Powell doesn't know who he is up against: Jason Burke warns that the US focus on al-Qaeda ignores the many hues of Islamic militants - and underplays the danger of men such as al-Zarqawi. "US Secretary of State Colin Powell's rhetoric last week was rooted in a fundamental misconception of the nature of modern Islamic terrorism. Powell linked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an experienced and committed Jordanian militant, with both Osama bin Laden and Baghdad. To grasp the truth about al-Zarqawi, and thus the truth about contemporary Muslim militancy, a major revision of the conventional wisdom is needed. Powell, like many strategists, seems to think he is fighting a war against a single enemy or an identifiable group. He is not. He is fighting a war against a political religion. ..
my drive across Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 had been so cosmopolitan. Groups from dozens of countries - with Pakistanis, Egyptians and Uzbeks most prominent - concluded pragmatic and mutually beneficial alliances with the hardline Islamic militia. So, of course, did al-Qaeda. So too did al-Zarqawi and his little band of Jordanians. All lived and worked together in Afghanistan, co-operating on some things, arguing over others. Afghanistan, with its security and the facilities that bin Laden and others were able to develop, saw a temporary coalescing of different radical groups. In all they represented the full range of modern Islamic militancy. All had their own agendas and their own backgrounds.. They were all undoubtedly committed to the violent holy struggle that they saw as their duty of jihad. That is why they were in Afghanistan. But, though they may have admired bin Laden, they were not his operatives
Al-Zarqawi is not even, on close examination, an 'al-Qaeda associate', as Powell claimed. Primarily, al-Zarqawi is part of a broad movement of Islamic militancy that extends well beyond the influence and activities of any one man. This is a movement that is rooted in broad trends in the Middle East, in the economic, social and political failure of governments, both locally and in the West, to fulfil the aspirations of hundreds of millions of people. Islamic militancy is a multivalent, diverse and complex phenomenon. Focusing on individuals, even bin Laden, is a ludicrous oversimplification. " 10:29:25 PM