Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A tale of two al Quaedas 

Maybe intelligence reports are correct and after two and a half years of the war on terror al Quaeda is now so decentralised that we can't speak of it anymore of a single entity, even in terms of an umbrella group.

There certainly seems to be a smart al Quaeda and a dumb al Quaeda.

The smart al Quaeda knows that Europe is soft and vulnerable; the dumb al Quaeda thinks that America still is. The smart al Quaeda has watched the events since S11 with great attention and had learned the lessons; for dumb al Quaeda it's still the 1990s.

The smart al Quaeda sets off bombs in Spain because it knows that most European countries only need a gentle nudge to push them towards surrender. The dumb al Quaeda thinks that it's Beirut in 1983 or Mogadishu in 1993 all over again and killing Americans still works; the dumb al Quaeda hasn't learned that in recent times crashing into American sky-scrapers or cutting off American heads on video will not make the United States give up - it will only make them madder.

The smart al Quaeda has perfect timing, attacking just before a crucial election. The dumb al Quaeda has appalling timing. Just when the United States seems to be on the ropes, demoralised by the prison photos flashed on the news around the world night after night for weeks on end, the dumb al Quaeda releases a video of masked thugs chanting "Allah is great" while they hold a bound American hostage down on the ground and cut his head off with a knife - all of it as if to remind the US what this war is about and strengthen their resolve.

The smart al Quaeda seems to be run by Ayman Zawahiri, the good Egyptian doctor and formerly Osama's deputy. The dumb al Quaeda is run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who's in charge of bin Laden's operations in Iraq. He's apparently the man holding up Berg's severed head in the video.

The smart al Quaeda will likely outlast the dumb al Quaeda. In the end though, both will join Nazism and communism on that famous ash-heap of history. Videos like this one will ensure that they do.


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