Many Pakistanis now believe that the recent Islamic terrorist attack in
Mumbai, India, was the work of the Israeli Mossad, or the American CIA. Such
fantasies are a common explanation, in Moslem nations, for Islamic terrorist
atrocities. Especially when women and children, and Moslems, are among the
victims, other Moslems tend to accept fantastic explanations shifting the blame
to infidels (non-Moslems).
are not unique to the Moslem world, but they are much more common there. After
the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, many Moslems again blamed
Israel. A favorite variation of this is that, before the attacks on the World
Trade Center, a secret message went out to all Jews in the area to stay away.
Another variation has it that the 19 attackers (all of them Arab, 15 from Saudi
Arabia) were really not Arabs, but falsely identified as part of the Israeli
deception. In the United States, some Americans insist that the attack was the
work of the U.S. government, complete with the World Trade Center towers being
brought down by prepositioned explosive charges. While few Americans accept
this, the Moslem fantasies are widely accepted in the Moslem world. Even
Western educated Arabs, speaking good English, will casually express, and
accept, these tales of the Israeli Mossad staging the attacks, to trick the
U.S. into attacking Afghanistan and Iraq. Americans are shocked at this, but
the Moslems expressing these beliefs just shrug.
troops arriving in Iraq go through a real culture shock as they encounter these
cultural difference. They also discover that the cause of this, and many other
Arab problems, is the concept of "inshallah" ("If God wills
it.") This is a basic tenet of Islam, although some scholars believe the
attitude preceded that religion. In any event, "inshallah" is deadly
when combined with modern technology. For this reason, Arab countries either
have poorly maintained infrastructure and equipment (including military stuff),
or import a lot of foreigners, possessing the right attitudes, to maintain
everything. That minority of Arabs who do have the right attitude towards
maintenance and personal responsibility are considered odd, but useful.
"inshallah" thing is made worse by a stronger belief in the
supernatural, and magic in general. This often extends to technology. Thus many
Iraqis believe that American troops wear sunglasses that see through clothing,
and armor vests that are actually air conditioned. When they first encounter
these beliefs, U.S. troops thought the Arabs are putting them on. Then it sinks
in that Arabs really believe this stuff. It's a scary moment.
many troops learn to live with, and even exploit, these odd beliefs. When
troops at one base discovered that they weren't being attacked much, because
many of the locals believed that the base was surrounded by a force field, the
troops would casually make reference to their force field, when they were
outside the wire and among the locals. This reinforced the force field myth,
and made the base safer. Other troops would invent new fantasies, like a
pretending that a handheld bit of military electronics was actually a mind
reading device. That often made interrogations go a lot quicker. Not all Arabs
believe in this stuff, and those that didn't and worked for the Americans,
often as an interpreter, could only shrug their shoulders when asked about it.
acceptance of fantasies is exploited by leaders throughout the Middle East, and
the Moslem world in general. Leaders who know better, build on these fantasies
as a way to maintain their control over the population. The problem is a dirty
little secret in the Moslem world, that leaders and academics don't even like
to discuss it openly, much less with infidels. But it is real, and you can read
all about it in the local media, or overhear it in the coffee shops.