by Austin Baytortured, then murdered? Let's quote one of the killers, Fahad Naseem: Pearl
was "anti-Islam and a Jew."
Cold? Too damn cold. Blunt words? Bluntly indicative of the hard
men and hardened mindsets within Al Qaeda and a score of other terror clans.
Proud of their evil, the killers filmed the atrocity, expecting
TV to disseminate terrifying images of Pearl's suffering and their decisive
Here's the agitprop intent of this terror "propaganda by deed"
followed by video replay: "The World Trade Center was terror en masse, our
'execution' of Mr. Pearl is terror in the particular. America and the West,
you must continue to fear us."
No, I haven't seen the barbaric pictures. I pray for Pearl's
pregnant wife. I pray for two friends of mine, both foreign correspondents
for major news organizations, currently reporting from South Asia. I also
pray for Naseem and his cohorts, repugnant as they are, though I doubt they
believe God hears my prayers.
Pearl's murder is a reminder that this Millennium War is a long
and difficult haul. The viciousness, the agitprop glorification of that
brutality and the insistence that such iniquitous behavior is sanctified by
God once again demonstrate that the theo-terrorists intend to wage a war
His murder is also another terrorist boomerang that steels
Western will to destroy the terror syndicates.
From the get-go, Osama and his crowd overestimated their own
power, underestimated American might and underestimated Western resolve.
Admittedly, past torture slayings of Americans -- such as the
1990 murder of U.S. Marine Colonel William R. Higgins' by Hizbollah in
Lebanon -- didn't elicit tough reprisals. But 9-11's changed that. Yes, that
theo-terrorist "propaganda by deed" produced a political tectonic shift, but
not the quake they intended. Nor was the Afghan War CENTCOM waged the fight
Mullah Omar expected.
The Taliban anticipated a reprise of the Soviet-Afghan War, a
Cold War superpower with tanks clanking into Himalayan valleys. Instead, the
United States adapted cutting-edge military operational capabilities to the
realities of tribe- and ethnic-based combat forces. American battlefield
intelligence and surveillance assets, the cool facility of U.S. special
operations soldiers and the newest generation of precision-guided munitions
utterly surprised Bin Laden.
The biggest irony of the Afghan War was that it was
predominantly a war between Muslims. The cops and soldiers hunting Pearl's
killers in Pakistan are also Muslims. The Yemeni troops attacking Al Qaeda
bases in eastern Yemen are Muslims. 9-11 gave China (the Uighurs), Russia
(the Chechens) and Indonesia (Aceh province) a freer hand to deal with
Those aren't the only reversals of terrorist expectation. The
squeeze on terror finances instituted by the United States, Japan and
Western Europe after 9-11 has apparently had some success. Battlefield
victory, as well as svelte politicking by the U.S. State Department, has
also muted "the Arab street."
Bin Laden gambled on a global Muslim uprising. That's fizzled.
The multimillionaire terrorist also banked on the sympathy of the world's
poor. Isolated among theo-babbling yes-men and blinded by his own
megalomania, bin Laden failed to understand that food aid, security
assistance and medical relief (most often provided by Western organizations)
have more appeal to the planet's impoverished than his embedded sense of
grievance that the Muslim caliphate no longer exists.
Yet it is a huge mistake for anyone to underestimate the
theo-terrorists' biggest asset: a cadre of men willing to commit atrocities
like Pearl's murder, to die in suicide bomb blasts and to guide jetliners
When given the opportunity, these hard men will commit more
murders. Denying them the opportunity demands the technological expertise of
the U.S. military, global police cooperation and individual vigilance.
In a democracy all of us share the privilege of leadership. It
comes with the ballot as well as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights also
protects a free press. In a very real sense, Daniel Pearl was killed because
he accepted the responsibility a free press has to a free nation.
To successfully prosecute an effective war against Al Qaeda's
fanatics requires long-term commitment propelled by sustaining will. The
tragic murder of Daniel Pearl only reinforces our sense of purpose.