Christians slaughtered by terrorists in Beslan, Russia. Nepalese Hindus butchered by terrorists in Iraq. Jews suicide-bombed in Beersheba, Israel.
As we approach the third anniversary of 9/11, adherents of a radically and rabidly politicized version of Islam are not discriminating – they are attacking innocents of all races, creeds and colors.
But the hopeful news is that within the Muslim world voices are beginning to speak out against the terrorists, the nihilist barbarians who – if not stopped – will damage both the causes they claim to champion and Islam itself.
“We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses,” wrote Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel. “We cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds.”
He added: “These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image. We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.”
Such courageous responses are long overdue -- as Nonie Darwish, self-described “daughter of an Arab warrior,” has noted. “The world has been seeing Arab radical terrorism growing without much international outcry for half a century,” she wrote. “Many thought it is only against Israel and its interests and ignored it.”
True, such voices are still a minority. Many leaders in the Arab and Muslim worlds avoid taking positions that might anger radicals. And there are still those who defend terrorism.
Known as “the spiritual leader” of the Al-Muhajiroun sect, Omar Bakri Mohammed lives near London, where last weekend he told an interviewer that he would not condemn the massacre of hundreds of Russian children. On the contrary, he would support similar attacks elsewhere – including in Britain where he has been granted asylum.
"If an Iraqi Muslim carried out an attack like that in Britain, it would be justified,” he declared, “because Britain has carried out acts of terrorism in Iraq.”
This weekend, Mohammed noted, he will be appearing at a 9/11 event -- to commemorate not the victims, but the perpetrators.
Of course, it is not just Islamists who condone terrorism. Darwish observes that “many in the West and the UN are still finding excuses for terrorism.”
Take Michael Kinsley, one of America's leading public intellectuals. He has written: "An illegitimate tactic used in a legitimate cause, as part of a conflict with legitimate and illegitimate tactics and aspirations on both sides, is different from an illegitimate tactic used for purposes that are utterly crazed and malevolent."
How is that different from Omar Bakri Mohammed's view?
Similarly, editors at the Reuters news agency long ago pronounced that “one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.” They will not judge whether those who murder children in classrooms, decapitate hostages and blow up buses are any worse than, say, George Washington or Mahatma Gandhi.
By contrast, Egypt's Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi has accused the killers in Russia of “taking Islam as a cover -- and it is a deceptive cover; those who carry out the kidnappings are criminals, not Muslims."
Certainly some terrorists have legitimate grievances and the causes they claim to represent may be just. The plight of the Chechens falls into such a category.
Chechyna, a mostly Muslim land, resisted Tsarist Russian conquest until the middle of the 19th Century. During World War II, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin exiled hundreds of thousands of Chechens to Siberia, believing them to be likely Nazi allies.
In 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, Chechnya briefly achieved independence. But Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first post-Soviet president, used an iron fist to restore Kremlin rule. Vladimir Putin, Russia's current leader, has been equally brutal. Since 1994, more than 80,000 Chechens have been killed.
Still, nothing suggests that most Chechens support the Beslan atrocities. Exiled Chechen president Alsan Maskhadov does not condone the mass murder of children. His London spokesman said the terrorists are harming the cause of Chechen independence. "But, of course, their demands have all to do with Chechnya,” he acknowledged, “so whatever has happened the Chechens will be held responsible. That's what I'm afraid of."
The Chechen terrorist leader, Shamil Basayev, seeks more than an independent Chechnya. Like his al Qaeda allies, he wants a new Islamic caliphate that would expand well beyond Chechnya's borders.
Hamas, the Palestinian organization that claimed responsibility for the Be'ersheba bombing, has similar ambitions. Reuters is reluctant to tell you what Hamas wants: not an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, but an Islamist state in place of Israel, one that would kill or ethnically cleanse its non-Muslim population.
As for the butchering of the Nepalese in Iraq, that was carried out by Ansar al Islam, an al Qaeda affiliate that was based in north-eastern Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power. For Ansar the question is not, “Why kill minimum-wage workers from Nepal?” but “Why not?”
On the third anniversary of 9/11, self-proclaimed jihadis -- “holy warriors” -- are engaged in a World War against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and, not least, moderate Muslims.
“Islamist terrorism represents one of the most lethal threats to the stability of the civilized world,” said Kamal Nawash, the Palestinian leading the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. “Democracy can not succeed unless terrorism is defeated and Islamic extremism is discredited.”
It helps that more people like him are joining the battle.