Alexander's Column

New Year's Resolutions 2002

Mark Alexander · Jan. 4, 2002

The new year began without a repeat of terror strikes, but with ominous auguries. The Afghanistan front in our war on Jihadistan is still in the dangerous phase of stalking wily prey. Al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden is still alive and well, based on information from intelligence assets close to the terror chief – and sources tell The Federalist that he is believed still to be in the northeastern mountains of Afghanistan.

In his last video release of vitriolic enmity, bin Laden again praised the 9-11 attacks on the U.S., restating his goals: “Our terrorism is against America. Our terrorism is a blessed terrorism to prevent the unjust person from committing injustice.” And one piece of recent intel disclosed that al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri was counseling a guerrilla-style retreat and regrouping as airstrikes shook the Tora Bora caves where these evildoers were hunkering and hiding. “The movement must pull out as many personnel as possible to the safety of a shelter.” Zawahiri further noted the terror group’s urgent circumstances, saying if they did not live to fight another day, the 9-11 attacks “will be nothing more than disturbing acts, regardless of their magnitude, that could be absorbed and endured.” Indeed!

Deposed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, near the town of Baghran in southern Afghanistan, is surrounded by supporters endeavoring to negotiate terms of his surrender. And our Afghan allies confirmed one great success in such endeavors last week, when our warplanes bombed an eastern Afghanistan house where former Taliban intelligence chief Qari Ahmadulla was hiding with associates. Moreover, our forces by Thursday had taken into custody 248 detainees, who should soon experience just rewards for their misdeeds.

And the hunt has now gone worldwide. “The [al Qaeda] network is well organized,” said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. “It’s global. We continue to get additional intelligence information which reinforces our conviction as to the breadth and depth of that terrorist network.” But Mr. Rumsfeld also noted, “Their ability to move freely around the world was much easier three months ago than it is today.”

Sources tell The Federalist that there are currently military urban assault teams positioned to strike in at least seven nations, ready to lower the boom on terrorist cells. Gen. Tommy Franks, commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, advised: “It is too early to suggest which countries, but it is not too early to remind ourselves that September 11 put us on course to root out this terrorist problem around the world. If you look within this region and other places around the planet, you find a lot of states which we categorize as sponsors of terrorism, … [and military operations are] going on in a great many places that are designed to do away with these pockets of terrorism.”

And lest anyone avert their focus too far from home, FBI sources confirm that there are still al Qaeda cells imbedded in American suburbs, though, as with their Jihadistan infidels around the world, their ability to function has been greatly diminished and the threat they pose is reduced with each passing day as the FBI tightens the noose.

President George W. Bush, marking the year’s end as Commander-in-Chief, noted, “We are determined to fight this evil and fight until we are rid of it. We will not wait for more innocent deaths. We will not wait for the authors of mass murder to gain the weapons of mass destruction. We act now because we must lift this dark threat from our age and save generations to come.”

(Relatedly, the Bush administration rounded out the year by adding six European groups to its terrorist target list – five active in Britain in the “Irish troubles,” and the Spanish First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group.)

On the home front, major courtroom anti-terror action stemming from 9-11 began this week, as Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged missing 20th hijacker from the terror attacks, continued being as uncooperative as earlier reports suggested, saying Wednesday at his Alexandria, Virginia, arraignment he has nothing to plead. “In the name of Allah, I do not have anything to plea and enter no plea. Thank you very much,” Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, so the judge entered “not guilty” pleas on his behalf with his attorney’s concurrence, and set a mid-October trial date on charges he conspired with al Qaeda terrorist head Osama bin Laden to murder the more than 3,300 people who perished in the 9-11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. Moussaoui was indicted on six conspiracy counts, and could be sentenced to death if proven guilty.

Court TV has filed a motion to televise the Moussaoui trial, with arguments heard as early as next week. Perhaps not coincidentally? Fox News announced hiring of another Leftist commentator, Greta van Susteren now at CNN as a legal analyst, for nearly $1 million a year to host the 10 PM anchor slot.

On a related note, investigators were looking into whether Moussaoui trained in the same al Qaeda camp as Richard Reid, the so-called “Sneaker Bomber” who tried to ignite plastic explosives in his tennis shoes on a December 22 flight from Paris to Miami. Both attended the same London mosque, and may have joined bin Laden’s terror network there.

And the ever-helpful ACLU sent out letters to consulates of 10 countries with citizens now detained as suspected terrorists, “to offer … [their] assistance.” What’s more, the sibilant libertines have been actively thwarting voluntary interviews of those who might have information to prevent further terrorist attacks, and police chiefs have heeded the ACLU requests to refuse cooperation with FBI interviews in San Francisco, Detroit, Portland, Oregon, San Jose, California and Austin, Texas. The Virginia ACLU executive director complained, “[The interviews] really violate the spirit of the American criminal justice system. It has some of the elements of something like McCarthyism.” But as commentators Robert Carleson and Peter Ferrara observed in a more realistic assessment, “Indeed, the Bush administration is getting more cooperation today in the war against terrorism from the governments of Syria, Sudan, and Yemen than from the so-called American Civil Liberties Union.”

The year’s beginning is a good time to take stock of some lingering results of 9-11. Over at the Hart Senate Office Building, closed since October 17th after the October 15th anthrax attack on Senate Demo leader Tom Daschle’s mail, a third attempt at poisonous gas infusion appears to have worked in killing off remaining spores. And at the Pentagon, the 400,000 square-foot hole in the building’s west side now looks like normal remodeling. Of the 4,600 Pentagon workers displaced by the 9-11 attack’s damage, 1,000 are back in their offices. Of 110 injured there, even the 8 severely burned were all out of the hospital for Christmas. Reconstruction may cost $700 million and is expected to be complete by spring 2003. (With the collapse of the WTC towers, the Pentagon became once more the world’s largest office building.)

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