Even as Tim Russert solemnly announced
on Meet the Press Sunday that the
"Number three man" in the entire Al-Qaeda network was now under lock and
of The Sunday Times quoted European
intelligence as saying that Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not only NOT number
three, he is not even a blip on the terrorist radar screen.
The Times, "No European or American
intelligence expert contacted last week had heard of al-Libbi until a
Pakistani intelligence report last year claimed he had taken over as head of
operations after Khalid Shaikh Mohammad's arrest. A former close associate
of Osama Bin Laden now living in London laughed -- "What I remember of him
is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying."
But Bush and his minions, joined by their Pakistani counterparts, would not
be denied their public victory dance, complete with back-slapping and
high-fives. "A critical victory in the war on terror," Bush crowed, and
added that the capture of this "major facilitator and chief planner" for
Osama bin Laden "removes a dangerous enemy who is a direct threat to America
and for those who love freedom."
Bush interrupted his attempts to destroy Social Security to
Musharraf -- "I applaud the Pakistani government for their (sic) strong
cooperation in the war on terror," he said, adding that the Pakistanis had
acted on "solid intelligence" to bring him to justice and vowing that those
fighting terrorism will "stay on the offensive until al-Qaida is defeated."
Although European terrorism experts pointed out that al-Libbi was nowhere to
be found on the FBI's most wanted list nor on the State Department's
"rewards for justice" list, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave an
impressive "Benjamin Braddock" response, saying robotically that al-Libbi is
"a very important figure." Braddock, if you remember, is the idiot/savant
"Rain Man" character played by Dustin Hoffman who drove the car back and
forth in the driveway, going nowhere, while repeating inanely, "I am a very
As she congratulated Musharraf for his coup, Rice also revealed that al-Libbi
we watched a lot
every single day -- he is a very important figure for the Al Qaeda network."
Then, Bush press secretary Scott McClellan joined the fray, telling
reporters at the White House, "Al-Libbi's capture is a great success in the
global war on terrorism. He is one of al-Qaida's most senior operational
planners and one of the terrorist organization's top leaders," McClellan
How does he know that? The only thing actually known about this Libyan
national, other than he makes a mean cup of coffee and has mastered the art
of running a copy machine, is that he was involved in two 2003 attempts to
assassinate Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.
Anybody see a pattern emerging here? Looks like somebody should be asking
where the actual al-Qaeda center of operations is -- why the majority of
terrorists Bush wants "dead or alive" apparently reside in Pakistan. Doesn't
anybody wonder how, when the Bush administration gets stuck in the driveway
furiously driving nowhere, Musharraf pulls another "Number Three" al-Qaeda
leader out of his, um...hat?
American officials were given the opportunity to make a graceful exit when
it was revealed al-Libbi was possibly being confused with fellow Libyan Abu
al-Liby, a senior al-Qaeda commander who was indicted for his role in the
August 1998 bombings of two US embassies in east Africa, and who is on the
FBI's most wanted list. The Sunday Times
reports when it contacted a senior FBI official for information about al-Libbi's
importance, the official inexplicably sent material on al-Liby.
However, a US counterterrorism official, who understandably refused to be
named, proclaimed the arrest of al-Libbi as the most important blow to
al-Qaeda since the arrest of Mohammad more than two years ago, especially
since al-Libbi had assumed Mohammad's leadership position and was busily
planning attacks against the United States homeland.
It gets better. US officials explain craftily that the reason al-Libbi's
name is not on the FBI list is because "we did not want him to know he was
So let me get this straight -- here is a guy who is Number Three in the
al-Qaeda network; a guy so important that he became head of operations when
Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was captured; a guy known to be planning a myriad of
9-11 attacks on our homeland -- and we
don't want him to know he's wanted? None of that matters, according
to the official, whether it's Libbi or Liby, the important thing is that his
capture is smoking the evildoers out. "Whether big fry or small fry," the
official added lamely, "they’re on the run, I can tell you that.”
No, the important thing here is that Bush and his unnamed intelligence
officials with the help of a complicit media are speaking only to the
American people; they are buying time with the American people. When the
proletariat begins to get restless -- begins to ask why Osama bin Laden or
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are still on the loose -- or begins to writhe under the
weight of lies, to feel the constraints of the loss of freedoms, they are
thrown the red meat of another Abu-al-somebody and the danger of being
exposed subsides for a time.
With the al-Libbi ploy falling flat on its face, few should be surprised
that CNN and FOX are back out there, breathlessly announcing that terrorist
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "top aide" has been captured in Bahgdad. FOX says his
name is Ammar al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Abbas, and he's responsible for
recent suicide car bombings, as well as the devastating attack on Abu Ghraib
prison in April. But, wait -- I thought the Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas
was arrested in April 2003, and that bin Laden and his henchmen were
responsible for .... oh, never mind.
So, just where are bin Laden and al-Zarqawi? I guess if we're ever going to
snag these two, we're going to be forced to remove their names from the FBI
"to do" list so they won't suspect they're wanted. We've come close to
capturing bin Laden many times -- even visited him two months before 9-11 in
a US hospital in Dubai where he received treatment for his ailing kidneys --
but like the persistent ghost of a man who's been dead for years, Osama
always manages to slip noiselessly away.
Al-Zarqawi, a bogeyman of our own making, gets blamed for everything -- car
bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, beheadings -- and, apparently, he is
just as wily as bin Laden. In a recent incident in which Gen. Richard B.
Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bragged they "almost got him,"
al-Zarqawi leapt from a speeding pickup truck and fled on foot. A one-legged
man of sub-par intelligence outrunning a crack, highly trained special
forces team. I'd pay to see that feat, wouldn't you?
Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi are ideological poles apart and, in real life,
would have no reason to team up or to have anything at all to do with each
other. But now, thanks to Bush, they are like two evil, mischievous undead
spirits, they appear only to create havoc and, as Bush is wont to say,
strike with sudden horror, and then -- Poof! -- they disappear into the
atmosphere, leaving behind only laptop computers, tapes, detailed plans and
charts outlining their next bit of bloody derring do.
Whether they like it or not, we're going to keep nabbing their "Number
Three" men until we get it right and they are brought to justice. So, if you
see a 7-foot-tall bearded man in a dress dragging around a dialysis machine,
accompanied by a squat, fleet-footed guy with only one leg, tell 'em they
can run and they can hide, but it won't do them any good -- because we're
hot on their trail.
Yes, indeedy. And we are very good drivers...
is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public
Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet
sites. Contact her at:
2005 Sheila Samples
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