Michael Scheuer, who was a top CIA officer and as "Anonymous" wrote critiques of Bush's GWOT policies, has performed a skit for the Air Force Association. The conceit is that he is pretending to be an Al Qaeda operative inside America, writing to update "Brother Osama" on the course of the war.
The fellow has some good points as to the advantages we enjoy:
First, the huge downside of this war ... We are, to put it simply, being hunted and attacked by the most powerful nation in the history of the world and despite the heavy personnel losses we have suffered, may God accept them as martyrs, the United States has not yet made the full destructiveness of its power felt.He also has one good point as to a serious detriment to our efforts:
Still, its people hate us with a vengeance for the blessed September raid and their efforts against us are powered by a wonderfully, even amazingly productive economy. In addition, the American population, although far from perfectly equitable is on the whole tolerant, including toward their Muslim fellow citizens.
At this point, brothers, we do not have the advantage here provided by the aggressively racist and anti-Islamic policies followed by most countries of the European Union. But on that score, as you have said Brother Iman, Allah will ensure that the cradles of Muslim homes will ultimately return Andalusia and all of Europe to the Muslim Ummah.
A final point of danger that I must stress is that American military, emotional, patriotic, and economic power has been neither harnessed nor focused. The latent power of this country is enormous and we have yet to fill its impact. God willing, the Americans will continue to slumber.
And Brothers, the Americans have not found serious men to lead them. God has blessed us with this reality for at least 15 years. Four years after 9/11, American leaders have not closed their borders or found out who is in their country. Truly only God could have provided our movement with such a miracle. Amazingly, Brothers, the Americans' politicians lack the moral courage to first enforce the laws they themselves have passed. God is great. They refuse to find out who is in their country and to stop illegal immigration because, they loudly assert, America is a beacon of liberty to the world that we do not want to dim. Truly, Brothers, there is nothing more beneficial to us than having American politicians prefer to have the United States be seen as the glowing beacon of liberty rather than a country of enforced laws. Long may American maintain and enhance this glow of liberty which provides a light that warms, guides and shelters Al Qaeda and the many Jihadi groups who we have inspired around the world.Fair enough.
Now, for what he thinks is our greatest weakness:
Brothers, believe me, the Americans are either soundly asleep, unwilling to face reality, or fundamentally stupid. Based on my observations and discussions they do not appear to have a clue as to what this war is about. This is, thanks to God, our greatest advantage...Mr. Scheuer adopts that favorite tactic of a certain type of intellectual, of which there are all too many at the CIA: claiming that people who disagree with him are simply too ignorant or stupid to understand the issue. Well, it isn't ignorance: Is there anyone left in America who hasn't heard the "It's our policies!" counterargument, and had occasion to think it through? I doubt it, excepting only children, the very elderly, and those who simply care nothing about politics.
They do not understand our motivation. In American terms, they have not “figured out what makes us tick.” Their political leaders of both parties, as well as their media, military, economic and social elites continue to claim Al Qaeda hates America for what it believes and how it lives and not for what the United States does in the Islamic world. And you saw for yourself, Brothers, how Bush and Blair responded to July's blessed London expedition—like trained parrots they exclaimed that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms and not for what we do.
Honestly, Brothers, only God's love for Muslim believers could have kept American believers so dense for so long.
"Our policy in the Muslim world" is the real source of our problems, is it? Well, let's go down to the question-and-answer section with the good military men who attended the skit. What was the first question?
Q: One of the tangible justifications Al Qaeda used for 9/11 with respect to the Koran was the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. Given that we have silently moved our troops out of that country, is there any evidence of windfall within the Islamic world?So, the first piece of serious evidence on the question is: moving the troops only changed the complaint. It didn't relieve or even moderate the complaint.
Mr. Scheuer: No, I think on that particular occasion we pulled the wool over our own eyes. Within the eyes of Muslims, the Prophet's home is the Arabian Peninsula, not Saudi Arabia. There are no States in the theological sense on the Arabian Peninsula. We simply moved from Saudi Arabia to Qatar and Kuwait, which is still on the Prophet's homeland. It's kind of been treated, at least within the websites and the internet journals of Al Qaeda and its allies as something of a joke that points to the depth of the American ignorance about Islam.
Yes, and if we'd moved the troops to Egypt? To Turkey? To Spain? Mr. Scheuer himself jokes about Bin Laden returning the cradles of Islam to Andalusia. It isn't ignorance or stupidity that is moving us to reject this policy as a "first cause." It's just that we've been watching and listening too, and we've drawn different conclusions.
Let's take another question:
Q: Carmen bin Laden, a sister-in-law of Osama bin Laden, believes Al Qaeda is in no hurry to attack US soil, but rather can bide their time. Do you think this is true, or have we just been successful in actively fighting off another attack?Ah, yes, that's the real reason al Qaeda doesn't hit us more often: their immense patience.
Mr. Scheuer: I think we have done a wonderful job of taking out Al Qaeda leaders, but we still categorize Al Qaeda as a terrorist group. Our leaders from both parties have a lot to say about seizing 5,000 or 6,000 Al Qaeda fighters, which seems counter-intuitive—I'm not sure there's a terrorist group that has 4,000 or 5,000 fighters.
The one difference between Al Qaeda and the United States, Al Qaeda and the West, Islam and the West, is the tremendous sense of patience on the enemy's side. When they talk about another attack soon in the United States they're speaking of anywhere from a year to a decade. Our idea of soon is this afternoon or next week or October 1st at the latest.
Actually, I think it might be their lack of capability. If they could hit us more often, does anyone doubt that they would? We've watched their bombs fall off in effectiveness everywhere outside of Iraq: 9/11, Madrid, London is the usual chain, but take a look at their allied group in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah. They have a lot more freedom to move and train, and safe havens in parts of the Philippines. In 2002 the Bali bombing was hideous; in 2005, they bombed Bali again, and killed very few by comparison.
Here's another question:
Q: In your opinion, what is the impact of Syed Qutab’s writings on the Al Qaeda world view?The answer is useless, so I won't bother to quote it. What should be obvious here, however, is that the Air Force people here are hardly ignorant of Muslim culture. They have been studying the roots of this dispute at least as seriously as Mr. Scheuer.
They've also studied the evidence about what we're doing, and how it changes the war. I can tell you for a fact that they don't just consider GitMo or Abu Ghraib a 'public relations problem.' I know that they're intensely interested in reaction, and are taking steps not only to correct problems but to create measurements so that they can tell whether what they are doing is making things better or worse.
As for the treatment of the Koran, I think we all remember the military's admonition that our fighters handle it with literal kid gloves? We accept the enemy's assertion that we are too unclean to handle his holy book, rather than give cause for offense.
The whole skit, and the question and answer period, is worth reading.