Monday, July 25, 2005

Targets indicate Al Qaeda not concerned with Iraq

So, there's this terrorist who was caught after he and his team attempted to pull off a terror attack and kill as many non-combatant civilians as they could. (What went wrong, I'll go into in a moment.) This guy is interrogated by law enforcement and intelligence people and during all that admits to the particulars of his planned attack. Now, tell me if this sounds familiar.

The terrorist says his planned mode of attack was to hijack commercial aircraft in 3 major cities around the world and fly them into the House of Commons and the Tower Bridge in London, the Rialto Towers in Melbourne, Australia (this link loads Java&trade so give it a minute), and into the Indian Parliament building. The target date to execute the attack was September 11, 2001.

Is this an "alternate history" piece of fiction? No, it's not. (Hat tip: Captain's Quarters, see his post for more detail.) From a story in the Times:

::::::::AN INDIAN man was jailed in Bombay yesterday for plotting to fly passenger jets into the House of Commons and Tower Bridge in London on September 11, 2001.

Mohammed Afroze was sentenced to seven years after he admitted that he had a role in an al-Qaeda plot to attack London, the Rialto Towers building in Melbourne and the Indian Parliament.

His lawyer has claimed, however, that the confession was “forcefully taken” and that Afroze was tortured by Indian police.

Afroze admitted that he and seven al-Qaeda operatives planned to hijack aircraft at Heathrow and fly them into the two London landmarks. The suicide squad included men from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afroze said. They booked seats on two Manchester-bound flights, but fled just before they were due to board.

I'll clear out one point right now: the "torture" claim is a standard playbook maneuver of Al Qaeda and anyone who takes this lawyer's word on the matter is simply looking for an excuse to blow this story off. If you're going to just buy into that concept, the rest of this post will be useless to you. Fair warning.

There are 2 parts of this that are interesting in the extreme. First, note that the terrorists Afroze teamed with had booked the seats and were apparently good to go. Something scared them off. While I'd dearly like to know what that was, I must conclude that except for that something, they'd have been able to pull off the attacks with the same success rate as here in the US. One of the stories mentions that these attacks were "called off" after the 9/11 attacks in the US. Perhaps the immediate increase in airport security that occurred in every major airport in the world made the plan unworkable? More detail would be greatly appreciated.

Second, have a look at something strange in the target list. I'll turn the floor over to Ed Morrissey since he hits it squarely:

::::::::Let's take another look at that target list for 9/11. The British had allied with the United States in our work in Iraq, of course, and helped us enforce the no-fly zones over the northern and southern parts of the country. That would fit in with the supposition that AQ intended on doing nothing more than forcing infidels off the Arabian peninsula, the current meme that blames the string of bombings in London this month on the Coalition presence in Iraq.

However, Australia didn't have troops in Saudi Arabia in 2001, although they supported the US and UK diplomatically. The Aussies had not even sent troops in the first Gulf War, sending a support contingent instead. However, in 1999 they did help liberate East Timor from the grip of Islamist terrorists, which apparently caused the inclusion of Melbourne on the al-Qaeda's hit list.

But the final target raises the most questions about the supposed causality between American/Western interference in Southwest Asia and AQ operations. Afroze, an Indian, had targeted the Indian Parliament. Why India? India opposed the American intervention in Iraq later, and before 2001 had not maintained terribly friendly relations with the United States. India also had no troops in the Middle East, especially in the Arabian Peninsula, where US troops supposedly provoked the AQ response.

So why plot to attack India -- a plot only subverted by the failure of the "courage" of the terrorists assigned to strike it?

Why indeed? Ed goes on to mention the Muslim-Hindu tension in India and that's a factor that continues to this day. But if that's the reason for flying a plane into the Indian Parliament - and because India never once had troops in the Middle East there is no other reason - then the concept that American foreign policy is to blame for all the terrorist attacks made against us makes no sense at all. A larger reason is in play here and bin Laden's commentary about forming a new World Caliphate tells you what it likely is.

As usual, however, you would never know this rather critical piece of the terrorist puzzle if you relied on the US media for your information. A search of Foxnews, CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times will get you absolutely nothing - zero - on this entire issue. This story was filed in the Australian over 22 hours ago as of my writing of this post. The Times article was printed Saturday, their time. And from the US media on this story that shows a broader "root cause" for terrorism than that America is entirely to blame? Nothing. Two days later and not a peep. I've been told that I appear to consider the media to be one of the major problems our country faces today. Insofar as their bias in reporting the news, that's correct. I do consider them a problem, and it's a bigger problem than most that we're dealing with.

A well-informed public is critical to the operation of a democracy and, let's face it, blogs are still minnows swimming with whales when you're talking about the subscriber base. We need - critically need - a reliable and ethical news media in order to stay informed. That requires a news-reporting organ that is willing to tell us the facts of the situation regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. Editorials are one thing. Editors are basically bloggers, when it comes down to it, and they should feel perfectly free to expound on a subject on their page to their heart's content. Opinion columns are in the same boat. But news reporting should not be held in the same regard and editors should also not use their power of inclusion and denial to keep stories out of print that don't happen to support their message. This is one of those stories and it's information that could be critical to some of our citizen's decision-making process. By not reporting it, our media has let us all down.