Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

February 19, 2007

The Real Connection Between Iraq And Al Qaeda

by Doug Mataconis

While the United States military concentrates its resources on keeping together a country that is clearly splintering apart, the men who killed 3,000 Americans on September 11th are gaining strength again:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 — Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.

American analysts said recent intelligence showed that the compounds functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants allied with Al Qaeda. They receive guidance from their commanders and Mr. Zawahri, the analysts said. Mr. bin Laden, who has long played less of an operational role, appears to have little direct involvement.

And what about the manhunt for bin Laden and Zawahiri:

Officials said that the United States still had little idea where Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri had been hiding since 2001, but that the two men were not believed to be present in the camps currently operating in North Waziristan. Among the indicators that American officials cited as a sign that Qaeda leaders felt more secure was the release of 21 statements by Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri in 2006, roughly twice the number as in the previous year.

What about the Iraq connection ? Well, let’s ponder some alternate history for a second. Let’s pretend that the United States didn’t invade Iraq in 2003 and instead concentrated on the War in Afghanistan, the seach for bin Laden and the remaining Taliban leaders, and the final destruction of the al Qaeda network. Isn’t it just possible that the situation in Afghanistan would be alot better than it is today ?

The most frustrating thing to me about the Iraq War is the way in which it has distracted us from fighting the real enemy. It wasn’t Saddam Hussein who attacked us on September 11th, it was al Qaeda. It wasn’t Saddam Hussein who was providing refuge to al Qaeda, it was the Taliban government of Afghanistan. That’s where the United States military should have been in 2003, not the deserts of Iraq.

Update: Kevin makes a point in this comment that I think is essentially correct. Sending more troops into Afghanistan might not necessarily have been the right move either, but at the very least I think that the War On Terror would be in a far different state right now if our resources had been focused on the real enemy rather than diverted to Iraq.

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  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Well, let’s ponder some alternate history for a second. Let’s pretend that the United States didn’t invade Iraq in 2003 and instead concentrated on the War in Afghanistan, the seach for bin Laden and the remaining Taliban leaders, and the final destruction of the al Qaeda network. Isn’t it just possible that the situation in Afghanistan would be alot better than it is today ?

    No and here’s why. If we sent more troops to Afghanistan, I have the feeling that those Afghans who intially welcomed us would begin to start seeing Americans and the NATO forces as occupiers and the Taliban would grow into a national resistance movement against the Americans. Karzi, who is still a weak president, would be seen as nothing more than an American puppet and his government and Kabul would be more of a target of homicide bombers and other acts of terrorism and guerilla warfare.

    The major reason for the successes we’ve had in Afganistan is we have let the locals actively play a part in building and fighting for their country and by this, we’ve managed to keep support in country for our efforts there.

    Finally, we have not been able to destroy Al-Qaeda because we have not confronted the ideology. Once we begin to actively come out against the ideology of Islamofascism and stop muttering nonsense like “Islam is a Religion of Peace” and “Islam and democracy are compatable”, then we’ll start beating them.

  • Craig

    Once we begin to actively come out against the ideology of Islamofascism and stop muttering nonsense like “Islam is a Religion of Peace” and “Islam and democracy are compatable”, then we’ll start beating them. – Kevin

    What!!! Islam isn’t a religion of peace???

    How can you say that Kevin? You of all people? You know what the solution is: let them all move to the United States, where they’ll assimilate overnight and all want to be just like us.

    Surely you can’t be against that? After all, you believe that everyone has the right to go anywhere they want.

    You’re just a hater, Kevin: a bigot and a hater.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    You know what the solution is: let them all move to the United States, where they’ll assimilate overnight and all want to be just like us.

    No instead we can just bring America to them like the neo-cons want to do.

    Besides, assimilation doesn’t take place over night, it takes a generation at most.

    You’re just a hater, Kevin: a bigot and a hater.

    Guilty. I’m anti-tolitarian. Islam, as practiced a large segment of its adherents, is a repressive ideology targeting non-Muslims. It is no more a religion than Nazism and Communism were.

  • Craig

    Guilty. I’m anti-tolitarian. Islam, as practiced a large segment of its adherents, is a repressive ideology targeting non-Muslims. It is no more a religion than Nazism and Communism were.

    So what you’re saying is that there are some people we can keep out of this country?

    No instead we can just bring America to them like the neo-cons want to do.

    I have no idea whether you’re serious or tongue-in-cheek. Some silly people actually believe that.

    If they wanted “America” they could have it at anytime. The fact is that they haven’t created America in their home countries and appear to have no desire to do so. A thousand monkeys with typewriters would type out the Constitution faster than these people ever will.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    I have no idea whether you’re serious or tongue-in-cheek. Some silly people actually believe that.

    Tongue-in-cheek. The Arab and the Islamic world for that matter, for various reasons, has not developed the necessary instituions and cultural prerequisites to develop and sustain a liberty minded society.

  • Craig

    The Arab and the Islamic world for that matter, for various reasons, has not developed the necessary instituions and cultural prerequisites to develop and sustain a liberty minded society.

    Wow, that’s pretty racy. Politically incorrect even. And what about the African world? Or the Asian world or the Latin world or the Russian world or…? All of these places are quite different, politically, from the United States. These differences are not imposed from above. They emanate from the shared beliefs and concerns of the people. If a dictator is allowed to rule in Beijing, and his army marches to his command, that’s a result of the will of the people (or lack thereof).

    So what you’re saying is people are different. And what is the root of these differences? Geography? Culture? Genetics? Very little of the first and a lot of the last two, I’d suspect. Australians have more in common with Americans or Canadians than with Indonesians or Samoans.

    The differences are so significant, in many cases, that it may lead different people to desire different types of societies, and different types of governments.

    And if that’s true for 100 million Muslims, why can it not be true for 100 millions Mexicans, Africans, Chinamen, or Frenchmen or anyone else?

    Kevin, it is not racism that makes me want to limit immigration. The argument over which culture or race is “superior” is irrelevant to me. I can’t stand white nationalists. It is a simple desire to keep the natural tension in a democracy to a reasonable level, as well as the environmental, cultural, and economic issues I mentioned earlier.

    I’m not particularly religious, but I would like to hear schoolchildren singing carols at Christmastime, without having to sing equal numbers of Hanukkah songs, Kwanzaa songs, Ramadan songs, and Chinese New Year songs. I would like our schools to teach values that are deeper and more meaningful than the multiculturalist claptrap we hear. I would like it if there wasn’t a controversy everytime some police department erected a cross for a fallen officer. I would like it if the newspaper didn’t have an article every week compalining about how group X is underrepresented in institution Y.

    As a cynic once said: “Multiculturalism, democracy, immigration: pick any two.”

  • Husham

    Dear Craig,
    We need people like you.Your comments really made me feel great.I am quite happy to see that in this world realistic,truthful and brave people like you still exist.Keep it up Craig.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Like Doug, I want justice. The perpetrators are still out there. I would like to know for those who think other wise, if it were your brother murdered, would you be satisfied by others being prosecuted and punished for similar crimes.

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