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Al-Qaeda’s Unexpected Opportunity?

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posted on Oct, 1 2008 @ 11:54 AM
Beyond this geographic expansion of jihad, al-Qaeda’s own achievements have been substantial. Bin Laden has long described a three-fold strategy for driving the United States out of the Muslim world:
(1) contribute to the forces creating domestic political disunity in America;

(2) act and encourage other Islamists to act in a way that spreads U.S. military and intelligence forces to the point where they lack reserves and flexibility; and
(3) bleed America to bankruptcy.

Obviously, al-Qaeda has been successful on the first two points and today bin Laden is staring into the face of an entirely serendipitous opportunity to contribute to economic disaster in the United States.

Having been responsible for much of the economic bleeding America has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda now has a chance to significantly advance its bleed-to-bankruptcy strategy. While al-Qaeda had no hand in creating the ongoing, self-inflicted unraveling of the U.S. financial system, al-Qaeda could accelerate that unraveling with a 9/11-like or larger attack in the continental United States. The U.S. political class has often scoffed at or ridiculed bin Laden’s goal of driving America to bankruptcy, assuming that al-Qaeda irrationally assumed it could bring down the U.S. economy through its actions alone. This analysis is inaccurate. Just as bin Laden saw al-Qaeda as the inspirer of jihad and not the jihad itself, he saw that his group’s attacks on the U.S. economy could not cause bankruptcy, but might do so if they worsened other U.S. economic problems. Thus the main economic damage done by the 9/11 attacks resulted from the Iraq and Afghan wars, not from the raids on Manhattan and Washington.

Today, bin Laden and al-Qaeda have a chance to deal the United States an enormous economic blow if they can stage a near-term attack in America. Such an attack would serve as a devastating force-multiplier and perhaps push the current economic disaster into the category of a financial catastrophe. Whether al-Qaeda is positioned to stage such an attack is an open question. What is unquestionable, however, is its intention to do so; the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that al-Qaeda poses a “clear and present danger” to the continental United States rests on the fact that U.S. borders remain almost entirely open and the weapons of mass destruction arsenal of the former Soviet states and other sources of nuclear-bomb-making material have yet to be fully secured.


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