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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bin Laden? Better Be Sure

The terrorist attack on New York has already been compared to Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Kursk submarine. Mikhail Gorbachev likened it to Chernobyl, which is probably a very accurate analogy in terms of the shock and ignominy experienced by the U.S. administration. In both cases, we saw incompetence and helplessness initially, followed by desperate attempts at official face-saving.

There is, however, one analogy that does not seem to have occurred to anyone: the burning of the Reichstag. The anti-Arab and anti-Moslem hysteria that has followed around the globe in the wake of the catastrophe simply calls out for comparison with the events of the 1930s. The U.S. authorities immediately started the search for the guilty among Arabs, Osama bin Laden cropped up almost immediately as prime suspect and alternative versions have barely been entertained.

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In the minutes immediately following the explosions, it seems there was no doubt whatsoever regarding the "Arab" source of the attacks. However, the more evidence and arguments adduced in support of the "Arab version," the more shaky it seems to become. In a television appearance immediately after the explosions, the well-known pundit Vyacheslav Nikonov noted that the guilty would undoubtedly be found, and if not, they would be "nominated," adding cynically: "It would be in Russia's interest if the Taliban and bin Laden were nominated."

To give him his due, Alexander Gordon -- who spoke on two TV programs -- pointed out that it could be far-right militia groups (such as those behind the Oklahoma City bombing) and not Islamic terrorists at all. Analysts have emphasised how easy it would be to carry out each individual element of the terrorist operation: smuggling knives aboard a plane, breaking into the cockpit, etc. However to coordinate all these actions in different parts of the country without making a single serious blunder is devilishly hard.

The crime committed on Sept. 11 must have required enormous efforts in management, control and logistics. The strength of Islamic terrorism is in the simplicity of organization and its unpredictability. All groups operate autonomously. Even the destruction of command centers doesn't have a major impact, insofar as every one of Allah's warriors is capable of acting on his own. The attacks on New York and Washington were very carefully coordinated, the minutest details were thoroughly thought through, and at no stage were there serious lapses.

It would appear that the operation was organized and carried out by people who had free passage around the country and were considered to be above suspicion. If they are professionals, they did not acquire their experience in underground terrorist groups. It cannot be excluded that the attacks were organized by forces within the United States, and this would have to be people with considerable military experience.

Why is it that no seems even to consider a conspiracy by far-right groups as a possibility? The masterminds could easily have covertly used people of Arab nationality to carry out the attacks.

Whoever it is behind the Washington and New York attacks, in Russia and Israel they have already played a role comparable to the burning of the Reichstag. Far-right politicians -- "upholders of the values of western civilisation" -- have already spoken out calling for revenge. Over and over, one and the same thing is repeated: "Moslems are subhuman barbarians and you cannot conduct negotiations with them. They are not like us, and thus our criteria of democracy and human rights do not apply to them." "No need to fear unpopular measures," some say. "No need to limit ourselves to democratic conventions," others chime in.

At a minimum they are after: arrests without warrants, mass deportations and wide-scale searches. Already reports are coming from the United States of racist attacks against Islamic communities. It is clear that mass repressions will lead to mass resistance. That is how you make enemies. Do those who are trying to scare us with the Moslem threat really not understand that? They understand it full well. They simply believe that a final solution is possible -- if not globally, then at least on a more limited territory. As a maximum, they are baying for ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Boris Kagarlitsky is a Moscow-based sociologist.