Thursday, May 12, 2011

Was He Or Wasn't He?

By Carl
So Osama bin Laden was a terror-mastermind who micromanaged every single Al Qaeda terror plot.
And Osama bin Laden was isolated and uninvolved, a figurehead of authority that barely communicated with his major domos.
U.S. officials say Osama bin Laden's journal contains information about future terror plots, and shows the al-Qaida leader was communicating with other terrorists.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Wednesday the notebook details the terror network's doctrine, potential targets and how to carry out attacks against them.  It describes plots against the U.S. rail system and the importance of attacking the United States.

Bin Laden is believed to have personally written the journal, which U.S. Navy SEALs seized from his compound in northern Pakistan during the May 2 operation that killed him.
I wish they'd make up their minds.
Under either circumstance, I'm not sure it matters how involved he was. Al Qaeda's ability to perform large-scale attacks was probably long gone, since even the small attacks they were planning were thwarted (or bumbled, as in the case of the Times Square bomb last year.)
Bin Laden's journal bears this out. Featured within were attacks designed to terrorize smaller cities in America, and that's something I want to focus on.
One thing about these attacks that were called for on smaller cities (such as the Underwear Bomber on a flight to Detroit). These are not tourist cities for middle Americans. They may be destination cities, the kind of city that someone from Alpena, MI might go to for shopping, or from Harrisburg, PA for a romantic weekend.
In other words, accessible. They are a concrete thought in peoples' heads, not an abstract like NY or LA. Those attacks would most certainly have terrified Americans who arrogantly believed that being hundreds or thousands of miles from a coast would somehow insulate them from the horror of picking thru wreckage and rubble.
Osama bin Laden was many things, but it appears diabolical and cunning are right at the top of the list. Terrorism is less about death than it is about fear and intimidation. It's a form of extortion, designed to get some larger goal out of forcing the hands of the terrorized.
The thinking behind bin Laden's terror was to force Americans out of the Muslim world. Ironically, with his death, this may happen faster than while he was alive, although it's too soon to tell whether his death will spark renewed interest in his dreams of a fundamentalist Islamic world or whether he truly had become philosophically irrelevant in an age of the Arab Spring, and the move towards democracies.
Bin Laden accomplished much of what he set out to do, from bringing down the World Trade Center towers (or so Ramzi Yussef espoused) to wrecking the American economy, to possibly ending American imperialist aspirations. Like bin Laden and Al Qaeda, that last may have died after one vainglorious last stab in Iraq.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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