Alexander's Column

This is our answer

Mark Alexander · Oct. 12, 2001

“We asked them to turn over Osama Bin Laden. They said no. This is our answer.” And with that, President George Bush launched the first conventional military assaults of Operation Enduring Freedom on Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan. Mr. Bush added, “There is one way to shorten the campaign in Afghanistan, and that is for Osama bin Laden and his leadership to be turned over so they can be brought to justice.”

Of course, Jihadistan is not about to give up the sociopathic leader of its Al Qaeda faction, so we are hot on the trail to take justice to him.

By Tuesday, U.S. and anti-terror alliance forces possessed “air supremacy” in the skies over Afghanistan, the better to target only terrorist and Taliban assets while sparing civilians and civilian infrastructure. By Wednesday, the allies were pounding enemy sites around the capital of Kabul and the key bin Laden cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad, with our anti-terror fighters adding into the ordnance mix improved versions of 5,000 pound “bunker buster” bombs developed during the Gulf War, which can be dropped by B-2 stealth bombers and burrow 20 to 100 feet underground before detonating – the better to smoke murderous vermin out of their holes.

And since his weekend return, we have learned a major reason Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched last week to the Middle East and Central Asia – some of our allies were unpersuaded our nation would indeed “go the distance” necessary to win this war on terror. Secretary Rumsfeld had to assure them we would not this time be “short of breath” to finish the fight. The allies’ concern was largely rooted in recent history with the ineffectual military posturing and gesturing of Bill Clinton. No matter their public pronouncements, these allies privately told Rumsfeld it’s “Osama bin Laden: Wanted Dead.”

So Secretary Rumsfeld is absolutely right when he says, “the mission will define the coalition” of forces waging the war against terrorism, rather than the reverse. In order to keep faith with our own dead countrymen, as well as to keep the promise we have made to win this war, we must smoke out every evil hole in Jihadistan, wherever it lies. (For more on all the evil holes of Jihadistan, and the worldwide call for all Muslims to jihad against Americans, see today’s Second Opinion, “United We Stand…”?)

As we anticipated, Operation Enduring Freedom is a “bombs and bread” campaign, consistent with the fact that the U.S. was Afghanistan’s largest humanitarian aid provider prior to 9-11, and our commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees – mostly women, children and the infirm – as we hunt down Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, is the right strategy.

While Northern Alliance freedom fighters gather strength and Taliban officers continue to defect to the north, it is possible that Osama bin Laden will be killed, not by an American Special Forces unit, but by the very Afghan Muslims he pretends to represent. With each passing day, that possibility increases.

Subduing the adversaries of liberty in Afghanistan is only the first front in the war against Jihadistan – a war which President Bush acknowledges “may take a year or two, but we will prevail.”

Memo to Pentagon planners: Now that you changed the name of “Operation Infinite Justice” (“infinite justice” being right out of the Quran) to “Operation Enduring Freedom” in an effort to not offend the sensibilities of Muslims, may we suggest that if another naming opportunity arises, you consider “Operation Let’s Roll.” All patriots should recall Todd Beamer’s battle order, “Let’s roll,” in the first assault on Al Qaeda terrorists by unarmed American militiamen on United Airlines Flight 93 in the skies above Pennsylvania.

And a footnote: Up until Tuesday, the best line about our military offensive was uttered by President Bush: “When I take action, I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at an empty $10 tent and hit a camel in the butt.” That distinction now goes to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who handily disposed of a reporter’s question, saying, “We aren’t running out of targets – Afghanistan is.”

On the home front, America got its first taste of bio-warfare last week, when Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson declared the death of a Florida man from pulmonary anthrax “an isolated case,” noting that there had been only 18 inhalation anthrax cases in the U.S. documented in the 20th century. At that time of last week’s first diagnosis, your chances of exposure were 1 in 280 million. A second case was diagnosed last Friday, raising your chances to 1 in 140 million. Now a third exposure has been confirmed and your chances just increased to 1 in 95 million…. You may now assume your chances are actually much higher … especially since the first victim lived less than one mile from an air strip where Al Qaeda hijacker Mohamed Atta honed his flying skills in preparation for his role in the 9-11 assaults.

And Gov. Tom Ridge was sworn in as director of the Office of Homeland Security, where he will attempt the formidable task of coordinating counterterrorism efforts of 46 central government agencies.

Mr. Ridge will clearly have his hands full, as indicated by this official warning from the FBI Thursday night: “Certain information, while not specific as to target, gives the government reason to believe that there may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests overseas over the next several days.”

As we have stated repeatedly, the most vulnerable window for our nation, as we surge to restore our military and intelligence capabilities, is the next 6-12 months. Our ability to detect and defend against terrorist assault having been severely handicapped in the last decade, it is important to understand the threat and take actions necessary to defend your family first, then your community.

As we noted three weeks ago, we estimate the next tier of attacks may be similar to 9-11, in that there may be multiple targets and that the attacks will occur in a narrow time frame for maximum effect. However, we expect them to differ in that they will likely involve biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction with the objective of substantially disrupting continuity of government and commerce over wide geographic regions.

The highly technical detonation of a nuclear weapon can kill regionally, but currently, nukes are the least accessible of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical trio of mass destruction weapons. But the relatively low-tech utilization of biological weapons can quickly immobilize a region or our entire nation, and there is increasing evidence that terrorists have access to biological weapons from the weapon labs of state sponsors of terrorism. Though chemical weapons are also low-tech and the most accessible of the NBC trio, they tend to be very limited in their application and thus, limited in scope.

Based on these facts, clearly Jihadistan’s first weapon of choice in a “holy war” against the United States would be from a biological inventory, with a second choice being chemical weapons – though we expect the next frontal assault will be chemical.