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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #98, October 2001. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.
This is an edited version of an interview that Doug Henwood conducted on his radio show ("Behind the News," Thursdays 5-6 PM Eastern time, WBAI 99.5 FM New York) on September 20, 2001. Novelist, political analyst, and filmmaker Tariq Ali was born in Lahore (and is the nephew of a former chief of Pakistani intelligence), but has lived in Britain since the 1960s.
Do you buy the official explanation of events?
I don't know, and I don't think anyone does. What is beyond a doubt is that the groups that carried this out were essentially middle-class professionals from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where bin Laden does have support, and does have cells. Whether he ordered it or not, we don't know, but certainly groups inspired by that philosophy seem to have carried it out. What interests me is that this was not an action which was carried out by illiterates from the mountains of Afghanistan, but by professional individuals from two close allies of the U.S.
Terrorism is moving up the socioeconomic ladder. What do
you make of this upscaling?
In Saudi Arabia - a repressive religious state where people are denied any secular openings at all - the opposition comes from people who speak in the name of a purer version of the same religion, and denounce the monarchy as hypocritical, in the pocket of the Great Satan. And that, in my opinion, is the cause of middle-class discontent, of their turning against their rulers and towards action of the most diabolical sort. The reasons are really political. They see the double standards applied by th