Labelling opponents 'al-Qaeda' allows repressive governments to do what they want with limited international criticism. After 11 September governments can expect American support, bot material and moral, to help counter any perceived Islamic extremism threat. During the autumn of 2001 al-Qaeda cells, previously undetected, were 'discovered' in scores of countries. Tashkent suddenly branded the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a group whose links to Bin Laden are tenuous, as 'al-Qaeda'. For Beijing it was the Uighur Muslims who were designated as the local branch of Bin Laden's network, despite the fact that, though some individuals in some of the various Muslim groups resisting Chinese rule in the southeast of China may, at one time or another, have spent time in Afghan training camps, unrest in the region dates back to the first moments of Chinese domination. In Macedonia in March 2002 eight young Pakistani men were shot dead by police. The minister of the interior was swift to proclaim a victory for his, fairly unsavoury, government in the war against bin Laden. The men were merely illegal economic migrants. When I visited the Tunisian embassy in London in January 2002 I was shown a list of 'Muslim extremists living in Britain allegedly linked to bin Laden'. The list comprised well-known, largely left wing, dissidents who the Tunisians had been trying to quieten for a decade or more.
...One of the most egregious examples of this sort of manipulation is in Kashmir. The fact that bin Laden has never shown any real interest in the disputed Himalayan mountain state, let alone tried to go there, has not stopped repeated attempts by Indian intelligence to claim his presence there.
[p.15-16 Al-Qaeda, Jason Burke, Penguin Books, 2007]
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