Thursday, December 16, 2004

Osama Adapting? 

Dr. Evil has new ideas, do we?

As Osama bin Laden surveys the international scene from his secret base in Pakistan, he has convinced himself the American empire can be defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia much the way his mujahideen guerrillas defeated the Soviet empire in Afghanistan. In his videotape released four days before the U.S. elections, bin Laden referred to the way the Afghan resistance had bankrupted the Soviet Union, which he used as a model for inflicting a similar fate on the United States...

In Pakistan, Bin Laden has access to the local and international media, CNN, FOX, BBC, al-Jazeera and other Arab satellite channels. He heard Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tell FOX News he had not anticipated the strength of the Iraqi insurgency "because no one has a perfect view into the future." He also listened to CNN as Gen. Lance Smith, deputy chief of the U.S. Central Command, said a bold, innovative insurgency in Iraq is becoming more effective against U.S. supply lines and explosive attacks have slowed military operations. The United States has begun using large military cargo aircraft to ferry food and equipment high above dangerous roadways, bringing the total cost of Afghanistan and Iraq to $6 billion a month.

As an Arab prone to exaggeration, he cannot believe the number of U.S. killed so far in Iraq is 1,300. He assumes it is several times that number. He has also read the Pentagon confirmed that 5,500 U.S. military have deserted to Canada rather than fight in Iraq; that the Army National Guard is short of 5,000 citizen-soldiers; that lawsuits have been filed by those whose duty period has been involuntarily extended; that soldiers have refused to go on dangerous missions without proper equipment.

Osama bin Laden presumably knows why some 7,500 jihadis who fought against the United States in Iraq have been trickling back to their homes in the Muslim slums of Western Europe. They returned with new terrorist skills and the ability to form sleeper cells and/or encourage others to sign up for jihad. Europe's Muslims - about 20 million of them - are for the most part moderate and good citizens of their country of adoption. But the silent majority has been cowed into silence by growing numbers of unemployed who are alienated, angry and refuse to integrate in European societies. They are also vocal in favor of bin Laden as the new pinup who rivals Che Guevara on university campuses.

But, this is the truly sad/scary part:
Three years after 9/11, bin Laden sees his ratings in the Muslim world and among Muslim minorities in Europe have far surpassed President Bush's on the scale of credibility and trustworthiness. The Bush administration's Israel-right-or-wrong policy has now been confirmed - for bin Laden to read in dozens of newspapers - by no less an authority than Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Bush 41...

Bin Laden has read what prominent non-royal Saudis have said about him - e.g., in a truly free election in Saudi Arabia he would win hands down against the royal family, which is now cordially and widely disliked, if not despised. The world's most wanted terrorist also has friends in high places in Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf is also widely despised by a majority of the population. In Pakistan as a whole, bin Laden scored a 66 percent approval rating. In the two provinces governed by the pro-al-Qaida, pro-Taliban coalition of six politico-religious parties, bin Laden's popularity rating as a freedom fighter climbs to above 80 percent.

Bin Laden must also have concluded that another 9/11 - which would have to be even more deadly than the first - is not possible in the light of ever-tighter security precautions. America's European allies that back the war - Britain and Italy in particular - offer the same opportunities as Spain did with the train bombings last March 11. The "new" Europeans have already announced a steady reduction of their small troop levels in Iraq.

Bin Laden is a lot smarter than some give him credit for. I'm not convince he's "winning" the War on Terror, but I don't think he's losing either. However, he seems more willing to adapt than we.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?