The US-led war on terror has come a long way since its rationale of 9/11 and has, along the way, gathered several new strands that either did not belong to it initially or were at least dormant. There is little doubt left that Washington's purpose is not confined to the defeat of terrorist outfits and its adherents. The acquisition of energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia and the spread of influence with physical presence appear in hindsight as its primary aim. Otherwise, Baghdad would not have been a casualty; President Saddam Hussein posed a challenge to the supremacy of Israel, the US outpost assigned to safeguard its interests in the region, and, therefore, was regarded as a big stumbling block to the unimpeded flow of oil, the fast depleting energy resource that makes the present-day life avail the benefits of science and technology and has, as a consequence, become a coveted object for all nations, big and small. For the reasons the hanged Iraqi leader had become the target, Tehran with its outspoken, anti-imperialist President Ahmadinejad is at present being reviled in a sustained campaign. The tussle between the West, led by the US, and Iran comes down to just one point: Iran's desperate attempt at breaking loose from the stranglehold of Western influence and assert its independence is coming up against an iron wall of resistance from the presently entrenched forces. Besides, the widespread distrust and humiliating treatment of Muslims in general and attributing the philosophy of terrorism to Islam without any basis by the Western world have added another dimension to the war on terror. Al-Qaeda's avowed provocation for the carnage at New York and Washington was the notoriously unmitigated brutality and vandalism the Israelis were perpetrating on Palestinians with the full and open support of the US. The suicidal course was also the weaker one's response to the exploitation of Arab resources by the otherwise hard-to-dislodge Western nations spearheaded by the US. The logical conclusion of this exercise in the view of Al-Qaeda planners was to get rid of the rulers of Arab lands who had become the willing agents of that exploitation for selfish ends. However, the sequence of events since the World Trade Center crumbled into a rubble heap, which have brought the Western antipathy to Muslims and Islam and the US imperialist designs in the region in the open, has swelled the ranks of Al-Qaeda with radical elements that would willingly lay down their lives to frustrate these aims. Hence, the induction of the practice of suicide bombing into the philosophy of the resistance movement. The sequence could be spelled up in the following terms: a.    The attack on Afghanistan and the ruthless bombing of its towns and hills in an attempt to take out Osama bin Laden and other top leadership of Al-Qaeda and put down insurgency having miserably failed to achieve the goal caused deep frustration among the invaders and provoked them to desperate acts against the Pushtun population. b.    The ruthless bombing and shelling by the US and NATO-led troops in which Afghan civilians regularly figure high in the casualty list made for the resistance groups to gather strength locally as well as from across the border in Pakistan's tribal region. The frequent bloodletting, to all evidence intentional, of Afghan innocent civilians has become proverbial and fired the resistance with the spirit of wreaking vengeance on the occupying forces. c.    The invasion of Iraq on fake charges, the merciless suppression of its people to appropriate its oil wealth and the setting up of huge permanent military bases in Iraq exposed the real American designs in the Middle East under cover of fighting international terrorism. The loss of credibility of the US word lent moral strength to the militants in the eyes of opponents of the invasion and provided them new recruits. d.    The American declaration of intent more than once to remain in Afghanistan for a long haul served as a challenge to the will of fiercely independent Pushtuns, the majority group in Afghanistan, straddling across the Durand Line. e.    The defence of Islam assumed an equal importance to the resistance to foreign occupation as the West periodically subjected Islam, as a religion, to a scurrilous campaign and put Muslims in general to daily humiliation and harassment. The hidden purpose of the war on terror, apart from the overt one, and the multiple elements of the response have made the situation extremely complicated, rendering it a tangled skein of tenacious threads. Untying the knot has become an uphill task. The public pressure on the US administration to withdraw from the scene, the progressive loss of will of the allied nations to fight, the resurgent strength of the militants and the spread of insurgent action to Pakistan have become the main concern of the sponsors and participants of the war. In the process, the cry for the redress of grievances that caused the 9/11 is lost on the main actors. Durable solution lies in removing them. As that would entail bringing the general public in the Muslim world into the mainstream of modern life, the principle of the militant spread of Islam would lose force. Any other way out would turn out to be a mirage. E-mail: