Thomas Cole: 'The course of empire - destruction' - 1836
President Eisenhower, in an internal discussion, observed to his staff, and I'm quoting now, "There's a campaign of hatred against us in the Middle East, not by governments, but by the people." The National Security Council discussed that question and said, "Yes, and the reason is, there's a perception in that region that the United States supports status quo governments, which prevent democracy and development and that we do it because of our interests in Middle East oil. Furthermore, it's difficult to counter that perception because it's correct." 1
While the West has been waging a war on terrorism over the past 13 years, the ordinary Muslim people of Middle Eastern countries have born the brunt of the devastating effects of that war. The war on terror has involved the invasion, occupation and bombing of only Middle Eastern nations. The countries in question - Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Palestine - had no significant standing armies to counter any offensive, and the Western attacks were, by definition, attacks on the civilians of those nations, some of whom took up arms in a futile attempt to resist. In Iraq alone, 2.7 million Iraqi Muslims, most of them civilians, have been slaughtered as a direct or indirect result of the 'war on terror'.2

A common aspect of most imperial wars of conquest is that the people of the target nation or region are portrayed as sub-human by the imperial power and its media. In the past this had led otherwise decent people 'back home' to turn a blind eye to the deaths of innocent civilians in far-off (or not-so-far-off) lands. For example, the following image was one among many similar depictions of Irish people that appeared in the popular Punch magazine during Britain's colonization of Ireland:

Punch magazine 1867
In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the owner of the world's second-largest media conglomerate, Rupert Murdoch, expressed the view that has appeared in most of the world's newspapers (which he owns, coincidentally), when he tweeted:

EU polls conducted over the last few years suggest that a majority of the non-Muslim populations in most Western EU nations have a negative view of Muslims. This is in contrast to a much lower level of prejudice against Jews in the same EU countries. Interestingly, the EU countries with the largest Muslim populations (France and the UK) had the lowest levels of anti-Muslim sentiment - 27% and 36% respectively. The most likely explanation, therefore, for such significant anti-Muslim bias in EU countries (particularly countries with small Muslim populations) is that the negative media attention that Muslims have received as a result of the 'war on terror' is responsible for Islamophobia.

In short, anti-Muslim sentiment appears not to be an objective reflection of the on-the-ground-reality of Muslim-non-Muslim relations in the EU. But, as noted, Muslims, and Middle Eastern Muslims in particular, appear to have become indirect targets, or collateral damage, in the war on terror. An increase in attacks against Muslims in the aftermath the Paris attacks make this clear:
The backlash begins against French Muslims

Fears of an anti-Islamic backlash in France are growing in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre as a spate of attacks on mosques were reported across the country.

Shots were fired at a Muslim prayer centre in Digne-les-Bains in Provence, and at a mosque in Soissons.

On Thursday, a homemade bomb went off outside a mosque in the central city of Villefranche-sur-Saone, while on Friday the head of a wild pig was placed outside a Muslim prayer room in Corsica.

A letter lay beside the head that warned "the next time it will be the head of one of yours."

Anti-Islam slogans were daubed on the walls of mosques in the towns of Poitiers, Lieven and Béthune, while in Bayonne on the Atlantic coast the words "dirty Arabs" and "murderers" were sprayed on the façade of a mosque.

A secondary school student of north African origin was beaten up by youths shouting racist insults.

In Paris, terrorism expert Thomas Hegghammer tweeted that his taxi driver had told him customers were refusing to ride with him because he was of Arab descent.
A Catastrophic and Catalyzing event

The 'war on terror' was launched on the back of the 9/11 attacks, which were blamed on Muslims, despite evidence that may point to other parties. Based on publicly available documents, the 9/11 attacks occurred in the context of a preplanned policy of the US government to invade the Middle East. A justification for that expansion was provided by the 'shock and awe' of 9/11.

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was an American 'think-tank'. A 'think-tank' is a US euphemism for a group of (usually unelected) people who define US foreign policy objectives and strategy that is then sent to the Executive and Congress to be rubber-stamped before being implemented by one or more of myriad agencies, both federal and corporate. Several members of PNAC also held high-level positions within the Bush administration.

In September 2000, PNAC published a 90-page report entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century, which was a blueprint for US foreign policy in the near-future. In referring to the Middle East, and citing particularly Iraq and Iran, the report stated:
"While the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for US military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the [Persian] Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein," and "Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests in the [Persian] Gulf as Iraq has. Even if US-Iranian relations should improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in US security strategy given the long-standing American interests in the region
To achieve this goal of retaining US military bases in the Middle East, the document highlights the core requirement of "transforming the US military," but notes:
"A transformation strategy that solely pursued capabilities for projecting force from the United States, for example, and sacrificed forward-basing and presence, would be at odds with larger American policy goals."
Therefore the conclusion was reached that, in order to transform the US military, it must:
  • "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major-theater wars" and
  • "perform the "constabulary" duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions;"
So these policy-makers had a pretty clear plan: invade the "critical regions", i.e. the Middle East, to "protect US interests". But they recognized that they needed a plausible justification to do so:
"The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor."
Less than one year later, the Washington Neocons had their "new Pearl Harbor" in the form of the 9/11 attacks carried out by 'Muslims from the Middle East', and the already planned invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq were 'given the green light'. The Israelis, represented then, as now, by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to be see the benefit to Israel of the 9/11 attacks, with Netanyahu, as reported by the New York Times, saying of the attacks: "It's very good. Well, not 'very good', but it will generate immediate sympathy." In 2008, Netanyahu again told an audience, this time at Bar Ilan university, that the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks had been beneficial for Israel:
"We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq," and that it "swung American public opinion in our favor."
When there is reasonable cause to doubt who was responsible for a "catastrophic and catalyzing event", is it reasonable to draw the, at least tentative, conclusion that those who massively benefited from that event are more likely to have been involved in carrying it out, rather than those who were the clear net-losers (the Muslims of the Middle East) as a result of that event?

Intelligence Agencies

When the US and EU governments defined Muslim groups in the Middle East as their enemy in the 'war on terror', US and EU intelligence agencies began the standard process of dealing with that 'threat'. Israeli intelligence agencies, of course, having lived with what it calls 'Muslim terrorism' for several decades, had long-since begun this process. The methods employed by British intelligence in dealing with the IRA during the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland illustrate clearly how the process works.

The first (and most important) order of business is infiltration of the 'terrorist' group. This is typically done by capturing and 'turning' members of the target group so that they work as 'double agents' for the intel agency. It's a pretty simple process. A member is arrested and faced with a choice between long imprisonment (or torture and death) or working for the intel agency as an informant. Sometimes threats to family members and other forms of blackmail are used. On occasion, members turn themselves in and offer to work for the agency in return for money and immunity from prosecution or persecution. An actual member of the intelligence agency may also join the group as a new member and then, with the help of the agency, climb up through the ranks. In this way, the agency begins to gain control over the 'terrorist' group and to direct its actions. These types of informants must, of course, appear genuine to other group members, and they are encouraged by their handlers to carry out killings and other attacks in order to 'gain credentials'. In Northern Ireland, for example, one known MI5 agent within the IRA (codenamed 'Stake-knife') carried out dozens of murders of British military personnel and civilians. In many cases, the victims were selected, and their murders facilitated, directly by MI5.3

The supposed goal of these tactics is to ultimately defeat and neutralize the 'terrorist organisation'. However, when we transpose these known methods onto Israeli, US, British and French intelligence agency activity in the Middle East, we run into an obvious problem. We have to remember that the broad agenda of Western governments is not simply to 'defeat Muslim terrorist groups' in the Middle East, but to destroy any popular Arab Muslim resistance to ongoing Western control over the resources of Middle Eastern countries (and to protect the state of Israel, of course). In that context, it may be possible that the existence of a Muslim terror threat is a useful tool with which to effect that ongoing control, and to prevent a more equal status quo from emerging, one in which Western governments no longer enjoy the lion's share of the wealth of Middle Eastern nations.

For but one small example, among many that illustrates this process of Western intelligence agencies handling Muslim terrorists; we are told that the mentor of the two brothers who allegedly attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices is Djamel Beghal, and that Beghal's own mentor is Abu Hamza. Abu Hamza is an MI5 agent, and has been one since the late 1990s. (Two days after the Paris attack, Hamza was conveniently sentenced to life in prison in the US).

Don't Think, Just React

US Senator John McCain meeting 'moderate Muslim rebels' in Syria
The goal of Western imperialists today (and in times gone by) is to secure access to as much of the world's resources as possible. The Middle East is central to that goal because of its abundant resources and its very strategic location - at the cross-roads between Europe and Asia, a point that, historically, has been vital to Western powers that sought to control all of Eurasia, with particular focus on 'containing Russia'.

We are faced then with a situation where, having gained control of Middle Eastern 'Muslim terror groups' through infiltration, amalgamation and the carrying out of terror attacks by their agents, Western intelligence agencies today find themselves largely in control of the enemy they were tasked with destroying. However, given the broad goal of "retaining forward-bases in the region" by repressing the native Arab resistance to their presence there, how likely is it that they would choose to relinquish what amounts to control of the expression of militant Arab resistance to lucrative Western interference in Arab affairs?

As already stated, an enduring enemy to justify continued imperial expansion is vital to imperial powers. Equally important in ensuring the success of imperial conquest (in its post-modern incarnation) is control of that enemy to reduce the odds of failure to almost zero. As outlined in the 2000 PNAC report, the US government's aim was to have the US military "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major-theater wars [in the Middle East]". Logic and knowledge of the historical methodology of Western empires therefore leads us to the inescapable conclusion that modern 'Muslim terrorism' is very possibly a tool of Western intelligence agencies, where it plays the role of the Middle Eastern enemy against which the West 'fights' to retain hegemony over the resource-rich Middle East, and therefore Eurasia.

The January 15, 1979 cover of Time Magazine. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...
I have also pointed out that manipulation of public perception 'back home' is a major concern for Western imperialist powers.It is important that the public be regularly reminded of the 'terror threat' if it is to acquiesce in the face of an imperial policy that they might otherwise reject. In the context of imperial expansion, the sense of common humanity that normal humans share is an impediment to imperial designs that, by necessity, involve the deaths of sometimes large numbers of civilians. That commonality therefore must be undermined by demonizing the target group.

In this respect, however, state propaganda only goes so far, and periodic traumatizing attacks against Western citizens by 'the enemy' are required to drive home the message and sidetrack calm, critical analysis of the context in favor of raw, emotional reactions like outrage, anger and revenge. Consider that, if a governments was to publicly urge its people to 'not think', 'be afraid', 'just react', they would be roundly condemned. Yet these exact responses are elicited from the public as a result of murderous attacks against them.

At some point you may have wondered about the logic of a Muslim terror group carrying out attacks against Western populations that are ostensibly done in order to 'protect the Muslims', even though such attacks will obviously provoke a backlash against Muslims. Why would any 'defenders of Islam' choose to provide such incontrovertible evidence to those who subtly (or not so subtly) accuse Muslims of being nihilistic killers that they are, in fact, nihilist killers?

It's a serious question. The answer - at least, the answer provided by the mainstream media - on the other hand, is not so serious. The truth about 'Muslim terrorism', according to the Western media, is that provoking state and popular marginalization and oppression of Muslims in Europe, and Western military bombing of Muslim countries in the Middle East, is precisely the goal of the terrorists because it will breed more jihadis for the cause.

As a plausible explanation, however, this answer has its flaws. When EU politicians are heard to speak of a 'war of civilizations', it's difficult not to see the convergence of the agendas of 'jihadi leaders' on the one side, and Western politicians on the other. Strange bedfellows indeed.

1 Interview with Noam Chomsky on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program Hot Type with Evan Solomon, April 16, 2002,
2 See:
3 Stakeknife: Britain's Secret Agents in Ireland by Martin Ingram and Greg Harkin