News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: al-Qaeda's X-Generation

Thursday, January 19, 2006

al-Qaeda's X-Generation

In a public forum on bin-Laden, two authors who have written about him explain how the war in Iraq benefited bin-Laden and how the war will create new bin-Ladens. These comments reflect some things I posted several months ago. What this war has done is to create a cycle of revenge and resentment that will spread like wild-fire in a region that still operates on the tribal loyalty principles of vengeance killings. ...

One of the authors, Peter Bergen, makes some keen observations. For instance, he notes:

After Sept. 11, 2001, a backlash against bin Laden developed among various jihad elements, which believed the attacks hurt their cause more than it helped them. "It's a myth that all jihadist groups are united by their hatred of the United States and have a single perspective," said Bergen. "The jihad groups hate each other more than they hate the Bush Administration."
That is a message that always seems to be missing from the President's speeches, which always lump these groups together. Only recently has Bush begun to discriminate between jihadists in Iraq and the Iraqi-born insurgents. The Pentagon's own asessments put the jihadists at about 5 percent of those fighting the US.

Another point made by Berger and fellow author Steve Coll includes the following:
Speaking alongside Bergen was Steve Coll, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning "Ghost Wars; The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden." Coll said that "Bin Laden's greatest gift as a leader is to control the public narrative. He has a sense of the ending of his own narrative and that ending is martyrdom."

Consequently, both authors believe that a practical mechanism for dealing with bin Laden is simply not available. From Bergen's point of view, bin Laden has two choices at this point, "He can disappear into the history books and never say anything again or he can remain in the game and risk the possibility of revealing himself." At this point in the development and disintegration of al-Qaida, Bergen believes that bin Laden has carved out a role for himself as the elder statesmen, playing a role in the media battle.
What this means is that bin-Laden is an illusion now. While Bush and others keep talking about him as a real threat, all that he can really do is serve as a mouthpiece that makes idle and empty threats. In the meantime, the new generation of bin-Ladens hang on his every word--fueled by resentment at seeing Moslems killed in Iraq and watching what they perceive as a Christian Holy War unfold in the mideast and elsewhere around the world.

To counter this growing illusion, the message needs to be gotten out that bin-Laden is a phantom of those in the US who wish to gain and hold on to power through creating fear and anxiety.

So, how do we stop terrorism? Bin-Laden himself seems to agree with William Blum. In an article in The Washington PostBlum, the US author bin-Laden quoted in his recent speech, says:
"If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize -- very publicly and very sincerely -- to all the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism."
Could it really be that simple? Just a recognition that the US has killed innocent men and women? The attempt to stop the procedures and policies that brought about those deaths? The first part might be easy for some but not a President who finds it difficult to admit being wrong in anything. The second part, of course, will seem naive, if not absurd, because those policies and procedures ensure the flow of oil into the US.

Related Links

No comments: