by Justin Raimondo
September 10, 2007
Bin Laden’s latest video throws new light on a murky subject
Six years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the entity known as al-Qaeda remains largely a mystery: its intent, its ideology, its leadership, and its inner workings are all largely unknown to the American people. Experts study them and interpret the arcane meanings of their utterances in light of Koranic verses. The president of the United States and his allies aver that they hate us because we’re so free, so prosperous, so utterly fabulous – yet still al-Qaeda is, at least in the popular mind, an army of shadows, in the sense that they don’t seem quite real. The one major military operation undertaken by them, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, is practically the only evidence we have of their existence as an organized network, and, in recent years, it has become fashionable to describe Osama bin Laden as a purely symbolic figure, one who inspires actions by others but is in no position to direct the action.
Now, however, we have a new video featuring the terrorist leader, released just a few days ago, and, with it, a new evaluation of al-Qaeda and its leader as being much more active, and organized, than previously thought. This piece in the Washington Post portrays a revived organization that didn’t take all that long to recover from the blows directed against it in Afghanistan and is today prospering under the leadership of a new layer of experienced and hardened cadre who have replaced those captured and killed. Now we are being told that al-Qaeda is more than just a symbolic entity, that the network that murdered almost 3,000 Americans on that bloody day six years ago is reestablishing itself, and that this reconstituted incarnation of pure evil is rearing its head once again to wreak destruction in new ways.
The message: be afraid, be very afraid.
The Myth of AQI By Andrew Tilghman
By Andrew Tilghman
The Washington Monthly
Fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq is the last big argument for keeping U.S. troops in the country. But the military’s estimation of the threat is alarmingly wrong.
In March 2007, a pair of truck bombs tore through the Shiite marketplace in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, killing more than 150 people. The blast reduced the ancient city center to rubble, leaving body parts and charred vegetables scattered amid pools of blood. It was among the most lethal attacks to date in the five-year-old Iraq War. Within hours, Iraqi officials in Baghdad had pinned the bombing on al-Qaeda, and news reports from Reuters, the BBC, MSNBC, and others carried those remarks around the world. An Internet posting by the terrorist group known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) took credit for the destruction. Within a few days, U.S. Army General David Petraeus publicly blamed AQI for the carnage, accusing the group of trying to foment sectarian violence and ignite a civil war. Back in Washington, pundits latched on to the attack with special interest, as President Bush had previously touted a period of calm in Tal Afar as evidence that the military’s retooled counterinsurgency doctrine was working. For days, reporters and bloggers debated whether the attacks signaled a “resurgence” of al-Qaeda in the city.
Yet there’s reason to doubt that AQI had any role in the bombing. In the weeks before the attack, sectarian tensions had been simmering after a local Sunni woman told Al Jazeera television that she had been gang-raped by a group of Shiite Iraqi army soldiers. Multiple insurgent groups called for violence to avenge the woman’s honor. Immediately after the blast, some in uniform expressed doubts about al- Qaeda’s alleged role and suggested that homegrown sectarian strife was more likely at work. “It’s really not al-Qaeda who has infiltrated so much as the fact [of] what happened in 2003,” said Ahmed Hashim, a professor at the Naval War College who served as an Army political adviser to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar until shortly before the bombing. “The formerly dominant Sunni Turkmen majority there,” he told PBS’s NewsHour With Jim Lehrer soon after the bombing, “suddenly … felt themselves having been thrown out of power. And this is essentially their revenge.”
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