‘Comment is Free’ contributor Abdel al-Bari Atwan sympathizes with Osama Bin Laden

Abdel al-Bari Atwan is the editor-in chief of the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, and has been named among the 50 ‘most influential Arabs’ by Middle East Magazine.  His pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist politics can be best summed up by his fanciful boast a few years ago that he would dance in the streets in London’s Trafalgar Square if Iranian nuclear missiles were to hit Tel Aviv.


In fact, Atwan’s satisfaction when contemplating the murder of Jews wasn’t theoretical, and certainly was not a one-off.  

In March 2008, for instance, Atwan said that the Mercaz HaRav Jerusalem terrorist attack, in which a Palestinian gunmen murdered eight students (aged 15 to 26), was “justified”, and that the celebrations in Gaza following the attack symbolized “the courage of the Palestinian nation”.  Atwan also praised the 2011 Palestinian terror attack on civilians in southern Israel which resulted in 8 dead and 25 injured, and was even critical of Mahmoud Abbas’s recent condemnation of the abduction of Israeli soldiers, in an essay which praised Hamas for its achievement in releasing over 1,000 prisoners as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.

As my colleague Hadar Sela recently noted, Atwan is regular guest on BBC’s Newsnight. He is also, unsurprisingly, a frequent contributor to ‘Comment is Free’ – having penned 12 essays at the Guardian blog over the past two years.

Most recently, MEMRI reported, Atwan told Egypt’s Channel 2 on June 2nd that Osama Bin Laden was only “half a terrorist,” since his organization’s attacks against American forces in Saudi Arabia could not be considered terrorism, before adding:

If you support the Palestinian resistance, you do not consider [Bin Laden’s attacks] terrorism. But if you are with America, Europe, and Israel, you do consider it terrorism…It depends on your definition of terrorism.

Here’s the video:

According to Atwan, who in 2010 characterized the late al-Qaeda leader a “great man“, the question of whether or not Bin Laden was in fact a “terrorist” depends on your definition of the term.

Sound familiar?

As we’ve reported on multiple occasions, ‘Comment is Free’ correspondent Glenn Greenwald has advanced similar arguments, alternately decrying the “meaninglessness” of the word, suggesting that the term is ‘racially loaded’ and that it typically represents rhetorical propaganda exploited by the U.S. to justify ‘state violence’ against Muslims. 

However, lost in the “debate” about whether fanatics like Bin Laden are terrorists is the much more important truth regarding the ideology which inspires their tactic of terror.  The West opposes al-Qaeda, and other Islamist extremist groups, not merely because they support the use of violence against innocent civilians, but also due to the fact that their political objectives include replacing liberal, democratic governments with Taliban-style tyrannical regimes antithetical to democracy, religious pluralism, gender equality, and sexual freedom.

Terrorism, for al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadists around the globe, represents merely a ‘strategy’ in their dangerously reactionary political crusade. 

As those like Atwan and Greenwald continue to engage in such cynicism and sophistry – in an attempt to make us debate the narrow question of the meaning of the term “terrorism” – it’s vital to remember that we fight such enemies not solely due to the extremist (terrorist) methods they employ, but because their political vision is diametrically opposed to the progressive values we cherish.

36 replies »

  1. Why take this buffoon seriously? He’s admitted that he has the right to believe in conspiracy theories if he wants, for heaven’s sake!

    • I agree. My problem is that he is a recurring wart displayed by the BBC as if his input has some real intellectual value. There was a video posted on his site where he extolled the lying attributes of Yasser Arafat. He claimed in the talk, that Arafat had told him that he should not believe what Arafat had agreed to in the Oslo accords. Atwan was convinced and proud of Arafat’s sheer duplicity. A clear indication of the difficulties of Arabs in accepting Western culture which would be revolted by Arafat’s behaviour relating to a ‘solemn’ agreement in such a cavalier manner.

      I had the link from a Guardian/CiF comment and presumably others linked to it to deride that silly clown Atwan. He has since removed the clip from his site. It was in Arabic by the way.

  2. If, as Mr. Atwan claims in the video clip, he is banned from entering the USA I hope that the Government of the U.K. takes similar action and arrests then deports him.

    Is Guantanamo Bay still open?
    At least there he could talk to his colleagues in the Bin Laden fan club.

    • I shouldn’t hold your breath, Gerald. They’ll probably co-opt him onto new lunatic lunatic body to prevent radicalisation in the role of chief fox guarding the chicken house

  3. With Bari Atwan I’d take it a stage further: It all depends on how you define the word “great”.

  4. He’s probably another hypocritical arab living off our taxes, just like Anjem Choudray who said it’s ok for muslims to live off taxes from non muslims!!!!!!!

    • He’s probably another hypocritical arab living off our taxes

      Oh dear. What do you sound like?

      EDL, that’s what.

      • “preztelpenis”?

        How did you know?

        The missus appreciates it, at least. G spot and all that.
        Not that I expect you have any idea what I’m talking about.

        • what’s the difference between The G spot and finding a way to blame Israel for all the inadequacies of muslim countries ?
          a muslim or an islamofacist sympathiser can always find a way to blame israel for all the inadequacies of muslim countries.

  5. Abdel al-Bari Atwan is a nasty piece of work. What is he doing in the UK, and can’t we kick the little twerp out? Glorifying terrorism is a criminal offence.

        • “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, my love.”

          That presumes that anyone is fond of you in the first place, not a credible idea.

          However, I’m happy to put your theory to the test. Now go away for a period of 5 to 10 years then it will be possible to test your theory.

    • Excellent point.

      Is calling the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Revolutionary Cells (Entebbe, anyone?) “terrorists” likewise “racially loaded”?

  6. There are others who attempt to blur their true motives for committing terror attacks by stating it was not politically or racially motivated.
    Re the 1997 attacks against Americans and tourists in NY:
    1997 February 24: 69-year-old Palestinian Ali Hassan Abu Kamal opens fire on tourists at an observation deck atop the Empire State Building killing a Danish national and wounding visitors from the United States, Argentina, Switzerland and France before turning the gun on himself.[32] A handwritten note carried by the gunman claims this was a punishment attack against the “enemies of Palestine”. His widow claimed he became suicidal after losing $300,000 in a business venture. In a 2007 interview with the New York Daily News his daughter said her mother’s story was a cover crafted by the Palestinian Authority and that her father wanted to punish the United States for its support of Israel.[33]

  7. ItsikDeWembley, maybe you should go on Palmediawatch and see the Palestinians genocidal media against Jews and that will explain why Muslims love killing Jewish children.

    Hamas using children as human shields.

    SERIOUS CHILD ABUSE. Little ‘Palestinian’ Girl: Jews R Apes & Pigs

    Toys for Terror Tots – Palestinian child abuse

    • I am fully aware of the above Barry.
      All of it constitutes as child cruelty in any Western normal society.

  8. Two questions: has Abdel al-Bari Atwan or anyone else disputed the quotation in the Jerusalem Post from 2007 that he would dance in Trafalgar Square if there were a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv?

    Second, has The Guardian newspaper continued using this person as a journalist subsequent to complaints by CiF?

  9. Thank you for that ItsikDeWembly. If he appears again at The Guardian, I will certainly ask for an explanation. The statement reported in the Jerusalem Post is incitement to hatred in my view. Giving him a platform to present himself as a reasonable person who is a fit & proper person to employ as a journalist is offensive and unacceptable.