Two recent audio tapes from Osama bin Laden have attempted to mobilize al
Qaeda fans in Europe and Israel. The first message, directed at the twenty
million Moslem inhabitants of Europe, condemned the publication of cartoons
criticizing Islamic terrorism. Conservative Islam forbids showing images
depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Moslems also don't like to be criticized, or
accused of being violent. Bin Laden is trying to harness the anger and motivate
young European Moslems to making terrorist attacks. During the last three
years, al Qaeda has been unable to carry out any attacks in Europe or North
America. In fact, outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, all al Qaeda has done is
some bombings in Jordan and Algeria. This inability to kill infidels
(non-Moslems), while slaughtering so many Moslems, has caused serious image
problem for al Qaeda.
invasion of Iraq in 2003 was seen by al Qaeda as a challenge (infidel troops in
the Middle East) and a tremendous opportunity (infidel troops in the Middle
East). For the last five years, Iraq became a magnet for al Qaeda fans, making
it difficult to organize attacks outside the Middle East. Worse, the fighting
in Iraq killed far more Iraqis than Americans. This eventually destroyed al
Qaedas popularity among Moslems. Iraq is lost to al Qaeda, where it has been
the most hated organization for the last three years. Al Qaedas poll numbers
are down across the Moslem world. So bin Laden is playing to the few strengths
al Qaeda still has. The cartoon controversy first showed up a year ago, when al
Qaeda found out about Danish political
cartoons that protested Islamic terrorism. Al Qaeda got on the web and turned
this around by calling the images blasphemy. There were demonstrations all over
the Islamic world, and dozens died. Then it all died down. Recently, one of the
cartoons was published again, in response to the arrest of three Moslem men, in
Denmark, who were accused of plotting to murder one of the Danish cartoonists.
This time around, there are not as many demonstrations, and not as much
violence. Al Qaeda sees it as a recruiting opportunity. However, the last time
around, most of the recruits went off to Iraq, where they largely died.
European counter-terror organizations are noting who is calling for violence
against the cartoonists.
recent bin Laden tape calls for more death and destruction in Gaza, where
radical Palestinians are calling for a fight to the death with Israel. Untrained
volunteers are not much use to Hamas, the largest Palestinian terror
organization, because Israel has cut off access to Israeli civilians. Bin
Laden, however, knows that the border between Gaza and Egypt has broken down,
and it's easier for anyone to get into Gaza. The al Qaeda volunteers can then
make desperate attacks at Israeli troops guarding the border fence. In response
to that, Israel has issued new rules-of-engagement for its troops. Now,
Israelis are to use "whatever means necessary" to prevent the capture of
Israelis, or any violence against Israelis. Islamic terrorists have a much
harder time killing Israelis, than they do killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thus Bin Ladens call for followers to flock to Israel, will likely get most of
Laden's two new calls to arms will probably have the same impact previous ones
had. That is, very little. His bark is far worse than his bite.