Osama shows who is the boss

While still a developing story, today’s successful al-Qaeda effort to get explosives into the United States and Europe on aircraft flying out of Yemen again emphasizes the deception presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton have practiced on the American people. Nothing could be more untrue then the claims by these men that al-Qaeda and its allies are merely a small bunch of — take your pick — thugs, criminals, or nihilists who have nothing to do with the Islamic religion. This lie, quite simply, is slowly killing American security.

We are facing a talented, patient, pious, and determined enemy which is motivated by the tenets of Salafi Islam, a kind of Islam that is not mainstream in the Muslim world but one that is a respected mode of belief, the followers of which are the fastest growing sect in Sunni Islam. The Islamists who fight us are religiously motivated men who believe U.S. foreign policy is a weapon meant to destroy Islam and its followers; they will continue attacking as long as Washington maintains this foreign policy status quo, especially vis-a-vis U.S. support for Muslim police states and Israel. (And this status quo will stay no matter who wins the Congress next Tuesday. Why? Because the legislators will not seek energy self-sufficiency as long as their profligate spending depends on loans from the Arab Peninsula’s tyrannies (and China), and because many legislators have been suborned by U.S.-citizen Israel Firsters, men and women whose first loyalty is not to the United States.)

On the strategic level al-Qaeda’s successful airborne movement of explosives from Yemen to the United States is an important success for the organization’s campaign against U.S. and Western economies. And it is an example of the type of operations bin Laden is planning at his leisure while General Petraeus and his gun-toting social-scientists fecklessly seek to win Muslim hearts and minds. Like the botched Times Square bombing earlier in 2010, today’s events amount to victory in failure. While there is no icing on al-Qaeda’s cake — that is, no corpses or physical destruction for media broadcast — the United States and its allies will now spend huge amounts on increased security measures, technical gadgetry, and security employees; will slow down job-producing commerce by intensifying security for cargo-carrying aircraft; and will become ever more intrusive (and smug) in stripping the last bits of privacy from Americans who travel by air. And while all this probably useless spending, hiring, and snooping goes on, the jokers who get elected next Tuesday will leave almost completely unguarded thousands of miles of America’s land and coastal borders.

Here is a piece I published this week on the National Interest’s foreign-affairs blog. It deals with Osama bin Laden’s new audiotape threatening attacks on France. I am sure many pundits will insist this week’s bin Laden threat and today’s explosives-and-aircraft events are unconnected. They will be wrong, and the tune they sing in making the argument is simply another part of their best-known melody, “Whistling Past the Graveyard.”

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.