by Austin Bay
Why was Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl abducted,tortured, then murdered? Let's quote one of the killers, Fahad Naseem: Pearlwas "anti-Islam and a Jew."
Cold? Too damn cold. Blunt words? Bluntly indicative of the hardmen and hardened mindsets within Al Qaeda and a score of other terror clans.
Proud of their evil, the killers filmed the atrocity, expectingTV to disseminate terrifying images of Pearl's suffering and their decisivecruelty.
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'spregnant wife. I pray for two friends of mine, both foreign correspondentsfor major news organizations, currently reporting from South Asia. I alsopray for Naseem and his cohorts, repugnant as they are, though I doubt theybelieve God hears my prayers.
Pearl's murder is a reminder that this Millennium War is a longand difficult haul. The viciousness, the agitprop glorification of thatbrutality and the insistence that such iniquitous behavior is sanctified byGod once again demonstrate that the theo-terrorists intend to wage a warwithout limits.
His murder is also another terrorist boomerang that steelsWestern will to destroy the terror syndicates.
From the get-go, Osama and his crowd overestimated their ownpower, underestimated American might and underestimated Western resolve.
Admittedly, past torture slayings of Americans -- such as the1990 murder of U.S. Marine Colonel William R. Higgins' by Hizbollah inLebanon -- didn't elicit tough reprisals. But 9-11's changed that. Yes, thattheo-terrorist "propaganda by deed" produced a political tectonic shift, butnot the quake they intended. Nor was the Afghan War CENTCOM waged the fightMullah Omar expected.
The Taliban anticipated a reprise of the Soviet-Afghan War, aCold War superpower with tanks clanking into Himalayan valleys. Instead, theUnited States adapted cutting-edge military operational capabilities to therealities of tribe- and ethnic-based combat forces. American battlefieldintelligence and surveillance assets, the cool facility of U.S. specialoperations soldiers and the newest generation of precision-guided munitionsutterly surprised Bin Laden.
The biggest irony of the Afghan War was that it waspredominantly a war between Muslims. The cops and soldiers hunting Pearl'skillers in Pakistan are also Muslims. The Yemeni troops attacking Al Qaedabases in eastern Yemen are Muslims. 9-11 gave China (the Uighurs), Russia(the Chechens) and Indonesia (Aceh province) a freer hand to deal withIslamist-inspired rebellions.
Those aren't the only reversals of terrorist expectation. Thesqueeze on terror finances instituted by the United States, Japan andWestern Europe after 9-11 has apparently had some success. Battlefieldvictory, as well as svelte politicking by the U.S. State Department, hasalso 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'spoor. Isolated among theo-babbling yes-men and blinded by his ownmegalomania, bin Laden failed to understand that food aid, securityassistance and medical relief (most often provided by Western organizations)have more appeal to the planet's impoverished than his embedded sense ofgrievance that the Muslim caliphate no longer exists.
Yet it is a huge mistake for anyone to underestimate thetheo-terrorists' biggest asset: a cadre of men willing to commit atrocitieslike Pearl's murder, to die in suicide bomb blasts and to guide jetlinersinto skyscrapers.
When given the opportunity, these hard men will commit moremurders. Denying them the opportunity demands the technological expertise ofthe U.S. military, global police cooperation and individual vigilance.
In a democracy all of us share the privilege of leadership. Itcomes with the ballot as well as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights alsoprotects a free press. In a very real sense, Daniel Pearl was killed becausehe accepted the responsibility a free press has to a free nation.
To successfully prosecute an effective war against Al Qaeda'sfanatics requires long-term commitment propelled by sustaining will. Thetragic murder of Daniel Pearl only reinforces our sense of purpose.