a longtime writer, who observed four revolutions and lived with terrorism
in several Latin American nations, herewith a few observations.
all the warnings for us to fear indiscriminate killing from Al-Qaeda,
thinking about their past targets is the way to understand them. All
have been against U.S. military or government, e.g. the embassies, U.S.
war ships, or major economic targets, e.g. the World Trade Center. Know
your enemy and its strengths and objectives is the first rule for fighting
effectively. We need to separate out our propaganda (that they are senseless
killers) in order properly to analyze their objectives. Al-Qaeda's great
strength is its dedication and the number of volunteers willing to do
suicide missions, its growing numbers worldwide (not just among Arabs),
and its decentralization.
is not the wicked witch which just wants to kill Americans because we
are good, as our president tells us. Rather, it is an extremely intelligent,
ruthless and fanatic organization with a sole objective, to get America
and Americans out of the Muslim world and, secondly, out of Europe and
Asia. Simply killing Americans is not their objective. What they want
is to inflict real cost and pain upon us first economically and then,
if possible, with nukes or bio/chem weaponry to make us pay a cost for
our foreign interventions. Secondly they want to make America the enemy
of the whole Muslim world (a program in which they are abetted by many
American fanatics also) or better of the whole 3rd world.
analysis brings the following conclusions
won't repeat past actions. Planes now have fortified cabins and security
search, but mainly pilots no longer have orders to do anything hijackers
tell them, which was the old policy. Now they will fight back and
passengers too will fight figuring they'll be killed anyway if their
plane is hijacked. Suicide terrorism has changed government orders and
policies from old days.
greatest threat to airliners is from shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles.
There were reportedly thousands, and certainly there are hundreds in
Iraq. These were under tight control when Saddam ruled. After the war
they were robbed and sold on the black market and are now widely distributed.
Bush's policy of declaring all terrorists as equal enemies of U.S.
also has the effect of pushing them all to ally against us. Colombian
terrorists have reason to ally with Arab ones (to get U.S. military
out of Colombia) and Colombians have the channels to smuggle anything
into the U.S. Successful smuggling is usually based upon bribes and
blackmail of border and customs guards. It usually works witness
the ever ongoing drug smuggling.
Shooting down several civilian airliners would devastate flying
and severely damage the U.S. economy, a main Al-Qaeda objective.
c) However, a large airliner can probably survive a single missile
hit. The missiles carry small explosives and planes can fly on one
engine. Judging from Al-Qaeda's past actions, they would wait until
they had quite a number of missiles in place and try to knock down
several planes at one time.
Real targets in America for suicide bombers to do the most economic
or psychological damage are tunnels, ports, communications, and such.
They would love to make highway travel as much of a pain as airline
travel. Why waste a suicide-willing terrorist on a plane when he could
take out a key tunnel with a car bomb? Just the threat would have
Americans lined up for dozens of miles at every tunnel.
great threat is stolen Russian (and other nations') nuke materials,
(even our own are not fully accounted for), e.g. enriched uranium for
a dirty bomb or even a real nuke. Here, too, the program of U.S. aid
to collect such material has fallen behind because of concentration
on the Iraq war. Also, since the neo-conservative takeover of American
foreign policy, many foreigners really hate America, or rather, American
policies, so we have many more enemies who might look the other way
or accept bribes from terrorists, thus allowing them to get nukes or
to hit are American targets and American civilians overseas. Already
the U.S. Navy fears to allow shore leave in nations with substantial
Muslim populations. American business interests and American citizens
overseas are now warned by our own State Department that they have become
is for Al-Qaeda to play it cool and attack in a new way to frighten
us and throw us off guard and to try to disrupt and even bankrupt America
with unending threats. Think about an earlier threat from a captured
prisoner to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, taken seriously in media and
by police. We were as dumb as the proverbial country hick who was offered
to buy the bridge, from which story the threat was taken. How can a
few explosives blow up the bridge? The real target of any suicide bomber
would surely be the New York tunnels, not bridges.
Washington Should Do
1) Washington must spend money on civil defense instead of mainly for
offensive weapons, e.g. F-22s, nuclear submarines, foreign armies and
such. For example, commercial planes should be fitted with anti-missile
systems. Washington is working
glacially on this matter. It should be a priority, but military
budget making is dominated by lobbyists for offensive weaponry. There
is not much lobby for defensive weapons.
City is still woefully under-funded for civil defense, e.g. reports
indicate that firemen and police can still not communicate easily in
the field. Instead civil defense money is squandered on small town America,
giving them exotic technology and money instead of focusing money on
vital economic targets.
all out to get control or help Russians control stealable nuke materials
and bombs. This effort was recently let slide because of concentration
on attacking and occupying Iraq.
with other nations to control 3rd world rogue powers and
threats. The Administration is now returning to this policy. America
cannot do this by going it alone and antagonizing the rest of the world
with our arrogance and self-righteousness. We must work with the major
world powers to control this great threat. We do not gain in this by
seriously for peace between Palestine and Israel. This is the thorn
in the whole world's back. Peace means compromise and fairness for both
sides. The issue is increasing being recognized as such. A recent
International Herald Tribune article analyzes the forces
which are creating the chaos which is the real enemy of most of the
world and the greatest threat to American interests.
terrifying all Americans with general alerts. Ivan Eland explains
how Israel and England do it. Widespread Washington alerts are
just helping terrorists spread fear and respond to increased radio chatter.
When they hit it will be when we are unprepared anyway.
excellent overview of the general terrorist situation see this Christian
Science Monitor analysis so much for the War Party's claim
that capturing Saddam has made us safer from terrorism. Go
here for links to reports about how Al-Qaeda is achieving its objectives.