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What would Osama bin Laden say to jihadists five years later?
By Brian Michael Jenkins, BRIAN MICHAEL JENKINS has studied terrorism for more than 30 years at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization. He is the author of "Unconquerable Nation."
September 11, 2006
OSAMA BIN LADEN has issued many audio- and videotapes to spread his message. But what might he tell his most loyal followers about the state of the global war against the infidels five years after 9/11?
What follows is that fictional speech, using his jihadist ideology as the guide. The sentiments are based on the views Bin Laden is believed to hold. My purpose here is not to parrot Al Qaeda propaganda, but to better understand why it has been so difficult to dent the determination of the jihadists.
"The five years since 9/11 have been difficult. Our Taliban protectors in Afghanistan have been overthrown, our training centers there dispersed and thousands of jihadist brothers worldwide have been thrown into dungeons where the infidels and their henchmen probably tortured them. Our communications are vulnerable to interception. We no longer can move large sums of money easily. Every border crossing is more risky. We face martyrdom daily.
"A number of Al Qaeda's key operational planners have been killed or captured ? talent hard to replace. Continual pursuit by the infidel assassins has forced me and the rest of our top leadership to stay on the run. We have decentralized our operations to meet this challenge, but at the risk of fragmentation and loss of unity ? our historical weakness.
"Yet despite our evil enemies' best efforts, we remain on Earth to do the work of God, and every success that we experience is his will expressed. God enables us to incite righteous young men to shed centuries of humiliation, join the jihad, take up arms and restore their honor by attacking wherever the infidel is inattentive.
"The jihad is wired. Our public pronouncements providing inspiration and instruction are accessible on a growing number of websites. Production values have improved. We have harnessed the most modern methods of communication to transmit the ancient words of God and our holy prophet.
"Our worldwide campaign continues at an accelerated pace. Since 9/11, our holy warriors have carried out more than 30 major attacks from Mumbai to Madrid, not counting any of the continuing operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.
"If we add to these successes the attempts that nearly succeeded, we are, on average, undertaking an attack every four weeks. Unfortunately, the scale of the operations remains well below that of 9/11. Spectacular attacks involve too many people or take too long to put together, thus exposing the operation to betrayal or discovery by infidel spies. We have a quality-control problem. But we expect that the valuable experience our jihadist brothers are gaining in Iraq will soon raise our operational and technical skills on other fronts.
"Since 9/11, none of the major terrorist operations have directly hit an American target. Operations before 9/11 hit Americans in Saudi Arabia, destroyed their embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and nearly sunk one of their warships off the coast of Yemen. Yes, some infidels were killed in the attacks on the foreigners' residences in Riyadh three years ago. But more Saudis were killed, which obliged us to issue a document disputing the casualty figures and justifying collateral Muslin casualties.
"Sending another team to the United States, as we did in 2001, is beyond our operational capability. We are thus obliged to rely on locals there, and they seem little inclined to action. Our operational prospects are much better in Europe and better still in Iraq. The American invasion of that country was a gift to us. Although we hear from Baghdad that our organization there is in disarray, violence has spiraled beyond the Americans' ability to control it. The late brother Abu Musab Zarqawi's strategy of fomenting a civil war appears to be succeeding.
"The immediate objective in Iraq remains: to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Americans. Despite their military might, they are weakening, and they lack moral conviction. Remember how they fled from Lebanon in 1983? From Yemen in 1992? From Somalia in 1993? When the Americans withdraw from Iraq, chaos will follow. Deprived of American protection, the apostate regimes in the region will tremble and fall. On their ruins, we will control the oil. The shopkeepers of Europe will abandon all support of Israel while the United States licks its wounds.
"We must acknowledge that not since the days of colonial rule have we seen as many infidel soldiers in the Middle East and western Asia. But we must remember that the infidels we confront today are no different from the brutal infidel colonialists who tired to subjugate Muslims and rule the Holy Land, no different from the Crusaders who tried to establish their enclaves in the Middle East centuries ago. They are aggressors and will tighten their grip until they are defeated, once and for all. Their growing military presence and the atrocities their soldiers inflict upon Muslims will galvanize the Muslim world.
"We need not concern ourselves with such new competitors as Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah. He is not our ally, but his defeat of the vaunted Zionist army helps us by demonstrating the impotency of the infidel's modern military technology, just as our heroic fighters are doing in Iraq. We should not focus on our losses ? they test our faith. We need not worry exactly how victory will be achieved. God is our strategist. It is our mission to be worthy of his reward.
"It has been 10 years since we declared war on the United States, 15 since we first assisted attacks on the United States in Yemen and Somalia, 18 years since the creation of Al Qaeda, and a quarter of a century since I first went to Afghanistan to participate in the first truly global jihad, against the Soviet Union. For Americans, this is a long time. For us, it is a mere instant in a conflict that began centuries ago and will last until Judgment Day."
9/11: FIVE YEARS ON
By RALPH PETERS
September 11, 2006 -- THE biggest story since 9/11 is that there hasn't been an other 9/11. According to our hysterical media culture, everything's always going wrong. The truth is that we've gotten the big things right.
On this fifth anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of thousands of Americans by Islamist fanatics, it's tempting to settle for grand rhetoric honoring our dead and damning our enemies. But the greatest tribute to those lost on that September morning is what we've since achieved.
In this vile political season, with those on the left suggesting that our president's a worse threat to civilization than Islamist terror, the rest of us should just review what's happened - and what hasn't:
Islamist fanatics have not been able to stage a single additional attack on our homeland. For all its growing pains, our homeland-security effort worked. In this long war with religion-poisoned madmen, the most important proof of success is what doesn't happen - and we haven't been struck again. Wail as loudly as they can, the president's critics can't change that self-evident truth.
Eventually, some terrorists will get through. That's just the law of averages. But we've enjoyed five golden years of safety and prosperity, thanks to our men and women in uniform and those who serve at all levels of government.
Al Qaeda is badly crippled. While the terror organization and its affiliates remain a deadly threat, al Qaeda is no longer the powerful, unchallenged outfit it was in the years of Clinton-era cowardice. Instead of holding court, Osama bin Laden's a fugitive. Almost all of his deputies are dead or imprisoned. The rest are hunted men.
And yes, we'll get Osama. Those who whine that we haven't offer no specific solutions themselves - and they'd like us to forget how long it took to apprehend criminals such as the Unabomber here at home. Al Qaeda can still kill, but its power has been reduced by an order of magnitude.
Terrorists no longer operate in freedom. Even Europeans have begun to awaken to the nature of Islamist fanaticism. One terror plot after another has been foiled. Those that succeeded proved counterproductive, mobilizing anti-terrorist sentiment. The world hasn't fully come to grips with the threat, but the progress has been remarkable. The terrorists are now on the defensive.
Our enemies fear our military again. Despite tragic mistakes in Iraq, we've already accomplished one crucial mission neglected for a generation: We've resurrected the reputation of the American soldier.
After our maddening retreats from Beirut and Mogadishu, and the Clinton administration's unwillingness to retaliate meaningfully after terrorist attacks, Islamist extremists concluded - and bragged - that Americans were cowards who wouldn't fight and hid behind technology. Well, Iraq proved that our troops don't run, but fight more fiercely than any other soldiers on earth. Now it's the terrorists who rely on stand-off weapons - roadside bombs. They're terrified of taking on our forces in combat. The importance of regaining our street cred can't be stressed enough.
Iraq has become al Qaeda's Vietnam. No end of lies have been broadcast about our liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan "creating more terrorists." The terrorists were already there, recruited during the decades we looked away. Our arrival on their turf just brought them out of the woodwork.
As for Iraq, Osama & Co. realized full well how high we'd raised the stakes. They had to fight to prevent the emergence of a Middle Eastern democracy. As a result, they've thrown in their reserves - who've been slaughtered by our soldiers and Marines.
The media obsesses on the price of this fight for us, but the terrorists have been forced to pay a terrible cost in trained fighters - while alienating fellow Muslims with their tactics. Pundits will argue forever over whether deposing Saddam was a diversion from the War on Terror, but the proof of its relevance - even if unexpected - is the unaffordable cost we've forced on al Qaeda.
We've achieved new levels of domestic security without compromising civil liberties. Frisking granny at the airport may be silly, but (despite the lies of the Left) Americans continue to live in unprecedented freedom. The Patriot Act and other measures worked - without harming the rights of a single law-abiding citizen. The only people who lost out were the terrorists and their supporters. We should be applauding the feds, not running them down.
America is much stronger today than we were five years ago. We have new homeland-security structures up and running, improved intelligence agencies - and the most experienced military in the world.
The dishonest nature of domestic politics and the media's irresponsibility obscure the fact that no one - not even the terrorists - now believes that our enemies can win a global victory. The terrorists are no longer fighting for conquest - they're running a salvage operation.
Does that mean everything's perfect? Of course not. As noted above, some terrorists will manage to hit us again. But if attempt No. 500 succeeds, it doesn't mean it wasn't worth stopping the other 499. Yet, after the next attack, we'll hear no end of trash-talk about how the War on Terror "failed."
The truth is that we're winning. Hands down. We just can't afford to revert to yesteryear's weakness and indecision.
WHAT should we worry about? Plenty. First, the unscrupulous nature of those in the media who always discover a dark cloud in the brightest silver lining. They're terror's cheerleaders. Second, the rabid partisanship infecting our political system - when "getting Bush" is more important than protecting our country, something's wrong.
A third concern is the Internet's empowerment of fanatics, conspiracy-theorists and all of the really good haters - on both extremes of the political spectrum. If there's one thing all responsible citizens, conservative, centrist or liberal, should agree on, it's that all extremism is un-American.
On this September morning, let us dedicate ourselves to living for the values the hijackers feared: freedom, tolerance, human dignity - and the invincible strength of our democratic society. The greatest tribute we can pay to the dead of 9/11 is to be good Americans.