9/11

Monday, Feb 23, 2009

Several months after being expelled from the Sudan, bin Laden issues his "Declaration of War Against the Americans Who Occupy the Land of the Two Holy Mosques." It reads, in part:

"Muslims burn with anger at America. For its own good, America should leave [Saudi Arabia.] ... There is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land. ... The presence of the USA Crusader military forces on land, sea and air of the states of the Islamic Gulf is the greatest danger threatening the largest oil reserve in the world. The existence of these forces in the area will provoke the people of the country and induces aggression on their religion, feelings and prides and pushes them to take up armed struggle against the invaders occupying the land. ... Due to the imbalance of power between our armed forces and the enemy forces, a suitable means of fighting must be adopted, i.e. using fast-moving, light forces that work under complete secrecy. In other words, to initiate a guerrilla war, where the sons of the nation, and not the military forces, take part in it."

Osama Bin Laden, August 23, 1996, PBS Frontline: Hunting bin Laden: Who is bin Laden? Edicts and Statements.

Suicide terrorism is rising around the world, but there is a great confusion as to why. Since many such attacks—including, of course, those of September 11 – have been perpetrated by Muslim terrorists professing religious motives, it might seem obvious that Islamic fundamentalism is the central cause. This presumption has fueled the belief that future 9/11’s can be avoided only by a wholesale transformation of Muslim societies, a core reason for broad public support in the United States for the recent conquest of Iraq.

I have compiled a database of every suicide bombing and attack around the globe from 1980 through 2003 – 315 attacks in all. It includes every attack in which at least one terrorist killed himself or herself while attempting to kill others; it excludes attacks authorized by a national government, for example by North Korea against the South…

The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions. In fact, the leading instigators of suicide attacks are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion…

Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdrawal military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective.

Three general patterns in the data support my conclusions. First, nearly all suicide terrorist attacks occur as part of organized campaigns, not as isolated or random incidents… Second, democratic states are uniquely vulnerable to suicide terrorists…. Third, suicide terrorist campaigns are directed toward a strategic objective...

Understanding suicide terrorism is essential for the promotion of American security and international peace after September 11, 2001…Although many Americans have hoped that al-Qaeda has been badly weakened by U.S. counterterrorism efforts since September 11, 2001, the data show otherwise. In 2002 and 2003, al-Qaeda conducted fifteen suicide terrorist attacks, more than in all the years before September 11 combined, killing 439 people...

Suicide terrorism has become the most deadly form of terrorism. Suicide attacks amount to just 3 percent of all terrorist incidents from 1980 through 2003, but account for 48 percent of all fatalities, making the average suicide terrorist attack twelve times deadlier than other forms of terrorism – even if the immense losses of September 11 are not counted...

The United States has responded to the growing threat of suicide terrorism by embarking on a policy to conquer Muslim countries…However, the close association between foreign military occupations and the growth of suicide terrorist movements in the occupied regions should make us hesitant over any strategy centering on the transformation of Muslim societies by means of heavy military power.

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, Dr. Robert A. Pape, Pages 3-6. (Audio).

First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples...

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, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah."

World Islamic Front Fatwa, Shaykh Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin et al, February 23, 1998. English | Arabic (1996 Bin Laden Fatwa).

More of Bin Laden's grievances:

And what America is facing today is something very little of what we have tasted for decades. Our nation, since nearly 80 years is tasting this humility. Sons are killed, and nobody answers the call.

And when those people have defended and retaliated to what their brothers and sisters have suffered in Palestine and Lebanon, the whole world has been shouting.

And there are civilians, innocent children being killed every day in Iraq without any guilt, and we never hear anybody. We never hear any (inaudible) from the clergymen of the government.

They supported the murder against the victim...

Or in Iraq, what our--who are being killed in Iraq. This is not a crime. And those, when they were attacked in my Nairobi, and Dar Es Salaam, Afghanistan, and Sudan were attacked.

And to America, I stay to it and to its people this: I swear by God the Great, America will never dream nor those who live in America will never taste security and safety unless we feel security and safety in our land and in Palestine.

Text: Osama bin Laden, The Washington Post, October 7, 2001, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/binladen_100801.htm.

You, the American people, I talk to you today about the best way to avoid another catastrophe and about war, its reasons and its consequences...

Contrary to what [President George W.] Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom --let him tell us then, "Why did we not attack Sweden?" It is known that those who hate freedom don't have souls with integrity, like the souls of those 19...

We fought with you because we are free, and we don't put up with transgressions. We want to reclaim our nation. As you spoil our security, we will do so to you.

I wonder about you. Although we are ushering the fourth year after 9/11, Bush is still exercising confusion and misleading you and not telling you the true reason. Therefore, the motivations are still there for what happened to be repeated...

But after the injustice was so much and we saw transgressions and the coalition between Americans and the Israelis against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it occurred to my mind that we deal with the towers. And these special events that directly and personally affected me go back to 1982 and what happened when America gave permission for Israel to invade Lebanon. And assistance was given by the American sixth fleet.

During those crucial moments, my mind was thinking about many things that are hard to describe. But they produced a feeling to refuse and reject injustice, and I had determination to punish the transgressors.

And as I was looking at those towers that were destroyed in Lebanon, it occurred to me that we have to punish the transgressor with the same -- and that we had to destroy the towers in America so that they taste what we tasted, and they stop killing our women and children.

We found no difficulties in dealing with the Bush administration, because of the similarities of that administration and the regimes in our countries, half of which are run by the military and half of which are run by monarchs. And our experience is vast with them.

And those two kinds are full of arrogance and taking money illegally...

Your security is not in the hands of [Democratic presidential nominee John] Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.

Bin Laden: 'Your security is in your own hands', CNN, October 29, 2004, http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/29/bin.laden.transcript/index.html.

America's policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world...

By his own account, KSM's [mastermind of the 9/11 plot] animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.

The 9/11 Commission Report, July 22, 2004, http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf.

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?

... The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.

Rumsfeld's war-on-terror memo, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, October 16, 2003, http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/executive/rumsfeld-memo.htm.

Negative attitudes and the conditions that create them are the underlying sources of threats to America's national security and reduced ability to leverage diplomatic opportunities.

... American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that “freedom is the future of the Middle East” is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.

Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.

Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack — to broad public support.

What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam. Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic — namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is — for Americans — really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves. Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of “dissemination of information,” or even one of crafting and delivering the “right” message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none — the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam. Inevitably therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the “loud and clear” channel: the enemy.

Strategic Communication, Defense Science Board Task Force, September 2004, http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/2004-09-Strategic_Communication.pdf.

To my surprise, the ex-jihadis said their rage about Western foreign policy -- which was real, and burning -- emerged only after their identity crises, and as a result of it. They identified with the story of oppressed Muslims abroad because it seemed to mirror the oppressive disorientation they felt in their own minds...

But once they had made that leap to identify with the Umma – the global Muslim community -- they got angrier the more abusive our foreign policy came. Every one of them said the Bush administration's response to 9/11 -- from Guantanamo to Iraq -- made jihadism seem more like an accurate description of the world. Hadiya Masieh, a tiny female former HT organiser, tells me: "You'd see Bush on the television building torture camps and bombing Muslims and you think -- anything is justified to stop this. What are we meant to do, just stand still and let him cut our throats?"

But the converse was -- they stressed -- also true. When they saw ordinary Westerners trying to uphold human rights, their jihadism began to stutter. Almost all of them said that they doubted their Islamism when they saw a million non-Muslims march in London to oppose the Iraq War: "How could we demonise people who obviously opposed aggression against Muslims?" asks Hadiya.

... He started to recruit other students, as he had done so many times before. But it was harder. "Everyone hated the [unelected] government [of Hosni Mubarak], and the US for backing it," he says. But there was an inhibiting sympathy for the victims of 9/11 -- until the Bush administration began to respond with Guantanamo Bay and bombs. "That made it much easier. After that, I could persuade people a lot faster."

Renouncing Islamism: To the brink and back again, Johann Hari, The Independent, November 16, 2009, http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/renouncing-islamism-to-the-brink-and-back-again-1821215.html.

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People at the school in Yemen who knew Abdulmutallab said he was not openly extremist, though he expressed anger over Israel's actions against Palestinians in Gaza...

Abdulmutallab apparently attended a talk by given by Awlaki at a London mosque, though Awlaki, barred from entering Britain since 2006, addressed the meeting by video teleconference. Awlaki is believed to have been in Yemen since at least 2006, and is also believed to be associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)...

AQAP claimed responsibility for the failed attack, saying it was meant "to avenge the American attacks on al Qaeda in Yemen."

... the group's reference to the strikes was apparently propaganda because Abdulmutallab bought his ticket to the U.S. on Dec. 16, a day before the first of the two strikes. The second was on Dec. 24, a day before the airliner bombing attempt...

The Pentagon recently said it has poured nearly $70 million in military aid to Yemen this year - compared to none in 2008.

The U.S. has increasingly provided intelligence, surveillance and training to Yemeni forces during the past year, and has provided some firepower, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss sensitive security issues. Some of that assistance may be through the expanded use of unmanned drones, and the U.S. is providing funding to Yemen for helicopters and other equipment...

Students and administrators at the San'a institute said Abdulmutallab was gregarious, had many Yemeni friends and was not overtly extremist. They noted, however, he was open about his sympathies toward the Palestinians and his anger over Israel's actions in Gaza. They spoke on condition of anonymity because Yemeni security authorities have ordered them not to talk to the media...

Ahmed Moajjib, the only teacher who agreed to be named, said Abdulmutallab was a "very quiet student, who was extremely smart, liked to help others and was not frivolous."

"He did not appear suicidal, depressed or frustrated," he added.

Abdulmutallab's Missing Months in Yemen, CBS News, December 20, 2009, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/30/world/main6036688.shtml.

The US and its allies need a face-saving way out of Afghanistan. Real peace talks are the answer. Not the ruse long proposed by US Gen. Stanley McChrystal to try to bribe away low-ranking Taliban and so split the Afghan resistance.

This stratagem worked to a degree with Sunni tribesmen in Iraq, but is unlikely to succeed with the proud Pashtun tribes who value honor more than money. Theirs is an antique concept most westerners cannot understand.

Taliban, an anti-Communist religious movement, knew nothing about al-Qaida’s plans to attack the United States. That plot was hatched in Europe, not Afghanistan. Many members of the anti-Communist Taliban and its allies Hisbi Islami and the Haqqani group were former allies of the west and were hailed by President Ronald Reagan as `freedom fighters.’

After 9/11, Taliban refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden to the enraged United States without proper evidence of his guilt because he was an honored guest and hero of the anti-Soviet jihad.

Taliban chose war with the US before betraying a guest. Such men are not to be easily bought.

Light at the end of the Afghan Tunnel?, Eric Margolis, February 1, 2010, http://www.ericmargolis.com/political_commentaries/light-at-the-end-of-the-afghan-tunnel.aspx.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think he seriously misreads the American people. I think the - I mean, you have to ask yourself, why somebody would do what he does. Why is someone so motivated? Obviously he's filled with hate for the United States and for everything we stand for...

MR. RUSSERT: Why?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: ...freedom and democracy.

MR. RUSSERT: Why does he hate us so much?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: It must have something to do with his background, his own upbringing. He's the son of a prominent Saudi family, successful business group with significant wealth. He went and served in Afghanistan with the mujahedeen during the war against the Russians, and he has, for whatever reason, developed this intense hatred of everything that relates to the United States. And his objective, obviously, is to try to influence our behavior to force us to withdraw from that part of the world, and clearly he's not going to be successful. And...

MR. RUSSERT: He has stated unequivocally that he wants the United States out of the Middle East. He no longer wants the United States to be the ally of Israel. Will our relationship with Israel change in any way, shape or form because of this event?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. The fact of the matter is that the-we'll not allow him to achieve his aims. We're not about to change our policies or change our basic fundamental beliefs. What we are going to do is aggressively go after Mr. bin Laden, obviously, and all of his associates, and even if it takes a long time, I'm convinced eventually we'll prevail.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, legally certainly. I'll simply restate again, Tim, I don't want to get into the business of predicting what specific steps we will take. But without question, the president has been very, very clear that to harbor terrorists is to, in effect, accept a certain degree of guilt for the acts that they commit. And the government of Afghanistan has to understand that we believe they have, indeed, been harboring a man who committed, and whose organization committed, this most recent egregious act.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No, I think you've got to recognize from the standpoint of the Saudis, for example, they're a prime target for this organization of terrorists, Osama bin Laden. He adamantly opposes the Saudi royal family. Probably second only to the United States would be his hatred for the current government in Saudi Arabia.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We have to continually remind folks of that. The president has been very clear, and it would be a huge mistake for we as Americans to assume that this represents some kind of - or should lead us to some kind of condemnation of Islam. It's clearly not the case. This is a perversion, if you will, of some of these religious beliefs by an extremist group. We have extremists associated with, you know, every imaginable religion in the world. But this is by no means a war against Islam. We've got a great many Arab Americans, for example, who are first class, loyal American citizens. We need to make certain that we don't make the mistake of assuming that everybody who comes from a certain ethnic group or certain religious background is somehow to be blamed for this. Clearly, that's not the case. They are as appalled by it as we are.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I'm going to be careful here, Tim, because I - clearly it would be inappropriate for me to talk about operational matters, specific options or the kinds of activities we might undertake going forward. We do, indeed, though, have, obviously, the world's finest military. They've got a broad range of capabilities. And they may well be given missions in connection with this overall task and strategy.

We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful. That's the world these folks operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

MR. RUSSERT: There have been restrictions placed on the United States intelligence gathering, reluctance to use unsavory characters, those who violated human rights, to assist in intelligence gathering. Will we lift some of those restrictions?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Oh, I think so. I think the - one of the by-products, if you will, of this tragic set of circumstances is that we'll see a very thorough sort of reassessment of how we operate and the kinds of people we deal with. There's - if you're going to deal only with sort of officially approved, certified good guys, you're not going to find out what the bad guys are doing. You need to be able to penetrate these organizations. You need to have on the payroll some very unsavory characters if, in fact, you're going to be able to learn all that needs to be learned in order to forestall these kinds of activities. It is a mean, nasty, dangerous dirty business out there, and we have to operate in that arena. I'm convinced we can do it; we can do it successfully. But we need to make certain that we have not tied the hands, if you will, of our intelligence communities in terms of accomplishing their mission.

MR. RUSSERT: These terrorists play by a whole set of different rules. It's going to force us, in your words, to get mean, dirty and nasty in order to take them on, right? And they should realize there will be more than simply a pinprick bombing.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Yeah, the - I think it's - the thing that I sense - and, of course, that's only been a few days, but I have never seen such determination on the part of - well, my colleagues in government, on the part of the American people, on the part of our friends and allies overseas, and even on the part of some who are not ordinarily deemed friends of the United States, determined in this particular instance to shift and not be tolerant any longer of these kinds of actions or activities.

MR. RUSSERT: Even if we take out Osama bin Laden, that will not stop terrorism.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. No. He's the target at the moment. But I don't want to convey the impression that somehow, you know, if we had his head on a platter today, that that would solve the problem. It won't. You've got this organization, as I say, called al-Qaida. It's - somebody described it the other day as - it's like an Internet chat room, that people who come and participate in it, for one reason or another, engage in terrorism, have sometimes different motives and ideologies, but the tactics they use, the way they operate, their targets, that will continue until we go out, basically, and make the world unsafe for terrorists. And that's a key part of the strategy, in terms of working aggressively with those nations that have previously provided support and sustenance and sanctuary, to see to it that they no longer do that.

MR. RUSSERT: Saddam Hussein, your old friend, his government had this to say: "The American cowboy is rearing the fruits of crime against humanity." If we determine that Saddam Hussein is also harboring terrorists, and there's a track record there, would we have any reluctance of going after Saddam Hussein?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.

MR. RUSSERT: Do we have evidence that he's harboring terrorists?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: There is - in the past, there have been some activities related to terrorism by Saddam Hussein. But at this stage, you know, the focus is over here on al-Qaida and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein's bottled up, at this point, but clearly, we continue to have a fairly tough policy where the Iraqis are concerned.

MR. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: At the same time, the key, though, is to go eliminate the terrorists. We may never have 100 percent perfection in terms of our intelligence capabilities to be able to penetrate and know about all these kinds of operations - Timothy McVeigh, for example, in Oklahoma City. But if we go after the terrorists, if we deny them sanctuary, if we take out their bases and their locations where they operate, that's probably the most effective way to deal with this threat. But we have to recognize, no matter how good we are, no matter how aggressively we pursue this, we're likely to be subject to that partly by the very nature of our society. We're an open society, we love it that way, that's very important to preserve that, and not to let the terrorists win by turning ourselves into some kind of police state.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We're clearly going to have to look at this whole question and find ways to improve and enhance our security, without a doubt. And it's going to be a prime focus for Norm Mineta and the folks over at the F.A.A. Exactly what the answer ought to be, Tim, I don't have enough information now to be able to judge that. But without question, this was a significant failure there in the sense that they were able to take four aircraft. But again, they didn't do it with guns or explosives; they did it with knives.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No, I think the tax cut's crucial. And that's exactly what we needed in terms of the slowdown. Having the tax cut out there now means we're going to have a more robust year than would have been the case without the tax cut. It's a key piece of stimulus. And I think the president did exactly the right thing.

...

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No, I think the tax cut's crucial. And that's exactly what we needed in terms of the slowdown. Having the tax cut out there now means we're going to have a more robust year than would have been the case without the tax cut. It's a key piece of stimulus. And I think the president did exactly the right thing.

MR. RUSSERT: And we'll find them.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We'll find them.

NBC News' Meet The Press: Dick Cheney, September 16, 2001, http://stacks.msnbc.com/news/629714.asp.