Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Osama bin Laden, poste restante, Pakistan

Man with a plan
David Seaton's News Links
Pakistan is one of world’s eight nuclear powers and as Arnaud de Borchgrave reported for the United Press agency, “Pakistan is in the throes of a national upheaval that dwarfs both Iraq and Afghanistan as threats to regional peace and stability.” Fact: Osama bin Laden, the world’s most famous terrorist lives and works in Pakistan. The former CIA agent in charge of the bin Laden file, Michael Scheuer, now of the Jamestown foundation, wrote of bin Laden’s last video, “bin Laden achieved a major purpose of his speech before he said a word: he clearly showed Muslims and Americans that he was still alive, that he was healthy and not at death's door, that he spoke from secure surroundings unthreatened by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, and that he, al-Qaeda and their allies were ready to continue the war.”

One of the difficulties in trying to get a focus on Al Qaeda is concentrating attention exclusively on their identity as terrorists and not giving enough to their existence as a movement with clear objectives which are being patiently and methodically pursued. A subversive movement with a social base, even a small one, can resist decades of the most intense pressure, both military and political. Al Qaeda has a growing social base in a world-wide community of 1.3 billion people. As de Borchgrave writes, polls show that, “almost half of Pakistan approves of Bin Laden and al-Qaida while Bush and Musharraf are in the single digits.” The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies was quoted in the Guardian, "Al Qaida’s ideology appears to have taken root to such a degree that it will require decades to eradicate."

Michael Scheuer writes of bin Laden’s aims, “It is imperative, from bin Laden's perspective, that Muslims worldwide see U.S. disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan as Allah-granted victories for Islam and faithful Muslims. This perspective of "God's victory" will further erode defeatism in the Muslim world and galvanize far more support for the jihad.” As in Pakistan, in many Muslim countries Osama bin Laden is more popular than the local chief of state. Terrorism, pales in significance to the mobilization of masses for which terrorist activity is merely an advertising campaign. Once a movement is constituted it can be used for many things and like a fat lady in a little boat, when an activated mass moves in any direction, the "boat" tips. It is the movement of that mass, more than the terrorist actions committed to arouse them, that will give the west its most serious problems in the future. DS

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