Why is Galloway on BBC Question Time today?
Eleven years ago today, Britain suffered its deadliest terrorist attack since Lockerbie in 1988.
On the day of the London bombings, July 7, 2005, George Galloway, (who is booked to appear on BBC Question Time tonight), stood up in parliament during a debate on a Defence Committee report, and argued the attacks vindicated his critique of British foreign policy.
Galloway first condemned the attacks as a ‘despicable act, committed against working people’ by ‘Islamist extremists, inspired by the al-Qaeda world outlook’. He added:
‘Let there be no equivocation: the primary responsibility for this morning’s bloodshed lies with the perpetrators of those acts. However, […]
‘We cannot separate the acts from the political backdrop. They did not come out of a clear blue sky, any more than those monstrous mosquitoes that struck the twin towers and other buildings in the United States on 9/11 2001.’
He went on:
‘Does the house not believe that hatred and bitterness have been engendered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by the daily destruction of Palestinian homes, by the construction of the great apartheid wall in Palestine and by the occupation of Afghanistan?
Does it understand that the bitterness and enmity generated by those great events feed the terrorism of bin Laden and the other Islamists? Is that such a controversial point? Is it not obvious?’
Recall, the Respect MP (who had been expelled from the Labour Party in 2003, not for opposing the Iraq war, but for calling for attacks on British troops), was speaking hours after the attack, with families still trying to find out whether their loved ones had survived.
Further, the video of the bombers giving their reasons for the attack had yet to be released.
‘There are more people in the world today who hate us more intently than they did before as a result of the actions that we have taken.
Does this house understand that the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison have inflamed and deepened that sense of hatred around the world and made our position more dangerous?
Do members of this house not understand that Guantanamo Bay has contributed to the sense of bitterness and hatred against us around the world?
Does nobody in this house understand that when Palestinians’ houses are knocked down, their olive trees cut down and their children shot by Israeli marksmen, an army of people who want to harm us is created?’
‘So there was nothing unpredictable about this morning’s attack. Despicable, yes; but not unpredictable. It was entirely predictable and, I predict, it will not be the last.’
You can read his whole statement here from the Hansard records.
Readers can judge for themselves the veracity (and propriety) of his claims. But I will add the following observations.
Three of the four bombers were British citizens, born here, and of Pakistani heritage. The fourth was born in Jamaica, and moved to Britain as a child. In other words, their connection with Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine is not clear.
Ringleader Mohammad Siddique Khan, a business graduate from Leeds, had been involved in Islamist politics since 1999, and attended an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan years before the Iraq war, where he learned how to make bombs.
In his video (released posthumously) taking credit for the attacks, Khan does mention ‘atrocities against my people all over the world’, but without naming Iraq, Palestine or anywhere else.
However, he does begin with a quote from Islamist thinker Sayyid Qutb, Osama bin Laden’s favourite philisopher, (‘Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood’) and expresses his ‘love’ for
‘today’s heroes like our beloved sheikh Osama Bin Laden, Dr Ayman al-Zawahri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi..’
Zawahiri was al Qaeda’s number two, and is now head of the group following bin Laden’s death, while Zarqawi was head of al Qaeda in Iraq, the jihadist group which stoked civil war in Iraq, and was the forerunner to ISIS.
Even without these glaring clues, Khan’s video would be understood clearly by anyone familiar with Salafi-Jihadist ideology as a statement of their worldview, including its holding citizens of democratic states culpable for the alleged crimes of their government.
I should really have said ‘citizens and residents’ there, as one of the 50 victims of the attack was an Afghan national, Atique Sharifi, aged 24, who had fled the Taliban and al Qaeda in 2002.
I hope it’s too obvious to point out that only a tiny minority of Muslims carry out terrorism, however much they hate British or western foreign policy, and that huge numbers of people across the world opposed the Iraq war, and care about the Palestinians, and do not feel entitled to murder their fellow citizens – a strange way to stand up for human rights in any case.
I invite you to scroll back up and read Galloway’s speech on the day of the July 7 bombings in the light of these facts, and question why an apologist for terrorism (and erstwhile praiser of Saddam Hussein) has been invited onto the BBC’s flagship current affairs show – on today of all days, or indeed, on any day.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.