al-Qaeda

Build Up
October 29, 2001

Consider the following scenario: The United States overthrows the Taliban. President Bush makes good on his pledge to reconstruct Afghanistan, pouring in billions of dollars. In return, the new government helps America cleanse the country of Al Qaeda. The initial battle of the war on terrorism has been won; Afghanistan is no longer a breeding ground for genocidal Islam. But amidst the jubilation, Americans receive word that Osama bin Laden and 200 of his followers have slipped out of the country and taken refuge in Somalia. Absurd? Not necessarily.

The Incoherence
October 29, 2001

Everywhere I turn, I meet opinions about Islam. I confess that I do not have one myself. I am not sure how to form one. The notion itself seems a little fatuous. Since I know what it is to know a tradition, I know what it is not to know a tradition. I read the Koran a long time ago, and like all scriptures that are read as if they are books this scripture left me respectfully bewildered.

Eastern Union
October 15, 2001

Northwest Washington, D.C. The landing is dark, and the door to the office--ostensibly a travel agency--is unmarked, save for a sticker proclaiming, "I Pakistan." Outside on the street, small clusters of men lounge against cars and in doorways, calling out to passersby. Inside, one rickety flight of steps up from Trina's Hair Gallery, the air is silent and stale. I obey a tiny sign, faintly visible in the gloom, instructing visitors to "ring bell." Then I wait--10, 20, 40 seconds--until a pair of gold-rimmed glasses appears in a small, arched window above the door. I wave and smile.

War Games
October 15, 2001

When President Bush declared war on terrorism just after September 11, he promised something very important: America would not merely punish the terrorists; it would punish the states that sponsor them. And so when Bush stood before Congress two weeks ago, he issued an explicit ultimatum to the Taliban, the medieval fanatics who harbor Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorist network. "The Taliban must act, and act immediately," Bush vowed in his speech.

Sin Of Commission
October 08, 2001

Two weeks after George W. Bush's declaration of war against terrorism, a battle plan is taking shape. We are putting the screws to Pakistan to end its history of mentoring terrorists. We will now treat Afghanistan like the rogue state that it is. The Treasury Department will try to choke off Osama bin Laden's financing. Intelligence agencies, at long last, will share information with one another. And if the Bush administration has its way, the CIA will revert to its pre-1995 guidelines, which allowed operatives to recruit informants with sketchy human rights records. All sensible moves.

Smoke Signals
September 24, 2001

Hiding out somewhere in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden must be a happy man. U.S. officials have identified him as the principal suspect in the disasters visited upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And there are several reasons why. First, the operation required recruits sufficiently well-motivated that they were prepared to commit suicide. Bin Laden's group, Al Qaeda ("the base"), employed suicide bombers in the 1998 attacks against two U.S. embassies in Africa and in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen eleven months ago.

Pages