Ijaz thinks Osama bin Laden's rhetoric about dying "in the belly of the eagle" should be taken at face value. Why?
- For the first time since the September 11 attacks against the United States, bin Laden demonstrated fear through his choice of words. In setting forth plans for his suicide, he probably came to the conclusion that al Qaeda's retaliation infrastructure around the world had been so effectively and systematically dismantled by western intelligence that his terrorists may not be able to mount a credible response to any planned U.S. military action in Iraq in the near future.
So he starts by presuming that al-Qaeda's infrastructure has been "effectively and systematically dismantled by Western Intelligence". But it seems they've still got a little something left:
- Al Qaeda has explosives expertise that is unsurpassed in non-military circles. It gets military-grade C4 charges from China and Iran; it employs Hezbollah and Hamas guerillas trained in the fine arts of detonation devices (witness particularly the maritime attacks against the USS Cole and the French oil tanker); and it has brainwashed legions of men who are willing to die for the cause.
Sounds like a retaliation infrastructure to me. But wait, there's more!
- According to my intelligence sources in the Far East, the
outlying renegade provinces of Indonesia (Aceh, for example) and the
Philippines (where al Qaeda affiliate Abu Sayyaf rules) are infested
with senior al Qaeda leaders. Each one is financially empowered to
purchase North Korea's plutonium the moment it is reprocessed. Ayman
Zawahiri, al Qaeda's number two, was reportedly in Indonesia last
September, a month before the Bali bomb blast that killed 200 mostly
Australian tourists. He could easily be there again.
We also know from published--and so far undisputed--reports that from February 2000 until July 2002, eight senior Pakistani nuclear scientists left their country without obtaining the required No Objection Certificates needed for travel abroad. They remain unaccounted for and at least some are reported to have traveled to Australia and Indonesia.
In a worst case scenario, al Qaeda could construct a crude but effective nuclear device in weeks, if not a month, from Hezbollah C4, North Korean plutonium, and a little nuclear expertise from disaffected Pakistani scientists. Making a "dirty" radiological dispersion device with Strontium or Cesium also remains an option, although it is clear that al Qaeda has the intent and resources to go for weapons that cause maximum collateral damage.
Add to this troubling possibility the fact that the terror group has resorted to the use of seafaring vessels to move its people around, and now has a fleet large and diverse enough that one or two could seamlessly move into a large harbor or congested waterway undetected, and a picture emerges of an unparalleled potential threat to the global economy from the paralysis that could be caused by a crude plutonium bomb exploding in the belly of an al Qaeda ship with bin Laden onboard.
So, Ijaz believes that bin Laden has been pushed by suicidal despair by a Western onslaught so severe that it has left him with nothing... except legions of highly trained fanatics who are willing to die for the cause, effective control of large chunks of land in the Pacific, and a nuclear program worthy of a rogue state, which could net him a working bomb within the year. Whereupon, despairing that his "retaliation infrastructure" has been so "effectively and systematically dismantled" that it can do nothing more than construct and deliver the most fearsome weapon in the history of the human race, he will use it to kill himself.
"Don't do it!", I can hear his lieutenants crying out. "Don't do it, Osama! You still have something left to live for!"
(via Diana Moon, who seems to find some virtue in this article which I can't see...).