Back in '69 or '70
, I was strolling into the main shopping area of Belfast when there was a very loud bang and I could see arms and legs flying everywhere.
No-one was hurt; it was a menswear shop that had been blown up, had gone for a Burton
as it were.
This was the start of a bombing campaign which brought death to the streets of London and elsewhere, much as al-Qaeda are doing now.
News that the IRA has brought a "formal end to the armed campaign
" is to be welcomed. This has been a long and difficult path which has its modern roots in the disenfranchised Catholics of Northern Ireland seeking a more equitable economic deal from the British government, who governed in Ulster through the Protestants who saw themselves as part of a Great Britain.
There are parallels here with the mostly agreed peace pact
between GAM and the Indonesian government due to be signed on August 15th.
Both the IRA and GAM argued for separatism and resorted to criminality in order to arm themselves. The Acehnese have also been seeking a fairer deal from a remote central government, although in the case of Ulster there were few, if any, natural resources to be siphoned off.
Both groups claim to be followers of a conservative religion. Similarly, the roots of these conflicts are long whilst the current militaristic campaigns were sparked about 30 years ago.
Hope is being restored in two provinces. If only al-Qaeda were similarly regionalised.
Priests and preachers may argue
that terrorist acts will not lead to nirvana, but then I don't recall any IRA or GAM volunteers deliberately setting out to blow themselves up. If they did, then it was more through 'chance' than design.Bobby Sands
and others became martyrs
to the IRA cause in 1981 by starving themselves to death. It was their choice, albeit one of desperation brought about by the intransigence of the British government in denying them political status.
I urge al-Qaeda to do the same. Killing yourselves through not eating is an option you have which will gain you worldwide approval. If you continue to blow yourselves and others to pieces you face eternal damnation
.The technique of suicide bombing is anathema, antithetical and abhorrent to Sunni Islam. It is considered legally forbidden, constituting a reprehensible innovation in the Islamic tradition, morally an enormity of sin combining suicide and murder and theologically an act which has consequences of eternal damnation.
Furthermore, if you should actually make it to the happy hereafter, there'll soon be a shortage of virgins. The good guys you blow up would surely have the first pickings.