07 mrt Al Qaeda, the Brand
Al Qaeda meens ‘the Base’. Al Qaeda used to be the number one American enemy: bombing its embassies, murdering thousands of innocent people in New York and Washington on September 11th. Today, Al Qaeda is the familiar sounding name the American government gives to the vague communities of terrorists that operate under this brand or variations of that brand, like AQI (Al Qaeda Iraq), AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) or AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). Al Qaeda is the equivalent of danger, of a serious threat to the security of the American people, all over the world. Al Qaeda is the reason why former president Bush announced a global war on terrorism, demanding exceptional liberties, like kidnapping, torture, spying on citizens, the creation of secret prisons and indefinite imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay. The order was and is: execute terrorists, instead of giving them a fair trial. In the name of safety and democracy all means will do. Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden was killed in cold blood by American Seals in Pakistan, his body thrown into the sea to avoid his tomb to become a shrine for his supporters. It is war, after all, gentlemen. Is it still the case?
Al Qaeda hasn’t been as weak in ten years as it is today, the same American authorities have to admit. But if it is true that the group is less powerful, divided and much more local than it used to be, why continue this global, all too permissive war, including killer drones and all the rest? Is Al Qaeda, the brand it became, not the reality it once was, the excuse for the continuation of uncontrolable American power play?
If it is a war against a name, it is a war in name only, as Steve Coll so clearly stated in The New Yorker (March 4th).
I remembver when the world was chasing the Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal in the eighties of last century: every unsolved violent action was shoved in his shoes, whether by the Mossad, the CIA or the late PLO leader Yaser Arafat himself. How very convenient. Just as convenient as Al Qaeda. Who did it? He did it. End of questions. Or what?