So here’s the important bit from the latest audio tape from “Osama bin Laden”:
We stress the importance of martyrdom operations against the enemy, these attacks that have scared Americans and Israelis like never before.
What’s it mean? Probably not a whole lot, really. al Qaeda strikes according to their own schedule; I never got too worked up about Muslim holy days or major events or big anniversaries. That’s part of the beauty, so to speak, of al Qaeda’s terror attacks — they really do come when you least expect them.
Also, they seem to come every two or three years, and the last one isn’t yet even 18 months ago. Their operations take lots of time, training and money, and, as such, are difficult to pull off at any time, much less on dates when everyone is more aware.
Which is why the Afghanistan Campaign of the Terror war — along with good ol’ police work — was so important. We put a dent in their manpower, leadership, structure, sanctuary, and (I hope) finances. What that means is I’ll be much more fearful of another 9/11-scope attack a year or two from now than I am today.
Would al Qaeda like to help Iraq? In the strictest sense, no. No matter how many issues of the Koran that Saddam has printed up in his own blood, he still remains a secular, Ba’athist leader. If al Qaeda were to take over Saudi Arabia, as they dearly wish to do, you can bet Saddam would become a target instead of an ally.
But in the broader sense, anything that whips up Islamic (I was about to say “Arab”) hatred for the West is good for al Qaeda — and currently the best way to do that is to show solidarity with Iraq, the next target in this war. But since we are speaking broadly, it doesn’t make sense for al Qaeda to risk its best people, or much of its money, betting on the Iraqi horse. Saddam is an ally of convenience, for one, and for two, he’s destined to lose.
If al Qaeda offers anything more than words in support of Iraq, I’d expect the attack(s) to be on the shoe-bomber scale rather than something as big as 9/11.
That’s not to say I’m right on all this; I’m simply trying to look at it from Osama’s view, or whoever is in charge of whatever is left of al Qaeda. To them, it might make sense to place a big bet on a weak hand, if only to show they still have lots of black chips left.
If there’s anything to worry about in today’s threat, that’s it.
UPDATE: Also curious is that the rumor we’d see a video of Osama turned out to be false. He’s either dead or very, very sick. If he had simply been wounded by an American bomb, missing an arm or half his face, I’d expect him on camera — “you can hurt me, but you can’t kill me.” Being hooked up to a dialysis machine in the last stages of kidney failure looks less like invincibility than it does a curse from, well, Allah.