Only Aiding the Terrorists

The series of explosions that killed or wounded hundreds in London has once again demonstrated the lack of true international cooperation in the war on terrorism. There were abundant of expressions of solidarity from around the world and from leaders gathered for the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. Nice words -- and no genuine coherent action.

Suicide bombers are killing people in Iraq almost every day -- volunteers in the resurrected Iraqi military and innocent bystanders. Hospitals and mosques are attacked at random.

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This campaign of indiscriminate terror is not getting the jihadis anywhere. Militarily, they cannot prevail over the United States, and this was hardly ever their true objective. Politically, the jihadis are also failing: The Iraqi elections this January produced a popularly supported government that has allied itself with the United States and does not want any early Western troop withdrawal.

Despite the constant suicide attacks, there seems to be no lack of volunteers ready to join the Iraqi military and police. Many of the recruits are reportedly dedicated fighters who join because their relatives were killed by the terrorists.

The so-called Iraqi resistance seems to be out of favor with the ordinary man on the street in Iraq and elsewhere. Indiscriminate murderers cause revolution, especially if they are killing Muslims on a large scale. The jihadis are losing the fight for the hearts and minds of the Arab world, and their only reasonable hope today is to move the terror campaign to the West and to prompt an early troop withdrawal that would give them a chance to topple the government in Baghdad.

Last year, a series of train bombs in Madrid provoked a change in government and a rapid Spanish troop withdrawal from Iraq. Today, a similar attack has been organized in London, and there are indications that in fact the same North African cell may have been in charge of both. The apparent victory of the terrorists over Spain seems to have emboldened them to try the same trick in Britain. In recent days, Madrid has offered London sympathy and help, but it would have been much better if Spain had not caved in last year to terror and withdrawn troops prematurely in panic.

President Vladimir Putin, speaking in Gleneagles, used the terrorist attack on London to harp once again on the theme of "double standards." It seems that Moscow wants to use the London atrocity to again press British authorities to hand over, as a manifestation of true anti-terrorist solidarity, the Kremlin's political opponents who have been granted refugee status.

At the same time, powerful anti-American forces in Moscow have recently been doing their best to further subvert the already fragile anti-terrorism alliance. Airat Vakhitov, a Russian Muslim who was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and held in Guantanamo until March 2004, held a news conference in Moscow two weeks ago and decried the desecration of the Quran by U.S. solders. It later became known that Vakhitov did not see the desecration himself but was told about it by a fellow inmate at Guantanamo.

The news conference of this not very credible witness of U.S. abuse was organized by the pro-government RIA-Novosti news agency. Vakhitov's statement that the Quran was flushed down the toilet appeared all over Russian television and was repeated for days afterward by the state-owned Rossia channel.

A high-ranking Kremlin insider told me on condition of anonymity that Vakhitov's story was "a Soviet-style anti-American propaganda operation," organized by our intelligence services. The same source confirmed that the promotion of Vakhitov's tale was authorized at the highest level.

Moscow is undermining anti-terrorist solidarity in other ways as well. The Pentagon states that the main bases for terrorists operating in Iraq are Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iran. Syria and Iran are the main sponsors and safe havens of Islamist terrorists and at the same time enjoy close political and military ties with Russia. Moscow is selling Syria modern anti-aircraft weapons that may be deployed to defend terrorist bases from U.S. air counterattacks. A deal is in the works to equip Russian-made Iranian Kilo submarines with supersonic Club-S anti-ship missiles, which could be used against the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf.

The grand anti-terrorist coalition that seemed to have emerged after Sept. 11, 2001, is now practically nonexistent. American unilateralism is to blame, as is backpedaling by Russia and other nations. The only benefactors are the terrorists.

Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent defense analyst based in Moscow.