Egyptian activist Mohammed el- Sharkawi, (R), who said he was tortured by police after he was arrested for 3 months last year, shouts anti-police and anti-President Hosni Mubarak slogans during an anti-torture protest in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 25, 2007.
Magazine or Newspaper Article, Foreign Policy
May 4, 2009
Author: Thomas Hegghammer, Former Associate, Initiative on Religion in International Affairs/International Security Program, 2009–2010; Former Research Fellow, Initiative on Religion in International Affairs/International Security Program, 2008–2009
Ending U.S. torture gains the moral high ground, but will not in itself make America safer.
"The CIA torture memos have generated a media storm in the United States. Many have expressed surprise and indignation at the nature and extent of state-sanctioned torture in the war on terror. On the center-left of the political spectrum there is also a sense of relief and hope that the dark Bush era is over and that a torture-free America will regain the moral high ground and be safer as a result.
Switch to the jihadi Internet forums, where thousands of radical Islamists log on every day to debate religion, politics, and the latest news from the war on terror. Last week there were debates on all kinds of topics, from swine flu to the financial crisis to the alleged capture of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. But there was virtually nothing about the torture memos.
This wasn't because the jihadists don't care about how the United States treats detainees. Pictures from Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib have been among al Qaeda's most widely used and most potent recruitment tools in the post-9/11 era. Since early 2002, not a day has passed without Guantánamo being mentioned somewhere on the jihadi Internet. Outrage over Abu Ghraib was the single most important motivation for foreign jihadists going to Iraq in 2004 and 2005. Al Qaeda hostage takings began after the establishment of Guantánamo and skyrocketed after Abu Ghraib...."
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