A bit off offtopic but worth reading.
Osama bin Laden: Some Facts
Posted by steve_gilliard
There has been so much misinformation about Osama bin Laden and the US military that it might be helpful to interject some facts into the conversation.
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden is the modern-day Che Guevara. A man born into the Saudi power structure, raised in luxury, he became radicalized by the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Like the Cuban revolutionary Guevara, who was an Argentinean, bin Laden, a Saudi, has been deeply involved in the wars of other people. But unlike Guevara, he has money, access to technology and thousands of loyal followers willing to fight and die, not just post his picture in their dorm room.
He is no cleric or dedicated religious person. Instead he's a radical looking to overthrow the legitimate governments of the Islamic world and to that end, has funded Islamic guerillas from Algeria to the Philippines.
What does he want? According to David Plotz in Slate, nothing less that the revival of Islamic power.
Bin Laden is the most notorious advocate of a potent strain of militant Islam that has been gaining popularity in the Muslim world for 30 years. It is simultaneously theological and cultural. Its fundamental tenet is that the Muslim world is being poisoned and desecrated by infidels. These infidels include both outsiders such as the United States and Israel, and governments of Muslim states, such as Egypt and Jordan, that have committed apostasy.
The infidels must be driven out of the Muslim world by a jihad, and strict Islamic rule must be established everywhere that Muslims live. These extreme "Islamists," as Bin Laden biographer Yossef Bodansky dubs them, hope to re-establish the Caliphate, the golden age of Muslim domination that followed the death of Muhammad. They regard the Taliban's Afghanistan as a model for such Islamic rule.
Bin Laden clearly has an agenda regarding the US, but it is not to destroy it, just to force it from the Middle East. This is critical in understanding why he would want to destroy the World Trade Center. Ramzi Yusef, the 1993 bomber of the WTC, said their goal was to topple the two towers and kill 250,000 people. They wanted it to be the Islamic nuclear bomb, to do to Americans what they had done to the Japanese at Hiroshima.
So how did the scion of a Saudi construction empire become leader of a pan-Islamic army?
The Afghan War
The CIA,Afghanistan and Bin Laden
Like all good volunteer movements, people take what they can get. In Osama bin Laden, the Afghan resistance got a man willing to not only raise money but spend his and his family's fortune on driving out the Russians. The CIA was deeply involved in funding and training various Afghan resistance groups. But, by the late 1980's, the fundamentalists had gained the upper hand and the most US support.
The US had been warned that the fundamentalists were not likely to be grateful, but turn on the Americans as soon as they could. America was the Great Satan, a term first heard among Iranian radicals in the late 1970's.
Bin Laden's relationship to the Saudi royal family is an interesting one. According to PBS, the family made its money from building religious structures across the Arab world.
Today one of the biggest construction groups in the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] and the Middle East, the "bin Laden empire" traces its origins to Sheik Mohammed bin Laden, a native of the Chafeite (Sunni) Hadramout who emigrated [from South Yemen] to Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the century.
The beginnings of his activity are shrouded in mystery. It is said that, having satisfied King Abdul Aziz with construction work on the royal palace, Mohammed bin Laden was awarded a much more prestigious contract: the renovation of Mecca. Whatever the actual circumstances, it is a fact that the Saudi royal family gave the bin Laden family--and group--exclusive rights to all construction of a religious nature, whether in Mecca, Medina or--until 1967--the Holy Places in Jerusalem. This enabled the bin Ladens to establish an industrial and financial empire which now extends far beyond religious construction projects.
The relationship between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family is quite exceptional in that it not simply one of business ties: it is also a relationship of trust, of friendship and of shared secrets. This is particularly the case with regard to the group's present-day leaders and the Soudairi clan.
The relationship of trust between the royal family and the bin Laden group has never been repudiated, although it is known to have undergone some serious crises. The most important was doubtless the 1979 Mecca affair. Because the bin Laden company had the exclusive contract for repairs in the Holy Places, its trucks entered and left Mecca at all hours without being inspected. And the rebels used "bin Laden" trucks to get weapons into the city. One of the bin Laden sons, Mahrous, was actually arrested on account of his ties with the Islamists, but was later freed. He is currently manager of the group's Medina branch.
While forgotten now, the seizure of Mecca by Islamist rebels was a major embarrassment to the Saud family. French commandos had to be converted to Islam so they could force the rebels out of their lairs. bin Laden, known as the family fundamentalist, was reputedly made the black sheep of the family for his guerilla activities. So no one is more scared of bin Laden than King Faisel. He knows their family secrets and probably a lot more. His only reason for not directly attacking the King is that his relatives would all be killed if he failed. But make no mistake, his greatest animus is reserved for the Saudi government for allowing US troops to be stationed in the Kingdom.
Bin Laden was the paymaster for the fundamentalist guerilla groups. With his connections across the Gulf, it was obvious that he would be the man to get the money the resistance needed. The problem is that the US had pretty much encouraged a worldwide effort to get soldiers for the Afghan Resistance. They were recruited from the depth and breadth of the Islamic world, including the US. Many were Egyptians, Saudis, and Sudanese. Bin Laden proved to be a master recruiter. At the time, these governments were only too happy to send them to the outer end of the world to get killed. Islamic fanatics willing to join the Mujahedeen were exactly the kinds of people they wanted out of the way. The one group who didn't join the Afghan war in any numbers were Palestinians. Why does this matter? Because the Palestinians are among the most educated Arabs in the region and the backbone of the technocrat class in these countries. At the time, the CIA was told that the fundamentalists would be trouble. That they were crazy and likely to take their training to harm the US, but the CIA followed the lead of the ISI (Pakistani intelligence) and backed the people doing the fighting.
Map of Afghan-Pakistan border www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/afghan_paki_border_ rel88.jpg
Bin Laden got the dissaffected working and middle class kids of the Arab world and the CIA trained them. The poor may like him for standing up to the West, but many in the middle class also joined his crusade, in the same way that many became Marxists elswehwere. While he wasn't a combat leader, he was far more charismatic than the Afghans they served under. Even in the best of times, the Afghan leadership are hardcore hillbillies. They shoot goats on mountain tops and you don't get two shots or too far down the line if you want to win.
While in Afghanistan, he founded the Maktab al-Khidimat (MAK), which recruited fighters from around the world and imported equipment to aid the Afghan resistance against the Soviet army. Egyptians, Lebanese, Turks and others - numbering thousands in bin Laden's estimate - joined their Afghan Muslim brothers in the struggle against an ideology that spurned religion.
Bin Laden could speak to them about Algiers and Cairo and how far they were from Islam. He could speak in the language of the urban dispossessed. He knew their cities, their temptations. He spoke their language and convinced many of them that the Afghan war was the first step in crushing both superpowers. The CIA, eager to reward these fighters, who gave the Afghan resistance the kind of dedicated, intelligent, literate soldiers they would have never had on their own, allowed many of them to immigrate to the US with their families. Many said thank you and got on with their lives. Others said thank you for being stupid and remained in contact with Bin Laden.
Bin Laden and his Network
The US government made the following allegations in their indictment in 1998 of Bin Laden and his chief aides.
* In approximately 1989, bin Laden and co-defendant Muhammad Atef founded "al Qaeda," " an international terrorist group ... which was dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence."
* "One of the principal goals of al Qaeda was to drive the United States armed forces out of Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere on the Saudi Arabian peninsula) and Somalia by violence."
* "Al Qaeda had a command and control structure which included a majlis al shura (or consultation council) which discussed and approved major undertakings, including terrorist operations." Both Atef and bin Laden sat on this council.
* Al Qaeda had ties to other "terrorist organizations that operated under its umbrella," including: the al Jihad group based in Egypt, the Islamic Group, formerly led by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and other jihad groups in other countries. "Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hezballah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States."
* The named defendants, plus other members of al Qaeda, "conspired, confederated and agreed to kill nationals of the United States." In furtherance of this conspiracy,
* Bin Laden and others "provided training camps and guesthouses in various areas, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Kenya for the use of al Qaeda and its affiliated groups,"
* Bin Laden and others provided currency and weapons to members of al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups in various countries throughout the world.
* Bin Laden established a headquarters for al Qaeda in Khartoum, Sudan in 1991, and established a series of businesses, including two investment companies, an agricultural company, a construction business and a transportation company, all of which were, "operated to provide income and support to al Qaeda and to provide cover for the procurement of explosives, weapons and chemicals and for the travel of al Qaeda operatives."
* Bin Laden issued a number of fatwahs (rulings on Islamic law) stating that US forces stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, should be attacked.
* Al Qaeda members "provided military training and assistance to Somali tribes opposed to the United Nations' intervention in Somalia. ... On October 3 and 4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, persons who had been trained by al Qaeda (and trainers who had been trained by al Qaeda) participated in an attack on United States military personnel serving in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope, which attack resulted in the killing of 18 United States Army personnel.
* Bin Laden and others attempted to procure components of nuclear and chemical weapons.
Defendants bin Laden, Atef, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, and Odeh, together with other members of Al Qaeda "detonated an explosive device that damaged and destroyed the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and ... directly .. caused the deaths of at least 213 persons, including Kenyan and American citizens."
Defendants bin Laden, Atef, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Odeh, al-'Owhali. Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, together with other members of Al Qaeda "detonated an explosive device that damaged and destroyed the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and ... directly .. caused the deaths of at least 11 persons, including Tanzanian citizens.
That little list is a nice summary of why he's the world's most wanted man.
Since bin Laden is neither an imam or a sharia (Islamic law)judge and the Saudi clerics reject everything he says, his issuing of a fatwa is not exactly the word of God.
How did he create a clandestine network? Easy. It's legal to do in the US, until someone breaks the law. There was no criminal act in merely associating with your fellow Afghan War vets. So as long as they kept their criminal fantasies private, the FBI could only deport them. The problem in calling this an intelligence failure is that as long as these people flew airplanes and otherwise obeyed the law, there was no reasonto pick them up. Without penetrating the Bin Laden network, which requires recruiting teenagers and working them over a period of years, it couldn't happen.
Bin Laden's hatred of the US had always existed, but it exploded with the Gulf War. He could not understand why the Kingdom would allow the sacred soil of Islam to be defiled by non-believers. The fact that Saddam Hussein and his murdering, loonie sons were coming with their army to take the wealth of Saudi Arabia was irrelevant to him. After all, this is a man who finds the Taliban an ideal Islamic regime. Even Iranians think the Taliban are insane, especially after they killed 21 Iranian officials.
Bin Laden first took on the US in Somalia, where his people trained the clan leaders. The clans managed to kill 18 US troopers and wound 81, at the cost of nearly 1,000-1,500 dead. In about 8 hours, 200 US Delta Force troopers and Rangers, with helicopter support, survived a botched kidnapping. It was hardly a major success for Bin Laden. Neither was the World Trade Center bombing that year. The plan was to topple both towers and kill 250,000 people. It didn't work.
Bin Laden has poked at the edges of the US, blowing up the Khobar Towers in 1996 and embassies in 1998. But nothing worse than any of our other enemies. What he did do was establish a network across the world, loosely connected in cells of 12-20 men and women, with safehouses and money. The Bin Laden network was designed not as a traditional spy network, but to facilitate acts of terrorism. Which means it tends to stand out, being populated by recent immigrants. Which also means that before they act, they can go about their business in immigrant communities unnoticed. The local police do not usually have the ability to interrogate people in Arabic, Urdu or Pushtu. Immigrants coming from military dictatorships are not going to run to the police.
At the same time, once they strike, the FBI and CIA can run them to ground quickly. They stand out. Too much money, speaking foreign languages. Once they run, they are going to get nailed. To blame the CIA and FBI for failing to pick these people up may be fair, but the reality is that US resources are limited when it comes to dealing with South Asia.
The networks are now in flight. They managed to get their big strike off but that's about it. Despite bin Laden's effort to buy nukes or chemical weapons, the odds of even the Taliban letting him get a weapon of mass destruction are lower than you hitting the Powerball lottery, times 15. Bin Laden isn't going to be around when the nukes and fuel air munitions come in. It would be national suicide to allow him to commit such an act. As it stands, the Taliban is in fear. They know the power of the US is not just myth. However, the words of bin Laden are the best way to judge how he thinks.
He has little knowledge of the US outside of his dogma. The Soviet Union was always a country of separate countries. It was held together by force. It's collapse was hardly a surprise, since nationalism had always played a factor in the Soviet state, even in the military, where Europeans did the fighting and Asians did the manual labor.
His grudge is not really about the US, per se, but about the role it has played in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis never let us talk to the Khobar Towers bombers. Why? Because they probably had connections to high ranking Saudis and the embarrassment was intense. In The Prize, Daniel Yergin's history of oil, someone described Saudi Arabia this way: "imagine if someone named America 'Rockefeller America'". If you were to believe Bin Laden, you would think that Saudi Arabia was filled with whores, porn and booze, not the strict religious theocracy where other religions were banned. The Sauds live in fear of a coup, which is why there is an Army and a National Guard, each armed and trained differently. Bin Laden has been allowed to raise money around the Gulf because he didn't act on overthrowing the Sauds.
Now, Saudi Arabia, hardly a saint in funding fundamentalist movements, faces the reality that a man capable of sending teams to blow up the White House and Pentagon is more than capable of placing a nuke in Riyadh.
Map of Saudi Arabia
Which is the thing. Al-Qaeda spent millions to execute these attacks in the US, their whole organization had moved towards this for years. They had attacked the WTC in 1993, tried to hijack airliners in 1998, sought to hit prestige targets in 2000. This was the culmination of seven years of planning and attacks in the US. They didn't have access to nukes or other weapons of mass destruction. They would have used them, in Saudi Arabia to achieve their ultimate goals instead.
What most people do not understand is that the hijack plan was a desperate, high risk move. At any point, they could have been foiled and it appears one plane was crashed by the passengers. This is not the acts of people with options. Rumors abound that Bin Laden is funding movements in Indonesia and the Philippines as well. That all takes money. Al-Qaeda doesn't have unlimited resources. It's a guerilla network, not a state. It cannot print money, it must pay its hosts well to continue to stay.
This was their big plan. Their hosts refusing them access to WMD, the war in Afghanistan is never ending, they did something dramatic. Now, the consequences are coming clear. The Iranians are gleefully looking at a chance to end their isolation. Pakistan weighed the options and decided that the US, their longtime sponsor, was not playing around. They may have to jail or even kill thousands of Islamic militants. India is gleefully looking forward to deal with Bin Laden, who they suspect of creating trouble in Kashmir
Map of Kashmir
What people need to understand is that bin Laden is a destablizer. His entire mission is to create a new order and reestablish the Caliphate of the 12th Century where Islamic law and learning was the heart of the civilized world. Of course, the TV-fearing, illiterate Taliban soldiers have no idea that this existed. They are the modern day Khmer Rouge, killing those who oppose them and imposing a social order which is as bizarre as it is frightening. Bin Laden does not rely on these modern day hillbillies to carry out his orders, but uses the urban classes and dissaffected to do his bidding. He plays on their frustration on living in weak economies and surrounded by things they will never have.
The TV which beams into their homes, and these are successful people on their terms, portrays an America of untold riches and luxury. A land where hunger does not exist and sex is always available. While Achmed may see this and say "I will do anything to live there." Ibrahim sees this and says "damn those Americans. How can they live like that and defile my once great country." Most Arabs, most Muslims, have no more desire to kill anyone than Americans want to be paratroopers. But some, and we're talking about 5,000 people, at absolute most, 10,000 out of hundreds of millions of people, clearly do. Most Muslims are offended by the extreme interpretation of their religion. They see it as lunacy. Which is why Palestinians are largely absent from this movement. This kind of extremism is to Islam what Christian identity is to Christianity. Not even the Iranians want to live like that, nor do the Saudis. They are conservative, but a land where TV's are banned and women totally excluded from civil life is insanity.
The American military is not going to hunt down Muslims. They are going to hunt down terrorists. No Middle Eastern state wants this battle because it means a confrontation many have avoided. They have fragile governments, Syria and Jordan governed by untested sons of very strong leaders. They don't need to provoke the Arab man in the street, who cheers on those who challenges the "crusaders" as they term the US. At the same time, bin Laden is seeking to destroy their states for his grand vision.His Pan-Islamic world sees no Syria, no Egypt. Just an empire he directs.
There wasn't an Arab leader who saw those plane crashes and didn't immediately realize what was going to happen to them. They knew that the US was going to force their hands. No country can tolerate an attack on its leadership, and financial stability. Bin Laden and his networks are forcing them to choose sides. The United States can destroy their countries in five minutes. Bin Laden lives in a cave in a country which is not his, and is a wanted man in Saudi Arabia. He is accountable to no one but his groupies. The Taliban needs his money and his men. The Palestinians realized in seconds that the cheering against the US could destroy his state. They know what an enraged US can do. They heard the casual chatter of unleashing the Israelis and even nuclear weapons. Those weapons weren't going to hit Russia, either.
The Pakistanis were there first to face this. The Taliban is their creature, but they know the US is their sponsor. There is no choice. The US can destroy them, withhold aid, destroy their nukes. They had no choice.
Bin Laden hopes that the US goes insane with rage, that we treat the whole Muslim world as accomplices to his madness. To blame the average, poor, starving Afghani, who is as sick of the Taliban and their whip-carrying religious police, as everyone else, for this dead wrong. To punish them would be a crime. Afghanistan is not the problem. The people who run it are.
Of course, we're not insane. We know what he represents and despite the casual ignorance - racism is not the right word here - and calls for nuclear retaliation, we will use the right amount of force. Most of it will not be paratroopers running around Afghanistan, but the work of Special Operations Forces. www.specialoperations.com/usspecops.html.
The specially trained commandos which fly those infamous "black helicopters". They will be running around, blowing things up, doing what the country needs done. Which is not mass slaughter, but killing those responsible.
This would be a good thing to keep in mind. These men will risk their lives to avenge what has happened and many may never return home. As we say our prayer for the fallen and those who seek to rescue them, including these men as well would be a good thing, for they will need it in the days ahead.
The Special Forces Prayer
Almighty God Who art the Author of Liberty and the Champion of the oppressed hear our prayer.
We the men of Special Forces, acknowledge our dependence upon Thee in the preservation of human freedom. Go with us as we seek to defend the defenseless and to free the enslaved.
May we ever remember that our nation, whose oath "in God We Trust," expects that we shall requit ourselves with honor, that we may never bring shame upon our faith, our families, or our fellow men.
Grant us wisdom from Thy mind, courage from Thine heart, and protection by Thine hand. It is for Thee that we do battle, and to thee belongs the victor's crown. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and glory forever,
Arrgggg, some urls are broken please ignore.