The Beslan School Memorial
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
  Arab 'mercenaries' at Beslan? I was just reading this editorial in Lebanon's Daily Star when I came across the phrase 'Arab mercenaries'. Why are the barbarians of Beslan been referred to as mercenaries? Mercenaries get paid money for rendering services and have a tradition in Europe that dates back to the old Italian condottieri. That isn't what these Arabs were doing in Beslan. Despite their demands for Chechen independence and the release of prisoners, they cannot be said to be Chechen nationalists if they're Arabs.We'd be wise to remember a fact from the 9/11 Commission Report: when Mohammed Atta and the Hamburg Cell first travelled to Afghanistan, they intended to go and fight in Chechnya, not to commit terrorism against the USA. By calling the murders of Beslan 'mercenaries' we somehow imply that what happened in Beslan is not part of the global war on terror, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. The 'Wahabbi international' that was first developed in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and then turned to other ends after the end of the Cold War may be a loose-knit set of organisations and to some degree heterogenous; but whether they strike in Bali or Beslan, the same philosophy of violent exclusivity and hatred is behind it, and the same hatred of the secular West. It may hijack other secular causes. But it is the same thing that we are fighting, as assuredly in Beslan as it was in Afghanistan.
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