Last night I posted al Qaeda: “Democrats Are Reasonable”!. That post discussed the support for the Democrats in the midterm elections that has been voiced by terrorists around the world. A lively and diverse debate on this subject is now being carried out on the Power Line Forum; if you haven’t already done so, this would be a great time to register, which takes only seconds, and participate in the conversation. (The Forum, if you haven’t heard, is part of our completely revamped and re-launched Power Line News site.)
This morning there is much more to be said on this explosive topic. The Washington Times headlines: al Qaeda Gloats Over U.S. Election. I haven’t yet seen a complete translation of the audio tape by the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, that surfaced yesterday. But this commentary by Walid Phares, a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is illuminating:
On 10 November, the website of the Islamic Renewal Organization, a Saudi dissident group headed by Muhammad al-Mas’ari and based in the United Kingdom, posted several links to a new audio message issued by Shaykh Abu-Hamzah al-Muhajir, AKA Abu-Ayyub al-Masri, leader of Al-Qa’ida Organizations in Iraq.
After listening carefully to the tape, I realized that it is not just about one particular message as it was projected in the international media. Yes indeed, the most striking part was al Muhajir’s statements about the results of the midterm elections in the US, and his direct threat against the White House. Without any doubt, to Americans today, this tape falls in the midst of their ongoing political transformations. And on that level, I will (later) provide a special reading of these statements. But the audiotape message included a revealing number of other important Jihadi issues, a real salad bowl. Here are the most salient ones:
1) al Qaeda’s penetration of American politics:
Interestingly, the message asks (American) politicians if they will implement their electoral promises to withdraw from Iraq. al Muhajir praises the choices by the voters of the enemy to “defeat Bush.” More interestingly, he uses and American vocabulary by calling the War “stupid.” Usually Jihadists calls it evil or infidel and rarely qualify it in secular “electoral” terms. But the most striking words used by a Jihadi commander is “lame duck.” When I heard him uttering the words ‘al-batta al arjaa’ I realized he was off the classical Jihadi speech. The introduction of such words will certainly affect our reading of the speech (we will expand later on this particular point)
The speech is definitely being read from a prepared text. Different subjects, with different concerns have been sawed to each other, with a variety of tones. Moreover, it is easy to realize the initial taping has been edited. His passion would explode mostly when the issues has to do with intra-Jihadist or intra Islamic issues, and his reading is faster when it is about the enemy, the infidels. The speech is a salad bowl from this perspective.
3) The intra-Islamic conflicts
They are of great concerns: The rise of Iranian-Shiite power, the Sunnis who are not joining his Jihad yet and the bad Arab regimes including the Hashemites of Jordan.
4) The allegiance to a higher commander in the region
Intriguing: al Muhajir, with great passion, committed 12,000 al Qaeda fighters to the “ameer al Mu’mineen” al Baghdadi. So, the Emir of al Qaeda in Iraq has pledged support to a regional “emir.” Hence, the experts should be paying attention to the matter and watch for a transnational “Jihad chief” in the whole region.
5) Last but not least, from the whole speech, I begin to see that the final product is the result of two types of “material.” On the one hand, the complex Jihadi jungle in the region with all the local stuff; and on the other hand Western-based (in this case American-based) Jihadist advice, relaying concepts not-native to the Iraqi Jihadists. Which explains the “salad bowl” structure of the speech and the use of alien political terms.
These and more items are very helpful in the continuous analysis of the Jihadi war of ideas against the West and the United States and the emerging war of ideas in the region.
The partisan sniping has ceased to be germane. We’ve already had the election, and the Democrats are in charge — and they will be for two years no matter what. Obviously, we will watch closely to ensure that they do not surrender to terrorism, but I’m not going to take Abu Hamza’s word that they will before their majority session even starts. They are Americans, and Americans put them in charge, and they have earned the right to show us how they will face the enemy now that they control the agenda.***
The reality is that we cannot win the war on terror without the Democrats after these midterm elections. Rather than continue with antagonizing rhetoric, we’d better find ways to engage them rationally in this effort if we want to survive.
Fair enough. But isn’t a reasonable starting point for that engagement the fact that the terrorists are delighted that the Dems have won, and are convinced that the Dems’ policies, as the terrorists understand them, will benefit the jihadis? Don’t the Democrats have some obligation to face up to the fact that the prospect of our disengagement from Iraq–and if that isn’t their “new direction,” then what in God’s name is?–is viewed with glee by the enemy?
I join with Ed in hoping that we can prevent the Democrats from delivering Iraq to the jihadis, but my estimate of their good faith is lower than his. The Democrats have staked everything, politically speaking, on the proposition that the Iraq war is a failure and a disaster. They have every interest in ensuring that our effort there does, in fact, fail. I think, in short, that the terrorists are reading the Democrats’ intentions correctly.
I should add that by “the Democrats,” I don’t mean every rank and file member of that party, many of whom no doubt want America to succeed. I’m referring to almost all of the party’s national leadership and the large majority of its elected officials.
PAUL adds: I think that ED is also wrong in believing that “the Democrats are in charge” and “that they control the agenda.” That may be true with respect to minimum wage legislation and the like, but it’s not true when it comes to fighting terrorism. The Democrats obviously now have a say, however, and for that reason it’s useful for Republicans to remind them and others of the link between certain policies that some leading Dems favor and the interests of terrorists as the terrorists themselves perceive their interests.
MORE: Dan Riehl weighs in here:
To me, cutting the Dems some slack on this for political high-mindedness is a lofty, if superficial ideal. I find it a betrayal of the greater truth which runs below the surface. The things the terrorists are saying today didn’t originate with the terrorists. It is an extension of the rhetoric those same Democrats and the MSM have used for two years to undermine our war effort and insult our troops.
There’s lots more.
STILL MORE: Roger Simon weighs in on the debate here:
Powerline, and this forum, takes the, I think basically correct, view that the Republican defeat last week was a message of weakness to our enemies. Only the truth is at this moment we are weak. We are a divided country unwilling to wage war against Islamic fascism. A slight, eked out Republican victory wouldn’t have changed that much – and a slight, eked out victory is the only kind anyone can have in this divided land.
ONE MORE: Captain Ed responded to my rejoinder here. His perspective is different from mine, but, as always, worth reading.