Politics & Policy

For Senator Clinton, It’s 1993 All over Again

A president needs to understand the difference between al Qaeda and a "civil war"

I n February 1993, just days after their bomb failed to bring down the Twin Towers (though it did kill several people, injure over a thousand, and cause nearly a billion dollars in damage), jihadists prepared a letter warning Americans of what was to come — a letter that takes one’s breath away when reread six years after the destruction of the World Trade Center:

We are, the Liberation Army fifth battalion, again. Unfortunately, our calculations were not very accurate this time. However, we promise you that next time it will be very precise and WTC will continue to be one our [sic] targets unless our [space] demands have been met.

Of course, listening to our enemies was never a high priority during the Clinton administration. Jihadi threats were regarded as evidence to be introduced at trials for the fewer than three dozen terrorists we managed to apprehend during those eight years. They were not factors for designing a national security policy with respect to the remaining legions of Islamic radicals who were targeting us from their faraway redoubts — insulated from U.S. prosecution while they told us exactly what they were up to, then made good on those warnings, time after time.

The Clinton administration always had some reason not to take up the challenge of the war the enemy was already fighting: the desire not to upset American Muslims, a hoped for rapprochement with Iran, the delicate balance required for the holy-grail of Israeli/Palestinian peace negotiations, etc. Americans kept getting killed, and al Qaeda kept getting bolder as its leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, pointed repeatedly to American fecklessness — congratulating growing ranks of terror recruits on joining the “strong horse,” which had its sights trained on the “weak horse,” the one without a stomach for the fight.

So now Mrs. Clinton wants to be president, and it’s the same old song.

Senator Clinton has joined her Democratic colleague, Senator Robert Byrd, in penning an extraordinary op-ed, published in Tuesday’s New York Daily News. The excuse du jour for not taking on al Qaeda in Iraq, where it is massed? Iraq is not about al Qaeda. Iraq is “a civil war nobody voted for.”

It is a striking sign of where Senator Clinton would take the country: Right back to the days when listening to the enemy was a prosecutor’s job, not a president’s.

Iraq is a civil war? Why, because Sunnis are killing Shiites? Sectarian infighting there is not a civil war; it’s a strategy. The Sunnis orchestrating the killing are not Iraqis. They are al Qaeda.

And you don’t need to guess or draw complex inferences to know that is so. Once again, al Qaeda leaders told us exactly what they were going to do, fully explained that they saw it as the key to making America quit, and have brazenly implemented the strategy ever since. The only question now is whether, thanks to wet-finger-to-the-wind officials like Senators Clinton and Byrd, they’re going to get away with it.

Here is what the now-deceased leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, reported to bin Laden and Zawahiri back in 2004, when the strategy was first designed, in a letter intercepted by U.S. forces:

The Shi’a in our opinion, these are the key to change. Targeting and striking their religious, political, and military symbols, will make them show their rage against the Sunnis and bear their inner vengeance. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands of these Sabeans, i.e., the Shi’a….

As we have mentioned to you, our situation demands that we treat the issue with courage and clarity. So the solution, and God only knows, is that we need to bring the Shi’a into the battle because it is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us….

Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases. By God, this is suffocation! We will be on the roads again. People follow their leaders, their hearts may be with you, but their swords are with their kings. So I say again, the only solution is to strike the religious, military, and other cadres of the Shi’a so that they revolt against the Sunnis. Some people will say, that this will be a reckless and irresponsible action that will bring the Islamic nation to a battle for which the Islamic nation is unprepared. Souls will perish and blood will be spilled. This is, however, exactly what we want, as there is nothing to win or lose in our situation. The Shi’a destroyed the balance, and the religion of God is worth more than lives. Until the majority stands up for the truth, we have to make sacrifices for this religion, and blood has to be spilled. For those who are good, we will speed up their trip to paradise, and the others, we will get rid of them. [Emphasis added.]

Al Qaeda, clear-eyed and quite intentionally, fomented the sectarian fighting. Its foreign fighters — not Iraqis, but foreign fighters wreaking havoc in Iraq, just like they have done in the United States and across the globe for 14 years — are the instigators.

Zarqawi, better than most, understood that you win a war against the United States, the weak horse, by attriting its will. That means you win it in Washington, not in Baghdad. Extend the war, put on a grisly show for the Western media, have the carnage and predictable retaliatory killing mount day after day, and the Americans will flag and go home — like they did in Lebanon in 1983, and like they did in Somalia in 1993. Like al Qaeda is convinced we always do. Prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us, make it good and ugly, and al Qaeda can win in Iraq.

Not a civil war, Senator Clinton. A chaos strategy to win a war al Qaeda is fighting against the United States.

Don’t think so? Well here’s Zawahiri answering Zarqawi — and note that he didn’t seem to think it was a “civil war,” either; he understood it was the jihad, the same one radical Islam brought right into our country in 1993 and on 9/11:

I want to be the first to congratulate you for what God has blessed you with in terms of fighting in the heart of the Islamic world, which was formerly the field for major battles in Islam’s history, and what is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era. [Emphasis added.]

That was back in 2005, but al Qaeda has never changed its tune. Bin Laden has called the jihad in Iraq al Qaeda’s “Third World War” — a “war of destiny between infidelity and Islam.” Moreover, just a few days ago, in a newly released tape, Zawahiri stressed that Iraq remains the center of al Qaeda’s universe, the lynchpin of its strategy to restore a Muslim caliphate from which to spread its venomous, America-hating brand of Islam.

That’s right, they have “an Iraq strategy” — and, unlike much of the United States Senate, where September now comes in July, al Qaeda intends to see its plan through, however long it takes and whatever difficulties they encounter along the way.

And guess what? Like they always do, they told us exactly what the plan is. As National Review’s Mac Owens has noted, here is how the Washington Post reported Zawahiri’s 2005 directive:

The letter of instructions and requests outlines a four-stage plan, according to officials: First, expel American forces from Iraq. Second, establish a caliphate over as much of Iraq as possible. Third, extend the jihad to neighboring countries, with specific reference to Egypt and the Levant — a term that describes Syria and Lebanon. And finally, war against Israel. [Emphasis added.]

So Senator Clinton can pretend it’s just a civil war. She can take us back to the 1990s when we didn’t listen to what jihadists said while they attacked us again and again. She can try to bring the troops home without finishing the fight against the enemy.

But there is a history here, one we all lived. A history whose lesson it is the duty of anyone who would presume to lead us — to be responsible for American lives — to grasp: When you let them have Iraq, like we let them have Afghanistan in the 1990s, they tend to want Manhattan.

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