We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here. That, you’ll recall, was the message pounded home in the early days of the Long War – essentially the same tired old cold war line trotted out by the neocons and revamped for the age of terrorism. If we don’t stop them in Central America, the (Sandinistas, Cubans, Salvadoran rebels) will be in Texas soon enough.
As it turned out, the Sandinistas never made it to Baja California, but an alarming development – or perhaps I should say alarmist – seemingly indicates al-Qaeda may have made inroads in the US. In the past few weeks we’ve witnessed the advent of a truly weird phenomenon: al Qaeda-in-America. Detailing the background of an American woman arrested in Ireland and linked to an alleged murder plot, the Press Association reports:
"Ms Paulin-Ramirez’s arrest is one of four developments in the past week that involved Americans in alleged terror plots abroad. Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn appeared in a video, Sharif Mobley of New Jersey tried to escape his detainment in Yemen, and Colleen LaRose, who allegedly went by the name Jihad Jane to recruit others online to kill Vilks, was named in a federal terror indictment"
As regular readers of this column know, Gadahn was in the news also due to his alleged arrest in Pakistan last week. Initial reports, however, proved inaccurate, and the confusion was due at least in part to the fact that the individual arrested by Pakistani police is also an American, like Gadahn, with a similar name, and said to be from Pennsylvania. So let’s add the previously unknown Abu Yahya Mujahdeen al-Adam to the list: not counting Major Malik Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, that makes five.
So, what happened to "we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here"?
Ms. Paulin-Ramirez is a very odd case, and the veracity of the charges against her – that she’s a terrorist, a member of al-Qaeda, and was involved in a murder plot – seem very dubious indeed, in light of the recent decision by the Irish police to release her without charges. Colleen LaRose, a.k.a. "Jihad Jane," another American woman – like Ramirez (a.k.a. "Jihad Jamie"), blond and blue-eyed – is also supposedly connected to the same alleged murder plot: a scheme to kill the Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks, author of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed as a dog.
The release of Ramirez, however, throws a shadow of suspicion on these charges, and the shadow lengthens considerably when one considers their apparent source; the anti-Muslim fanatics over at "The Jawa Report" – a blog linked to wacko extremists like Robert Spencer, the Islam-hating polemicist, and the frothy-mouthed Pamela Geller, whose associations with European fascists have been amply documented by Charles Johnson.
An indictment [.pdf] against LaRose was made public last week: in it, US prosecutors allege LaRose vowed to kill Vilks, "or die trying," and attempted to recruit assassins over the Internet on behalf of al-Qaeda. She also apparently traveled to Sweden to inquire about obtaining residency. It looks like the "factual" basis of the indictment is founded on information provided by the Jawa crowd, i.e. it is built on a foundation of sand. If this plot was real, then why has Ramirez been released?
How authentic the connection is between these women and al-Qaeda is hard to gauge, but a look at their pathetic life histories raises the distinct possibility that these people are being used. The question is: used by whom? Take a look at this Times online headline, "Jihad Janes Spread Fear in Suburban US," and think about it. Thousands of suburban housewives are now glancing over their shoulder at the blond, blue-eyed woman in back of them in the checkout line, wondering why this potential Jihad Jane is buying pita bread. Whose purposes does that serve? The cases against these two women are less than rock-solid, and in fact stink to high heaven.
The case of the alleged American arrested in Karachi, once thought to be Adam Gadahn, is equally murky: as this True/Slant piece avers, no one has ever heard of Abu Yahya Mujahdeen al-Adam – not the usual terrorism "experts," not Google, not anyone. According to news reports, he’s reported to be "close to Osama bin Laden" – but how does anyone know that? In any case, Yahya the Enigma has yet to turn up…
The fourth al-Qaeda "recruit," Sharif Mobley, hails from South Jersey and was a contract laborer – whose work took him to no less than six nuclear power plants. Aside from that rather scary factoid, Mobley seems not to have committed any offense that anyone has reported. The totality of his "crime" was being picked up in Yemen by Yemeni authorities on "suspicion" of being a member of a terrorist group. He was arrested when he went to a hospital for treatment, and escaped when one of his guards left a gun unattended: Mobley shot the guard, and two others, and tried to shoot his way out of the hospital. His family is defending him, with his father declaring: "I can tell you this: he’s no terrorist."
Now consider Adam Gadahn, as I did in this recent column: his whole story – a half-Jewish kid from southern California rebels against his upbringing and joins al-Qaeda – is unlikely enough to draw at least a small cloud of suspicion. Especially when we consider Gadahn’s alleged status in the organization: analysts attribute Osama bin Laden’s recent references to American political and economic issues to Gadahn’s influence, and he is usually described as al-Qaeda’s semi-official "mouthpiece" or spokesman – a rather high position for some half-Jewish to reach in al-Qaeda. Or has al-Qaeda now gone in for "diversity"?
So what’s going on here? You’ll notice whenever the US homes in on a possible target that the country in question is usually described as a "haven" for al-Qaeda, and, what’s more, an al-Qaeda affiliate claiming allegiance to bin Laden springs up from the murk: al-Qaeda-in-Iraq, al-Qaeda-in-Yemen, al-Qaeda-in-Somalia – and now, ominously, al-Qaeda-in-America.
No doubt this uptick in the alleged threat from US-born "terrorists" will be used to justify the extension and expansion of the government’s power to spy on us, harass us at airports, and invade every aspect of our lives. It doesn’t matter that the whole scare-mongering campaign seems bogus from beginning to end, and that the alleged danger posed by "Jihad Jane" and "Jihad Jamie" appears to be largely a figment of the US media’s perfervid imagination, and that these gals are a danger mainly to themselves. What matters is that the alleged danger of Islamic terrorists on American soil has been resurrected.
It remains to be seen, however, what are the origins of these remarkably murky incidents of "terrorism." I strongly suspect there’s a lot less here than meets the eye – and a lot more shenanigans by the authorities than anyone now imagines.