Glenn Greenwald

US president Donald Trump has said an April 4 chemical weapon attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province that killed more than 70 people with air strikes against Syrian military targets.

Written days before the Idlib atrocity and the US air strikes, The Intercept co-editor Glenn Greenwald looks at Trump’s escalation of the “war on terror” in the region.

***

IN 2010, PRESIDENT Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike.

The United States used drones and manned aircraft on March 8 to drop bombs and missiles on Somalia, ending the lives of at least 150 people.

As it virtually always does, the Obama administration instantly claimed the people killed were “terrorists” and militants — members of the Somali group al-Shabaab — but provided no evidence.

There are sprawling industries and self-proclaimed career “terrorism experts” in the US that profit greatly by deliberately exaggerating the threat of terrorism and keeping Americans in a state of abject fear of “radical Islam”.

All sorts of polemicists build their public platforms by demonising Muslims and scoffing at concerns over “Islamophobia”. The most toxic ones insist that such a thing does not even exist, even as the mere presence of mosques is opposed across the country and are physically attacked.

When Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 by US forces, advocates of the Iraq War boastfully celebrated the event as proof that they were right and used it to mock war opponents.

When Muammar Gaddafi was forced by NATO bombing in August 2011 to flee Tripoli, advocates of US intervention played the same game. ThinkProgress, for instance, gleefully exploited the occasion to try to shame those who objected to the illegality of Obama’s waging the war even after Congress voted against its authorisation — as though Gadaffi’s fleeing could render legal Obama’s plainly illegal intervention.

The New York Times reported on January 26 that “a CIA drone strike in Yemen … killed three suspected al Qaeda fighters on Monday.”

How did they know the identity of the dead? As usual, it was in part because “American officials said.”

There was not a whiff of scepticism about this claim despite the fact that “a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declined to confirm the names of the victims” and “a CIA spokesman declined to comment”.

A deranged gunman, Michael Zehab-Bibeau, shot dead a soldier at the Canadian war memorial in Ottawa before being shot dead while trying to storm parliament on October 22. The motive for the actions, if there was a clear one, remains unknown.

The attack came two days after two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car in Quebec. The car was driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who had recently converted to Islam. One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife.

If you’re an Australian citizen, you have a greater chance of being killed by the following causes than you do by a terrorist attack: slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head; contracting a lethal intestinal illness from the next dinner you eat at a restaurant; being struck by lightning.

In the post-9/11 era, there has been no terrorist attack carried out on Australian soil: not one. The attack that most affected Australians was the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali which killed 88 of its citizens; that was 12 years ago.

Subscribe to Glenn Greenwald