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Thread: Al-Qaeda, a politically-driven fantasy?

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    Al-Qaeda, a politically-driven fantasy?



    Interesting piece I found on BBC, regarding a series called "The Power of Nightmares" aired last autumn. The series tried to show that much of the "War on Terror" is in fact a pursuit of a fantasy:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4171213.stm

    Quote:
    "As the films showed, wherever one looks for this "al-Qaeda" organisation - from the mountains of Afghanistan to the "sleeper cells" in America - the British and Americans are pursuing a fantasy.

    The bombs in Madrid and Bali showed clearly the seriousness of the threat - but they are not evidence of a new and overwhelming threat unlike any we have experienced before. And above all they do not - in the words of the British government - "threaten the life of the nation". That is simply untrue."

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    Fantasies usually don't commit mass murder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecash
    Fantasies usually don't commit mass murder.
    Did you even read the article? He wasn't saying that Al Quaida didn't exist or didn't commit mass murder, his main point seems to be that there is a big gap between people's perceptions of Al Quaida and the reality. Sounded pretty reasonable to me.

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    That is an interesting article, and I hope to be able to view the entire program although I doubt that I will have the opportunity.

    I commend BBC for presenting this point of view. I have always been of the opinion that the greatest possible threat to America is not from the terrorist attacks themselves, but from how we as a nation react to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob in Iowa
    That is an interesting article, and I hope to be able to view the entire program although I doubt that I will have the opportunity.

    I commend BBC for presenting this point of view. I have always been of the opinion that the greatest possible threat to America is not from the terrorist attacks themselves, but from how we as a nation react to them.
    I tend to agree with Bob. Despite the objectives the operatives of the Muslim "terrorists" and possibly of Islam itself, the reactions of our own government have done more to curtail individual liberties in the USA than our enemies have accomplished. The very creation of the department of "homeland security" has scared the feces out of me.

    Part and parcel with that act has been the suspension of legal protections of the individual, violation of privacies in communication, and restrictions of travel (for example, I have reached the point that I will not even consider air travel any longer).

    There is no prophylactic law that will stop terror, or crime, or anything else. The other side has the initiative. They will always wait to discover the flaw in our defenses and thereby the method to strike. Always. The only requirement on their side is patience. Defensive strategies always fail. The ultimate logical extension of a defensive strategy is surrender.

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    Quote Originally Posted by senseiman
    Did you even read the article? He wasn't saying that Al Quaida didn't exist or didn't commit mass murder, his main point seems to be that there is a big gap between people's perceptions of Al Quaida and the reality. Sounded pretty reasonable to me.
    No, I did not read the article.

    I had already heard about Robert Scheer's take on it in the LA Times:
    "Is Al Qaeda Just a Bush Boogeyman?" http://tinyurl.com/4gkt4

    Compare that with: "Richard Clarke Lays Out His Dark Vision" http://www.nysun.com/article/7487

    <multiple lines of the "ayashii" smiley go here>

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    None of the articles appear to say that terrorism is not a real threat. But they do call into question our perception of the nature of the threat and our overall reaction to it. Just yesterday the CIA reported that the war in Iraq increased the terrorist threat. The USA PATRIOT Act gave sweeping power to federal law enforcement, and now the efforts of the newly centralized intelligence agencies are focusing inward to "domestic" terrorism threats.

    After 9/11 we were all clamoring for someone to do something decisive. Well they did. It's time now to question if anything we have done has had the desired effect, and if maybe we shouldn't put our resources and energy somewhere else.

    Terrorism is a real threat. Domestic violence kills more Americans, as does street crime, traffic accidents, cigarette smoking, food borne illnesses, and attacks by domestic animals. And yet we don't spend billions of dollars, invade foreign countries, or curtail civil liberties over any of these issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecash
    No, I did not read the article.
    Thanks for clearing that up, I was just curious.


    I actually think terrorism is probably the biggest threat to the world today. Concerns with curbs to civil liberties are pretty minor when compared with the bigger picture. The threat is different than terrorist threats in the past even though the political, economic and social factors behind the threat are about the same as they have always been.

    The big difference is that in the past weapons of mass destruction weren't attainable by these groups. But with these weapons, especially nuclear weapons, spreading from country to country you can't really say that that is so anymore. They recently quoted some anonymous CIA official as saying that a well-planned and financed plan to carry out an attack with WMD in the US would probably have a 90% chance of success. There just isn't much they can do to stop this kind of thing.

    The real threat doesn't lie so much in the actual attack as it does in the US response to one. The response to 9/11 was to start 2 wars, one of which against a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks. Now, if terrorists were to detonate a nuclear weapon in, say, Washington DC and inflict 40 to 50 times as many casualties, including a large number of the nation's leaders, can you imagine what the reaction would be? The only thing you can say for certain is that it would be A) irrational, B) massive and C) nuclear. It would spark an international emergency graver than the Cuban missile crisis and I would guess humanity's chances of surviving the first 6 months after such an attack would be 50/50 at best.

    With Bush going around invading countries for no valid reason and radicalizing the entire Muslim world to the point that thousands of people who wouldn't have dreamed of killing Americans a couple of years ago are now strapping explosives to themselves to kill US troops I'd say the threat to humanity is far graver than it was a few years back.

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    to the point that thousands of people who wouldn't have dreamed of killing Americans a couple of years ago are now strapping explosives to themselves to kill US troops I'd say the threat to humanity is far graver than it was a few years back.
    Word.

    "The message I have entered is too short."

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    It is a myth that the Patriot Act greatly increased the Federal government powers. In fact, all the Patriot Act did was apply powers and tools that the US Federal government could bring to bear on other crimes, such as organized crime, to terrorism. It short the act updated the powers to the 21st century. For instance, you could now, in this age of mobile phones, tap all the phone lines a target uses not just a specific phone line.

    I have heard people over and over again talk about the erosion of civil liberties, and even make rather paranoid statements about never flying again, but with little evidence or examples. What SPECIFICALLY do these people have in mind? What specific incidents can they point to? What specifics of the Patriot Act?

    Defenses can always be overridden but that doesn't make defenses worthless. If a defense stops 90% of attacks, is the defense worthless? Condoms do not stop the spread of AIDS but they do slow it down. Are condoms a useless defense? Sure, terrorists can always find a way to strike but that should not mean that we make it easy for them. We need to remember (a) that terrorists are a very, very small minority of any community, (b) terrorism never has worked to gain politcal goals, and therefore (c) terrorism is an irrational reaction to a problem. There is not an inexhaustible supply of terrorists. Arresting and imprisoning terrorists, stopping their money supply, frustrating their plans, and taking numerous other political and police actions will eventually lead to the threat diminishing and disappearing.

    We also must remember that success brings recruits. Sept. 11th undoubtedly boosted the recruits -- Wow, look at they did. Maybe I can do that cool thing. The fact that in 3 1/2 years they have been unable to repeat or even come close, has to hurt. No one wants to join a failure - a failed organization or a failed cause.

    As for this specific documentary, I have not seen it. From the link posted, it seems to be arguing:

    a. that Al Qaeda is not a super-organization -- OK. But that is now. What about in 2001? The bombings in Africa and coordinated highjacking of four aircraft demonstrate a significant level of coordination and funding.

    b. that there is nothing new about Al Qaeda type terrorism -- This is clearly not the case. While there have been bombings in the past, most terrorist organizations - the IRA, ETA, etc. - targeted military or political targets. They did not attace office workers in their office entirely unrelated to any military or governmental activity. The Palestinian terrorists - also Islamic - did and do target civilians. That is unique. But they are limited to Israelis. Al Qaeda targets Western Civilization and Christianity.

    c. that the politics of fear is pervasive and a problem -- frankly I see this as a myth. Certainly I don't not see a large group of fear-mongering politicians in the US. The Netherlands and Europe might be a different story. Following Sept. 11, there were no significant attacks on Muslims or Mosques, in the US. In the year following Sept. 11 more hate crimes were reported against Jews then Muslims despite the fact that their numbers are roughly the same in the US and Muslims are less well integrated. In the Netherlands following the Van Gogh murder there were several attacks on Mosques.

    That is just a brief reply. If more is needed I will post more.

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    Certainly I don't not see a large group of fear-mongering politicians in the US.
    Ha ha, that's funny.
    --------------------------------------------------------
    *edit

    On second thought, I retract my mockery. You're right, it isn't a large group. It's a small group of people, but it doesn't make them any less potent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceHall
    It is a myth that the Patriot Act greatly increased the Federal government powers. In fact, all the Patriot Act did was apply powers and tools that the US Federal government could bring to bear on other crimes, such as organized crime, to terrorism. It short the act updated the powers to the 21st century. For instance, you could now, in this age of mobile phones, tap all the phone lines a target uses not just a specific phone line.

    I have heard people over and over again talk about the erosion of civil liberties, and even make rather paranoid statements about never flying again, but with little evidence or examples. What SPECIFICALLY do these people have in mind? What specific incidents can they point to? What specifics of the Patriot Act?
    I actually had few problems with the USA PATRIOT act. I don't really care if Uncle Sam looks at my financial or medical records or taps my phone-- because I am generally boring and they won't find anything remotely interesting.

    But most people probably feel otherwise. The USA PATRIOT Act is this complicated document that amends other laws in complicated ways that we are just beginning to understand. It is a significant erosion of civil liberties that unlike those powers granted on a case by case basis by an independent judge in the case of organized crime, are given to federal agencies on a sweeping "blanket" basis. Just say the magic word-- "terrorism" and banking records, school records, e-mails, medical records and consumer purchases are all fair game. The Act even lets agents "sneak and peek"-- search your home without a warrant and never tell you they have been there.

    In 2002 secret court judges rubber stamped over 170 "emergency" warrants for FISA- an intelligence branch of the justice department created in 1978. Between 1978 and 2001, only 47 such warrants were issued. The justice department need not even go to the judge by issuing a "national security letter" and conducting secret searches accordingly. To this date hundreds, perhaps thousands of such letters have been issued.

    To this date over 5000 people have been detained by the FBI for periods as long as three years with no charges filed and no right to habeas corpus. Another 1200 people were detained by the INS- for periods of three to six months or more. Under this act, any of us whom the government labels an "enemy combatant" can be held without charges or civil protections indefinitely. Apparently the Geneva convention and certain rules regarding torture do net even apply.

    Electronic communication which needed specific warrants to ease drop on has all but been thrown wide open. Large categories of previously protected communication can now be listen to, read, or filtered-- run through sofware that identifies key words or phrases without a warrant.

    If this is not a significan erosion of civil rights, what is?

    Now I am certain of two things: I will not be killed by a terrorist. and I will not be subject to a USA PATRIOT Act search (that I know or care about). Statistics bears out that I am significanly far more likely to be killed in a traffic accident or in an attack by domestic animals than by a terrorist.

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    When discussing the perception of al-Qaeda, we need to keep in mind that there have been different phases. There was our perception of the threat presented by al-Qaeda all through the Clinton administration, throught the first attack on the WTC, when Ruby Ridge and Bill Gates were the objects of Attorney General's desire, up through the first eight months of the Bush administration. But by lunchtime on 9/11, our preception changed dramatically and we saw the need to take the threat more seriously. Some have retreated to a pre-9/11 mindset, failing to see a current threat because Britney Spears is on the news instead of a burning building.

    I think it's anyone's guess (and with the BBC, it's at best a guess) if we're responding appropriately. It's impossible to know now if we're reacting enough or too little. If it's too little, we'll have another catastrophe on our hands, and if it's too much then we blow our budget rebuilding countries overseas. Call me what you want (I've already heard it all), but I'd rather build voting centers in the middle east than rebuild lower Manhattan again.

    The only way we'll really know is after the fact. Then all the Monday-morning quarterbacks can fight it out.

    On a personal note, by lunchtime on 9/11, my sister had called to let me know she had made it out and clear and was in her husband's office in midtown, I had stopped crying and had made it in to work. I'm not going to forget that anytime soon.

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    I haven't seen the BBC program yet, and I don't know if I plan to.
    I think terrorism is a real threat and al-Qaeda a prime player. Invading Afganistan did a lot to disrupt their training and organization. But the attacks in Spain show that they are not gone.

    We acted decisively. The problem with acting decisively, but without all the information is that our efforts may actually be counter-productive.
    The USA-PATRIOT Act and the invasion of Iraq may not have made us any safer than we were before. If we have time to analyze the information and act intelligently rather than out of fear and anger, we can probably do better.

    Osama is a multimillionaire who still maintains ties to his family in Saudi Arabia. I think our friends hold the key to his capture.
    Last edited by No-name; 17-01-05 at 20:09. Reason: typo

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    [QUOTE=BruceHall]
    ... While there have been bombings in the past, most terrorist organizations - the IRA, ETA, etc. - targeted military or political targets. They did not attace office workers in their office entirely unrelated to any military or governmental activity.

    Hi BruceHall,

    What you write about IRA and ETA is entirely true, they do target civilians, the only difference is that they will generally call newpapers or even the police to let them now they have planted a bomb and in which area, and how much time they have to find the bomb before it explodes. The aim of these terrorists is mainly to disrrupt and cause fear, but if they kill one or two people in the process they don't feel sorry.
    I was in London in 1996 when IRA started to plant bombs again. In February, a bomb killed two people in Canary Wharf. A few weeks later I had to be evacuated from school and then a train station.
    As you can see, the target was civilians, whether they were sitting in their office or waiting for the train.

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    Call me what you want (I've already heard it all), but I'd rather build voting centers in the middle east than rebuild lower Manhattan again.
    Call you what? We're all well behaved here...

    Seriously, I agree with you. But I'm cynical about democracy in Iraq, to say the least. You can't just build a voting center and expect democracy to blossom overnight. It has taken over a hundred years and a civil war in America, and it's still far from perfect. So, my MAIN beef with the government is the methods. I still have plenty of problems with some of Washington's motives, but that's another story.

    This isn't like Japan after WWII.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceHall
    It is a myth that the Patriot Act greatly increased the Federal government powers. In fact, all the Patriot Act did was apply powers and tools that the US Federal government could bring to bear on other crimes, such as organized crime, to terrorism.
    I have heard people over and over again talk about the erosion of civil liberties, and even make rather paranoid statements about never flying again, but with little evidence or examples. What SPECIFICALLY do these people have in mind? What specific incidents can they point to? What specifics of the Patriot Act?
    Defenses can always be overridden but that doesn't make defenses worthless. If a defense stops 90% of attacks, is the defense worthless? Condoms do not stop the spread of AIDS but they do slow it down. Are condoms a useless defense?
    If more is needed I will post more.
    I am reluctant to make a foe of you but I sense that at least a portion of this was aimed at me, Bruce, so allow me to retort.

    I do not recall mentioning the Patriot Act. No, after re-reading, I sure didn't. It is only one of numerous brands of Federal reaction to the atrocities committed in the name of Islam on 11 Sept 01, and before. Most were done by Executive Order and not even by legislative action in Congress. And as a retired Marine and ex-sworn LEO, I understand fully those who claim that some/all of these were/are necessary to combat illegal OC activities as well as potential terrorism. However, comma, consider this:

    (a) In any effort to combat terroism throughout the 20th Century, none have been successful at ending a single example with a defensive strategy. To be successful, a terrorist campaign only need to continue to exist. Ergo, if only 10% are successful, if is usually enough for the terrorists to win. This tends to be true of wise guys, too. Soooooo, if you say 90% effectiveness is good enough, you are completely incorrect, IMHO.

    (b) I think that the invasion of privacy without PC (probable cause in this case, Bruce) is potentially dangerous to the individual freedom of the American people if only because of the fact that even if all of the terrorists in the world were to cease operations tomorrow, forever, this law could (probably will) remain. It is a very powerful investigative tool for those who assemble cases based solely upon documentary evidence. The average US Attorney loves the RICO Act, too. No recent Federal law is more abused by Federal procecutors IMHO than is the RICO Act. If we can judge the future use of the Patriot Act by that, you may have sufficient cause to fret in the future.

    (c) I believe that there are numerous examples of abuses but I only know of one at this moment. It was not from the Patriot Act, but from the abuse of TSA regulations at RDU. While waiting for the arrival of a friend, I was accosted in the parking lot by plain clothes security personnel, cuffed, hauled into a holding area, and detained while my personal vehicle was torn apart under a detail search. I was cavity searched and eventually questioned, but as they found nothing to justify their actions they became the more frantic to discover something and grew abusive. I was eventually released, after several hours. No explanation was offered, and I was advised that as one of the "insiders" I should understand what they had done and "forgive and forget." These are matters for civil litigation to resolve, but this is the source of my apprehension with airports, Bruce, not a rumor I heard, or some article in Newsweek.

    I will dig on the Web and see if there are others examples to report to you.

    Semper Fi.

    PS: condoms do not work if you get AIDS in any case, do they?
    Last edited by Shooter452; 18-01-05 at 22:00. Reason: spelling/syntax errors

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    My brother was detained for 24 hours in Miami, but not (as) badly treated. He was asked seeming random questions, he had to sleep in a cot in some airport detention cell...he had his luggage searched, and was released with some kind of excuse/appology. During that time he was not charged or told why he was being detained and never had the opportunity to call anyone. We were worried since when we showed up to the airport, he was not on his flight and we got no call.

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    Sue. Seriously. This random search cr@p isn't accomplishing anything more than the dress code required of air marshalls. (the dress code makes the marshalls stand out in a "slash my throat first" manner) Even a liiittle bit of profiling (looking for the terrorists, not just weapons, as Israel's El Al airlines does) would go a looong way.

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    There are a few things that I have to disagree with here.

    Quote Originally Posted by BruceHall

    We need to remember (a) that terrorists are a very, very small minority of any community, (b) terrorism never has worked to gain politcal goals, and therefore (c) terrorism is an irrational reaction to a problem.
    This isn't at all true. For one thing, military aged males will always be a small minority in whatever community they belong to. But in numerous cases, including the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza and the Sunni insurgents in Central Iraq the "terrorists" enjoy quite a broad range of popular support among their community. If they didn't, they wouldn't last long.

    It also isn't even remotely true to say that "terrorism never has worked to achieve political goals". That is just ridiculous. Just about every major political change over the past couple hundred years has been carried out by people labelled as "terrorists". 20th century examples include Irish independence, the Russian revolution, Algerian independence and the dismantlement of most of Europe's colonial empires in the face of armed opposition in the 50s and 60s. Nelson Mandela's ANC which ended aparthied in South Africa was listed as a terrorist organization by the US state department too. The list goes on and on. Looking at Al-Quaida's political goals: ie to provoke a holy war betwen the Islamic and western worlds you could easily make the argument that he has succeeded there too.

    Quote Originally Posted by BruceHall
    There is not an inexhaustible supply of terrorists. Arresting and imprisoning terrorists, stopping their money supply, frustrating their plans, and taking numerous other political and police actions will eventually lead to the threat diminishing and disappearing.
    This I agree with completely. But it is also true IMHO that the Bush administration hasn't done a very good job with this either.

    Quote Originally Posted by BruceHall
    We also must remember that success brings recruits. Sept. 11th undoubtedly boosted the recruits -- Wow, look at they did. Maybe I can do that cool thing. The fact that in 3 1/2 years they have been unable to repeat or even come close, has to hurt. No one wants to join a failure - a failed organization or a failed cause.
    I don't think this is at all accurate. Most people across the planet were disgusted by 9/11 and there is no evidence that recruitment for Al-Quaida went up as a result. The invasion of Iraq however has sent recruitment skyrocketing, which is exactly what the CIA said would happen before the war started, raising serious questions about the Bush administration's competency to handle the 'war on terror'. As for failing to repeat 9/11, its worth mentioning that attacks of that scale require years of planning and preperation (5 years in the case of 9/11) so it isn't a surprise to anybody that another attack of that scale hasn't occured yet. But they have had a lot of smaller attacks, like the Spanish train bombings and the attack on the British consulate in Turkey, not to mention their activity in Iraq.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Hall
    b. that there is nothing new about Al Qaeda type terrorism -- This is clearly not the case. While there have been bombings in the past, most terrorist organizations - the IRA, ETA, etc. - targeted military or political targets. They did not attace office workers in their office entirely unrelated to any military or governmental activity. The Palestinian terrorists - also Islamic - did and do target civilians. That is unique. But they are limited to Israelis. Al Qaeda targets Western Civilization and Christianity.
    This isn't at all true either. Terrorists of all stripes have targeted civilians throughout history, there is nothing unique about Islamic terrorism in this regard. The Israeli terrorist organizations that operated in Palestine prior to the founding of statehood regularly targeted civilians in their campaign to get the British out of the mandate - notably the David Hotel Bombing that killed aboutt 100 people. This activity continued during the war of independence and right up to the present, with Israeli settlers often targeting Palestian civilians. In 1994 an American born Jewish settler took a machine gun into a mosque and opened fire, killing 29 unarmed civilians, almost all of them women and children.

    There are dozens of other examples. Hindu extremists in India have killed thousands of defenseless muslim civilians over the past few years. Or how about the American terrorist who blew up the Oklahoma federal building -- why do those innocent people who died in their offices not warrant mention in your account? Or are we to infer that in your opinion the Oklahoma federal building was a legitimate military target? Saying that targetting civilians is a uniquely Palestian (or muslim) tactic is not even remotely true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by senseiman
    Most people across the planet were disgusted by 9/11 and there is no evidence that recruitment for Al-Quaida went up as a result. The invasion of Iraq however has sent recruitment skyrocketing, which is exactly what the CIA said would happen before the war started, raising serious questions about the Bush administration's competency to handle the 'war on terror'. As for failing to repeat 9/11, its worth mentioning that attacks of that scale require years of planning and preperation (5 years in the case of 9/11) so it isn't a surprise to anybody that another attack of that scale hasn't occured yet. But they have had a lot of smaller attacks, like the Spanish train bombings and the attack on the British consulate in Turkey, not to mention their activity in Iraq.
    While those are widely repeated generalizations, they are solidly disputed. But at least we agree that al-Qaeda isn't a myth.

    First, let's look at the generalization that the war in Iraq has sent al-Qaeda recruitment skyrocketing. This puts into the reader's mind an image of previously peaceful and non-threatening muslims signing up to get shot by the coalition forces. That's a romantic notion purported by a media that was already against the invasion, but it's not accurate. Take for example the Jordanian terrorist, al-Zarqawi. He already had his own network, called al-Tawhid or something. After he and his men started fighting in this conlfict, he pledged his allegiance to bin Laden and now calls his group al-Qaeda. They're still Islamic terrorists striking against American and Israeli interests, just a different name. THAT'S what is, far more often than not, swelling the al-Qaeda ranks. Besides, bin Laden would be an even bigger idiot than he already is if he wasn't trying to recruit. He lost 70% of his group to death or capture during the Afghan operation. You're expecting him to lie down and die in the face of a conflict he wanted? That's just so... Jimmy Carter.

    Secondly, where do you get the idea that 9/11 was their only plan? This group has always had dozens of plans, several already well along. Remember the plans for the NY financial district? They were three years in the making and had been updated just a couple of months prior to their discovery. Do you seriously believe that this group, which numbered in the thousands, had all their efforts poured into 20 men and four airliners, and then, if successful, they would have to start from scratch before embarking on another attack?

    'Splain that to me....

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    Censport,

    I can see your point about Al-quaida recruitment coming from pre-existing groups. But there are a few qualifiers. For one thing I don't think Zarqawi had ever succesfully attacked an American target before the Iraq war gave him boundless opportunities to do so. Secondly, while most of the Iraqi insurgents don't directly belong to Al-Quaida linked groups the fact is that the vast majority of those people (estimated at 200,000 by the head of Iraqi intelligence) shooting at American troops every day probably would never have dreamed of killing Americans before they invaded their country. This isn't directly related to Al-Quaida, but when looking at anti-American/western violence in general you can't discount the huge increase in numbers created by the Iraq war. Plus while many of the insurgents/terrorists may have harbored strong anti-American sentiments before the war, there is no doubt that the invasion has had a strong effect in mobilizing those people - not just in Iraq but across the Arab and Muslim world. They say Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as the world's leading terrorist training ground. Given the vast differences in wealth, strategic importance and military training between the two countries this has not been a good trade for the US. I should also mention that Bin Ladin didn't "lie down and die in the face of a conflict he wanted", he simply got up and went off to continue fighting from a different location, which may have been his plan all along.

    As for other attacks, like I mentioned above they have pulled off plenty (Spain bombings, attacks in Turkey, Iraq, etc.), so obviously I wasn't implying that "9/11 was their only plan." They have probably had dozens of attacks which each took years of preparation planned over the past decade or so, but only one of them (9/11) ever materialized into a full blown atrocity of massive proportions. What I was saying is that attacks of that scale are not every day occurences so it is not at all surprising that Al-Quaida have not followed up on 9/11 with an equally devastating attack in the past 3 and a half years. I think this is more an indication of the size, scale and difficulty of such an attack rather than an indication that Al-Quaida is finished, which is what BruceHall was implying above.

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    First, let's look at the generalization that the war in Iraq has sent al-Qaeda recruitment skyrocketing.
    That generalization is incorrect. It's terrorism in general that has skyrocketed. Even the CIA has admitted this. (Not to mention countless other independent organizations.)

    Secondly, while most of the Iraqi insurgents don't directly belong to Al-Quaida linked groups the fact is that the vast majority of those people (estimated at 200,000 by the head of Iraqi intelligence) shooting at American troops every day probably would never have dreamed of killing Americans before they invaded their country. This isn't directly related to Al-Quaida, but when looking at anti-American/western violence in general you can't discount the huge increase in numbers created by the Iraq war. Plus while many of the insurgents/terrorists may have harbored strong anti-American sentiments before the war, there is no doubt that the invasion has had a strong effect in mobilizing those people - not just in Iraq but across the Arab and Muslim world.
    I couldn't have said it better myself. Things aren't any safer since the invasion. It's worse. Further more, the upcoming elections aren't going to change anything. It is not just the Sunnis who will boycott the elections. The Iraq National Foundation Conference will too. They're skipping the whole thing because of the lack of an international body to oversee it. Not to mention four of Iraq's 18 provinces may not be able to "fully" participate in the elections. (Which contain more than half of the population.)

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    What you guys (senseiman & mad pierrot) fail to realize is this isn't an America vs. Iraq conflict. It's coalition forces (primarily American, British, Australian, Polish and Italian) against the old Ba'athist regime and the Jordanian, Syrian, Iranian and Saudi fighters that have been pouring across the border into Iraq. The Ba'athists aren't fighting just because it's Americans, they're fighting because they used to have a death grip on Iraq and they're losing that power. They know that if ordinary Iraqi men (and especially women) get the chance to choose their leaders, it won't be them, and they won't have the unchallenged control over those people and their money that they're used to. It just happens that the people removing them from power are mostly American (And who else would it be?).

    If it was the French, the Germans and/or the Russians, we'd be looking at the same war. The Ba'athists don't want to lose their power. Now the fighters pouring in are probably wanting to fight Americans, I'll give you that. But better there than here, from my perspective.

    If the Sunnis and the INFC want to boycott the elections because the UN is too scared to show up (probably not enough condoms to go around for a delegation, after sending so many to the tsunami victims), let them. They now have the freedom to remove their political significance. It's the first election where they haven't been required to show up, required to vote, and required to vote for Hussein in order to keep their heads. If they don't want to vote, it's now their choice. Let them shoot themselves in the foot!

    In case you haven't noticed, most Americans don't vote. They still make the effort to b!tc#, but if they have to wait in line an hour, they consider themselves disenfranchised. Meanwhile, Iraqi ex-pats in the U.S. are driving half a day each way to register to vote and doing it again in two weeks to vote. And they're excited to do so! They're having friends take their pictures at the registration table!

    Finally, al-Qaeda has lost men, financing, and structure. My guess (and this stuff is really only known by a handful people - bin Laden and his top guys and the people here working the Threat Matrix) is that they aren't capable of organizing an attack on the scale of 9/11. A dirty bomb, a truck bomb (or limo bomb) or something like that perhaps. They're not finished. And if you think the Bush administration can't take some credit for that, you need to stop getting your news from the BBC.

    Are either of you guys old enough to remember the Carter administration? If you had lived through that (as I did), you wouldn't be so haste to criticize the current administration. Sure, we're not doing a perfect job. Our borders need to be more secure, the TSA head needs to be replaced, the INS head needs to be replaced, and we could sure use some common-sense racial profiling. But if you want to know what the world would be like if we were swearing in John Kerry today, go back and look at how Carter handled terrorism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Interesting piece I found on BBC, regarding a series called "The Power of Nightmares" aired last autumn. The series tried to show that much of the "War on Terror" is in fact a pursuit of a fantasy:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4171213.stm

    Quote:
    "As the films showed, wherever one looks for this "al-Qaeda" organisation - from the mountains of Afghanistan to the "sleeper cells" in America - the British and Americans are pursuing a fantasy.

    The bombs in Madrid and Bali showed clearly the seriousness of the threat - but they are not evidence of a new and overwhelming threat unlike any we have experienced before. And above all they do not - in the words of the British government - "threaten the life of the nation". That is simply untrue."
    Hey bossel, nice thread, I also happend to see this documentary when it aired some time ago, I must say it was very well done, and I completely agree with it, maybe because it was so articulate and argued each point carefully with evidence and facts.

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