Why Claim?

In the past, terrorist attacks are often followed by a claim of responsibility, where the perpetrators send in a tape explaining who they are and why they did what they did. “Yes, we’re the Real IRA, not the IRA, and we blew up these passers-by because we believe in a united Ireland”.

But in the case of the London bombs, why would they bother? Everyone knows who did it, and what they are fighting for and why. Claiming would just give the authorities a load of forensic evidence – voice prints etc. The “fifth man” they are pursuing certainly won’t want to stick his head above the parapet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if no-one makes a (credible) claim for responsibility.

26 thoughts on “Why Claim?

  1. I’d rather like to know what everyone knows. It appears everyone didn’t tell me.

    Mind you, if everyone knows what makes twenty-year-olds born and raised in the North blow themselves up for reasonably little beneficial civil or political disruption, I wish they’d share it. Everyone seems to think that nodding their collective heads and saying “I told you so” every time this happens is a great game which is much more fun than discussing it in a manner which might, y’know, actually prevent it in the future.

    As for responsibility, of course there isn’t going to be a credible claim. This doesn’t stop the Prime Minister from continuing to make embarrassing statements about how this is the “hallmark” of an International Organisation For Evil rivalling SPECTRE. One day someone really should thank Western spin doctors for actively inventing and fostering development of the international Islamic terrorist movement.

    – Chris

  2. Chris – err, no. Islamic terrorists have been operating long before spin doctors existed.

  3. Lots of times claims end up not being legitimate. In the US, this has happened quite a bit with Mobs. Everyone wanted to gain that overnight ‘respect’ (fear). Why do the work (and associated risk) to gain that reputation when you can just leach off of someone else’s?

    Quite often “Claims” aren’t legitimate. In cases where they are legitimate, they are just a way of being extra defiant.

  4. Well Chris, the Prime Ministers comments were based off of previous terrorists attacks conducted by organisations like for instance, Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda if an organisation at all, is inherently evil. Or at least I would think so, as they murder people with no reguards to they’re or the victims lives.

    Why would twenty-year-olds whom were born and raised there blow themselves up for civil or political dusruption? I quite honestly dont know, however if you follow this incident then it clearly shows that they’re were more than likely not going for either. If anything, they probably wanted some form of revenge on a society in Britain that has been slow to accept a largly increasing muslim minority, and if anything has been somewhat racists towards them as of late.

    Here in America we have had our fair share of domestic bread attacks and violence as well, to pressume it was meant to affect the political stature would be giving them too much credit. All of these whether from a terrorists or ones seeking revenge, are brought forth from some hate they have for another people (s).

  5. I expect there’s two main reason to claim.

    One is in an attempt to lend some ‘legitimacy’ to the action, to claim it is an action of principal with an aim rather than simply an indescriminate piece of violence as it is being portrayed by most leaders. (I wonder how much of the “cowardly act” style talk is in an effort to get the terrorists to out themselves).

    The second is possibly in the hope that the language of the claim will resonate with some people and act as a call to arms.

  6. Because ultimately, even a religious fanatic wants recognition for what they did. They want their 15 minutes of fame.

  7. Britain that has been slow to accept a largly increasing muslim minority, and if anything has been somewhat racists towards them as of late.

    Britain has also been slow to accept the gypsy community and has been keen, particularly recently, to evict them from squatted land. But we don’t see any gypsies blowing themselves up on the Tube.

  8. The UK is fucking brilliant, last night the news was 90% London bombings, then at the end there was a 1 minute section on how 20 kids, YES KIDS were blown up in Iraq.

    HANG ON – 20 kids died and no one seems to care?

    The world is fucked.

    monk.e.boy

  9. Britain has also been slow to accept the gypsy community and has been keen, particularly recently, to evict them from squatted land. But we don’t see any gypsies blowing themselves up on the Tube.

    Gerv: That’s because gypsies/travellers/Romanies aren’t motivated by the belief that blowing themselves up is the “shortest path to Heaven”.

    There’s an excellent article in the Times (T2 section) today that discusses the motivation of suicide bombers (in Palestine, but it probably applies to the attacks here as well).

    Times Online: Are you ready? Tomorrow you will be in Paradise…

  10. Malcolm: I know. I was just countering Dan Devaney’s suggestion that racism in the UK was a motivation for the attacks.

  11. Regarding Palestine: If you destroy ones house, kill his family and humiliate him whenever you can, he won’t need much indoctrination to run amok.

    But please at least mention, that islam -like every other religion of peace- condemns the killing of innocents, even in war. Look at Srebrenica: Just 10 years ago christian serbians killed 8000 unarmed muslim boys and men – blessed by the priests of the church (that was even taped) and betrayed by the UN. Have you seen any assault from bosnians since then? Do you see them blaming the christian religion for the genozid that happend in Srebrenica?

    Things tend to be more complex than we want them to be, please don’t be naive.

  12. Actually,a group claiming to be related to al Qaeda did claim they carried out the attacks, last Friday, I think.

    Some of the bombers spent a while in Pakistan studying the Qur’an recently. If they’re away from home studying a religious text, they’re going to be pretty impressionable from someone preaching a corrupted version of their religion.

  13. Despite how many Britians think their country has racial problems, in the grand scheme of things, they are actually much more tolerant than places like the US.

    It’s important to separate religon from politics. Islam explicity condemns such actions on the exact same grounds that the Bible does. To say Islam allows or condones such actions is to say the Bible does.

    The problem with both texts is the (very) sad fact that there are people out there who will twist the words to meet their political needs. These aren’t religious acts, they are political acts.

    Way back when, many terrible things in world history were justified on Biblical terms. The most common example these days is the Crusades. Manifest Destiny in the Americas (in which many native americans died at the hands of christian missionaries). Millions died through history. And those who killed honestly thought they were doing it for Jesus.

    What people don’t realize is that Qur’an and the Bible are somewhat vague texts. They are easy to misinterpret. I could easily twist a line to justify pretty much any evil crime I want to commit. Does that mean they allow it? Absolutely not.

    People don’t realize it, but the difference between Islam and Christianity is theological, not moral. Morally, they are as equivilant as you can get. Islam essentially builds upon Christianity (which in itself builds upon the Jewish faith).

    All 3 are moral equivilants. Their differences are mainly their position on if Jesus was a profit or Massiah, and extend from there. Islam itself believes Jesus to be a profit, and builds upon his teachings as well.

    People have used the Bible, and the Qur’an to do some rather horific things. And sadly it won’t end. From wars, cold blooded murder, segregation, slavery, even rape has been justified on both religious texts. It’s sad, and really disrespects the billions who read these texts and take them for the good that they can provide. These minority of individuals have killed and tortured millions in world history, and will sadly continue.

    That’s really why religious governments don’t work well. The closest anyone has come without corrupting is the British (and done rather well). When religon gets to close to politics, people start justifying terrible things based on religion. You see that with things like the Crusades (look at the history of royalty and religion), Iran, Afganistan, etc. etc. You can find literally thousands of examples.

    Defense against this corruption?

    – Poverty and despair drives people towards religion for comfort. That in itself isn’t bad. But vulnerable people are subject to abuse. That’s why Afganistan was an AlQueda camp. That’s why Africa is a big target for recruitment. That’s why a good way to clean up crime is to create jobs in a community. People not in poor hopeless situations aren’t as vulnerable.

    – Teaching tolerance towards all faiths. Regardless of your faith it’s important to have an understanding of other religions, and to accept them as alternative teachings. All religions themselves teach it. Christanity reinforces this concept more than any other. Jesus himself (Christian #1) was among a Jewish population. He never “converted people”, but let them convert at their own free will. Never does the bible talk about force, manipulation, or insulting the Jewish faith. Jesus himself was Jewish and started Christianity in the most peaceful manner (only his blood spilled). Jesus never pushed his teachings on anyone. That’s something many people forget. Every follower joined him at their own free will because they felt drawn to him.

    Religion isn’t evil. Politics is evil. War is a component of politics (just ask Carl von Clausewitz). The problem is society is blaming religions rather than politics.

  14. I mostly agree with Robert here. Some people tend to forget that Christians have done some terrible things. We urgently have to differ ‘normal’/modern muslims and radical/fundemental muslims.

    I don’t know about yours, but my knowledge of the Qur’an is quite limited. The last thing we need is some ignorant fool widening the gap between religions and religious people. They have so much in common.

    As for me, I must say I am not a Christian nor a Muslim or a Jew. I tend to believe that it’s quite impossible that billions people are wrong, and either way, if one religion is right, more are wrong. So, the truth shall be somewhere in between those religions, or there is no absolute thruth.

    In the end, it’s all about the people, not about religion, politics or prejudices.

  15. bram: It’s interesting that you contrast “normal” and “radical” Muslims, but then say your knowledge of the Qur’an is quite limited. How do you know that the radical sort are not the normal sort, and the “modern” sort are not the ones who have departed from what the Qur’an says?

    I tend to believe that it’s quite impossible that billions people are wrong, and either way, if one religion is right, more are wrong. So, the truth shall be somewhere in between those religions, or there is no absolute thruth.

    Billions of people are wrong on a regular basis. For many, many years, everyone believed the earth was flat. And if the truth is “somewhere in between”, that means everyone is wrong, because each of the major world religions claims exclusivity for itself.

  16. Each of the major world religions relies on belief in an existence beyond the corporeal. That they are all wrong doesn’t mean that “everyone” is wrong. Only the religious.

    Gypsies haven’t the resources or the heritage required for fanaticism. Are you suggesting that Islam is somehow unique in its reverence for martyrs?

    Regardless, I’m done here. Two guys at work have been fired for racial discrimination in the last week. It’s bad enough working with bigots, never mind reading their blogs.

    – Chris

  17. s/racial/religious. D’oh.

    Only one of these was anti-Muslim, by the way. Welcome to Glasgow, where you too can be returned to the 17th Century.

    – Chris

  18. > because each of the major world religions claims exclusivity for itself.

    Gerv, I would be interested in knowing what religions you include in this blanket statement and what you mean by “claims exclusivity for itself”….

  19. How do you know that the radical sort are not the normal sort, and the “modern” sort are not the ones who have departed from what the Qur’an says?

    Gerv, don’t you think it’s pretty cheap to use such an attack to spread FUD (=Fear Uncertainty and Doubt)? I really thought better of you.
    All Britain muslim organisations condemned the attack, I for one am a muslim and faithful and condemn it because I am. There are 1,5 million muslims in GB and 15 millionen in Europe. Have all of them really abandoned their religion or do you expect them to be radicals who just seek their chance to attack? If so, you must really be in fear.

  20. Boris: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Communistic Atheism. By “claims exclusivity for itself”, I mean things like “No-one comes to the Father except through me” (Jesus Christ), and the numerous contradictions in teaching between them.

    Abdulkadir: I merely asked him a question – how can he make authoritative statements on the true nature of the Qur’an when he hasn’t read it? I don’t think asking him that question is spreading FUD. If you were to say “I don’t know much about nuclear fusion, but I know it’s never going to work as a solution for the world’s energy problems”, I’d ask you a similar question :-)

    I know many Western Muslim organisations have gone on record as condemning the attack. I’m not convinced that proves anything about what the Qur’an really says. Many Western Christian leaders have been spouting rubbish about how we’re all worshipping the same God really and there’s no important differences between Islam and Christianity. That doesn’t mean that’s what the Bible says.

    The only real way for people to tell what example Mohammed really set for his followers is to read the Qur’an for themselves and learn all about his deeds – just as I would recommend regarding Jesus and the Bible. I think that people who do will find quite a difference.

  21. Gerv, I find it interesting that you exclude Buddhism from that list. For the rest, I’ll agree with your statement as far as Christianity and Communistic Atheism are concerned. I don’t know enough about Islam and especially Hinduism to comment intelligently. But I’d really like to know what basis your statement about Judaism makes. While Judaism does claim that there is only one true God, it makes pretty wide allowance for how that God is to be worshipped (in particular, in Judaism it’s a lot easier to be righteous in God’s eyes if one is not Jewish; becoming Jewish means taking on a number of additional obligations). So I’m not sure where the claim of exclusivity goes — from a Jewish point of view pretty much any system of conduct and belief that avoids a very small number of major transgressions is fine.

  22. bz: I didn’t exclude Buddhism from the list on purpose; I just wasn’t thinking hard enough. You could add it and my statement would still be true.

    I see what you mean about Judaism. I don’t know enough about the details of Judaism to agree with you or not, but perhaps we need to consider bi-directional rather than uni-directional compatibility. :-) Judaism may be unidirectionally compatible with some other faiths, but it’s not bi-directionally compatible with any of the others on my amended list.

    (I’ve been working on licensing too long – I’m beginning to think about the BSD and the GPL licenses…)

    Having said that, it would be interesting to find out whether Judaism’s “non-Jews just need to avoid doing X, Y and Z” covers you when X is the Communistic Atheist’s “I don’t believe God exists at all. I spit on the very idea of him” etc.

  23. Gerv: your hinting at the connection to politics and religion. That’s a fatal flaw. You should note the Bible keeps them as distinct entities. Never does Jesus urge political involvement or cohersion to an idiology. The closest he gets is preaching to a large crowd. And even that is far from political or even social.

    What’s rather sad that Christianity has been backtracking the past 100 or so years (the US a bit accelerated) towards where Islam is right now (mixed into politics). It’s very easy for politics to turn volitile (volitile = military conflict). This isn’t really what Jesus had in mind when he encouraged his followers to teach his message.

    As long as they remain separate, all religions are extremely peaceful, and really share the same message. People argue over what is really custom more than theology. The big 3 (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) faiths preach the _exact_ same morals and ethics. Anyone bashing one of them, is bashing all 3. They use the exact same sources as reference. Each builds upon the next.

    It’s sad when Christians condemn the morality of the Muslim faith… they are in fact being rather blasphemous and condemning their own.

    There’s quite a few who claim Islam allows for Holy Wars (as many claimed the Bible did). In fact, there’s actually no truth to it what so ever. “Jihad” is really what Christians refer to as “resisting temptation” or “resisting the devil” among other terms (more specific terms exist, but vary based on actual faith, Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, etc.). While considered a muslim tradtion, Christians do have the same thing (we just don’t call it that, or admit it).

    One thing the American press has been quick to ignore (for sensationalized ratings reason is this little nugget):

    Suicide: This is forbidden. The Qur’an clearly states: “Do not kill yourselves as God has been to you very merciful” (4:29). Only Allah is to take a life. Since death must be left up to Allah, physician assisted suicide is not allowed. On the other hand, Muslim physicians are not “encouraged to artificially prolong the misery [of a person who is] in a vegetative state.”

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/isl_intr1.htm

    Also interesting is that Islam goes a bit above Christianity in forbidding the killing of even unarmed soldiers, and innocent civilians. The Bible isn’t exactly clear (it does distinguish between Murder and Killing, but little else is black and white). But the common perception is lethal force may be used by a christian where there is a threat to life, or during military conflict (a Christian can serve in the military for their country… though there’s some debate as to how far one can go, for example Nazi concentration camp guards). If anything, Christianity is a bit more liberal on when death may be applied. A state sponsored terrorist act is technically not sinful by many interpretations as it’s military conflict. The big example of that is the Atomic Bomb in Japan. Was it sinful according to the Bible? The jurry’s been out on that for generations now. Generally it’s thought to not be a sin. In Islam that’s a serious violation, black and white.

    People warp religions for their political gain. It’s sad, it’s contraditory to the morals the faiths teach… and it’s rather ironic, in a depressing sort of way.

  24. Gerv, bidirectional compatibility may indeed be more problematic. ;) And yes, the Communistic Atheism example you raise would be a problem — the seven Noahide commandments (which are what non-Jews need to follow to be considered “righteous”) are listed at http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/noahide.html and while 2,3,5,6,7 are compatible with pretty much any reasonable society 1 and 4 are indeed somewhat distinctive of monotheistic religions.

    Robert, I seem to pretty distinctly recall some of Jesus’ actions having a quite nationalistic character. See Matthew 15:21-15:28, particularly verses 24 and 26. He does end up healing the daughter, but he’s about as rude as one can get under those circumstances (verse 26!). This isn’t completely surprising given that Judaism was effectively the state religion in the Israelite state…

    As for political involvement or ideology, see the moneychangers example. Keep in mind that this was in the context of a major pilgrimage festival, with people from all over the mediterranean world coming to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the temple. The moneychangers were there simply so that the pilgrims could … change their foreign money into something they could use (say to purchase lodging for themselves, purchase goods to sacrifice, etc.). The temple, being centrally located and the first place the pilgrims would go, is the logical place to put the moneychangers. Jesus has his own political agenda here, really — he’s acting as much against the temporal authority of the temple priests as against their spiritual authority.

    Also note that actually following Jesus’ teachings would make one unable to fulfill the duties of a citizen of the Roman empire (as demanded by the laws of said empire). This became a serious issue in later centuries (a number of soldiers were court-martialed for converting to Christanity and deserting because they claimed they could no longer carry out a soldier’s duties, for example).

    So while it would be nice to separate out people’s fundamental beliefs (which affect all their actions) from the laws of the land, in practice one has to work hard to avoid conflicts, and sometimes one fails. The real question is how much work one puts into conflict-avoidance and what one does when conflict does arise.

  25. I’m late again with my comments. ;) Well here they are anyway.

    About claiming responsibility: I read that the Checken rebels in Russia don’t make claims of responsibility for their attacks. This has the effect that, whenever something goes wrong, people fear or blame Checken terrorists for it. It makes them into a sort of omnipresent enemy. I hope al-Qaeada doesn’t start doing the same thing.

    As for religion:

    Gerv:

    because each of the major world religions claims exclusivity for itself.

    I disagree. In the East, it is not uncommon for a person to consider himself a Confucian, a Buddhist, and a Taoist, with each covering a different aspect of his life.

    If your religion believes that it was created/inspired by a perfect Deity and its holy book is said Deity’s complete and unedited Word, then yes, your faith will claim exclusivity for itself. If your religion only claims to be the creation of wise but imperfect people, then you can be more flexible. In Buddhism, you can even disagree with or change some of the fundamental tenets of the faith.

    Robert:

    The big 3 (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) faiths preach the _exact_ same morals and ethics. Anyone bashing one of them, is bashing all 3. They use the exact same sources as reference. Each builds upon the next.

    There are differences between these faiths (as well as similarities). Even different sects within any one of those religions have different ethical codes. Islam even teaches that the Old and New Testaments were unfortunately corrupted by men, enough so that God had to recite the Quran to Mohammed as a “final corrective measure”.

    There’s quite a few who claim Islam allows for Holy Wars (as many claimed the Bible did). In fact, there’s actually no truth to it what so ever. “Jihad” is really what Christians refer to as “resisting temptation” or “resisting the devil” among other terms

    Jihad means “striving”. That takes the form of either the “Greater Jihad”, striving to do God’s will (which you described), or the “Lesser Jihad”, which means physically defending Islam from its enemies.

    In comparision, the Old Testament has many instances were God commands his followers to wage war against unbelievers; the New Testament takes the “turn the other check” approach; and incidentally Buddhism goes farthest by explicity disallowing any wars in its name. So there are differences here between religions.

    Often, people trying to promote “tolerance” toward religions try to whitewash any religiously inspired acts of violence. Either they say “Since the act was bad, it wasn’t really religious” or “Since the act was religious, it wasn’t really bad.” Both arguments are falicious and invalid.

    Being able to criticize ideas and practices is fundamental to critical thought and progress. If all ideas and practices were (morally) equivalent, then there would be no way to make anything better (which we know is false). You can disagree with a person’s or group’s beliefs without discriminating or being mean to that person or group.

    The problem with both texts is the (very) sad fact that there are people out there who will twist the words to meet their political needs. These aren’t religious acts, they are political acts.

    I read a book called Holy Terrors for a class on Comparative Religion, and the author convincingly makes the point that sometimes religion has more to do with politics than ethics. Think about it: religion affects (if not determines) your deepest beliefs about how the world and people should be, what the purpose of life is, as well as what right and wrong are. How could we not expect this to affect the type of laws one would want?

    Unfortunately, there are many verses in the Quran that explicitly call for violence or poor treatment toward non-Muslims. And today, there are factions of Islam (like Wahabism) that take these verses literally. Some even believe it is their duty to install Taliban-like governments all over the world. When moderate Muslims try to urge peace, the extremists respond by pointing directly to the Quran and saying the moderates are the ones who are not true Muslims (or have been corrupted by the West).

    An ex-Muslim friend of mine from Malaysia told me that there are only 3 or so verses in the whole Quran that promote tolerance, and tons of violent verses. You might want to read up on what happens in a Muslim country when someone born Muslim decides not to be Muslim anymore (See FaithFreedom.org or even JihadWatch.org).

    A religion is kind of like a whole family of related belief systems. “Christian” usually refers to everything from Roman Catholics to Puritans to Quakers to Eastern Orthodox. So of course most Muslims are not like this; there have been many peaceful and tolerant interpretations of the Quran, both historically and today.

    The problem is society is blaming religions rather than politics.

    One problem we face as a society in confronting terrorism is the common belief that terrorists are not motivated by religion at all and that all they want is better economic and political conditions. Remember that bin Laden himself was not poor but rich and well educated. There is a real ideology of hate present. And it is bothersome that many Muslims leaders in the Arab world do not publicly come out and condemn the terrorists…

    I think the real problem is with dogma, beliefs people hold on to no matter how many reasons there are against them. If there exists some verses in a holy book of a religion that either states something known to be false or commands one to do something clearly immoral, then while most followers of that religion will figure out some way of interpretating these passages away, there will almost inevitably be some who take them at face value and follow them to their logical conclusions. If you believe non-believers are enemies of God and agents of the Devil, then it can make sense to fight them.

    Jesus never pushed his teachings on anyone.

    Well, yes and no. The Jesus described in the Gospels wanted people to change of their own free will, but he commanded people to repent and submit to God’s will. He didn’t present his teachings as suggestions, good ideas, or “just one path”, but as absolute truth; in fact, he claimed to be Truth! He also warned that those who reject him reject God as well, and would face a punishment worse than Sodem and Gomarrah got. This is not what you would consider to be religious tolerance.