Lessons from Mombassa

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The latest column of openDemocracy.net’s global analyst Paul Rogers seems all too appropriate on yet another day when CNN is grabbing eyeballs by headlining a possible missive posted at a website by “Al Qaeda” — in this case one which “threatened a strike to coincide with the end of the Muslim holy season — which is December 5 and 6. The statement said, ‘You have not learned your lesson….You did not understand the reasons for the raids of Washington and New York… Oh American people, you are the victim of your leaders, but you are also a partner in the war on us. The gift for the holiday is on its way.'”

To read more of this uninspiring piece from CNN, click here

Once again Paul Rogers manages to pull together disparate events around the world into something closer to a global whole than anything you’re faintly likely to run into in your daily paper — and without the notes of panic which blind us to reality. The clearest thing about Al Qaeda is that they’re bound at the hip to our government. While they may not be our creatures, they are not imaginable in a world not in part of our creation (and, of course, we all know well the more literal role the Saudis and our government had in Bin Laden’s Afghan adventure). Al Qaeda’s mad strategy, such as it is, is barren without the United States to provoke. And ours, it seems, would not be possible, were Al Qaeda not there to constantly frighten us all to death. It’s like the marriage from hell — or do I mean a marriage of unbearable convenience on all sides. Tom

Lessons from Mombasa: al Qaeda’s long-term strategy
By Paul Rogers, December 1, 2002, openDemocracy.net

The deadly attacks on Israeli targets in Kenya are part of a rising trend of operations by al-Qaida and its affiliates. Their clear lesson is that the group is thinking for the long term. Does the United States understand its enemy?

An analysis of the status of al-Qaida published a month ago entitled Is al-Qaida winning? came to the conclusion that the organisation had experienced disruption in Afghanistan and a number of recent reversals but was, on balance, more active than 18 months ago. While major attacks in Paris, Rome, Singapore and elsewhere had been prevented, their very planning demonstrated the power of the organisation and its affiliates. Moreover, many other attacks had succeeded in their aims – not least the Bali bombing, the attack on the Tunisian synagogue, several bombings in Pakistan and assaults in Yemen.

To read more of this article from openDemocracy.net, click here.