Monday, May 01, 2006

Osama Needs More Mud Huts

Fareed Zakaria wrote in Newsweek Global Islamic terrorism is the product of scattered groups. It has much less support in the Muslim world than people think.

Then why must Hirsi Ali leave her home.
Imagine if a few months after September 11 someone had said to you, "Five years from now, in the space of a single week, Osama bin Laden will issue a new call for worldwide jihad, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq will threaten a brutal, endless war, and there will be two terror attacks in Egypt." Chances are you would have been quite unnerved. Yet the most striking aspect of last week's news was the reaction to it—very little. Radical Islamic terror made big, violent and scary moves and—whether you judge it by media coverage, stock-market movements or international responses—the world yawned.
European countries are making some concessions in response to the violence they are seeing in their countries, and not throwing the violent people, ant those that encourage the violence, our of their countries.
Al Qaeda Central, by which I mean the dwindling band of brothers on the Afghan-Pakistani border, appears to have turned into a communications company. It's capable of producing the occasional jihadist cassette, but not actual jihad. I know it's risky to say this, as Qaeda leaders may be quietly planning some brilliant, large-scale attack. But the fact that they have not been able to do one of their trademark blasts for five years is significant in itself.
Just as when you are up to your ass in aligators it is hard to think about draining the swamp, it is hard to plan major acts of terrorism when your protectors, the Taliban, have been driven from power, and when there are troops from several countries trying to find what mud hut or cave you are hiding in.
Moreover, bin Laden's latest appeals have a very changed character. His messages used to be lyrical, sharp and highly intelligent. They operated at a high plane, rarely revealing anything about Al Qaeda's operations. In fact, intelligence agencies looked for small signs—an offhand reference, an item of apparel—to reveal where Al Qaeda would strike next. Bin Laden's most recent appeal is a mishmash of argument and detail, and seems slightly crazed. He has broadened his verbal attacks against the "Zionist-Crusaders" to include the United Nations and China. The latter he condemns because it "represents the Buddhists and Pagans of the world."
He has not been able to intimidate the US, maybe he thinks the Chineese will be frightened of him, and let him set up shop there.
Like Hitler crazily declaring war on the United States after Pearl Harbor, bin Laden is adding to his slew of formidable enemies: China was the only major world power that was unconcerned about him. (And his reference to the United Nations as a "Zionist-Crusader tool" would surely surprise most Israelis.)
That is certainly true. The UN has certainly not been a friend to Israel.
Bin Laden also makes some plaintive appeals to Muslims to rise up and attack the "crusaders" in the west of Sudan. This shows desperation because there are no "crusaders" in Sudan. The troops there are African Union peacekeepers. But more interestingly, the victims in Darfur are Muslim.
He does not care. Zarqawi learned that the Iraqis don't appreciate him killing other Muslims, but Osama has not learned that yet.
Bin Laden's real objective appears to be to support the government in Sudan—which once housed him—as it brutally exterminates tribes that oppose it. What does this have to do with Islam?
What does anything he says have to do with true Islam? He is looking for a country to house and protect him.
Most revealingly, bin Laden makes a parochial appeal for foreign aid, to help those Qaeda supporters in Waziristan who have been rendered homeless by Pakistani Army attacks. That suggests he and his friends are having a rough time. Strip away the usual hot air, and bin Laden's audiotape is the sign of a seriously weakened man.

Betsy Newmark blogged As Zakaria sees it, here we have the leader of the worldwide terrorist movement doing a telethon pitch for money for more mudhuts.

Add to that, a story that Captain Ed discusses about how Zarqawi is making a move away from terrorist attacks to forming an army to fighting more of a guerrilla war against the American and Iraq forces in Iraq. It's dawning on the guy that the terrorist attacks on civilians are not winning friends for him in the country.

Remember that he went to terrorist attacks on people going to work or buying dinner because they were stymied in their abilities to attack the military forces. Now he's returning to the first tactics that weren't working for him previously. This is not a sign of strength.

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