Andrew says that I base my concerns about Charles Freeman on this speech, but doesn't provide the portions of the speech that seem most problematic to me. Here is one of those passages from this 2006 speech:
We have paid heavily and often in treasure in the past for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home.
Freeman blames Israel, and American support for Israel, for provoking 9/11. This is a very serious charge, and it is an untrue charge. Most al-Qaeda experts seem to agree that the stationing of American troops in Saudi Arabia was the main motivating grievance, though there were many putative causes. "You could take Israel out of the equation and Al Qaeda would still want to attack us," Lawrence Wright, the author of The Looming Tower, once told me. "Israel is a tremendously powerful recruiting tool, but there are people who are drawn to Al Qaeda for many different motivations. For Zawahiri, the main goal was Egypt. For bin Laden, the main goal was to expel American troops from Saudi Arabia." Richard Clarke told me, "If you look at Al Qaeda's own writing and their public statements, Israel was not a major theme. What they say is pretty clear. They want to eliminate the presence of the 'far enemy'--us--from the Islamic world, because the far enemy props up the 'near enemy,' the moderate Arab states. If they increase the pain on us, they believe that they can topple the Arab regimes. If Israel didn't exist, they'd be doing the same thing."
And one other Middle East expert -- Charles Freeman -- said in 1998: "Mr. bin Laden's principal point, in pursuing this campaign of violence against the United States, has nothing to do with Israel. It has to do with the American military presence in Saudi Arabia, in connection with the Iran-Iraq issue. No doubt the question of American relations with Israel adds to the emotional heat of his opposition and adds to his appeal in the region. But this is not his main point."
So the question is, what caused Charles Freeman to change his opinion about the causes of al-Qaeda radicalism? Could it be his close ties to Saudi Arabia? This was my original concern about Freeman, that he was too tied to a country that is an obvious target for the collectors and analysts of American intelligence.
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