselves and protect their comrades.”

All very patriotic.   Never mind that American soldiers have been killing quite a lot of Muslims over the last decade with the rules of engagement that they already have.  Not enough for Geller & co, it seems.

The idea that these proposals have anything to do with ‘human rights’ or ‘free societies’ is delusional and dishonest.  What Geller, Spencer are talking about is victimization, repression, unlimited violence and something that will look a lot like fascism.    And they are using the Boston atrocity as just one more pretext to promote that agenda.

Geller and her cohorts are always eager to link any of these events to ‘Islam’.  But even the few details that have emerged so far reveal nothing of the kind.   According to a written statement from the younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,  the bombings were a response to the “US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq”.

This explanation once suggests another form of ‘blowback’ from the terrorwars of the last decade – which isn’t the same thing as saying that murdering Americans at an athletics race it is some kind of logical or legitimate response to them, let alone that the Tsarnaevs reflect a mainstream Muslim consensus.

On the contrary, the concept of ‘Islam’ that Tsarnaev supposedly adhered to,  and made him believe that he was engaged in ‘God’s business’ was rejected by most of those who knew him – and his co-religionists at the mosque that he attended.

Did Geller and her army of dimwit bigots notice that Tsarvaev was thrown out of his local mosque because he called out his local Imam for praising Martin Luther King and for telling his listeners it was religiously acceptable to celebrate American national holidays?  Or was that just too inconvenient for them?

Muhammed Merah justified his murder spree in Toulouse last year as a response to the war in Afghanistan and acts of violence carried out by ‘the Jews’ in Palestine, and he and the Tsarnaev brothers seem to share the same dismally familiar profile.

There is the same process of ‘westernization’ accompanied by alienation, cultural ambiguity, guilt and resentment;  the same sudden re-conversion to a garbled and reactionary notion of Islam and the primeval bin Ladenist morality that ‘you killed our people so I can kill yours’; the same search for ‘meaning’ through a narcissistic act of heroic mass murder and fifteen minutes of media notoriety.

And all of it washed down with scraps of religious gibberish that could easily be fitted onto the back of a fag packet, in order to inflict yet another revolting act of random violence on a world that is already saturated with such events.

Beyond the question of personal motivation and the pseudo-religious gibberish, the justifications of such acts belong to a well-worn tradition of non-state terrorism, in which civilians who remain indifferent to the wars that their governments are engaged in are perceived to have no right to neutrality or security.

Did the Terror Brothers really believe that they were called upon by God to defend Muslims  in Afghanistan by killing American runners in Boston?   Or was it merely a nihilistic act of revenge with no longer term intentions except to glorify its protagonists – in their own eyes at least?

We may or may not find out some of these answers during Tsarnaev’s trial.

In the meantime we must wash down the bitter and disgusting chapter in the tit-for-tat game of terror and counterterror that defines our era, and reject not just the act itself, but the pseudo-explanations placed upon it by the likes of  Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and Lindsey Graham, who would – if they could – use the Terror Brothers to make the world even darker than it already is.


Featured Image by: Aaron ‘tango’ Tang.  Wikimedia commons


1 Comment

  1. #Islamophobia #Xenophobia #Ethnocentrism: From #Christchurch to the #WhiteHouse! | | truthaholics

    15th Mar 2019 - 4:37 pm

    […] The Terror Brothers […]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  • No events
× Sharing Buttons by Linksku