The latest statement from Ayman al-Zawahri, broadcast by al-Jazeera on 4 August, does not support the claims by President Bush that they want to "impose their dark vision on the world". As I noted here after the London bombings, there is no suggestion that the muslim extremists want to change the way western countries are governed (or as George Bush put it, that "they hate our freedoms"); rather, if the statement is to be believed, the fundamentalists have a much more limited goal of encouraging western countries to stop interfering in the Middle East. al-Zawahri says:
Your salvation will only come in your withdrawal from our land, in stopping the robbing of our oil and resources, and in stopping your support for the corrupt and corrupting leaders.
Tony Blair has claimed that there is distinction between terrorists with, and those without, rational and achievable aims. He said:
And the reason for negotiating with the IRA is nothing to do with terrorism, the reason for being prepared to enter into a dialogue with Republicanism is because you do have a demand that is, I may agree or disagree with it, but you can hardly say it is a demand that no sensible person can negotiate on, it is a demand that is shared by many of our citizens in the north.
This is a rather important, and potentially dangerous, distinction for Blair to have drawn. Because if the agenda of muslim extremists is to cause western powers to stop supporting Israel and to withdraw their armies from the Middle East: well, you might not agree, but you can hardly say that it is a demand that no sensible person can negotiate on.