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US Double Standard on Terrorism

US Double Standard on Terrorism

Friday, 4 February, 2022 - 07:15
Camelia Entekhabifard
Editor-in-chief of the Independent Persian.

In a press conference on Thursday, following the killing of ISIS’s leader in Idlib, Syria, US President Joe Biden said that the operation “sent a strong message to terrorists around the world: we will come after you.”

After announcing the killing of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi in a counter-terror operation, Biden added: “This operation is testament to America’s reach and capability to take out terrorist threats no matter where they try to hide anywhere in the world.”

Following the shocking events of 9/11, a terror attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York that killed more than 3,000 people, what then-US President Bush called "War on Terror" began in earnest.

With the approval of the United Nations and together with a broad coalition, the US attacked the positions of al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan. It was almost exactly 21 years ago when the interim government of Hamid Karzai came to be following the fall of Taliban. To the people of Afghanistan, a world led by the United States promised freedom, support and security.

While the international terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan had still not been dealt with, President Bush attacked Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003; merely a year later after he had started a war with al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan.

With the US attention now focused on Iraq and the war against Saddam, Afghanistan became forgotten and neglected. The attack on Iraq led to rise of new terrorist groups. The Iraq War thus helped inflame ethnic and religious rivalries in the ever crisis-ridden and turbulent Middle East. In the midst of all these conflicts, competitions and domestic clashes, al-Qaeda was strengthened and more dangerous groups came from within its ranks: ISIS, al-Nusra Front and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Recurrent wars and troops sent to Iraq and Syria, emergence of the "Arab Spring", the war in Yemen and Israel-Hezbollah clashes in Lebanon meant that the focus on Afghanistan was lost. Terrorist groups grew there and militias were able to regain their strength on Afghan soil.

Taliban and groups close to it, from the Haqqani network to the Quetta council, some of whom allied with ISIS, brought new challenges to the people of Afghanistan: insecurity and suicide operations of Taliban-allied terrorist groups.

The War on Terror never ceased in these 20 years. Biden decided to use the 20th anniversary of 9/11 to end US involvement in Afghanistan. We all know what went on to the Afghan people last summer. No need to repeat it here.

But on the early hours of Thursday, February, following the killing of ISIS’s leader, Biden said: “We remain vigilant. We remain prepared. Last night’s operation took a major terrorist leader off the battlefield. And it sent a strong message to terrorists around the world: We will come after you and find you. Once again, today, we continue our increasing efforts to keep the American people safe and to strengthen the security of our allies and partners around the world.”

But the same Biden employs a double standard when it comes to Afghanistan. He appeases Taliban and deals with them despite them including a large terrorist group, i.e. the Haqqani network.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the terrorist Haqqani network, is wanted by the FBI. The State Department promises a 10 million dollar reward for information leading to his arrest. Haqqani is also the interior minister of Taliban’s Islamic Emirate and has repeatedly shown face in a variety of official ceremonies.

Haqqani has accepted responsibility for planning of the 2008 terrorist attack on Kabul’s Hotel Serena. Six people, including an American citizen, Thor Hesla, were killed in this attack. He has also admitted that he had planned the assassination of then-Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in April 2008. He has organized many more suicide attacks against the citizens of Afghanistan and forces of the coalition.

Does the US president not know where Sirajjudin Haqaani is? Or which terror actions he has led?

Biden noted al-Qurashi’s role in the recent lethal ISIS attack on the prison in Hasakeh in northeastern Syria, the genocide of Yazidis in northwestern Iraq in 2014 and enslavement and sexual exploitation of Yazidi girls and women.

But President Biden ignores the current crimes of Taliban and Haqqani in Afghanistan. Many days have passed since the disappearance of Afghan women, girls and civil activists. In the last six months, Biden has ignored genocidal campaigns of Taliban against Hazara and Tajiks. Has someone not told Mr. President that the same terrorist who was on US’s own Top Wanted lists is now committing crimes against humanity as Taliban’s interior minister? According to the UN, Taliban have killed hundreds of security forces of the former regime. The eyewitnesses believe the number is much higher.

Biden’s goal from this operation (attacking al-Qurashi’s refuge) seems to not be about countering terrorists and fighting them “anywhere in the world” but an attempt to prevent the likely Democratic defeat in the coming midterms.

With the Idlib operation, Biden attempted to cover up the defeat in Afghanistan and leaving of 30 million people to slaughter by Taliban, hunger, suffering, torture and death. He wants to divert the attention of world public opinion and the American people with an important and major operation that killed the ISIS leader.

But the US seems to have a variable definition of terrorist groups. During the Donald Trump administration, the Yemeni Houthis had been designated as a terrorist organization. The Biden administration de-listed them. It seemingly fits the American interest to decide whether a group is or is not terrorist based on a given situation.

The current conditions of the Afghan people and the rule of Taliban and the Haqqani network is an obvious example of this double standard and varying definitions.

But for the American people, even the death of a major terrorist like al-Qurashi in Syria’s Idlib is of less importance compared to inflation and high prices of petrol and fuel which has led to more anger.

Less than a year remains to the midterm congressional elections, which will be held on November 8, 2022. Biden’s falling popularity in all polls, people’s disapproval of him and the passive role of Vice President Kamal Harris has made victory difficult for Biden and the Democrats.

The Democrats have lost credibility due to their passive international policies, whether in Ukraine or Taiwan or in the Iranian nuclear talks, which have led nowhere so far; and of course the hasty and the badly planned withdrawal from Afghanistan that led to the killing of more than 10 American soldiers and thousands of Afghans.

What’s sure is that such foreign operations won’t help buy domestic credibility for Democrats or fix the passive face of US in the international community.

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