Thinking About Al Qaeda

Al Qaeda attacked the USA in 1993 (the first World Trade Center bombing), 1998 (the simultaneous bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania), 2000 (the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden), and 2001 (the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington DC). Al Qaeda attacked Bali (and through Bali, Australia) in 2002. Al Qaeda attacked Spain in 2004 (the Madrid subway bombings). And now Al Qaeda has attacked Britain.

These were just Al Qaeda’s successes. Had there not been an apartment fire in Manila in 1995, Philippine authorities may never have discovered the Bojinka plot, a horrific plan to bomb 11 US airliners on flights throughout Asia and the Pacific, assassinate Pope John Paul II during his planned trip to Manila, and to use another US airliner as a weapon in an attack on CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Had an alert border guard not arrested Ahmed Ressam at the US-Canada border in 1999, Ahmed would have used his car full of explosives to attack Los Angeles International Airport. Last year the British probably stymied a precursor to today’s London subway and bus attacks with the arrest of several suspected Al Qaeda agents and the seizure of half a ton of ammonium nitrate.

The first instinct of this liberal is to root out Al Qaeda, starting by capturing and killing its leaders. Capturing Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders is critical. They are not – and never were – in Iraq. They were in Afghanistan, but we fumbled that one. CIA director Porter Goss says he has an “excellent idea” where Osama bin Laden is. Okay, let’s go get him.

To my way of thinking, getting Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders is a special operations mission. I suspect the governments of the USA and UK, along with those of other European countries, have committed significant special operations forces and resources to this task. I suspect we do indeed have an excellent idea where he is. Why then, don’t we have bin Laden?

We need – with our European and British allies – to focus our efforts on Al Qaeda and associated terror groups. Invading Afghanistan after 9/11 was the right thing to do – it hurt Al Qaeda and ended the Taliban regime that supported Al Qaeda. Invading Iraq was the wrong thing to do – not only didn’t it help us in any way to attack Al Qaeda, it’s making Al Qaeda stronger by turning the Muslim world against the West.

Get. bin. Laden. That’s what we need to do. Then systematically root out Al Qaeda. Then start fixing the mountain of problems we’ve created in Afghanistan and Iraq. But bin Laden and Al Qaeda should be our single priority now.

Tony Blair, I believe, knows this and is redirecting his efforts accordingly (and was doing so well before today’s attacks in London). I hope our leaders learn from this and change their priorities as well.

And to the citizens of London, for what little it’s worth, I stand by you. That sounds like a load of crap, but I mean it.

© 2005 – 2007, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


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