Reading bin Laden’s mind: The State of the Jihad, as he might see it

On Feb. 5, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that al-Qaeda is regrouping, not retreating — and boosting its capacities to launch another attack inside the United States. So how does the war on terrorism look these days through our enemies’ eyes? Here’s an informed — albeit fictional — guess.

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate —

Brothers, I write to give my view of how far we have, with God’s help, traveled since declaring war on the United States in 1996. Al-Qaeda has today become all that we hoped for when we formed it in 1988: a vanguard organization whose main mission is not fighting, but rather inciting and inspiring young Muslims to arm themselves and defend Islam from the American crusaders, their Zionist offspring and their agent regimes in the Muslim world, especially the House of Saud. We must thank God for the steady flow of young Muslims to our ranks, men who now make the forces of al-Qaeda and its allies larger, more intelligent and more pious than ever.

By God’s grace, al-Qaeda’s incitement has met with wondrous success; Western polls show that hundreds of millions of Muslims now believe that U.S. foreign policy aims to undermine or destroy Islam. Ironically, Washington itself has become a major inciter of Muslim hatred for the United States, simply by maintaining policies — slaughtering the innocent in Iraq, propping up the House of Saud and Hosni Mubarak’s tyranny in Egypt, blindly backing the pretender state of the Jews — that drive Muslims into our ranks. Not all these Muslims are ready to take up arms, but even the limited number who are now fighting have proved more than enough to stymie U.S. plans in Afghanistan and Iraq and to support the jihad in Algeria, Lebanon, Thailand, Somalia, Gaza and Europe.

And so, even with limited numbers, al-Qaeda appears to Muslims as a huge, rising and conquering army. Just as important, Americans have been taught by their leaders to see al-Qaeda behind every rock and tree, ready to pounce. American leaders, in effect, now terrorize ordinary Americans, making Washington appear to be the enemy of its own people’s civil liberties.

This all gives us confidence in our plan to defeat America — by bleeding it into bankruptcy and tempting it to spread out its forces.

Brothers, the amount of money that Washington spends on wars to murder Muslims and on pointless “homeland security” measures is staggering, with no end in sight. The war in Iraq alone is costing $12 billion per month. Bush is also burning money to deploy troops to Africa, under a new Pentagon command created to steal the continent’s oil. And after America’s Iraq “surge,” U.S. generals cannot scrape up the few thousand troops they would need to fight our Taliban brothers in Afghanistan because Washington’s NATO allies refuse to send reinforcements.

Thanks be to God, brothers, America is hemorrhaging money and ruining its military by trying to fight al-Qaeda’s mujahideen wherever they appear — or, more accurately, wherever U.S. officials imagine they appear.

Our military and media operations have advanced the ultimate goal of our grand strategy — restoring Islamic rule to the Muslim world. We have a winning formula:

  • Driving the United States from the Middle East;
  • Destroying Israel and the region’s Arab tyrannies; and
  • Settling scores with the heretical Shiites.

Frankly, brothers, things had to get much worse for Muslims before they could get better. We had to goad America into sending a larger, more vulnerable presence into the Muslim world before we could bleed its forces and treasury. The mujahideen’s 9/11 raid did just that; the inexplicable U.S. decision to invade Iraq vastly expanded the American presence. (Only God could grant such a miracle!) Al-Qaeda and the groups we have inspired are now exploiting both the triumph of 9/11 and the hornet’s nest in Iraq that the Americans so foolishly kicked over.

But to win this war, our strategy’s three parts must be pursued in order: First, drive America from Arab lands, then finish off Israel, Mubarak and the House of Saud, then deal with the Shiite apostates. But we risk defeat if we simultaneously fight the Americans, the Zionists, the corrupted Arab regimes and the Shiites.

When the Americans occupied Afghanistan after 9/11, we were confident that we could defeat them there, which would start their retreat from the region. When the Americans madly invaded Iraq, we grew more confident, perhaps cocky. Brothers, we lacked humility for these gifts from God, and now we are on the edge of a setback — one that could disrupt our grand strategy.

Military success came too fast in Iraq. The Iraqi mujahideen are not ready to unite in an Islamist government to replace the U.S. agent, Nouri al-Maliki. Part of this failure is al-Qaeda’s fault. We allowed the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, may God accept him as a martyr, to remain al-Qaeda’s commander in Iraq for too long. He was consumed by hatred for Iraq’s Shiites and struck them murderously, angering Shiite and Sunni alike. His excesses helped create what, for now, is an unbridgeable split between the two sects, and he raised the specter of civil war in Iraq. Such a conflict would hurt our ability to keep the world’s Muslims focused on the Crusaders and Zionists and allow the apostate Arab regimes to pose as Islam’s protectors by supplying guns, money and fighters to Iraq’s Sunnis in their battle with the Shiites.

Al-Qaeda and its allies in Iraq are laboring to repair the damage left by our martyred Abu Musab, and have had some success. But Saudi preachers and spies are deepening the hatred for Shiites among Iraq’s Sunni insurgents faster than we can heal the wounds. As in post-Soviet Afghanistan, the perfidious House of Saud is stealing the fruit of Islam’s military victory by preventing the emergence of a united Sunni front through bribery, false religious guidance and efforts to stoke intra-Sunni fighting.

We must face this reality, brothers, and be ready to retake the initiative in 2008. While U.S. forces are in Iraq, the mujahideen will focus on them, but after they retreat — and a new U.S. president could leave quickly — the chance of civil war increases. If such a conflict erupts, the mujahideen might focus on Iraq, not America.

For this reason, I urge you to consider two military options for al-Qaeda to have in hand if needed:

  1. An attack on a major oil-production plant in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, which suffers under the rule of the House of Saud, to greatly disrupt the world’s oil supply and compel U.S. forces to rush into the kingdom to protect the undamaged facilities and rebuild the others; or
  2. A raid greater than 9/11 in the United States, an option that could do graver and graver damage as the U.S. economy deteriorates.

Brothers, we can execute either operation. Each would make Washington overreact, again unleashing the Americans’ military ferocity. Such a response would have only a minor impact on the dispersed forces of al-Qaeda and our allies in jihad, but America’s vengeance would kill many, many innocent Muslims — and, perhaps, with the approval of the despised House of Saud, find the Americans again desecrating the holy soil of Arabia near Mecca and Medina. These results would focus the wrath of the world’s Muslims on America, delay a Shiite-Sunni civil war in Iraq and keep our grand strategy viable.

Brothers, think about these ideas, and join me in praying for God’s guidance.

Michael Scheuer was chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999. His latest book is “Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq.”

Published: The Washington Post

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.