Two recent incidents, in the Middle East, should give western anti-terrorism strategists something to ponder.
A bus crash in Egypt, last Wednesday, killed six and left 27 others seriously injured. This incident would have gone unnoticed except that some Australian police and paramedics were among the victims.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald – Carnage on wheels worse than terrorism – makes a fascinating point:
The deaths of six Australian tourists in a bus crash is not a big story in Egypt.
Terrorist attacks on the Sinai tourist resorts of Taba and Sharm el Sheikh in October 2004 and August 2005 killed at least 100 people, many of them foreign visitors.
In 1997 Islamic fundamentalist gunmen murdered 57 mainly Western visitors at Luxor, an attack from which Egypt's vital tourist industry has struggled to redeem itself.
Terrorist attacks, for all their headline-grabbing horror, are a minor cause of death compared with the carnage on the roads, which claimed 6000 lives in 27,000 accidents in 2002, according to the Egyptian National Council for Road Safety's figures.
Over in Saudi Arabia at the scene of the Hajj in Mecca, a Red Crescent doctor at the scene, put the number of injured at 1000 in a stampede there. At least 345 people were killed.The stampede took place at the foot of the Jamarat Bridge in Mina, near Mecca, where hundreds of thousands had flocked to pelt stones at symbols of the devil to purge themselves of sin. Saudi Arabia.
Briton’s Guardian Unlimited reports: Some 3,000 people have died in incidents at the hajj in the last 20 years in stampedes, demonstrations, and fires at pilgrim camping areas and one person was killed when a bomb exploded near Mecca's Grand Mosque in 1989.
The worst incident in modern times was in 1990 when a stampede at a tunnel in Mecca killed 1,426 pilgrims, many of them Malaysians, Indonesian and Pakistanis. The pilgrims were killed in in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to the holy sites in Mecca, where pilgrims go through a series of rituals on the hajj and travel from all over the world to attend.
Previous disasters in recent years include:
February 1 2004 244 pilgrims killed and a similar number injured at al-Jamarat
March 5 2001 35 people killed in stampede at al-Jamarat
April 9 1998 Around 180 pilgrims trampled to death when panic erupted after several fell off an overpass at al-Jamarat
April 15 1997 Fires driven by high winds tear through a sprawling, overcrowded tent city at Mina, trapping and killing more than 340 pilgrims and injuring 1,500
May 23 1994 270 pilgrims, most of them Indonesian, killed at al-Jamarat
July 2 1990 1,426 pilgrims, many of them Malaysians, Indonesian and Pakistanis, killed in stampede in overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Mecca in the worst hajj tragedy of modern times
July 9 1989 Two bombs explode in Mecca, killing one pilgrim, and wounding 16 others. Saudi authorities blame Iranian-inspired terrorists and later behead 16 Kuwaiti Shia Muslims for bombings. Iran denied involvement.
July 31 1987 402 people, mostly Iranian pilgrims, killed and 649 wounded in Mecca when security forces clash with Iranians staging illegal anti-US demonstration.
There is, no doubt, some sound academic reasoning for, what might seem to us, a poor regard for human life.
The Sydney Morning Herald journalist reported:
A local Egyptian watched in fascination as an Australian media team took close-up photographs of the twisted metal and human debris, and paced out the distance from the wreck to the bend where the fatal skid developed.
"Did they really come all this way just because six people died in a bus crash?" he asked their translator. "Yes," she replied, "because Australian people care about their lives."
A ‘Google news’ search for Hajj threw a many non-stories along the lines of – No (insert country here) killed in Hajj Stampede.
Perhaps western strategists are missing a vital point in their assault terrorism. It is obviously not a case of comparing ‘apples with apples’. The enemy is not ordinary people of any race, most of who mourn their individual dead as we do.
Leaderships, whether of countries like the supposedly allied Saudi Arabia or even antagonist countries in the region; leaderships of ‘movements’ often no bigger than a handful a fanatics, simply do not count human life in the way we do.
That, for all the Bush bluster about ‘emboldening’ the enemy, is our real ‘Achilles’ heel.’ We will continue to care and in the process provide fanatics with their greatest weapon, our tears and fears. In the process, Governments of the ‘War on Terrorism’ coalition will continue to give their enemy success after success.
1 week ago