- Economics professor at Northeastern University
- Likened the 9/11 terrorists to America’s Founding Fathers, as men who were willing to die “so that their people might live, free and in dignity”
Born in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), M. Shahid Alam is a professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston. He is the author of Is There an Islamic Problem? (2004); Poverty from the Wealth of Nations (2000); and Governments and Markets in Economic Development Strategies (1989).
In December 2004, Alam aroused controversy by likening the 9-11 hijackers to the American patriots who fought against the British at Lexington and Concord in 1775. After recounting some details of the establishment of “a sovereign but slave-holding republic, the United States of America,” Alam declared: “On September 11, 2001, nineteen Arab hijackers too demonstrated their willingness to die -- and to kill -- for their dream. They died so that their people might live, free and in dignity. ... The attacks of 9-11 were in many ways a work of daring and imagination too; if one can think objectively of such horrors. They were a cataclysmic summation of the history of Western depredations in the Middle East: the history of a unity dismembered, of societies manipulated by surrogates, of development derailed and disrupted, of a people dispossessed. The explosion of 9-11 was indeed a 'shot heard 'round the world.'"
Alam’s comments were published widely on the Internet. When challenged by an email, the professor replied with an anti-Semitic sneer: “Why is it that the only hateful mail I have received is signed by Levitt, Hoch, or Freedman?”
In January 2005 Alam published a follow-up piece in CounterPunch (where he is a frequent contributor), titled “The Waves of Hate: Testing Free Speech in America.” In it, he portrayed himself as a misunderstood heroic figure who was exploring the limits of free speech while “hate websites” (he named Jihad Watch and Little Green Footballs) hounded him with “orchestrated attacks -- many of them death threats.” Alam added: “In their war of independence, the Americans may not have targeted civilians, but they did commit atrocities, and they did inflict collateral damage on civilians.”
Alam's writings have also appeared in such publications as Economic Development and Cultural Change, Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Development Economics, American Economic Review, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Studies in Contemporary Islam, Al-Ahram, Kyklos, Dissident Voice.org, and CommonDreams.
In a 2004 interview, Professor Alam made the following remarks:
- "The secular idea is not only incompatible with Islam. In-deed, they must oppose each other."
- "Western imagination has been fertile at inventing projects for reforming the world, not least the world of Islam. This is their perennial cover for world domination: they are always engaged in civilizing the people they exploit, enslave or exterminate."
- "[M]odern, capitalist society subjects women to new indignities, new forms of servitude, new pathologies, which may well be worse than the abuses of women in traditional societies."
- "The West has accepted market-driven notions of 'rights' as supreme values. Should Muslims willy-nilly follow suit? Or should they seek greater justice in gender-relations within the matrix of their own system of values?"
- "[In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War] the United States possessed absolute power: or so it seemed. A group of Republican hawks began formulating plans in the early 1990s to leverage this power, to make it enduring. These hawks - better known as the neoconservatives, most of whom were also close allies of Israel -- were planning to use military power to prevent the emergence of any challenges to American dominance. They began to make the case for preemptive and preventive wars as an instrument of foreign policy. They started manufacturing threats of WMDs. Countries, mostly in the Middle East, that still resisted American dictate were categorized as rogue states. The neoconservatives had their eye on the oil fields in the Middle East ... They waited for a galvanizing event to launch their plan. Without much delay, it arrived on September 11, 2001."
Parts of this profile are adapted from the article "Northeastern U's Professor of Jihad," written by Robert Spencer and published by FrontPageMagazine on January 5, 2005.