Who's afraid of Osama bin Laden?
By Alan Caruba
In February 1998, Osama bin Laden issued his second "fatwa" against the United States, stating: "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the Al-Aqsa mosque and the holy mosque (Mecca) from their grip."
It's not as if everyone from the President on down to a school child doesn't know what bin Laden's objectives are (or were). It's not as if, every few days in Iraq, and every few weeks elsewhere in the world, from London to Bali, Madrid to Amman, al-Qaida -- a small handful of terrorists -- does not demonstrate that its bloodlust has no bounds, killing Muslim and "unbeliever" alike in a relentless attack on the modern world.
Therein lies the foreseeable end of al-Qaida and the global Islamofascist movement. The bombings in Jordan, aimed specifically at Arab Muslims, has put the lie to the claims of Osama bin Laden and his followers that the enemy is the United States, Israel, or Western culture. Now, finally, Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere can see that al-Qaida's objective is the political takeover of nations in the region. Driven out of Afghanistan, fearful of democracy in Iraq, al-Qaida is increasingly on shaky ground.
It hardly matters anymore whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead. He is, like the face of Ernesto "Che" Guevara on a t-shirt, an image of a romanticized despotism.
The problem for al-Qaida is that time and technology has passed them by. Theirs is an argument about who determines the rules of the modern world and the West has been winning that one now for a very long time. China knows it. India knows it. And, slowly, the process of globalization, the expansion of trade and prosperity worldwide, leaves no room for the cave dwellers of al-Qaida.
I estimate that al-Qaida as a terrorist movement will run out of steam in about ten years. It is already beginning to lose support in its home base of the Middle East as Jordanians went into the streets to denounce it and Iraqis understand its threat to their future. What began as a feud between bin Laden and the Saudi royal family has evolved into global effort whose perpetrators grow fewer and whose funding is being shut off. The West, after a very slow start, is mobilizing to crush the movement.
Not a very good choice. However, it may not be quite that drastic. First of all, we have a pretty good law enforcement system, from the FBI to the local sheriff's office. Worldwide, the intelligence and law enforcement agencies are beginning to linking together for common goals. Then there's our vast intelligence gathering capability. At some point, it's going to get better at infiltrating the Islamofascist movement, more rapidly translating its communications, and ultimately eliminating its major players.
Are we describing nations here? We are describing individuals. We are describing nations run by thugs. After we rid those nations of these people, the big and essential job is to enable such nations to join the rest of the world as a reasonably democratic, economically viable part of the whole. That's the job of civil affairs military specialists and others. It takes time.
The primary error of those urging a quick withdrawal from Iraq is their failure to stay the course long enough to permit Iraq to reach a point where they do not need a coalition force to protect it and maintain its internal and external security. When that day arrives, they will tell us to leave. And we will.
So where's Osama? My best guess is that he is in Iran. My second guess is that he's dead.
Consider how the nations of the world are adapting to the threat al-Qaida represents. The riots in France have served as a wake-up call. Look to France to crack down. England is already in the process of doing so. European nations are going to be less tolerant and less welcoming to Muslim immigrants who willfully refuse to assimilate.
In the Pacific Basin, Australia has said, in effect, "our way or the doorway" to local Muslims who demand sharia law. For Indonesia, terrorism is bad for tourism and business. That's, as they say, the bottom-line worldwide.
The question of whether bin Laden is alive or dead has become irrelevant. The world needs only to get on with the job of destroying al-Qaida, head, stem and root.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2005
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