The al-Qaeda Myth?

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BY SHIRAZ MAHER

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) is claiming that al-Qaeda does not exist – still – despite the group having declared and waged war against the West for well over a decade now.

They provide a link to this video supposedly from the BBC, although there is no way to verify that. In fact, the reporting and production values seem to be so shoddy and biased that even the BBC would not approve it for broadcast.

MPAC argues that al-Qaeda is a creation of the West and has become:

the most well known Muslim group on earth thanks to America’s Zionist war OF terror; a group that no one had even heard of until most of the American and British media started to tell the Muslims how amazingly powerful it was and how it could destroy the whole world if it was not stopped

MPAC have never been ones to let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy – and their mindset is typical of a wider culture of denial that exists within parts of the Muslim community. It is one that sees the world inherently weighted against Islam, fuelled by the ‘hidden hand’ of a global Zionist conspiracy.

But last year I reported on the emergence of al-Qaeda for this magazine by tracking down and speaking to those who fought against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. These were not just men who spent their time in Afghanistan, but who also knew Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Indeed, one of those I interviewed even had the once brutal leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as a guest at his wedding.

Groups like MPAC depress me intensely. Rather than take leadership of the Muslim community by directing them against terrorism, they spend their time peddling conspiracy theories and promoting denial. They claim to have the best interests of Muslims at heart – but without taking ownership of the problems that exist, they will never achieve anything.