Counter-Terrorism: Come Die For Me

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March 25,2008: 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.

The 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.

The second 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 them killed.

Bin 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.

 


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