Al Qaeda Warning Cycle Complete, Islamist Conditions Met: Attack Imminent?
The Word Unheard out of Washington, DC today comes from The Jamestown Foundation, where Michael Scheuer considers a very plausible probability:
Al Qaida has completed the required warning cycle demanded by Islamist scholars and may now not only have the green light, but be armed and prepared to execute an attack on the Continental United States on a scale that could dwarf 9/11.
Michael Scheuer's reasoning is straight forward and logical, and he dots all of the I's and crosses all of the T's.
This is an absolute MUST READ.
My initial read on the pre-election bin Laden video of 30OCT04 was that it was electioneering. I also noted that he was dressed in Iranian-style garb rather than his usual 'atire'. I matched that up with the tone and the uncharacteristic lengthy early references to what I deemed more Iranian regional interests than traditional bin Laden interests:
I say to you, Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike the towers. But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.
The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorized and displaced.
The sudden emphasis on Lebanon and his attempt to clarify that he always was really angry about Lebanon struck me as an appeasment to Iran for providing him and his minions protection and shelter. Palestine and Lebanon now suddenly rather than Saudi Arabia, Mecca, Medina et al? He went to great lengths to convince listeners of how this had long been his motivation. Why was convincing us of this so important? Iran wanted it and he needed to be percieved as owning it.
While correct on the adoption of Iranian interests, I reconsider now that I may have been incorrect on the reasons why he did so. Is it prudent to consider that he wasn't deferring to Iranian interests as a sort of payback for shelter & protection but rather for weaponry assistance (specifically nuclear or radiological refinement and production from materials al Qaeda may have from Russian sources as stated by DCI, Porter Goss)? To dismiss this is possibility (or probability) is irresponsible and foolhardy.
Scheuer details three areas where bin Laden and al Qaida were roundly criticized by Islamist religious leaders following the 9/11 attacks, and he details how bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda have directly and specifically addressed each reprimand and requirement from 2002 to November, 2004.
DCI Porter Goss's testimony before Congress on February 16 that Soviet nuclear material could be in al-Qaeda's hands is a troubling coda to speeches by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in late 2004. Bin Laden's October 30 speech was treated by the media as an attempt to influence the election. Most post-speech commentary also claimed the speech moved bin Laden away from war and toward political discourse. That the speech was directed to the American people is clear. What received little notice, however, is that the speech - and Zawahiri's in November 2004 - completed a cycle of statements warning Americans, and preparing the Muslim world, for an al-Qaeda attack more severe than 9/11.
After 9/11, bin Laden received sharp criticisms from Islamist scholars that dealt with the al-Qaeda chief's failure to satisfy several religious requirements pertinent to waging war. The critique focused on three items:
(1) insufficient warning;
(2) failure to offer Americans a chance to convert to Islam; and
(3) inadequate religious authorization to kill so many people.
Bin Laden accepted these criticisms and in mid-2002 began a series of speeches and actions to remedy the shortcomings and satisfy his Islamist critics before again attacking in the United States.
...Parallel to the warnings, bin Laden on two occasions since 2002 asked Americans to convert to Islam as the means of terminating the war al-Qaeda is waging against the United States. "We call you to Islam," bin Laden said on both occasions, addressing himself to President Bush - as the leader of the American people - and asking him to lead his countrymen to Islam...
Finish reading his report as he details how each 'sharp criticism' from Islamist scholars has been addressed and the cycle completed in November of 2004 with Zawahiri's released message.
When you finish reading, consider also that it is more than merely possible that Iran has been arming al Qaida rather than simply providing cover and protection, and you will conclude that the time for absolute vigilance is now...for our intelligence assets, our military assets, our law enforcement in key areas and for alert citizens.
On September 12th, 2001, we vowed "Never Again."
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In the unforgivable absence of Trackbacks, below are links to additional analyses & discussion brought on by this topic (Trackbacks coming soon to a New Domain near you...Bye-Bye, Blogspot)...
Regnum Crucis: Scheuer's al-Qaeda warning cycle
The Adventures of Chester: Our Schemes and Theirs
the fourth rail: A Chance at Redemption
Winds of Change.NET: Winds of War: Mar 07/05
The Glittering Eye
Publius Pundit - Blogging the democratic revolution
PoliPundit (First to Note Post...Thank You, PoliPundit)
Right Intention: A Disenfranchised Former Liberal Democrat Opines on Politics
...and of course, the mention that made the discussion wide-open (thank you, Mr. Ledeen):
The Corner on National Review Online
UPDATE: President Bush said yesterday (03Mar05, same day as Sheuer report) that stopping bin Laden continues to be "the greatest challenge of our day".
In a rare mention of bin Laden, who has eluded U.S. authorities for years, the president noted that the al Qaeda terrorist recently came out of hiding to urge his chief ally in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, to attack Americans.
"Bin Laden's message is a telling reminder that al Qaeda still hopes to attack us on our own soil," Mr. Bush said...
Also, an outstanding post by Bill Roggio examining bin Laden's recent directive to Zarqawi in Iraq to shift his focus to attacking the Continental United States:
the fourth rail: Shifting Zarqawi
All pieces of the puzzle...
Also, a clarification. I do not neccessarily believe that 'the sky is falling' at this point. What I do believe is that, while we rightly celebrate tremendous positive developments in the Middle East from spill-over effect of the Iraqi elections on Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and even Saudi Arabia, Sheuer's work has served to remind us all that we must maintain a vigilant focus on those that would come and do us harm via the most violent means available to them. With allies like Iran, the means available are gravely serious considerations.
With victories in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the grassroots demonstrations for democracy elsewhere in the Middle East that the Iraqi & Afghan elections have inspired, al Qaeda is still a rabid dog. But that dog is now very wounded and likely feeling cornered and desperate, more determined than ever to use whatever resources are left to carry out a spectacular attack.
With the regime in Iran likely putting some of the teeth back into the wounded dog's bite, we would be wise to be vigilant. Recall again the Iranian flavor to bin Laden's last message. This is significant.
There can be no victory in any War on Terrorism without the defeat of the Iranian regime, either from within or without. Period.
UPDATE 2: MSNBC’s Connected Coast-to-Coast just had Yossef Bodansky on as a solitary guest asking about the American hunt for bin Laden. (I did miss the beginning of the interview. I was alerted to it via a phone call.) What struck me immediately was his focus on the Iranian connection to bin Laden and al Qaeda including his recent travels there and the partnership and support he receives from Iran. As well, Bodansky highlighted at length the shifting of Pakistan from ally to adversary in the Global War on Terror, nearly echoing an earlier post here.
I was almost waiting for one of the hosts to mention The Word Unheard (tongue firmly planted in cheek here), as the hosts asked about and Bodansky offered essentially the same analysis (in greater detail) as I had added within this post to Sheuer’s report as well as points noted in a previous The Word Unheard post this week regarding troubling developments in Pakistan.
…Proof positive that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to simply pay attention.
I hope you will be back again to read and participate as the watch begins in earnest.
Remember, we all said that next day: “Never Again.”
It’s time to follow through. Not in panic, nor like a Chicken Little proclaiming that the sky is falling. Simply with our eyes open.