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November 29, 2006


Distorting Marines As Martyrs

Leaked Intelligence Report Gives Path To Victory But Portrayed As Defining Defeat

By Steve Schippert | November 29, 2006

Unlike the jihadi enemy, Marine Corps commanders are not in the business of sending men to certain death for the sake of a glorious fulfillment of religious duty. Keenly aware that casualties are without question the nature of warfare, Marines will send their men into ferocious battle in order to kill, capture and otherwise defeat an enemy. Simply stated, Marines do not request more troops in order to thrust their own into certain defeat. This is a basic tenet seemingly lost in the Washington Post’s latest assessment of an internal Marine Corps intelligence report on Iraq’s al-Anbar province.

When Marine Colonel Peter Devlin, currently in Ramadi, Iraq, wrote a detailed and recently updated classified August memo on the situation in al-Anbar province, “State of the Insurgency in Al-Anbar,” he concluded that an additional division (15,000 – 20,000 troops) would be required. The pro-active recommendation was based on what was believed to be needed in order to break al-Qaeda in Iraq’s establishment in Anbar and the six Sunni tribes that have aligned themselves with al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (aka Abu Ayyub al-Masri) and the ‘emir’ of the Iraqi Sunni resistance, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. One must conclude that, as a responsible commander of Marines, Colonel Devlin was not making the recommendation as a means to a more dignified and glorious death and certain defeat.

Yet, the Post’s opening sentence states that, according to Col. Devlin’s assessment, “The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there.” Why then a recommendation of an additional 20,000 troops if the “U.S. military is no longer able to defeat” al-Qaeda and the insurgency? Marines are not in the martyrdom business. If the open can be this wrong, what ensues in the rest of the article is surely a literary minefield with cherry-picked sentence fragments strewn about in order to support an article that opens with its (flawed) conclusion.

The Washington Post writers, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks, have surely read the entire classified report (officially ‘Secret’), supplied once again by a leaker within the Intelligence Community. The Post’s anonymous source of the secret intelligence information, which Linzer and Ricks concede is intended solely for military commanders in Anbar, seems to have his own axe to grind with the report and found like-minded journalists in which to confide. He is described in the article as requesting anonymity “because of the sensitivity of his work,” though would surely privately concede that it is because he is committing a federal crime by divulging classified intelligence documents to unauthorized individuals.

The “senior intelligence source” presents himself as representative of a group of people who disagree with Devlin’s desire to break al-Qaeda in Iraq, chiefly by clearing Ramadi in the same manner as Fallujah was successfully cleared and al-Qaeda’s base of operations there destroyed. He is quoted as saying in conclusion that, while he largely agrees with Devlin’s assessment of the situation in Anbar, “We argue that it (al-Qaeda) is a major element in Anbar, but it is not the largest or most dominant group.” He did not offer his view of precisely who is the “largest or most dominant group” if not al-Qaeda, nor did he offer a manner in which to defeat them.

All the leak source offered was that he agrees that the Anbar insurgency situation is difficult and that Americans should not hold al-Qaeda responsible. Nor, apparently, should American forces be used to engage them, uproot them and defeat them. One is left to conclude that the individual prefers simply to disengage and cede al-Qaeda an Anbar base of operations.

Make no mistake, Abu Ayyub al-Masri’s al-Qaeda in Iraq is the linchpin of the Anbar insurgency. It, along with the allied six Sunni Iraqi tribes, is the principle violent member of the Mujahideen Shura Council led by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, seen as a regional al-Qaeda Emir of Jihad. At the time of the six tribes’ pledging allegiance, most of the al-Anbar tribes were engaged in negotiations with the Iraqi government for reconciliation in exchange for laying down their arms. It was under al-Qaeda threat that at least some of the tribes aligned with al-Qaeda. Indeed, some of the Sunni Anbar tribes who ultimately chose reconciliation often saw their tribal leaders assassinated.

Al-Masri claimed recently in a message that he had 12,000 al-Qaeda terrorists under his command – with another 10,000 in training – and placed them under the ultimate command of the Mujahideen Shura Council’s al-Baghdadi. Whether or not those numbers are truthful and accurate is not precisely known. However, it is generally considered that the ratio of conventional forces needed to defeat an insurgency is 10:1. Loosely following this matrix as a guide, Col. Devlin’s belief that augmenting the current Anbar forces with an additional 20,000 troops will break al-Qaeda in the Anbar province indicates that al-Masri’s claims may have been inflated for propaganda purposes.

To be sure, just as is the case in Baghdad, chaos is created in Anbar’s Ramadi by a relative few. Defeating those few – just as they were crushed in Fallujah – is the key. It appears that Devlin wants to do precisely this. The anonymous source clearly does not.

With al-Qaeda’s undeniable central role in the current state of the violent Sunni insurgency in Anbar, why would an intelligence official attempt to minimize or dismiss this? One is left to conclude that it is because if al-Qaeda is perceived by the American public to be the key player, they will support aggressive action. This public support would be problematic to those seeking an Iraq withdrawal. Conversely, if the American public perceives that Sunni Iraqi insurgents dominate the situation, the situation can then be spun as a Bush creation with American blame rather than that of the al-Qaeda terrorists who dominate the scene.

Civilians are fleeing Baghdad in droves and one of their principal destinations for safety is Fallujah. This may seem ironic to some, but it is the natural course of events following the US operation that uprooted and killed al-Qaeda terrorists and like-minded insurgents in place, thus returning the city once terrorized to its inhabitants. While Fallujah is certainly not a vacation hot spot for international travelers, it is also no longer an al-Qaeda base of operations.

Unfortunately, following the Fallujah operation, rather than pressing on in sustained pursuit, al-Qaeda in Iraq managed to catch their breath and regroup, currently using Ramadi as a Fallujah replacement. What Colonel Devlin seeks – and the leak source opposes – is the defeat of al-Qaeda and the insurgency it leads by bringing the Fallujah treatment to Ramadi.

The Washington Post article chooses several quotes from the classified report to buttress the dire situation in Anbar, including that, considering the injection of violence from Iran and al-Qaeda, “the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point” that U.S. and Iraqi troops “are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar.” Without the availability of the original text to reference, this appears to be an example of cherry picking. The quote used indicates a definitive conclusion from the report. But it appears almost certain that the original context of the selected quotes contains the caveat that coalition troops ‘at their current levels’ are no longer able to defeat the insurgency. Recall that Colonel Devlin’s conclusions call for 15,000 to 20,000 additional troops. The Marine is surely not asking for another division because he definitively believes the cause is lost in Anbar.

Regarding the economic situation faced in Anbar, the article quotes a fragment from the report stating that “the potential for economic revival appears to be nonexistent.” The context the Post provides is that the “Iraqi government, dominated by Iranian-backed Shiites, has not paid salaries for Anbar officials and Iraqi forces stationed there.”

An intelligence source familiar with the Anbar intelligence assessment written by Col. Devlin was adamant in confirming that the report had been selectively “cherry-picked” throughout the article and distorts the thrust of the intelligence report. He told ThreatsWatch that the article failed to include the fact that, as clearly noted in the Devlin assessment, the American-led coalition has picked up the slack in making these payments. But without this important context, the reader is left with a false image of unpaid police and security units in violent protest over wages, just as is truly the case in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This is most certainly not the case in Anbar. The violent protest in Anbar emanates from al-Qaeda terrorists seeking a regional Middle Eastern base for their terrorist operations, not wages.

In fact, the Devlin report lauds the effectiveness of the Iraqi police units in saying that they have “proven remarkably resilient in most areas,” and that they should be included as an integral part of a greater Anbar solution. The Post article describes the suggested solution in the report as to include strengthening these police units as well as “establishing a Sunni state in Anbar, creating a local paramilitary force to protect Sunnis and to offset Iranian influence, [and] shifting local budget controls.”

The Devlin report seems to suggest that we first clear al-Qaeda from the midst through the only language it speaks - violence and force. Then, that should be followed by empowering the Sunni Anbar region with greater control over its own finances and a larger responsibility for its own security. In short, liberty.

The selective excerpting used by the Washington Post to arrive at the conclusion that “‘there is nothing’ U.S. troops ‘can do to influence’ the insurgency” in Anbar seems at odds with what appears to be the actual thrust of the document. To be sure, it seems incongruous that a Marine Corps intelligence assessment that states “Anbar's citizens undoubtedly would be far worse now if it was not for the very effective efforts” of the US military which has had “a real suppressive effect on the insurgency.”

Colonel Devlin is clearly suggesting that the path to victory against an al-Qaeda-aligned insurgency is more of what has worked thus far, not less. Somehow, the Washington Post and their anonymous intelligence source would have Americans believe that all is lost and withdrawal the only solution. So appears the message both seem intent on delivering.

This alternative is to cede to al-Qaeda a regional base for terrorist training and operations planning, from which attacks beyond Iraq and throughout the region can be launched, including terrorist strikes on Saudi and Jordanian targets. Those who advocate fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan yet would opt not to engage them in Iraq exhibit a logical disconnect and a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy and the jihadi fight he brings.

To come away from Colonel Devlin’s call for 20,000 troops to defeat al-Qaeda in Anbar with a definitive conclusion that there is nothing that the American military can do to defeat the Sunni insurgency is to believe that he and the United States Marine Corps are in the martyrdom business. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The solution provided by a Marine Corps officer, determined to defeat the al-Qaeda terrorists infesting Iraq and killing American fighting men and Iraqi civilians alike, is not an unproven method of breaking al-Qaeda that risks the unknown. It is a proven path to a critical victory in and for Iraq.

It was seen and proven in Fallujah. It can be seen in Ramadi. It is simply a matter of will.

November 16, 2006


Shifting Strategies

Looming Western Appeasement Strategies Imperil Israel

By Guest Contributor, C. Hart | November 16, 2006

With a Democratic majority in both the U.S. House and Senate, signs are already showing of a shift in American policy towards the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent visit with U.S. President George W. Bush revealed that an appeasement policy toward rogue states may very well dominate U.S. Administration policy in the coming year. Bush is quoted in news sources as saying he would consider a dialogue with Iran and Syria, while also emphasizing a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, and without acknowledging a military option. Israel is pushing for a military option if diplomacy fails, something Bush will not publicly commit to at this time. Sources indicate that one of the reasons the U.S. is hesitant to get involved in any military option regarding Iran is because of the fact that America is entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its military forces are already spread too thin. If the Democratic majority in Congress pushes for an early pull-out from Iraq, it would free up American forces. On the other hand, it would, most likely, result in another Shiite dominated state in the region.

Bush has also talked about a dialogue with Syria, which Olmert does not oppose. Yet, it is pro-Syrian forces in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are trying to destabilize the Lebanese government; this, with the hope of forming a stronger Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis in preparation for a future war against Israel and western interests in the Middle East. Hezbollah is deeply rooted in Lebanese society, and after its perceived successes in this summer's war against Israel, the terrorist party enjoys the popular support of a majority of the population. Hezbollah has called for either a national unity government, or a new government in Lebanon, preparing to cause instability by threatening mass street protests if it does not gain its political objectives.

Many in the international community do not yet see clearly how Lebanon and Iraq are being positioned to become Shiite strongholds in the Middle East, along with other nations in the Shia Crescent. This Crescent stretches across a vast land area from Iran into Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, with significant impact inside Gaza. This is already beginning to upset the balance of power in the Middle East, weakening western democratic influence and strengthening radical Islam. Moreover, a nuclear Iran would exercise Iran's regional dominance by increasing Shiite power over moderate Arab states, threatening Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has continually called for nations to join in his efforts to wipe Israel off the map, could use the nuclear threat as a future base of superiority.

Because of this Iranian thrust for nuclear power and global dominance, Israeli leaders are increasing their vocal support for a military option against Iran, but, the international community is dragging its feet. The issue of Iran could become a point of possible contention between Israel and its western allies as the current diplomatic appeasement policy continues. Israel's military officials believe that nothing will stop Iran's quest for nuclear weapons unless the world stops Iran from reaching its goal.

The question of why Israel hesitates to take on Iran alone is becoming clearer. The long-distance between both nations, and the concern that Iran has put many of its nuclear installations underground, makes it difficult for Israel to act militarily without having to conduct numerous air strikes. Preparing for another round with Hezbollah and possibly Syria in the not-to-distant future, and with no solution yet to solving the rocket barrages that affect Israel's northern and southern communities, it appears that Israeli leaders aren't ready, at this time, to deal with Iran directly; that, along with the fact that the IDF is licking its wounds after a not-so-successful military campaign in Lebanon this summer. Moreover, military leaders here are still weak in the eyes of the Israeli public, with frequent calls for the resignation of Israel's chief of staff and defense minister.

Some world leaders are linking a successful campaign against global terrorism to a successful peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. This could lead to calls for an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something Israel strongly opposes. As U.S. Democratic leaders consider strengthening ties with the Arab world to solve the crisis in Iraq, the pressure for such a conference may increase, with support finding its way through the corridors on Capital Hill.

The liberal majority in the U.S. Congress could result in a groundswell towards forcing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A potential national unity government between Hamas and Fatah would, most likely, receive international approval by an already eager global community anxious to see the peace process move forward. This would revive not only Bush's U.S. foreign policy but help British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, as well.

The Quartet's policy that it will not interact with any Palestinian government that refuses to recognize Israel may end up eroding under a potentially new Palestinian government banner. Making sure that Hamas leaders do not head up future Finance and Foreign Ministries, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas may have effectively found a way to convince world leaders to give financially, while also jump starting peace negotiations.

It appears that Abbas and Hamas officials have agreed on a "hudna" policy with Israel which they are reportedly planning to present to world leaders. It calls for "a mutual cessation of violence" between the Palestinians and Israel. A "hudna" would give the illusion of a long and lasting peace, but realistically, is a way of Islamic radicals gaining time to build up their military forces until it is to their advantage to engage in a future war with Israel. An international conference, if it did take place, would result in significant pressure on Israel to accept the "hudna" in order to appease the interests of the international community.

To sweeten the deal, Abbas is expected to enter into a prisoner exchange with Israel which would result in the release of Israeli kidnapped soldier, IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit. His release from captivity would be in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners sitting in Israeli jails, as well as Hamas legislators currently being held by Israeli authorities. While Shalit's freedom would inevitably capture the hearts of the Israeli population, the Palestinians would be focused on receiving millions of dollars in financial aid from the international community in order to build up the Palestinian Authority and its army, while also relieving the hardships of the Palestinian population. It may all end up looking like an international diplomatic success story except for the fact that the new Palestinian government would still be calling for Israel's destruction in its charter.

With Iran's intentions bent on Israel's destruction, along with similar policies of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, it is no wonder that some Israeli leaders are engaged in saber-rattling. It's expected that Israel will soon conduct another major offensive in Gaza to try and stop rocket attacks reigning in on Israeli towns and cities. But, acting against Iran is still on the horizon and not for the immediate future.

The current troubling issue is that the U.S. and Europe are now engaged in new foreign policy appeasement initiatives that encourage dialogue with rogue states. The track on the western political front is to talk not act. The track on the Israeli Middle East front is to act and not talk. The question remains: What is the way of moving forward toward a safer more secure global community in the future?

C. Hart is a 25-year veteran journalist in print and broadcast media, living in Israel since 1995, reporting on political, military and diplomatic issues in the Middle East.

November 15, 2006


Big Fish In The Little Somali Pond

The Foreign Influence in the Somali Conflict Raises Important Issues for the West

By Kyle Dabruzzi | November 15, 2006

For a long while, analysts have grown increasingly concerned that the Somali conflict could spread throughout the Horn of Africa. Well, we can forget Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya: there are much bigger and far more dangerous fish swimming in the sea.

A UN-commissioned report has indicated that Iran, Syria and eight other nations have violated the UN sanctioned arms embargo to send weapons to Somalia. According to a BBC report on the UN findings:

What is most striking about this report is the detailed links between countries such as Iran, Syria and Lebanon and the Islamic Courts Union.

For example, the authors say 720 Somali fighters went to Lebanon to help Hezbollah fight Israel in July.

Syria is said to have sent an aircraft full of guns to the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Iran is reported to have sent three shipments of arms to Somalia between July and September.

And one paragraph in the report says two Iranians were in Somalia looking into getting uranium in exchange for supplying arms.

This report, if accurate, shatters many theories and brings to light a number of truths. The first truth is that with foreign support, the ICU could acquire the logistics and supply to completely overtake Somalia. With an influx of weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers and machine guns finding their way into the ICU’s hands, the forces in the Puntland region as well as the Ethiopian-backed TFG forces may find it difficult to resist the ICU’s attack. If the ICU is able to overtake Baidoa and secure a stronghold in the south, there will be more than just weapons and munitions flooding into Somalia. With an ICU takeover, -iIt’s entirely possible that Somalia could become the new al-Qaeda base in Africa.

Another important truth is that with this report, it seems pretty clear that Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims are willing to set aside conflicting ideologies and cooperate with each other. Military affairs analyst Bill Roggio observes:

Iranian support of Sunni terrorist groups is hardly a new development. The 9-11 Commission Report clearly lays out the case for cooperation between al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Iran… Iran currently shelters Said bin Laden, Osama's son and successor; Saif al-Adel, al-Qaeda's senior strategist who is said to be third in command of al-Qaeda, as well as about 100 senior and mid-level al-Qaeda commanders (up to 500 al-Qaeda total are said to have fled to Iran after Operation Enduring Freedom).

Clearly, the predominantly Shi’ite country of Iran, among others, has a strategic alliance with the predominantly Sunni al-Qaeda organization. However, it’s difficult to be so naive as to think that terrorist groups who hate the West as much as they clearly do would not work in tandem, setting aside their own differences in pursuit of a common enemy. Indeed, historic and ideological rifts are deeply ingrained in the Sunni-Shia divide. However, a common enemy as threatening to both as the West is poses a much bigger problem.

The foreign support of the ICU also brings an important truth to light with respect to the larger scope of the War on Terror. It must be recognized that our enemy has assimilated into an elusive worldwide network backed by state sponsors and supporters. Most of the pre-conceived notions regarding our enemy have been shattered and it’s time to realize the extent to which our enemy has adapted. Cultural and ideological divisions have been crossed and the threat we now face has materialized beyond the Middle East and continues to grow at the peril of our own inattention.

This report should bring about a sobering wake-up call for the West. With the elections resulting in new leadership in Congress, it is imperative that the US continue to be vigilant in the War on Terror. It is equally important that the United States continue to adapt its strategies. With an ever-changing enemy, we must continue to halt our enemy’s advances, wherever they are. In this case, Somalia is one area that the United States could make some headway. However, it is important that steps be taken quickly in order to stop the ICU from taking over Somalia.

November 10, 2006

United States of America

Tempting Jihad: Emboldening A Celebratory Enemy

Jihadis Share In Celebration of The American Election

By Steve Schippert | November 10, 2006

United we stand. That is the cry heard throughout the world, emanating from Islamist jihadis at war with a West that continues to deny the scale of the fight.

It is no small irony that from the world of the jihadis, where blood feuds and strife have been and remain a part of the very fabric of their society, there is unity in purpose against a hated infidel enemy. Yet, in a diverse country that has seen different races, religions and creeds live in relative harmony since its founding, Americans cannot stop attacking each other long enough to effectively engage an enemy that calls for our murder and destruction daily and in unison.

They both rail against US action in Iraq, condemn intelligence efforts such as the foreign electronic surveillance program, interrogations and even the existence of the Guantanamo Bay prison, where terrorists captured on the battlefield are imprisoned rather than summarily executed on the field of battle. Both sides engage in this rhetoric, though each for their own different selfish strategic visions.

It is disconcerting that a sizable segment of the American public celebrates and condemns the very same events as the brutal enemy that would just as soon see us all dead, regardless of how we vote. The daily chanting from Tehran and elsewhere is “Death to America,” not distinguishing between Republican or Democrat.

There is no better illustration than when the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran today delivered a Friday sermon claiming the Democrats’ victory as his own, in the name, of course, of the Iranian people.

Ayatollah Khamenei said, "This issue (the elections) is not a purely domestic issue for America, but it is the defeat of Bush's hawkish policies in the world. Since Washington's hostile and hawkish policies have always been against the Iranian nation, this defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation."

He may be correct in his latter claim that the American election results mean “an obvious victory for the Iranian nation” lead by the oppressive mullah regime. It remains up to the new leadership of the United States Congress and the American President together to determine the reality of this claim.

But where is Iran suffering defeat today that would require such an “obvious victory”? American, British and Iraqi men and women have been dying in Iraq at the hands of an Iranian regime that continues to supply insurgents and terrorists with cash, arms and supplies, even as advanced as milled copper high-explosive IEDs with infrared triggering. Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shi’a death squads and so-called ‘Mahdi Army’ band of terrorist thugs would be reduced to scavengers but not for the complete bankrolling and arming provided directly by Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Central Bankers of Terrorism.

Yet we divert our eyes, lest we lock horns with the true epicenter of state sponsored terrorism.

So, what “obvious victory” is needed by Khamenei’s Iran? Perhaps in their to-date unobstructed quest for nuclear weapons? Yet even here, America and the West remain deadlocked haggling over what sanctions are not going to be put in place. Iran is pleased to see the newly nominated Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, enter the Pentagon and take charge of America’s military fist. For it appears initially that, at least as he had written before the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Gates favors direct talks with Tehran, just as the Europeans have fruitlessly (for the West) engaged in for over three productive Iranian years.

And still, the central reason we are trying to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons – their leadership and sponsorship of international terrorism – remains unaddressed and nearly devoid of productive discussion, let alone responding in kind with violence – and let’s be bluntly clear here - while under Iranian attack in Iraq and elsewhere.

And, while Iran continues to harbor top al-Qaeda planners and leaders under ‘house arrest’ in a quaint coastal village on the Caspian Sea since they fled American warriors in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda in Iraq’s new commander is also sharing in the American political celebration.

Abu Ayyub al-Masri (nom de guerre: Abu Hamza al-Muhajir) pleaded with the American President in the wake of Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation to “not rush to escape as did your defense minister.” Unlike his fellow al-Qaeda brothers now comfortably in Iran, he urged George W. Bush to “stay on the battle ground.”

And again without regard to whether the occupant would be Democrat or Republican, al-Masri declared, "We swear we will not rest from our jihad... before blowing up the filthiest house, dubbed the White House." For those in favor of a complete withdrawal of troops under the guise of ‘redeployment’ to Okinawa, Camp Pendleton or even Afghanistan, al-Masri knows full well what ‘redeployment’ means. "The enemy is now teetering under the blows of the mujahedeen... and preparing to pack up and flee," he offered.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leader seemed to fall in line with many Americans by calling the president “the most stupid and worst president” America has ever had. "The American people have taken the first step on the right path in order to get out” of Iraq by “voting for a measure of reason in the latest elections.” Is this not unlike what was heard during Tuesday night’s television news coverage and commentary of the elections once results started to become clear?

This celebration and immediate emboldening transcends beyond the Iranian mullah regime and al-Qaeda. It is shared by the entire jihadi movement, of which they are the leaders. They all once again share in celebration and condemnation of the same events as many short sighted citizens of the “Great Satan.”

Those American citizens may not be wildly chanting “Death to America” in the streets, but surely they must realize how they further the cause of those who so emphatically do. The jihadist enemy does not care whether your jersey is red or blue or emblazoned with an elephant or a donkey beyond its immediate usefulness. Imagining you leaping from the 98th floor of a collapsing American skyscraper brings him pleasure no matter what you wear or how you vote.

They attacked us before there was a President Bush to rally against. They came to slaughter us before there was an Iraq war to see eye to eye on. They will come again and your politics won’t matter. Again.

Divided we fall. That is the message heard throughout the world, emanating from the American public only partially engaged in a war with an Islamist jihadi ideology that consistently embraces the scale of the fight.

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