August 17, 2009

Al Qaeda (The Base) is not a network

POLITICS - It might surprise you to learn that the "international network of terrorists" Al Qaeda is not a network. It is actually a very tiny group of less than 12 men. The word Al Qaeda (which means "The Base") isn't even the real name of the group. There was no name for it until after September 11th 2001.

Here's what happened. One of Osama bin Laden's former buddies stole money from him, went to the United States claiming political asylum, talked to the CIA bragging about his work for bin Laden and mentioned the words 'Al Qaeda' referring to the base where Osama bin Laden was staying at the time.

On September 11th 2001 the CIA quickly started pointing fingers at Al Qaeda as the possible culprit, not realizing that Al Qaeda doesn't really exist, it was just Osama bin Laden and a few of his buddies. Furthermore because a lot of the people talking about didn't really know what they were talking about the fact and the fiction got mixed up pretty quickly, with Al Qaeda suddenly becoming an international organization of sleeper cells operating in 50 to 60 countries.

Which is funny, because that is really more a of Hollywood idea of what a terrorist group is like. The big bad James Bond villain with his hundreds or thousands of followers, his secret underground lair (the Base) and plotting in secret to destroy the American way of life.

Remember the drawings of WMD in Iraq and so-called mobile laboratories? That was just a theory someone in the CIA managed to draw up. The same thing goes with Osama bin Laden's underground bases built in caves. Just a drawing. Looks more like a set from a Hollywood movie, but nothing like what he really lives in.

Meanwhile the real Osama bin Laden is living in a tent in the desert, has an extremely tiny group of close friends and has nothing resembling a super villain's base or a network. It is no wonder nobody has found him. He's just a speck hiding in some remote location no where near the fighting in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden with hired extrasEven bin Laden is guilty of inflating himself, trying to appear more important than he really is. In the photo to the right he hired extras to pose and walk around with him to make it look like he has more men working for him than he really does.

So what does this mean? Well its just like Iraq and the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction that were never found. Its another CIA intelligence cock up. Intelligence agencies seem to have problems sometimes separating fact from fiction, and the real facts only come out years later.

In fact if we look at Osama bin Laden and his buddies closely, what we see is that since September 11th 2001 they haven't committed any acts of terrorism at all. They just release videos to the media (which eventually make their way on to YouTube)... and then those videos (combined with the ongoing violence in the Middle East) inspire others to follow in the footsteps of terrorism.

Other groups calling themselves "Al Qaeda" have no formal connection to bin Laden's group. They are just calling themselves that.

Salim Ahmed HamdanEven the CIA has realized this. In 2008 they even released Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver from Guantanamo. He managed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and won. Hamdan's story is also the subject of a bestselling book and an upcoming movie starring George Clooney as his defense lawyer.

Hamdan's unique circumstances were relatively simple. At the age of 26 he went to Afghanistan to help fight the Soviets. The Mujahideen were being financed by the CIA at the time and Russia ended up wasting so much money in Afghanistan they eventually went bankrupt and Communism in the Soviet Union fell apart.

Not much of a warrior, Hamdan ended up doing simple tasks like driving Osama bin Laden around, who during the 1980s was a well-liked leader of a small group of Mujahideen and getting funding directly from the CIA. Not that bin Laden needed it, his family in Saudi Arabia is filthy stinking rich. He ended up leaving bin Laden's employ after September 11th and was captured as a suspect in 2002 during the invasion of Afghanistan. Because he had worked for bin Laden for many years he was considered a person of extreme interest.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan's daughtersHamdan now works as a taxi driver in Yemen where he has a wife and two daughters.

And this is just one example. There are 800 other detainees in Guantanamo, mostly captured because they were foreigners living in Afghanistan at the time of the invasion and the vast majority of them having no connection to Osama bin Laden's little group. Or if they do have a connection, its because they happened to meet him briefly years ago.

In the end, is Osama bin Laden a threat to the United States? Not really. No more than anybody else is. He is more of a symbol. Capturing him would be nice just so the symbolism would eventually die down. Just so long as he doesn't become a martyr and an inspiration for a lone terrorist or small groups of people.

The real threat therefore isn't Osama bin Laden. Its the mythology around him.

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