Two British-Nigerians frightened the great former colonial empire to death by nearly beheading a soldier, in London. Yet British and other western politicians have far more blood on their hands than the young Africans. “This killing was no more awful than those committed by the military from the U.S. or other NATO nations.”
If terrorism can be defined as the wanton killing of innocent people, then there are many terrorists around the globe. Most of those terrorists are not members of al-Qaeda, al-Shabab or other organizations whose names the corporate media repeat ad nauseam. Neither are they the often decried “homegrown,” “lone wolves” or “free lancers.” Instead they are the otherwise respected presidents, prime ministers and cabinet secretaries who serve the governments in the so-called civilized nations of the world. The killing and maiming they are responsible for is swept under the rug, known only to those who survive their acts of aggression.
It is important to keep these facts in mind after the killing of a British soldier near his barracks in Woolwich, London. Lee Rigby was first run over by a car and then hacked to death by two men who immediately took responsibility for the killing. Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale calmly spoke to witnesses whorecorded them blood soaked and armed with knives and meat cleavers.
The howls of outrage spread from the U.K. to the U.S. The deed was called depraved, sick, disgusting, savage, horrifying, etc. Those adjectives are in fact correct but this killing was no more awful than those committed by the military from the U.S. or other NATO nations. Lee Rigby was decapitated in Woolwich but bombs and bullets decapitate. Babies in Fallujah, Iraq are born without heads because of the lingering effects of depleted uranium. In Gaza, the Israelis terrorize a civilian population with impunity, killing men, women and children, sometimes killing entire families who are all defenseless.
In the now famous Collateral Murder video revealed by Wikileaks, American troops can be seen running over and crushing an Iraqi they had just shot to death. The soldiers killed eight people in total, two of whom were journalists. They also shot two children and killed their father. Former American soldier Ethan McCord tells the story of what he witnessed that day. “One guy’s head was off, the top of his head was completely off and his brains were on the ground and the smell, the smell still haunts me every day. I don’t know how to describe it.” Rigby faced the same fate as the men killed by American troops. He was no more deserving of such a fate, but his death isn’t any worse.
Not only is it important to acknowledge the terror committed by the governments that consider themselves so aggrieved, but there are crucial questions about the killers themselves which need answering. Just as in the recent Boston marathon bombings, the suspects had repeated contacts with their nation’s intelligence service.
One of the suspects in the Woolwich killing, Michael Adebolajo, was arrested in Kenya in 2010 as a suspected al-Shabab fighter. He told friends and family that he was tortured by Kenyan security before being deported back to Britain. After he returned home he and his family were approached numerous times by MI5 in an effort to enlist him as an informer. One of Adebolajo’s friends, Abu Nusaybah, was arrested at the BBC’s studios after giving an interview about his friend’s experiences.
Adebolajo’s family describes him as a man who came home forever changed and who attempted to get legal help to stop the harassment against him. The MI5s and the FBIs of the world are often given too much credit as creators of grand conspiracy. Sometimes they just screw up. Apparently MI5 is no more competent than their counterparts in the United States but like them they are protected by powerful people. The world will hear very little if anything about Adebolajo and MI5.
There are young men who go to Somalia to help defend it from the onslaught of violence committed against it by western nations. The United States conspired with Ethiopia to invade that country and in the process killed thousands of people. Al-Shabab might be labeled terrorist in the capitals of the west, but they have not created the blood bath in Somalia. The respected presidents and prime ministers get the blame for those atrocities.
Violence does beget violence but the violence committed by the state is supported by the media and sadly by the masses of uninformed people. There are now protests in Britain not about that government’s complicity in the destruction of Iraq or Libya but about Lee Rigby. Rigby deserves protest but so do the victims of western state terrorism. As long as there is injustice with impunity there will be what we call terrorism. Yet it should be remembered that terror comes in all sizes but the worst and biggest isn’t created by any “lone wolf” but by politicians elected to office.
Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.