Tom Tancredo Takes Out Mecca, US Forces Take Out Al-Badri

The Cyberwar Playing Near You

On July 31, 2007 Republican rep from Colorado, and presidential hopeful, Tom Tancredo, whose position on immigrants has made him the darling of nativists, urged the bombing of Mecca and Medina as a deterrent to future terrorist attacks.

Actually, his statement was not anywhere as clear as that. In the second half, the CNN report said Tancredo would bomb in retaliation for a terrorist attack on the homeland

(Bushspeak for America); in the second, that it would preemptively bomb to deter such an attack.

Then again, linguistic precision hasn’t been a noted attribute of this administration, which for the last half a decade has pretended that preemption is no more than deterrence and prevention.

Take President Bush:

“If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack, when the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize.”

In this piece, even before attacks materialize — whose time and place are uncertain — Bush urges self-defense, by which, naturally, he means attack. And what would we be attack-er-defending against?

Oh, that would be potential. As in potential terrorism.

Attack in self-defense to deter the potential of an uncertain terrorist attack.

You get it.

Or perhaps the point is you don’t.

Of course, “potential” also remains in the eye of the beholder.

Tancredo doesn’t see much potential for terrorism, for instance, in repressive, nuke-wielding crony-capitalist gambling den, China. Oh no. The Chinese only sit on a large chunk of US treasuries and their every financial flutter turns Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve a sicklier shade of yellow as the global credit binge turns into a global hangover. But not to worry.

No, as a social conservative and Christian Right activist from a district largely constituted of middle-class and affluent Caucasian voters, Tancredo’s position on immigration and the Middle East is lit by the eerie flames of civilizational war, a la Samuel Huntington. So, naturally, he finds terrorist potential solely in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, which (whatever we might think of the objects of its financial patronage) at last count, was still an ally.

Perhaps Tancredo, recognizing the potential for Allies to turn into Axis (Of Evil), is only deterring that potential. Or preventing it. Or pre-empting it. Or perhaps he recognizes the potential a run on the Bank of Mecca would have to destroy the last shred of credit America has and turn the Iraq war into an outright Crusade against a billion Muslims.

Some people think that’s already what’s going on.

Bay (Pat, without the winsome charm) Buchanan, chief Tancredo Wazir, reassures us, nonetheless, that the man is “open-minded and willing to embrace other options.”

Could that mean he will be content to take out only the Ka’aba in a surgical strike and leave the rest of Mecca alone, thus reassuring Muslims the world over about the precise precision both of US weaponry and US language? Or does it mean he will just content himself with a border war with Mexican immigrants in the south?

At this point, it’s hard to figure out.

Just as hard as figuring out why the State Department is throwing a hissy fit over this anyway. (Tom Casey, a deputy spokesman for the State Department, told CNN’s Elise Labott that the congressman’s comments were “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy” etc.)

After all, Tancredo said about the same thing in 2005.

“If this [a nuclear attack] happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites,” he said on July 15, 2005. And he had plenty of company among people who aren’t Christian conservatives.

One right wing journal claimed that the “nuke Mecca” threat was the only reason America had remained free of terrorist attack post 9-11.“1

Meanwhile, Robert Spencer, scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of the Jihad Watch thought it was a bad idea only because it might not have worked out:

“It is likely that a destruction of the Ka’aba or the Al-Aqsa Mosque would have the same effect: it would become [a] source of spirit, not of dispirit. The jihadists would have yet another injury to add to their litany of grievances,” he wrote in FrontPage Magazine on July 28, 2005, almost wistfully.

In fact, nuking Mecca is as popular a meme in Washington as a Paris Hilton video on YouTube.

On February 6, 2007, Don Imus said on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning – “It might be [a] good start with somebody who’s willing to take three big ones and drop one on Mecca, one on Jeddah, and one on Saudi — one on Riyadh.”

On March 2002, The National Review’s senior editor, Rich Lowry, suggested in an online forum that there was “…lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca… Mecca seems extreme, of course, but then again few people would die and it would send a signal.”

(In 2004 the city had 1,294,167 residents, according to Wiki, so it’s hard to figure out what Mr. Lowry could have been thinking when he referred to “few people.” On the other hand, in the context of the ground swell of hype from the nuclear industry in recent years about “resource wars” supposedly driven by burgeoning populations east of the Suez, a million may indeed be few.)

Such are the cultural and racial anxieties that Tancredo’s rhetoric plays on. Whatever the merits of his position on immigration in other respects. And it does have some.

And those resource wars were probably what the Pentagon had in mind, when three years after Lowry made his remark, it revised its 1995 nuclear strike doctrine to include enemies who were using “or intending to use WMD” against the U.S. or its allies, their forces and their civilian populations.

Imminent intentions at Mecca or elsewhere would thus be preemptively deterred or defended by nuclear attack.

But besides metaphysical provocation from the swarthy and fecund, another potential provocation for a nuclear preemptive strike by the Pentagon was laid out decades earlier, in January 1975 in Commentary magazine. That was just after the Saudis had embargoed oil and sent prices soaring in the west. In response, Robert Tucker promoted the radical notion of invading Arab oil fields in a piece with the snappy title, “Oil: The Issue of American Intervention.”

Fast forward a quarter of a century, post 9-11 and get to Rand Corp. analyst Laurent Murawiec’s notorious power-point presentation on July 10, 2002, to the Defense Policy Board, an influential committee of ex and current defense officials chaired by Richard Perle, Iraq-war hawk nonpareil.

After accusing the Saudis of “supporting our enemies and attacking our allies,” Murawiec advised US officials to target Saudi Arabia’s economic assets should their rulers disobey US ultimatums that included a ban on Islamic charities and “anti-Israeli” writings.

Love us or we’ll bomb you.

Murawiecz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and Rand, adviser to the French Ministry of Defense, some time writer for Lyndon LaRouche, and founder and managing director of an obscure and dubious consulting firm, GeoPol Corp. in Geneva (with close ties to questionable arms dealers), laces his work with references to Saudi reproduction and fecundity (see the November 17, 2005 discussion at the Hudson Institute of his book “Princes of Darkness: The Saudi Assault on the West”).

In his sensational 2002 presentation, he urged the confiscation of both oil fields in Arabia as well as Saudi assets in the US, as a first step. And as a second step, he urged that the Saudis be informed that their holy places were targets and that “alternatives are being canvassed”. His recommendation was that Muslim pilgrims just take their Hajj elsewhere and stop ruining all that oil for the civilized world, i.e. us.

A year after, Congress released its 9-11 report, with its heavily censored pages under the impressively sinister title, “Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” Naturally, that was leaked. Naturally it became unofficially known (but never officially charged) that Saudi nationals with known contacts to two of the 9-11 hijackers also received money and had contact with Saudi officials, and that the Saudis have willfully provided al-Qaeda with assistance through Muslim charities. What didn’t become unofficially known was the official view by “a host of senior intelligence and law enforcement officials”2 that “there is a lot of information in there that’s inflammatory but not accurate, or inferential or open to interpretation. Some of it is based on information that is partial, fragmentary and wrong. It is certainly not conclusive.”

Despite seeing through the Bush line on immigration, Christian cultural warrior Tancredo is still a big fan of the Bush administration’s global war on terror, and especially of its Middle Eastern front on the Tigris. An ardent supporter of the defense industry in general, Tancredo, it seems, is also a convert to the Tucker-Murawiec vision of a de-Saudified Middle East.

He is also given to that favorite leisure sport of under worked DC lawmakers — regime change in Iran. There, Tancredo, a conservative Christian, supports the ultra left-wing People’s Freedom Fighters (MEK), which has been identified as a terrorist organization by the State Department and is led by the charismatic Marxist feminist, Miriam Rajavi

Tancredo, a co-chair of the House Iran caucus, offered support to a pro-MEK rally in Washington on January 19, 2006 and wrote to the organizers, the Council for Democratic Change in Iran, “We believe a possible alternative to the current government can be achieved through supporting the people of Iran and the Iranian resistance.”

That means that Tancredo, the conservative, is allied with the most radical faction in the ongoing debate about how the U.S. effects Iranian regime change. (Note: No party to that debate suggests that perhaps Iranian regime change might not be the business of the US government). On the surface it’s an odd place for a self-described cultural conservative.

Since it is coincidentally also the vision of neo-conservative theorist, democratic revolutionary, connoisseur of fascist belles-lettres, and Iran Contra go-between, Michael Ledeen..

You remember him.

He’s the guy who was selling weapons in the 1980s to the mullahs he’s busy denouncing now. And he’s the guy who was promoting the Afghan mujahadeen — including Osama Bin Laden — back then as our chief allies against communist totalitarianism. He was also involved with the neo-fascist Masonic lodge P2 (Propaganda Due) and a network of Italian secret service agents associated with the CIA-coordinated “stay-behind” strategy. As part of its Cold War vision, “stay-behind” members attempted to “destabilize” the Italian government in the 1980s through terrorist attacks and false flag operations blamed on socialists.

Ledeen, an avid admirer of Machiavelli, has argued that the US must be “imperious, ruthless, and relentless” against the Muslim world until there has been “total surrender.”

And more:

“We will not be sated until we have had the blood of every miserable little tyrant in the Middle East, until every leader of every cell of the terror network is dead or locked securely away, and every last drooling anti-Semitic and anti-American mullah, imam, sheikh, and ayatollah is either singing the praises of the United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an American military base near the Arctic Circle.”3

Iraq just isn’t enough for Ledeen.

“We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.”4.

Ledeen, in this perhaps unlike Tancredo, is not a useful tool.

Keep those in mind and consider that just yesterday, August 5, only a week after the Tancredo eruption, U.S. troops claim to have killed the al-Qaida mastermind (al Badri) behind the bombing of the golden dome of al Askariya shrine in Samarra, one of the most sacred of Shiite holy places. It was the act that set off waves of sectarian killing last year.

Actually, the mosque itself was then guarded by local police, presumably under US authority. Some describe Shia having taunted the police with slogans prior to the bombing which might have provoked the Sunni response. Or not. There’s no way of knowing now, except that now, Tancredo gets a lucky break.

The take out of al-Badri should set Muslim hearts at rest, if they don’t actually flutter for Uncle Sam again. Tancredo can stop explaining himself to CAIR and go back to his work — for regime change in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

And Laurent Murawiec, polyglot scholar of cultural identity who likes to analyze how pigs are perceived among Muslims and Christians, and has proclaimed publicly that the global war on terror is not a war on terror really, but “a war on jihad and an Islam that has, for all practical purposes, throw its lot with the jihadis,” can get back to his.

And what is his work? Closely connected to the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs), it turns out.

In case you didn’t know, the RMA is Donald Rumsfeld’s pet project and makes Information War (IW), including netcentric war, its center piece. Imagery is its principle language. Murawiec even has a book on the subject called “Greek Rhetoric Meets Cyberspace: Toward a Theory of Information Warfare.”

This is how he describes IW in an article for the Hudson Institute:

For instance, a pig may mean something different to a Muslim and a Christian. A Muslim might see an impure and accursed animal, whereas a Christian might see ham on legs or one of Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs. Effective use of visual images across cultures requires great knowledge and sophistication.

In all these cases, IW involves creating phantom cyber-images, which can include phantasms of nonexistent trains, airplanes, stock market orders, and bank transfers; false impressions of the enemy’s troop strength and one’s own, of supplies and movements, of fake attacks and all-too-real defenses; and phantom images of the enemy’s leaders doing evil things on screen because one has video-morphed images of them doing them so.

Information warfare is not about machines or even electrons. It is about people’s minds, society’s functions, and armies’ strategies. Cyberspace endows us — and our enemies — with new and extraordinary means with which to achieve our respective aims. “We have only begun to cyber-fight.



  1. Intelligence expert says nuke option is reason bin Laden has been quiet,” WorldNet, January 1 2005. []
  2. “Saudis on the Defensive,” Gary Leupp, Counterpunch, August 8, 2003 []
  3. National Review, 12/7/2001, republished in the Jewish World Review, 12/11/2001. []
  4. Wall Street Journal, 9/4/2002 []
  5. “Military Action in Cyberspace,” December 15, 2003.


Lila Rajiva is a freelance journalist and the author of The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the US Media (Monthly Review Press, 2005) and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (with Bill Bonner-Wiley, September 2007). She has also contributed chapters to One of the Guys (Ed., Tara McKelvey and Barbara Ehrenreich, Seal Press, 2007), an anthology of writing on women as torturers, and to The Third World: Opposing Viewpoints (Ed., David Haugen, Greenhaven, 2006). Read other articles by Lila, or visit Lila's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Maddi said on August 8th, 2007 at 2:31pm #

    Ms. Rajiva’s article is a useful one and I applaud her for exposing the “clash of civilizations” policy of Tancredo and the neo-cons around Dick Cheney. However, her characterization of Laurent Murawiec as a “some time writer for Lyndon LaRouche” is misleading. The most accurate description of him is “a one-time writer for Lyndon LaRouche who broke with him over 10 years ago and holds diametrically opposite views regarding U.S. Mideast policy.”

    To understand who is behind Murawiec and why he broke with LaRouche, read an article at
    which was published three years ago. The article reports on the intersection between AIPAC and neo-cons in the Dept. of Defense, including Larry Franklin who worked in the Office of Special Plans, set up by Rumsfeld to “stovepipe” false intelligence to justify the war on Iraq. Franklin pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

    As the article points out, Murawiec hooked up with Richard Perle to promote a war on Islam long after Murawiec had publicly split with Larouche and disavowed LaRouche’s views. LaRouche forcefully opposed a war against Iraq, going back to 2002, and has denounced the “clash of civilizations” policy of Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis, which is the basis for the foreign policy of Cheney, the neo-cons and their friends in London. You can read what LaRouche’s views of what U.S. policy toward the Middle East should be at

    Michael Maddi

  2. Lila Rajiva said on August 8th, 2007 at 4:30pm #

    No slur intended. I am aware that LaRouche has different views from Murawiec. I was simply demonstrating that his career track was unusual to say the least.

  3. joe said on August 11th, 2007 at 7:57pm #

    Tancredo is not afraid to take a stand on issues like illegal immigration.

    Tancredo 2008

  4. Lila Rajiva said on August 12th, 2007 at 5:35am #

    I don’t disagree with him on illegal immigration.