March 16, 2003

The State of Al-Qaeda Two

The State of Al-Qaeda

Two significantly different takes from the NYT and the WaPo. Guess which story is more alarmist and relies more heavily on French and German sources (whom raise the "Iraq equals more al-Qaeda recruitment" linkage argument with alacrity) rather than U.S. ones? Sample quote from the NYT's version:

"Some officials said they began to detect signs of renewed recruitment efforts last summer, just as Bush administration officials began talking in earnest about plans to invade Iraq."

Just then, hah? Just like the WTC bombing of 1993 occured just around the time Clinton was presiding over a Rabin-Arafat handshake at the White House and rosy Oslo talk was permeating the air?

My point here isn't to downplay the odds that the pool of potential al-Qaeda recruits might not grow larger when, for instance, Israeli-Palestinian relations are going through a particularly rough spot or if major colleteral damage were to take place during the Iraq campaign. But terror groups like al-Qaeda don't calibrate the timing or nature of their attacks based on how well the peace processing is going or when Administration officials begin talking about an Iraq invasion.

The roots of their theological barbarism are more deep-seated as are the reasons they find willing recuits. Let's face it: many of their recruits are fundamentally opposed to liberal, secular societies of the Western model. That's why they attacked U.S. and Western targets throughout the 90's despite relatively positive movements on the Israeli-Palestinian front and no major conflict in Iraq since 1991. Or was it the presence of a few pesky G.I.'s on the Arabian peninsula that raised so much ire? Perhaps had they not been there all would have been well?

Note too from the NYT's news summary for March 16th the following:

"Another certainty: war would stir anger among young Muslims in the United States, Europe and Africa and could produce recruits for a new generation of terrorists committed to attacks on America and Israel. In recent weeks, intelligence and law-enforcement officials say, recruitment has surged. Traditionally, mosques have been recruitment centers."

Thank god for the "could" in the above sentence! Otherwise the "certainty" of rising anger among young Muslims would read as the certainty that Dubya's reckless assault on Iraq is creating a whole new generation of terrorists (or "little Bin Ladens" to use Jacques' phrase!).

But seriously, can't we at least debate what effect a war in Iraq might have on terrorist activity? I happen to believe it will lead to a short-term uptick but a mid to long-term downturn. Some, per this WaPo piece, disagree with that assessment. But at least it's debated and kicked around. Not treated as a near "certainty" per the NYT.

Posted by Gregory at March 16, 2003 11:59 AM
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