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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people                              
Vol. 79/No. 46      December 21, 2015



2002-15 Militant Index
Now Available Online
(lead article)

US, Paris use terror attacks to go after Muslims

The Dec. 2 terror attack that left 14 dead in San Bernardino, California, coming nearly three weeks after the murderous assaults in Paris by reactionary Islamic State that killed 130 people, are being used by Washington, Paris and other imperialist powers to target Muslims and mosques and step up war moves in Syria and Iraq.

In a special TV address Dec. 6, President Barack Obama proposed barring anyone on Washington’s arbitrary and undemocratic “no-fly” lists from purchasing guns and called for more intrusive background checks for people entering the U.S.

Following the San Bernardino killings, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for banning all Muslims who are not U.S. citizens from entering the United States and for creating a registry of Muslims who live here. Facing criticism from other presidential candidates, he argued the plan is similar to proclamations issued by President Franklin Roosevelt that led to sending thousands of Japanese-Americans to concentration camps during the second imperialist world war.

His opponents advanced their own plans to scapegoat Muslims. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who polls say now leads Trump in Iowa, pushed his proposed Terrorist Refugee Infiltration Prevention Act that would ban all refugees from Syria and Iraq.

While denouncing Trump, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton backed Obama’s push to toss aside constitutional rights of those Washington has put on the no-fly list.

Arbitrary no-fly list

“No one knows how you get on the list or how to get off it, it’s totally arbitrary and unconstitutional,” James Harris, twice presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party, told the Militant. Harris found he was on the list for some five years when they started pulling him aside when he tried to fly. “You can get on the list because you’re Muslim, because your name is similar to someone else they want to target, or all kinds of other reasons.”

Republican candidate Ben Carson, whose poll numbers have been fading, said the U.S. shouldn’t discriminate against people because of their religion, so it should require everyone visiting the U.S. to register and be monitored.

Since June 2014, when Islamic State began to take over parts of Iraq, Obama has sent 3,500 U.S. troops there. The Pentagon recently announced it is sending 100 more special forces troops — focused on “high-value individuals, high value targets” — to Iraq, as well as 50 others to Syria.

“When I said ‘no boots on the ground,’ I think the American people understood generally that we’re not going to do an Iraq-style invasion of Iraq or Syria with battalions that are moving across the desert,” Obama told CBS News Dec. 3, but not that he wouldn’t send more troops.

The same day Secretary of State John Kerry told European ministers of state meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, that Washington and its allies need to “find some ground forces that are prepared to take on Daesh, this will not be won completely from the air.” Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

In headlines across the country, the shootings in San Bernadino are labeled as the “biggest U.S. terror attack since 9/11.” The propertied rulers aim to deepen anxiety and fear among working people and provide support for attacks on Muslims and political rights.

The FBI says that Syed Farook, a Pakistani-American citizen, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, who grew up in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and got a U.S. visa after she married Farook, prepared well in advance before walking into a holiday party in San Bernardino and opening fire with assault rifles. The agency says Malik posted a salute to Islamic State on Facebook as the attack began.

The rulers’ campaign to scapegoat Muslims and attack political rights spawns brutal assaults. After being beaten in his Fatima Food Mart in Astoria, Queens, Dec. 5 by a man telling him “I’ll kill Muslims,” Sarker Haque was taken to the hospital bruised, bleeding and with a dislocated hand. “I thought I was going to die,” he told the N.Y. Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In Philadelphia, the Al-Aqsa mosque was hit with a severed pig’s head.

The New York Times ran an article Nov. 25 saying that border patrol agents and “some residents” are concerned that Ottawa’s plans to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada are a threat to the United States. There are only 2,200 U.S. agents on the Canadian border, the longest shared land border in the world, the Times noted, compared to 18,000 on the border with Mexico.

In France, the government has extended through February 2016 the state of emergency it declared after the Paris attack and has used it to close three mosques and four Islamic prayer rooms, raid 2,200 homes and businesses, put 330 people under house arrest and detain most of the 263 people that they have taken in for questioning. French President Francois Hollande says he wants to amend the country’s constitution to give the president expanded emergency powers.

Escalating war in Iraq and Syria

The U.S.-led military operation has bombed 5,639 targets in Iraq and 2,934 in Syria as of Dec. 1 in more than 59,000 air sorties since August 2014. Despite Washington’s attempts to get its coalition partners to do more, 78 percent of the strikes have been carried out by U.S. forces.

On Dec. 2, just one hour after the British Parliament voted to join the imperialist campaign, Royal Air Force jets attacked oil infrastructure under Islamic State control in eastern Syria. The British military has committed 16 aircraft to the fight.

While Paris and London have signed on as junior partners in Washington’s assaults, Obama looks for a grander coalition to achieve a political solution and pacify the region, protecting U.S. imperialist interests there.

“Doing so will allow the Syrian people and every country, including our allies, but also countries like Russia, to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL, a group that threatens us all,” he said in his Dec. 6 address.

But Moscow, Damascus, Ankara, Tehran, the Gulf monarchies, together with Washington and other imperialist powers all have conflicting interests, and the grand coalition proves elusive. Meanwhile, Muslim workers and farmers are bearing the brunt of the bombings and assaults — by Islamic State, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Russia, Turkey and the imperialist coalition.

Moscow has also been accelerating its bombing runs in Syria, and has primarily targeted not Islamic State but other armed groups opposed to the Assad regime. The Russian planes are dropping mostly unguided bombs, with hundreds of civilian casualties. The U.S. “precision” strikes over the past year have also killed hundreds of civilians, according to Airwars, a group of independent journalists.
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