Monday, July 25, 2005

Al Qaeda and new recruits

If you're not reading Juan Cole's blog, Informed Comment, you should be.

I think it would be a mistake to see al-Qaeda as a corporation where the CEO just gives orders to lower-level employees. It is mainly "a way of working," as a London policeman pointed out. It is intended as a model to inspire local groups, and as a global network to encourage them.

But occasionally the top leaders do intervene to order specific attacks, where they still have that organizational capacity. It is entirely possible that both London and Sharm El Sheikh were two instances where they could and did.

The worrisome thing is that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are obviously able to use the increasing anger in the Muslim world over Palestine and Iraq to recruit "newskins", who are not known to intelligence organizations in the countries where they operate.

Strategically, it is increasingly clear that if you wanted to wage a "war on terror," letting Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri alone while you invade and destabilize Iraq and let the Israeli-Palestinian conflict just fester was a very bad idea.

Many commentators are putting out the straw man argument that the Iraq War cannot be blamed for terrorism because September 11 and Bali, e.g., happened before the Iraq War.

This argument is so dishonest that it should make your blood boil when you hear it. No one is alleging that all the instances of radical Muslim terrorism can be traced to the Iraq War. What is being argued is that the Iraq War provided the already-existing terror networks with an enormous propaganda and recruiting windfall.

And the irony of this shouldn't be lost on Bush lovers who are fueling this war:

"Arab-American" wrestler Muhammad Hassan has taken a forced leave of absence from UPN's SmackDown after his appearance on the show two weeks ago -- on the day of the London bombings -- drew hundreds of complaints. Joanna Massey, a spokeswoman for UPN, which airs SmackDown!, said that the network had asked World Wrestling Entertainment to remove episodes featuring Hassan "because it was the right thing to do." Hassan's real name is Mark Copani; he is an Italian-American Buddhist.

Because naturally the London bombings were done by Arabs, not British Pakistanis and a Jamaican. 'Cause, y'know, them terr'rists is all Ay-rabs.



Post a Comment

<< Home