Inter Press Network

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Duke of Alba

by William S. Lind

In the sixteenth century, Europe was devastated by wars of religion, a fact which gives that unhappy time some relevance to our own. The foremost soldier and commander in sixteenth-century Europe was the Duke of Alba. An excellent new biography of the Duke by Henry Kamen offers some less than encouraging lessons.

In the 1560s, Spain faced a minor revolt in the Netherlands, which were then controlled by the Spanish crown. Hundreds of Catholic churches were sacked and desecrated by mobs of Calvinists. Philip II of Spain decided to send an army, commanded by the Duke of Alba – despite the fact that by Spring, 1567, the Netherlands' regent had put the rebellion down. In effect, Philip and Alba embarked on a "war of choice," against the advice of both local authorities and many of Philip’s counselors.

The Duke of Alba’s arrival in Brussels on Friday, August 22, 1567, at the head of an army of 10,000 men – it was the first to follow the famous "Spanish Road" – created a problem where none existed. Henry Kamen writes,

The duke of Alba, observers guessed, was there to restore order, arrest dissidents and check the growth of heresy. But the situation, according to Margaret of Parma (the Regent), was under control, so why was an army needed? It was in any case the first time that heresy in another country had ever appeared to be a concern of the Spanish crown.

Once Alba got himself settled, he began arresting Flemish aristocrats, including some of those who had helped Margaret suppress the previous year’s rebellion. King Phillip wrote to Alba in November, 1567, "you have a free hand." He did so despite some excellent advice from Friar Lorenzo de Villavicencio, who had lived in the Netherlands.

The situation, Villavicencio insisted to the king, could not be resolved with an army. Nor must force be used against the Netherlanders, for that would unite them all against Spain . . . ‘Don’t let Your Majesty be persuaded that the Flemings are beasts and drunks, for they are human beings and if not so now they will be so one day, standing together and in their own land and with neighbors who will help them; and even if they kill one of ours and we kill ten of theirs, in the end they will finish us.’ Spaniards could not be allowed to govern in the country, ‘for they neither know the language nor understand the laws and customs.’

Philip and Alba ignored this advice; Alba’s motto was "Hombres muertos no hazen guerra" – dead men make no war. His army did what armies do, kill people and break things, and the result was a string of local victories. By the summer of 1570, Kamen writes,

Alba felt he could congratulate himself on having achieved what no other general in history had ever achieved: the pacification of a whole province, "and without losing a single man, because I can assure you that in the two campaigns barely a hundred soldiers died."

But that wasn’t the end of the story. The Dutch rebels adapted in a way the Spanish had never imagined: they based themselves where no Spanish troops could reach them, at sea. On April 1, 1572, the Sea Beggars, as the maritime rebels called themselves, seized the offshore port of Brill. On April 14, the Prince of Orange called on the Dutch people to revolt against "cruel bloodthirsty, foreign oppressors," and they did. The resulting war would last for 80 years and result in Dutch independence and Spanish ruin.

As to the Duke of Alba himself, and his policies in the Netherlands, the best summary was offered by his successor there, Luis de Requesens. As Henry Kamen quotes him,

All I know is that when he came to this post he found the disturbances in them settled and no territory lost, and everything so quiet and secure that he could wield the knife as he wished. And by the time he left all Holland and Zealand was in the power of the enemy, as well as a good port of Guelderland and Brabant, and all the opinion of these provinces, with the finances wholly ruined.

Whether this epitaph will apply equally well to America’s invasion of Iraq, time will tell. But it is all too possible that the Middle East will end up being America’s Netherlands. In any event, I somehow doubt that history will accept the Bush administration’s Newspeak name for the invasion of Iraq, "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Might "Operation Duke of Alba" be a more credible substitute?

July 28, 2005

William Lind [send him mail] is Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation. The views expressed in this article are those of Mr. Lind, writing in his personal capacity.

Departing Iraq

by Paul Craig Roberts

June 30, 2005, was the peak of neocon delusion. On that day American Enterprise Institute neocon Karl Zinsmeister posted his article on the AEI online site titled: "The War is Over, and We Won."

No sooner than Zinsmeister put delusion to paper than US military commanders reported escalating and more sophisticated insurgency attacks. Casualties exploded with more deadly bombings, giving meaning to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s projection of a 12-year war. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the conflict’s cost may exceed $700 billion.

A University of Chicago professor published a study that concluded suicide bombings are a response to military occupation and will increase with the length of occupation.

Various Iraqi politicians expressed their opinions that the insurgency was a response to the US occupation and would not end until the Americans withdrew.

British polls found that overwhelming majorities blamed the London bombings on Britain’s participation in the Iraq war.

By July 27 the Christian Science Monitor had the headline: "Iraq PM urges quick pullout of US forces."

The Washington Post reported that the tone of statements by Secretary Rumsfeld, Prime Minister Jaafari, and Gen. George Casey, US commanding general in Iraq, "suggested a heightened urgency to planning for the US troop reduction, despite the continuation of lethal daily attacks by insurgents in Iraq."

We have run out of troops and money, the rest of the world has run out of patience with our stupidity, and the upper regions of the Bush administration may be crumbling under pressure of a prosecutor’s investigations and eroding public support.

Bush administration neocons such as Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Libby, along with their cheerleaders at Fox "News," the Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal editorial page, National Review, and the New York Times’ Judith Miller will go down in history as the architects and enablers of the greatest strategic blunder in American history. The neocon dream of conquering the Middle East and destroying Islam as a force is now in history’s trash heap of failed adventures along with such miscalculations as Hitler’s march into Russia and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In seeking to get to the bottom of the Valerie Plame affair, federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is bringing us back to the Big Question: Who cooked the books in order to justify the invasion of Iraq? Was the ringleader Vice President Cheney? Was it Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his neocon cadres? Or was it President Bush himself? What role did Condi "Mushroom Cloud" Rice play in the orchestrated deceit of Congress and the American public?

In the American system, high government officials, no matter how powerful their positions, are not the law. They are subject to the law, which they are sworn to uphold, and when they violate the law they are held accountable.

The US invasion of Iraq was illegal and unwarranted. Those who conspired to bring this war about must be identified and punished. Otherwise the United States will sink from the rule of law into the rule of men.

A true patriot does not confuse government with country. A patriot’s loyalty is to his country, and loyalty to country requires holding government accountable.

July 28, 2005

Dr. Roberts is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.


Devil’s Doorway

by Michael S. Rozeff

The movie, Devil’s Doorway, a fine Hollywood western released in 1950 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, dramatically illustrates timeless truths about human nature, natural (higher and unchanging) law, and the State’s (man-made and evanescent) law.

The moral conflict

Lance Poole (Broken Lance), convincingly portrayed by Robert Taylor, is a Shoshone Indian returning to Wyoming and his tribal and family lands known as Sweet Meadow, a fertile valley. He is a decorated (Congressional Medal of Honor) veteran of the War of Secession. In the 5 years after his father’s death, he greatly builds up his cattle ranching business, using Sweet Meadow to graze and water his large herd. Entrance to the valley is through a pass known as Devil’s Doorway.

Louis Calhern plays a lawyer named Verne Coolan, Poole’s antagonist. However, the unstoppable forces that set the tragedy in motion and keep it going are the white man’s land hunger and its official emblem, the Homestead law, which touches nearly everyone in the movie.

Coolan makes no secret of his hatred for the Indian, but his motivations go deeper than antipathy and prejudice. Twice he speaks in glowing terms of Sweet Meadow as a home to go to, a place for one’s final rest. For Coolan has lung disease, which strangely neither seems to undermine him nor prevent his smoking cigars.

Coolan: "It’s a dream all men have when they ache for home." (Clap of thunder). And later: "It’s a place for home. I’d like to live there myself." (Wistfully, as if it will never happen.)

He jealously covets the place that Sweet Meadow is, not to farm or graze or use its land, not for money or gain, but as the Heaven that this Satan can never enter. For Coolan is the Devil of the story’s title and his behavior throughout is exactly that of a devil.

In the course of the story, Coolan pretends to be an angel to gain power, via offering to sign a petition in Poole’s favor, and by using the law against Poole. Through lies and promises, he recruits sheep farmers to travel to Wyoming to enter Sweet Valley. But without access to Sweet Meadow’s water, he knows that their sheep will soon die.

He lies to instigate an incident that places Poole in a bad light. He becomes temporary Marshall and recruits the sheep farmers to violence. He uses deceit and provokes Poole. Coolan mobilizes force, lying, fraud, snares and machinations, all classic workings of the Devil. His goal is an invasion of Sweet Meadow, and he succeeds.

St. Paul writes (Ephesians 6:12): "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Poole wrestles with devilish men twice, physically not spiritually, the first time with Coolan’s henchman and the second time with Coolan himself whom he chokes to death. Both physical struggles bring out the fury and ferocity of a life and death conflict. Coolan succeeds in provoking Poole to malice. Poole is not a Christian, he is a warrior. He is a mortal man with mortal limitations, not a saint. Yet Poole is fighting, as we still are, against principalities, powers, rulers of this world’s darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places. Nothing has changed.

Although Poole endures several encounters, including intrusions by the sheep farmers, he behaves maturely and with restraint to defend his land, using the least possible force, warning intruders, and not rising to anger. He continually stops short of senseless violence and gives the other side a chance to withdraw. He is basically not a man who likes violence, and he regrets having to use it. The War saw to that. However, in the last reel, when he one-sidedly kills Coolan with his bare hands, after Coolan has entered Sweet Meadow with a large band of men, he loses any pretense of restraint. In effect the Devil has won. Poole almost becomes corrupted. Although he fights for his land with good reason, he almost uses his power as patriarch to bring death upon all the remaining members of his tribe still with him. In the end, he relents.

He and his tribe are surrounded by an overwhelming force of soldiers. Their Lieutenant acts with admirable sense, forbearance, and conscience, clearly not wanting to slaughter innocent women and children. Poole then reciprocates, man to man, soldier to soldier, warrior to warrior. The brotherhood of soldiers that he felt during the late War returns. Mortally wounded, he goes to meet the soldiers, after donning his uniform and medal. He returns the Lieutenant’s salute after the man sees his medal. Poole is defeated. He wears the trappings of those who defeated him, their symbols of distinction, valor and heroism. But he stands proud. He goes out of this life as one proud soldier to another proud soldier, in honor. But not without a complete understanding of the irony of his final seconds on earth.

Lieutenant: Where are the others?

Poole: We’re all gone. (Falls down dead)

Would that our present day overstuffed military, the brutal DEA, the monstrous CIA, the Gestapo FBI, and our political officials, our cruel Albrights, our dictatorial Renos, our conniving Clintons, hypocritical Bushes and appalling Rumsfelds who give the orders, our cowardly legislatures that buy the bullets with our money, our shallow fellow voters who cheer them on, and our scheming and power-hungry Kristols would display the least little bit of conscience depicted here as a value. Instead their lips cheer on massacres and tortures that add to a century long list. The horror! The shame! "They are futile, a work of errors; In the time of their punishment they shall perish."

Natural law

Lance Poole, his father, and other Shoshones have lived in Sweet Meadow for a long, long time. Poole uses the land intensively for raising cattle. Several times in the movie, he makes it very clear that Sweet Meadow is his land, his property. In several instances, he defends it against intrusion. The story thus leaves no doubt that the Shoshones own this land by virtue of a natural right of true homesteading, meaning that they have been the first to mix their labor with the land, and that they did no one any harm in doing so. They have justly become the original appropriators of the land. The movie unambiguously depicts this working of natural law.

This rosy picture is disturbed by the man-made or statutory law, the Homestead law. A series of homestead laws dispersed Federal lands in 160-acre parcels under certain conditions, one of which was being a U.S. citizen. Since Poole is not a U.S. citizen, he cannot homestead his own land, which, by the way, is far more than 160 acres. The man-made law is on Coolan’s side.

With the help of lawyer Orrie Masters, played by Paula Raymond, Poole files a homestead application that is turned down. She then suggests circulating a petition, but Coolan foils this plan. Miss Masters, while very sympathetic to Poole, has a strong loyalty to "the law", her father having been a lawyer.

Her interchanges with Poole bring out the heart of the conflict between natural and man-made law. The first such interchange is this.

Masters: It’s the law and we have to abide by it.

Poole: I see your point.

Masters: Do you? Oh, I hope so.

Poole: Sure. I envy you, Ma’m, your being a lawyer. You’ve got a faith, something to go by, like a religion. With you, it’s the law.

Masters: My father wanted me to study law. It means a great deal to me.

Poole: Yes, it must. (sarcastically) I’ve always wanted something like that, something to tell me what’s right and wrong.

Masters: (innocently) I’m glad you feel the way you do.

Poole: (bitingly) Because you don’t have to bother about your conscience. It’s written out for you to follow, no matter what it does to people. It’s the law.

Here we have exceptionally fine writing, developing the conflict between man-made or political law and the natural law of conscience. Pope Benedict XVI in 1991 wrote in a similar vein: "The separation of politics from any natural content of law, which is the inalienable patrimony of everyone’s moral conscience, deprives social life of its ethical substance and leaves it defenseless before the will of the strongest."

Here we have also a contrast between a higher law to which man can turn versus worship of a graven image, law, the State’s handiwork. Kafka saw this law as a heartless bureaucratic machine that swallowed up and ruled even its operators, turning on them to engrave their hides with the law. Can man worship any handiwork of man without soon turning against those who do not share that worship?

The second interchange is this.

Poole: Do you believe deep in your heart that they have a right to my land?

Masters: Lance, I believe they’re human beings. I believe everyone has a right to live.

Poole: You didn’t answer me.

Masters: What can they do?

Poole: Do you think they have a right to my land?

Masters: Yes! Yes! To a part of it anyway.

Poole knows his natural rights, while Masters is a socialist who could today be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. She is willing to abandon original appropriation and the definiteness of an a priori ethical rule for an exercise in taking property ex post. She takes her side with the godless State or with utilitarians who are willing to measure the wealth counted in sheep against the lives of the Shoshones. By contrast, Poole sides with his Creator, and the script elsewhere carefully brings out the holy and soulful attachment of Poole, his father, and the other Shoshones to the land they have lived on all their lives. The wavering and unsure Masters, drawn to Poole, in the end comes back to her own life’s center, the law, which she cannot get beyond. Javert, faced with a similar dilemma, threw himself into the Seine.

Poole’s relationship with the sheep farmers brings out another facet of natural law. The head of the sheep farmers is Rod MacDougall played by Marshall Thompson. After being enticed by Coolan to Wyoming and finding that the only water is on land held by Poole, he refuses immediately to do battle with the Shoshones. The farmers have had one minor skirmish already, and he recognizes a determined man in Poole when he sees one. His deference to the Indians’ rights is another factor that makes him reluctant to invade Sweet Meadow. Although the law is on his side and the sheep need water, he is not intent on lording it over Poole. Instead he attempts to make a deal with Poole to rent, buy or lease water and grazing rights - an admirable free-market and natural law way to solve the conflict by a man whose conscience and offer recognize Poole’s natural rights.

After a short hesitation, Poole agrees to negotiate if his petition works out. Due to Coolan’s maneuverings, the petition fails and the war breaks out. Although good people of goodwill abound in the story and have workable solutions, the fact is that the law keeps raising its ugly head and preventing cooperation and reconciliation. It fosters and facilitates the conflict in the presence of a few evil people like Coolan.

Worthy of note is the strong parallel between an eminent domain taking of land for another’s private use and the belief of Masters that the sheep farmers have a right to Poole’s water so that they do not lose their sheep. Also in passing, notice that the homestead laws, despite their name and seeming relation to Locke, were social engineering, designed to produce a nation of small farmers.

Film notes

The Devil’s Doorway was historically a narrow pass used by the Nez Perce Indians to escape toward Canada in the Yellowstone area where odious geysers merited the name "Colter’s Hell".

The screenplay, written by Guy Trosper, was nominated for a Writers Guild Academy Award.

Good writers do not choose character names at random, and I believe the names in this movie carry meaning. Lance is a pointed rod used by a knight. Of course, Broken Lance signifies the crushing of Poole (and all the Shoshones) by their great father, (the ironic term used by the Creek Chief Speckled Snake in response to President Jackson’s address to them as their Father). Verne means alder tree, a hardwood tree, or someone who lives near a grove of alders. Hence, the two first names of the antagonist and protagonist are similar, signifying two hard opposing forces of nature. The name Poole comes from someone living near a pool of water. Coolan apparently is from Cullen or Killen, which means either to kill someone off or "neck of a lake" from cul (neck) and lin (lake). The struggle of the movie centers on the year-round water in Sweet Meadow arising from the mountain ice melting, while Wyoming gets little rainfall. Meanwhile, the head of the sheep farmers has the surname Rod, yet another obdurate element in the story’s progress. And the name Masters is probably no accident for a character who makes the law her master and a story in which the law is everyone’s master.

The director, Anthony Mann, and the cinematographer, John Alton, teamed up to make some other wonderful film noirs, such as Raw Deal, T-Men, Border Incident, The Black Book, and He Walked By Night. Devil’s Doorway’s black and white images are similarly matchless.

The acting is of uniformly high quality. Despite the fact that a number of plot details are revealed above, they cannot possibly do justice to the film’s many moments of compelling story-telling.

TCM shows this enjoyable movie on occasion. Keep your eyes open.

The helpful comments of Dorothy Gruber-Rozeff are gratefully appreciated.

July 28, 2005

*Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is the Louis M. Jacobs Professor of Finance at University at Buffalo.

The Threat of Islamic Extremism to Bangladesh

Drafted By: Dr. Sudha Ramachandran

The Bangladesh government's current measures against Islamic extremists operating on its soil could put the country's interests in danger. With conditions in the country conducive to the spread of Islamic extremism, the government's relaxed approach to this issue could enhance Bangladesh's attractiveness as a haven for terrorists fleeing counter-terrorism operations elsewhere.

Incidents of extremism and terrorism have witnessed a sharp increase in Bangladesh in recent years, with the number of attacks last year exceeding the total number of incidents in the preceding five years. Most of the attacks have been directed against religious minorities, secular intellectuals and journalists as well as against politicians belonging to secular parties and leftist activists. Islamist extremists have sought to impose an Islamic way of life on people in rural areas, often through the use of force. Women have been coerced into veiling themselves and men have been forced to grow beards and wear skull caps.

Many who defy these rules have been tortured and killed. Cultural groups and cinema halls have been targeted as well. In August 2004, a bomb blast at a rally being addressed by Sheikh Hasina Wajed, former prime minister and leader of the secular, center-left Awami League, killed 21 people and injured hundreds. This was the second attempt on her life, the first being in 2000 when she was prime minister. In January this year, former finance minister Shah M.S. Kibria, also of the Awami League, was assassinated.

These attacks are believed to be the work of Islamist terror outfits like the Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (H.U.J.I.-B.), the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (J.M.J.B.) and the Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (A.H.A.B.). H.U.J.I.-B.'s links with al-Qaeda are well known. It is said to have been set up with seed money provided by Osama bin Laden, and the group is a member of his International Islamic Front (I.I.F.).

History of Islamic Fundamentalism in Bangladesh

Neither Islamic fundamentalism nor extremism is new to Bangladesh. Although it was linguistic nationalism not religious nationalism that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, Islamist forces have grown in strength thanks to patronage by successive governments. Following the assassination of its founding father, the secular Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in 1975, the hold of fundamentalist forces over the government -- whether military or democratic -- witnessed a sharp increase.

Successive governments openly courted the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami. Discredited in 1971 for its collaboration with the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh liberation war, Jamaat-e-Islami was resurrected by General Ziaur Rehman in the late '70s. Jamaat leaders, who had fled to Pakistan in the aftermath of the 1971 war, were brought back to Bangladesh by Rehman. Jamaat's influence grew rapidly thereafter. For instance, in the 1980s, General Hussain Mohammad Ershad went a step further and used Jamaat to counter the secular Awami League.

But it was not just Bangladesh's military rulers who wooed the fundamentalists. Political parties and politicians courted them as well. During Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's first stint at the helm in the first half of the 1990s, Jamaat and other fundamentalist outfits were given free rein. Over the years, Jamaat set up thousands of madrassas in Bangladesh, many of which are known to recruit and train jihadi fighters.

Fundamentalist activism in Bangladesh received a big boost in 2001. General elections in October brought to power a four party coalition led by the center-right Bangladesh Nationalist Party (B.N.P.) and including two fundamentalist parties -- Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islamic Oikya Jote. Jamaat has two ministers in government. Even if Jamaat is not directly involved in the recent terrorist attacks, its inclusion in the coalition government has encouraged radical Islamist groups to feel that they enjoy protection from the government and can act with impunity. The links between terror outfits and sections of the government has sent out a strong signal to the local police to refrain from apprehending those who are engaging in gun-running and violence.

Jamaat and Islamic Oikya Jote are not just fundamentalist organizations. They support and have links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and both parties have supported the terrorist activities of the H.U.J.I.-B. Islamic Oikya Jote's chairman, Azizul Huq, is said to be a member of H.U.J.I.-B.'s advisory council.

The coming to power of a fundamentalist-friendly coalition in Bangladesh coincided with the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the loss of training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their bases were disrupted by counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, so al-Qaeda fighters were forced to look for new nests. Bangladesh emerged as an attractive sanctuary. In April 2002, Bertil Lintner wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review that after the fall of Kandahar in Afghanistan in late 2001, hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters arrived by ship from Karachi to the Bangladesh port city of Chittagong. A few months later, Time magazine's Alex Perry provided details on southern Bangladesh having become "a haven for hundreds of jihadis." The Bangladeshi media too has reported extensively about the activities of the extremists, especially of the violence engineered by Bangla Bhai, leader of the J.M.J.B.

Bangladesh's attractiveness as a safe haven for terrorists is not new. Anti-India militants fighting Indian security forces in the insurgency-wracked states of India's northeast have used Bangladesh as a sanctuary for decades. Groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (U.L.F.A.) and the National Liberation Front of Tripura (N.L.F.T.) are known to have set up training camps on Bangladeshi soil and militants under pressure from counter-insurgency operations in India have taken refuge there.

India, which for years has been calling rather unsuccessfully on the Bangladesh government to close down anti-India militant training camps on Bangladeshi soil, has also drawn attention to the nexus between militants active in India's insurgency-wracked northeast, Bangladesh's Islamist extremists and al-Qaeda. It has called attention to the cooperation between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (I.S.I.) and Bangladesh's Directorate General of Forces Intelligence in fostering the terrorist network in Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh government has reacted fiercely to suggestions that the country is becoming a haven for Islamic extremism. It banned the distribution of the Far Eastern Economic Review issue that carried Lintner's "baseless" article. Newspaper offices have been raided and journalists taken into custody for investigating al-Qaeda activities in the country. Its standard response to India's allegations, for instance, has been outright denial.

It was only on February 23, 2005 that the Bangladesh government, under pressure from the European Union, took some steps against terror outfits. The J.M.J.B. and the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (J.M.B.) were banned. Incidentally, until February 23, the government had been dismissing reports of the J.M.J.B.'s vigilante violence as a figment of the media's imagination. Some leaders and cadres were taken into custody in February but neither Bangla Bhai nor Moulana Abdur Rahman, a former activist of Jamaat-e-Islami who is now the leader of the J.M.J.B., were arrested. Strangely, the government did not take action against H.U.J.I.-B. either.

Responding to the U.S. listing of H.U.J.I.-B. as a terrorist group, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Moshed Khan said that he had not seen "such activity [terrorism] in Bangladesh. … The way Bangladesh is being painted with the same brush time and again it seems that it is a conspiracy and an orchestrated campaign by some vested quarters." While the Bangladesh government is now reluctantly admitting to the presence of terrorist groups in the country, it remains adamant that there are no al-Qaeda operatives on its soil.

In addition to political compulsions to keep her fundamentalist partners in the coalition government happy, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's inadequate response against terrorists and jihadis is prompted by her intense political and personal rivalry with Sheikh Hasina. Informed observers of the political scene in Bangladesh say that the B.N.P. sees its fundamentalist friends as useful weapons to keep the Awami League in check.

The prime minister's reluctance to rein in her fundamentalist partners in government and take firm action against terrorism could prove costly. Bangladesh's terror outfits are by no means insignificant. H.U.J.I.-B., for instance, is said to have thousands of fighters. Its original mission might have been to set up Islamic rule in Bangladesh but, over the years, its ambitions and the geographical spread of its role have grown substantially.

During the 1990s, it was involved in training Muslim Rohingya insurgents from Myanmar and it sent its cadres to fight in Afghanistan and against Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Post-9/11, its responsibilities in the global jihad have grown. It appears to have been made responsible for training jihadi fighters from southern Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Brunei and it is sending its own fighters to Indonesia, the Philippines and Chechnya.


It would, however, be an exaggeration to describe Bangladesh as being on the brink of "Talibanization" as some reports in the media have claimed. The average Bangladeshi is uneasy with the steady Islamization of the country. The country has a history of linguistic nationalism triumphing over religious nationalism and there is still a strong Bengali culture that Bangladeshi Muslims and Hindus share. This has acted as a brake against the rising tide of extremism to some extent so far.

However, more powerful brakes will be needed. And unless the Bangladesh government acts to crack down on extremism and terrorism, the potential threat that Islamic extremism in Bangladesh poses to global security could turn imminent.


Intelligence Brief: Islamist Terrorism in Europe

Drafted By: Erich Marquardt, Federico Bordonaro

The wave of terrorism that has swept through London in recent weeks is causing much concern in European capitals. Beginning with the deadly July 7, 2005 terror attacks on London's transportation system, and ending with the July 21, 2005 attempted terror attacks on that same system, there is concern that extremist elements among the European Muslim community are attempting to further the interests of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. [See: "The Threat of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Revolutionary Movement"]

The July 2005 attacks in London came more than a year after the last major terror attack in Europe, the deadly March 2004 train bombings in Madrid that had the intention of altering the upcoming Spanish presidential elections -- a strategy that was successful.

While the attacks in London could very well be an isolated incident and not predictive of a future terrorism trend, there is growing concern throughout Europe since the July 7 attackers were raised in Great Britain and had British citizenship; this knowledge has caused other European governments to worry over their own potential "home-grown" Islamist terrorists. The coming months will answer the question as to whether what just occurred in London is the forefront of future conflict or whether it is another isolated incident of Islamic extremism against the interests of U.S. allies in the "war on terrorism."

The London Attacks

The July 2005 London attacks were claimed by Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, an Islamist militant group that was formed in 2001. Their first attributed attack occurred on March 9, 2004, when two suicide bombers detonated themselves in Istanbul, killing one person and injuring five others. Then, on May 11, 2004, the group claimed responsibility for the terror attack on Madrid's transportation system, where 191 people were killed and over 600 wounded when ten bombs were detonated on the train line. The brigades claimed that the attack was in response to Spain's military support of the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq.

The relatively unknown group appears to be decentralized and it is unclear what organizational capacity it retains. For instance, the organization claimed responsibility for the August 5, 2005 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, in addition to the power blackout in August 2003 that affected the northeast United States; both claims turned out to be false. Yet, because of some of the organization's past claims did bear fruit, the organization must be taken into account.

Threats Levied at Europe

After the July attacks in London, the brigades reiterated its threats to Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands; the aforementioned countries, except for the Netherlands which withdrew its troop contingents in June 2005, currently have troops in Iraq supporting U.S.-led operations there. For instance, on July 25, the organization reportedly warned that, "After London, it is Rome's turn." The threat, released on the Internet, says that if Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi does not withdraw Italian troops immediately, he would be responsible for Rome turning into a "graveyard."

But a complete Italian withdrawal from Iraq cannot realistically occur in August. Although before the July 7 London bombings Berlusconi hinted at the possibility of a gradual withdrawal to be initiated in Fall 2005, it is now clear that such a pull-out could become even more difficult to perform due to the recent wave of terrorist attacks. A complete withdrawal within the mid-August deadline would appear like a full retreat. The militants know this, and their Internet messages appear to be a form of psychological warfare aimed at destabilizing Washington's allies, making their citizens fearful of future attacks. [See: "Intelligence Brief: Italy"]

Different Interpretations

The new wave of terrorist attacks occurring in July 2005 is modifying the security perception in European countries. The two London attacks and the Sharm el-Sheikh bombing on July 22 -- which struck tourist facilities known for its vacationers from the West, and an important source of income for the Egyptian economy – already changed the previously widespread belief that al-Qaeda-affiliated militants are rarely able to carry out high-impact attacks in the West.

Henceforth, politicians and the populations in the E.U. now ask themselves whether the American and European anti-terrorist policy is bringing results. Those that support current U.S. strategy believe that the current wave of terrorist attacks is the result of radical Islamic ideology, hence denying any direct cause-effect relation between the Iraq war and the terrorist attacks against European countries aligned with Washington.

On the contrary, many other observers and a growing number of citizens now believe that taking part in U.S.-led operations in Iraq has led to a loss of national security and has endangered the plans for an enhanced cooperation between the European Union's members and Muslim governments. Italy, for instance, is developing a common policy with Libya, aimed at containing the mass immigration that passes through the North African state. Similar policies could be envisaged to tackle terror cells. Whereas some politicians believe the Iraq war is making these relationships more difficult, others maintain that the U.S. and Western grip of the Middle East will force Arab governments to cooperate more seriously.

The Bottom Line

Despite concern over appearing to give in to the demands of terrorists, expect European countries to scale back their efforts in Iraq. Such an action would not be a direct result of the recent attacks in London, but more due to the failure of the U.S.-led coalition to quell the ongoing insurgency. Washington, too, has been considering withdrawal strategies in order to limit its involvement in Iraq. Indeed, General George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters on July 27 that a substantial withdrawal of U.S. forces could begin in Spring 2006. [See: "U.S. Faces Pressure to Pull Troops from Iraq"]

An important date to watch will be August 15, which is the current demand by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades for the withdrawal of Italian and Danish troops. If another European country involved in ongoing U.S.-led operations in Iraq suffers a terrorist attack within a short period of time after the deadline, it will accelerate public debate in European capitals as to whether supporting U.S. operations in Muslim countries is worth the fallout from Islamist groups.

Furthermore, an attack soon after the deadline will mean that either al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations have reorganized, or that U.S. actions in the Middle East have led more Muslims down the path of al-Qaeda's confrontational ideology. Considering that those responsible for the recent attacks in London were raised in Britain and not recent immigrants, the latter scenario appears to be a growing possibility.


The Threat of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Revolutionary Movement

10 November 2004

On October 29, 2004, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden released a new videotape, revealing the first images of the leader in more than a year. The video offered proof that bin Laden is alive and healthy with access to modern technology. The resurgence of Osama bin Laden emphasizes the threat to the United States and its interests still posed by Islamic revolutionaries.

Bin Laden Applauds U.S. Response to September 11 Attacks

Bin Laden is undeterred by the Bush administration's response to the September 11 attacks on the United States. Washington's destruction of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and its increased influence in the Middle East gained through the invasion and occupation of Iraq have not, according to bin Laden, adversely affected al-Qaeda in any significant manner. In fact, bin Laden's October 2004 video quoted him as saying that the results of the September 11 attacks -- results that include the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to U.S. attacks on Islamic revolutionaries worldwide -- have been "positive and enormous, and have, by all standards, exceeded all expectations."

At first glance, there are many reasons why bin Laden's statement is questionable. After the invasion of Iraq, the United States destroyed the Taliban's hold over Afghanistan, a government that gave safe haven to bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Along with this attack, the United States was able to scatter the al-Qaeda command center and increase pressure on the organization's operations. Nevertheless, while the attacks must have caused setbacks to al-Qaeda's operational capability, bin Laden is correct in arguing that Washington's response to the September 11 attacks has proved beneficial to his cause.

Even though the United States invaded Afghanistan, many al-Qaeda figures escaped into Pakistan. Moreover, the Taliban itself was not destroyed -- only removed from power, where they then filtered into the local Afghan populace and are now primarily responsible for the pervasive guerrilla attacks against U.S.-led troops and other security forces aligned with the central government in Kabul. Furthermore, the U.S. never captured the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, and bin Laden himself managed to escape. The one month delay it took the United States to attack Afghanistan following September 11, 2001 afforded bin Laden and other top leaders of his network the time to put into effect contingency plans that would allow for the continuation of their organization in a new atmosphere subject to heightened U.S. surveillance and potential attack.

With Iraq, bin Laden has argued that the invasion and subsequent occupation have been major benefits to his cause. Iraq, due to its past secularist nature, had little to do with Islamic revolutionary movements; the government in Baghdad was actually scorned by bin Laden. Yet, the removal of Saddam Hussein furthered bin Laden's aims since it removed a leader who bin Laden had already labeled a socialist "infidel," and who had been persecuting Islamic revolutionaries for decades. By removing the secular Ba'athist Party from power, the forces of Islamism have been unleashed in Iraq; this is apparent through the growing Shi'a demand for the institutions of Islamic law and Islamic governance. The removal of the Ba'ath Party and the resulting instability ripened the ground for al-Qaeda and other Islamic revolutionaries to recruit and expand operations since, in the past, Saddam's security apparatus would have captured and killed any Islamic revolutionary that posed a danger to his regime.

Additionally, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have given al-Qaeda more opportunities to attack U.S. interests. With U.S. troops patrolling Afghanistan and Iraq, al-Qaeda has less distance to travel to strike at U.S. military targets and interests. The invasions have also increased the ability of al-Qaeda sympathizers -- groups or individuals who identify with al-Qaeda's central political themes without actually being in regular contact with the organization -- to launch their own attacks on U.S. interests. The many beheadings in Iraq are a good example of this, where, by striking fear into the West, militants are able to increase the chances of ending the occupation while also heightening the perceived threat of Islamic militancy. In the words of al-Qaeda adviser and founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman al-Zawahiri, broadcast in September 2003 on the al-Jazeera satellite network, "We thank God for appeasing us with the dilemma in Iraq after Afghanistan. The Americans are facing a delicate situation in both countries. If they withdraw, they will lose everything and if they stay, they will continue to bleed to death."

Finally, as clearly stated in bin Laden's recent speech in October 2004, the September 11 attacks have caused the United States to spend unprecedented levels of financial capital on combating the threat of terrorism. Because the use of terrorism as a tactical military strategy is so difficult to defend against, it has caused the Bush administration to spend billions of dollars in attempts to counter every potential threat to U.S. interests. Bin Laden, recognizing this favorable situation, stated in his October 2004 address, "All that we have to do [to provoke the United States] is to send two mujahideen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note than some benefits for their private companies."

Striking the U.S. Economy

Bin Laden understands the tremendous effect that fear -- a byproduct of the use of terrorism as a political and military tactic -- has on the population of the United States. As argued by bin Laden in the past, "Terror is the most dreaded weapon in the modern age…It can add fear and helplessness to the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. … You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness."

It appears that bin Laden will continue to pursue this strategy in the hopes of bringing severe financial hardships to the U.S. economy. Aware that the United States cannot be defeated through direct military confrontation, bin Laden's central strategy -- most vividly depicted through the September 11 attacks that hit the financial heart of the United States -- has been to undermine U.S. security and, therefore, the U.S. economy. In his October 2004 address, bin Laden, after commenting on how the mujahideen in Afghanistan successfully "bled Russia for ten years" to end its occupation there, is now practicing a similar strategy on the United States, "continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy." Indeed, in October 2002, bin Laden said on al-Jazeera television, "God is my witness, the youth of Islam are preparing things that will fill your hearts with fear. They will target key sectors of your economy until you stop your injustice and aggression or until the more short-lived of us die."

Bin Laden's strategy is feasible. The U.S. budget deficit stands at $413 billion, and shows no sign of decreasing. Much of this money comes out of the costs of waging the "war on terrorism," including the invasion of Iraq. Indeed, the invasion of Iraq will not only cause financial hardship to the United States, but will further bin Laden's ambitions as long as it continues down the course it has thus far. Unless Iraq is transformed into a stable country generally in line with U.S. interests, it will continue to act as a drain on the U.S. economy and persist in helping al-Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups find willing recruits to pursue al-Qaeda's agenda.

Al-Qaeda's Recruiting Prospects

The major reason why the invasion of Iraq, provided it continues along its present course of instability, will accelerate al-Qaeda's political agenda is because the U.S. has failed to address the motives behind al-Qaeda's attacks on the United States and its allies. Bin Laden has repeatedly stated his reasons for starting and continuing his attacks against U.S. interests. As stated by Michael Scheuer, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency's unit on Osama bin Laden, bin Laden's

attacks are meant to advance bin Laden's clear, focused, limited, and widely popular foreign policy goals: the end of U.S. aid to Israel and the ultimate elimination of that state; the removal of U.S. and Western forces from the Arabian Peninsula; the removal of U.S. and Western military forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim lands; the end of U.S. support for the oppression of Muslims by Russia, China, and India; the end of U.S. protection for repressive, apostate Muslim regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, et cetera; and the conservation of the Muslim world's energy resources and their sale at higher prices.

Along these lines, bin Laden argued that U.S. influence in the Muslim world demonstrates "an ocean of oppression, injustice, slaughter, and plunder carried out by [the United States] against our Islamic [community]. It is therefore commanded by our religion that we must fight back. We are defending ourselves against the United States. This is a 'defensive jihad' as we want to protect our land and people." Since this is the crux of bin Laden's argument, and an argument that is extremely popular among Muslims, Scheuer warns, "The choice we have is between keeping current policies, which will produce an escalating expenditure of American treasure and blood, or devising new policies, which may, over time, reduce the expenditure of both."

Bin Laden has vividly described how he will persist in attacking the United States in response to its policies, saying, "…if [Muslims] do not have security, the Americans also will not have it. This is a very simple formula. … This is the formula of live and let live." Further to this point, bin Laden declared that the division between Americans living in peace and Muslims living in conflict is "unfair," and that the "time has come for us to be equal. Just as you kill, you are killed. Just as you bombard, you are bombarded."

Bush Administration Maintains Past Policies

Following the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration made a decision to not only remain steadfast in its pursuit of traditional U.S. foreign policy, but to escalate it. For example, the United States has not only continued to support the state of Israel, but has remained especially silent on Israel's controversial treatment of its Palestinian population and its continued violation of U.N.-sponsored demands to release territory that is considered occupied. While the United States has removed U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia, it has not removed them from the region; the U.S. command center that was in Saudi Arabia simply relocated to Qatar, and the presence of U.S. military personnel in the region is astronomical as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Washington shows no sign of ending its occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Bush administration has continued its mute policy with regards to Russia's, China's and India's harsh treatment of its Muslim populations. Washington has not been critical of the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, and Jordan, and it has shown no desire to accept oil sold at higher prices; the only reason oil prices are high now is because of the instability brought to the global scene mainly due to the intervention in Iraq, but also due to supply concerns in Venezuela, Nigeria and other oil-producing countries.

Therefore, in this light, it becomes clear that bin Laden's potential to recruit disaffected Muslims enraged over U.S. foreign policy has improved as a result of the Bush administration's failure to alter the aforementioned policies. This will result in more Muslims alienated from the United States and more Muslims who will subsequently find leadership in Osama bin Laden's militant rhetoric.

This result is quite evident by subsequent polls taken in Muslim-majority countries that show how the United States' image has plummeted down to levels never recorded before. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in their "What the World Thinks in 2002" poll, resentment toward the United States grew tremendously between 2000 and 2002. In 19 of the 28 countries polled, attitudes toward the United States became more negative. In Muslim-majority countries, America's positive standing fell sharply, as many Muslims perceived the "war on terrorism" to be a war on Muslims.

In Indonesia, where 87 percent of the population is Muslim, in a matter of two years, the United States dropped in favor by 14 percentage points. In 1999/2000, 75 percent of Indonesians had a favorable view of the United States; in 2002, that number had fallen to 61 percent. Turkey, with 98 percent of its population Muslim, saw 22 percent of its population lose favor with the United States between those two years; in 1999/2000, 52 percent of its population had a favorable attitude toward the United States, compared with a meager 30 percent in 2002. Pakistan, too, saw a 13 percent drop in favor toward the United States; by 2002, only 10 percent of Pakistanis had a positive attitude of the United States.

These numbers have not fared better since 2002. In its latest report, "Views of a Changing World 2003," the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that from 1999/2000 to June 2003, the number of Indonesians who had a favorable view of the United States dropped from 75 percent to 15 percent; Turkey dropped down from 52 percent to 15 percent; Pakistan remained relatively unchanged, standing at 13 percent.

This sinking level of support for the United States depicts how Osama bin Laden has been able to tap into widespread anger and resentment held by many Muslims toward U.S. foreign policy. The political grievances aired by bin Laden and his deputies resonate among many of their coreligionists, who, like al-Zawahiri, believe that "Muslims have suffered the worst and most serious disasters, for more than a century. Their lands are occupied either by foreign forces, or through political influence. Their resources are deemed lawful and plundered. They are deprived of free will. Their rights are thrown away and stolen. Their sanctuaries are surrounded and taken over."

To demonstrate this, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that, in 2003, 58 percent of Indonesians had "confidence" that bin Laden would "do the right thing" in world affairs. That number stands at 55 percent in Jordan, 49 percent in Morocco, 45 percent in Pakistan, and 71 percent among Palestinians.

Bin Laden's Grievances are Central Pillars of U.S. Interests

All of the above grievances about U.S. foreign policy held by the al-Qaeda leadership are central pillars of U.S. interests. Because of this, it will be very difficult for the Bush administration to alter any of them. These policies are very much responsible for the United States' status as a superpower and for its success as a state.

For instance, Washington supports the state of Israel for a variety of reasons, but one of the central ones is due to Jerusalem's success in preventing any one Middle Eastern country from dominating the region and threatening the price or flow of energy resources. American troops are stationed in the region in order to protect the conditions that foster a stable supply of energy resources, a critical component to the global economy. Also, in line with the need to protect energy resources, the United States has thrown its support behind many Middle Eastern dictators; U.S. interests demand that these leaders keep stability and control over their countries in order to prevent instability within their domain and within the region as a whole. Finally, being an oil-dependent country, the United States would like to see below-market oil prices since low oil prices help to accelerate economic growth in oil-dependent countries.

Since all of bin Laden's complaints are key components in U.S. interests, it will be difficult for the U.S. to compromise on any of them. The dilemma, however, is that these important U.S. interests are affecting Muslims in adverse ways. Through U.S. support of Israel, Muslims in Palestine are oppressed, in addition to Arab and Persian aspirations for regional dominance. Through the proliferation of U.S. troops in the region, Muslims see themselves weak in the face of superior U.S. technology and control. U.S. support of regional dictatorships has resulted in these leaders having the financial and political support to crack down on dissidents, often imprisoning or torturing these individuals who care to exercise democratic rights -- whether through violent or peaceful means. Finally, U.S. demand for below-market oil prices is seen by Muslims as theft of their oil resources. Indeed, thus far, the U.S. has not compromised on any of these interests which explains why al-Qaeda still considers the U.S. a threat and a target, and demonstrates why Muslims continue to hold a negative view of the United States.

This fundamental clash of interests, which is only heightened by the difference in cultures, exemplifies why the United States and Islamic revolutionaries have not been able to find common ground on issues that affect them both.

Bin Laden's Military Plan

Since September 11, bin Laden's al-Qaeda network has not attacked the United States directly. Nevertheless, there have been regular attacks on U.S. interests abroad, in addition to the interests of countries that support U.S. policy. There are two explanations behind the lack of attacks on the U.S. homeland: either al-Qaeda is preparing for a future attack and waiting for the right opportunity to strike, or al-Qaeda lacks the operational capability to do so.

Bin Laden is aware that he cannot defeat the United States militarily. His key to victory will be in convincing the American people to change the policies of the U.S. government by persuading them that certain U.S. policies in the Muslim world are not worth the violent reaction that will result. Indeed, from the start, bin Laden has tried to explain to the American people what needs to be done to prevent attacks from the al-Qaeda network. He stated, "Many people in the West are good and gentle people. I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system [U.S. policies] which makes nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom."

He has said that it is up to the "American people to check the anti-Muslim policies of their government. … They should play the same role now that they played during the Vietnam War. The American people should prevent the killing of Muslims at the hands of their government." Bin Laden has been steady in this argument. In his latest address to the American people, released shortly before the U.S. presidential elections, bin Laden warned Americans that their security "is in your own hands. And every state that doesn't play with [Muslim] security has automatically guaranteed its own security."

With this information in mind, the recent reelection of the Bush administration has demonstrated that the administration received an endorsement from the American people for its policies in the Middle East and the larger Muslim world. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney stressed this fact, saying that President Bush ran "forthrightly on a clear agenda for this nation's future, and the nation responded by giving him a mandate." Because these policies are perceived as negative by Muslims, bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network, and others in the Islamic revolutionary movement will come to the conclusion that the United States will not alter its foreign policy, at least not in the next four years. Therefore, if bin Laden were playing a waiting game to see if Americans would work to change U.S. policies in the region, that wait is now over.

If al-Qaeda has the operational capability to attack the United States or its major interests abroad, it will now do so once the right opportunity arises. The form of this impending attack and future attacks will likely follow al-Qaeda's established military strategy of utilizing the tactic of terrorism. This has proved to be the most effective tactic of choice for al-Qaeda and other Islamic revolutionary groups. In order to demonstrate why al-Qaeda will not deviate from its use of terror tactics, witness bin Laden's comment in October 2002, "The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their government, yet time and again, polls show the American people support the policies of the elected government. … This is why the American people are not innocent. The American people are active members in all these crimes [against Muslims.]"

If no attack is seen in the months after the reelection of President Bush, then it can be reasonably argued that bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, in addition to the Islamic revolutionary movement as a whole, lacks the organizational and operational capabilities to launch significant attacks against the United States and its interests. While bin Laden has proven himself to be an experienced military strategist, witnessed through his involvement in the struggle against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, he may lack the resources necessary to launch significant terror attacks against the United States and its interests. Especially now, in light of the United States' heightened defense against Islamic terrorism, the ability to strike the U.S. homeland, and even U.S. interests abroad, is difficult.

Furthermore, the intelligence community of the United States and its allies has been extremely focused on detecting and capturing bin Laden and other members of his network. This intense manhunt, using the most sophisticated technology available, has had a major impact on al-Qaeda's ability to operate freely. With the U.S. military involved in an assortment of countries, giving it the capability to launch quick tactical strikes, one mistake by any member of the al-Qaeda leadership could be deadly to both that leader and the organization as a whole.

Nevertheless, while it may be difficult for al-Qaeda and the larger Islamic revolutionary movement to attack high value targets in the United States or elsewhere, it is not difficult for them to attack targets that will affect the interests of the United States and its allies. As al-Qaeda articulated in late 2002, "The enemy's tourist industry…includes easy targets with major economic, political, and security importance. This is because the impact of an attack on a tourist facility that cannot be protected equals, and sometimes surpasses, the impact of an attack against an enemy warship." Also, as C.I.A. officer Michael Scheuer writes, "Of the twenty nations al-Qaeda threatened, eighteen have been attacked, a 90-percent correlation." This shows how the al-Qaeda network has been very successful in attacks against the West, and in light of its statements over its list of potential U.S. targets, should have little difficulty finding potential sites to attack, even in the face of heightened U.S. vigilance.


The threat to U.S. interests posed by Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network, and the Islamic revolutionary movement as a whole is a reaction to U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world. The U.S. has pursued relatively static interests in the Middle East for decades, interests that are central pillars in America's present status as a superpower. These interests are now clashing with the aspirations of the Islamic revolutionary movement, which seeks to resist U.S. policies in the Muslim world that are perceived as discriminatory to Muslims, whether as an intentional or unintentional result of U.S. policies.

Islamic revolutionaries such as Osama bin Laden are well aware that the United States cannot be defeated militarily. Their goal, then, is to effect political change inside the United States in order to defeat the country's will to sustain its involvement in the Muslim world. The persistent attacks on U.S. interests, culminating in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, are intended to bring about this change of policy.

With the support of the American people, the Bush administration has resisted these attacks, and has amplified the very policies that have caused so much angst among Muslims. If the Bush administration is unsuccessful in its interventions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it will fail to marginalize the Islamic revolutionary movement and will find itself in a poor strategic position when faced with popular Islamic revolutionaries utilizing the military tactic of terrorism to achieve their political ends. Overstretched and exhausted, Washington could be forced to retreat back to its core and inadvertently deliver on many of al-Qaeda's demands.

Therefore, it is critical for the United States to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq in a manner that wins the support of its people and helps to boost the United States' image in the Muslim world. By failing to stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq, and if it is unable to alter the perception of itself favorably, the Islamic revolutionary movement will grow and become a greater threat to the U.S. homeland and its interests abroad. Unfortunately, Washington's ability to stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq may prove impossible, bringing the instability of these two peripheral countries to the core of the United States.