Why is it that established scholars of religion like Reza Aslan, discussing global issues such as the attacks on 9/11, 2001, never consider the possibility that a global power orchestrated this event, setting the stage for total global control? Besides the many unanswered questions of 9/11 that have only piled up higher, in today’s globalised world where everything is interconnected, yet where the real power remains hidden, this question seems justified. Taking stock of historic evolutionary developments of ever expanding powers of Empires, Great-Britain at the dawn of the twentieth century covering one quarter of the earth, the United States, to quote former United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, becoming halfway the twentieth century “the first and only world power ever” to dominate world affairs in a way no other previous world power had been able to do soi – is it inconceivable then that actions like the attacks of September 11 might have taken place exactly to achieve that goal of global control?
To be honest, it is a big question, but if Aslan can speak on this matter being a manifestation of a “cosmic war”ii, the question raised here cannot be too big to ask. More so, this paper will show that Aslan fails to explain the true incentives of the attacks, partly because he never touches explosive political issues which are critical of the American authorities and their involvement in the radicalisation of Islam – instead Aslan leans heavily on the “official” statements. In what follows I will argue that the “official” statements about the attacks are not in agreement with the facts, but are part of a grand deception, perhaps even the biggest one in history.
Islam and globalization
It is evident that the attacks on September 11, 2001, had a global impact, and not just for Muslims worldwide. The whole world still bears, so it seems, its ineradicable scars, not only socio-economically but also politically and ideologically. Since then wars have been waged, laws have been changed, people have been incarcerated, questioned and tortured, all as a result of the “War on Terrorism” that has been launched in reaction to the attacks. As political analyst and professor of Economics Michael Chossudovsky asserts, “The post-September 11 crisis” in many regards announced both the demise of Western social democracy, as well as the end of an era. The legitimacy of the global “free market” system has been reinforced, opening the door to a renewed wave of deregulation and privatization, eventually conducive to the corporate take-over of all public services and State infrastructure…”iii
In short, there is a global power involved. To be sure, a power which for the average citizen of western societies, who has no comprehensive knowledge of geopolitical complexities and of Islam, is solely associated with the emergence of Islam in the global political arena. Islam gets the blame for the alleged necessary measures western political leaders said they were forced to take, to become the first scapegoat of global magnitude. Our western collective understanding, mostly constructed by the dominant media, is that Islam is a threat to the world, that the real global power is hidden within Islam, disseminated around the globe, waiting to be awoken to take over the West. And so for western citizens “fear of Islam in Europe,” as Aslan states, “goes hand in hand with the fear of globalisation.”iv
This fear of Islam, however, is based on the false assumption that there exists “a geo-strategy of Islam”, a notion supported by Samuel Huntington’s worldwide bestseller The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of the World Order which “almost instantly formed the philosophical backbone of the War on Terror…setting one in opposition to the other.”v It must be noted that Huntington was not an unbiased, “objective” historian, being the White House Coordinator of Security Planning for the Nation Security Council in de administration of Jimmy Carter during 1977-78, brought in by and closely working with his friend Brzezinski. Like Alsan states, there is no such thing as an “Islamic civilization” as opposed to “western civilization.” It is rather a powerfully forged ideological construction, as “transforming the countless cultures of the Arab and Muslim world – from Morocco to Malaysia – into a single, homogeneous, and historically inevitable enemy, the Clash of Civilizations, insofar as it has served as the ideological underpinning for the struggle against jihadism, is a blatant assertion that the War on Terror is in fact a war against Islam. After all, this was never conceived of as a war against terrorism per se.”vi
In other words, globalisation and Islam are not interchangeable, and must be distinguished from one another, as the false dichotomy between the West and Islam too must be abolished. For even though Muslims are living all over the world, and Islam may, as a religion, have a message urging to be spread over the world, the term globalization is of western fabric, used to cover up the real intentions of the US authorities. In fact the term globalisation, today in the western world largely and mistakably hold to be a ‘neutral’ abstract concept, was the new catchword for the Clinton Administration, after the term New World Order “was quickly dropped by George H.W. Bush, [as] it drew critical attention in his 1991 State of the Union speech”. Being the sole surviving power after the Soviet Union had collapsed, “[i]t provoked too many questions as to whose order and what priorities it might have.”vii Although the Clinton Administration stated they had developed a new policy, which they called ‘the extension of market economy and human rights’, coining a new term to accompany it – globalization – was just another smart ideological move. For the US authorities did in fact not alter their geopolitical ambitions in any significant way. As political analyst F. William Engdahl asserts, “in reality it was globalization of American power, consolidated through American banking and finance and corporate power.” Not many people, however, realized that “it might be part of a well thought-out strategy.”viii And the few who in the past had publicly questioned this power were either silencedix or ridiculed,x or were forced to publish as dissidents or independent scholars. What it shows is this, that ideologically reframing a political aim can bring about a powerful deception that can be used to achieve a certain objective.
The “official” story of 9/11
Let us now look at the ‘facts’ as they are known to the general public, the “official” story on 9/11. Apparently, and it is one of the first things that was broadcasted worldwide, the hijackers were Muslims, who worked for Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network. Two planes were flown into the World Trade Centre, one plane struck the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed into the woods in Pennsylvania. The public was told of a terrorist conspiracy organized and financed abroad, yet the U.S. defences, who had functioned on previous days, had failed to intercept the four planes by fighter aircraft. For Reza Aslan, as for many others, the finding of an anonymous document later that day, which presumably belonged to one of the hijackers, appears to be strong evidence that the hijackers were indeed Muslims. In his book How to win a Cosmic War this document is Aslan’s point of departure, which he instantly identifies as a residual of the “cosmic war” the hijackers were fighting, as “there can be no doubt that these nineteen men believed they were acting in the service of God…fighting a cosmic war, not against the American imperium but against the eternal forces of evil.”xi
But what does this document actually prove, since there are still many unanswered questions on the identity of the hijackers raised because of contradictory statements made by officials?xii And what is more, we cannot interpret this document as an isolated fact, because besides the troubling fact that the Bush administration had already announced at eleven o’ clock in the morning that Al-Qaeda was responsible, an assertion that was made prior to the finding of the document and the conduct of an in-depth police investigation,xiii the document itself, not knowing the context in which it was written, can also be misleading, prompting scholars such as Aslan nevertheless to grant it as evidence that the hijackers were indeed Muslims.
In How to win a Cosmic War Aslan states that this document reads “like the script of a ceremonial rite, [where] every mindful act, every rehearsed moment [is] meant to underscore the ritual drama taking place in the minds of the hijackers.”xiv Even though the written message clearly speaks of recognizable features which could point towards an Islamic origin, it does, however, and cannot in a strict sense reveal that this action was actually taken in the name of Islam, as is assumed. Furthermore, it is questionable whether “carrying out such an immoral and un-Islamic act was quieted by their firm conviction that it was not they but God who was directing their actions,” that they were “merely actors in a divine script written by God.” For did these hijackers, as Aslan argues, attack the United States, “simply to make a point, to demonstrate that all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, [they] possessed a power infinitely superior to their adversary’s and of an entire different order?”xv Were these “cosmic warriors,” merely “fighting a war of the imagination?” Or, could perhaps Aslan’s and the public’s imagination have been deceived? That these “cosmic warriors” may have been collaborators to some global power, since “their goal”, which is undoubtedly the goal of those like former president Bush sr. who initiated the “New World Order”, “is nothing less than global transformation?”xvi A goal that the hijackers were sure never to achieve for themselves, as Aslan states correctly, whereas this global power, however, appears to be on its way to achieve this “victory”.xvii It is therefore no coincidence that president Bush responded to the attacks “with precisely the cosmic dualism that those who carried out the attacks had intended to provoke.”xviii By asserting that the document is a residual of a “cosmic war” belonging to Muslims, Aslan not only directs critical consideration to the realm of speculation, covering up the real issues that should be addressed, but also undermines his own position as an acclaimed independent scholar.
But there are more contradictions in Aslan’s explanation. Does it make sense, as Aslan remarks, that president Bush was merely being spontaneous in his reaction to the attacks when he stated before millions watching television “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while?” Was Bush’ use of the word crusade as Aslan writes, “…a casual almost offhand remark; unscripted, though hardly inadvertent,” even though it “hung in the air like an undetonated bomb, long enough for its myriad implications to come to mind…?”xix It is more likely that the whole scene was meant to be perceived as a spontaneous human reaction, where “for a brief, fleeting moment, [everyone was able to] peer into the mind of the man himself.”xx In other words, every word spoken, every action taken was carefully balanced, like the cautiously chosen phrase that fragmented the world in two when Bush said, “either you are with us, or you are with terrorism.” As a Dutch philosopher noted, the start of the “war on terror” was simultaneously the conception of the non-Muslim, a new sociological category that appeared in the western world, setting aside all Muslims.xxi
Considering what has taken place, not just the attacks but also the aftermath, it is inconceivable that Bush at this crucial moment in time, when all the eyes of the world were watching, was not aware of the impact the word “crusade”, meaning “holy war”, would have on western Christian nations. And in particular the United States, which had become in the words of Bush “the hope of all mankind,” for it is “the light that shines in the darkness; and the darkness shall not overcome it.”xxii Being a Christian nation, Bush even “took on a messianic aura in the minds of some evangelicals,” like former Lieutenant General William G. Boykin who was affiliated with Faith Force Multiplier “whose stated mission is to enlist, train, and empower a great army of believers for the sake of the Kingdom of God”.xxiii But again, whose war was being fought?
Other facts on 9/11
It is gruesomely ironic and tragic that these alleged “cosmic warriors”, as Aslan typifies the hijackers, did in fact in a way “fight a war of the imagination”. However, not in the sense Aslan asserts. As Michael Chossudovsky explains in America’s “War on Terrorism”, Americans were led to believe that the decision to go to war – barely four weeks later, on the 7th of October, Afghanistan was bombed and invaded by US troops – was actually taken on the evening of September 11, directly in response to the attacks. The public, Chossudovsky states, did however not seem to “realize that a large scale theater war is never planned and executed in a matter of weeks.” In other words, the decision to launch a war and send troops to Afghanistan must have been taken well in advance of 9/11. So apparently, even though the “cosmic warriors” could not, or would not ever have claimed “victory” for themselves, still the “war of the imagination” was obviously won, as the 9/11 attacks “provided the required justification to wage war on “humanitarian grounds” with the full support of World public opinion and the endorsement of the “international community”.xxiv People were even prepared to accept a new “Anti-Terrorist” Legislation that undermined the fabric of the judicial system, destroying the Rule of Law, disarming the civil rights and anti-war coalitions. Not aware of the enormous impact it would have, hundreds of people in the US were arrested on a variety of trumped up charges, university professors opposing the war got fired, while more power was extended to the FBI and the CIA. What only recently became a worldwide scandal because of the revelations of former CIA staff member Edward Snowden had already been recorded in the new legislation immediately following the September 11 attacks, such as allowing the widespread reading of email even before the recipient opens it, or listening and reading conversations that have nothing to do with the suspect of any crime.xxv
But there are more disturbing facts which are rarely mentioned either by Aslan or by the mainstream media. According to press reports, a Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (ISI), who was called into the office of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitrage on the 12th of September, “happened to be in Washington at the time of the attacks”. The press reports later confirmed that Pakistan would support the Bush administration in the “war on terror”. But what “they failed to mention”, Chossodusky remarks, “was the fact that Pakistan’s military intelligence (ISI) headed by General Ahmad had a longstanding relationship to the Islamic terror network,” and that the ISI had “supported a number of Islamic organisations including Al Qaeda and the Taliban”.xxvi And it gets worse. Both Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, part of a “Militant Islamic Network” that also included the Mujahideen, were a creation of the CIA fighting the “Islamic Jihad” against the Soviets, a war that lasted from 1979 to 1989. Chossudovsky, “The Central Intelligence Agency using Pakistan’s ISI played a key role in training the Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA-sponsored guerrilla training was integrated in the teachings of Islam,” that is, in Islamic schools for children.
The far reaching consequences of the radicalisation of young Muslim children who attended these madrassas cannot be overestimated, speaking of thousands of Islamic religious schools “from which the germs of the Taliban emerged”.xxvii It was in this period that Brzezinski, in a speech before the Foreign Policy Association, first spoke of “a so-called arc of crisis around the Indian Ocean, where the Soviet Union was poised to capitalize on regional instability. As State Department official Henry Precht later recalled: “There was this idea that the Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets…”xxviii After the cold war had ended and communism no longer seemed to be a threat, the US still continued to radicalise Islam. In the early 1990s the “US military, the CIA and NATO had supported Al Qaeda in the Balkans,” Washington’s objective being “to trigger ethnic conflict and to destabilize the Yugoslav federation…”. And the list goes on.xxix In the light of all of this it comes as no surprise that Osama Bin Laden, who was said to be America’s “Most Wanted Fugitive”, and who could have been arrested easily two months prior to the attacks as he was being treated in an American hospital in Dubai – was actually not arrested.xxx Instead, not surprisingly, the American authorities did nothing. So what to conclude of all this? Nothing is what it seems, and certainly not how it is displayed by the dominant media: the US authorities own them, mainly as a means to deceive the public, to indoctrinate and prepare them to accept certain policies and actions. Claiming that the 9/11 attacks serve a “cosmic war”, as Reza Aslan does, blinds us to the fact that terrorism not just provides the illusion of power, as Aslan claims, but can instead be used as an instrument to achieve power. In fact, terrorism has been used to create fear among the people so they would succumb to stringent laws and new policies; it has been used to instigate a strategy of divide and conquer as we now witness the collective western anxiety towards Islam, sometimes outright islamophobia, philosophically underpinned by Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisations”. This power, which apparently operates from such heights, acting like gods condescendingly looking at the world as if it were a chessboard, remains beyond our comprehension as long as one extrapolates the attacks to the realm of metaphysics, as Aslan, and with him many others, continue to do.