Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Warn them, and then ...

In an interview published in The Atlantic Online (this is probably available only to subscribers), CIA officer Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris, had this to say about taking seriously the pronouncements of prominent Muslims.

After the 9/11 attacks bin Laden was accused of three things by Muslims: one, not giving us enough warning; two, not allowing us to convert; and three, killing too many people, because he didn't have religious justification for it. Since 9/11, he's dealt with the first criticism by warning us in many different venues, many different times. And al-Zawahiri has done the same thing publicly. So when the next attack comes there's no way for us to say we weren't warned. As for the second criticism, the prophet Muhammad said that before you attack anyone you must always give them a chance to convert to Islam, the one true faith. Bin Laden's offer to President Bush to lead us to Islam satisfies that. To address the third criticism, he procured from a very prominent Saudi cleric a religious justification for using weapons of mass destruction against the United States. So massive casualties now are sanctioned by a religious edict. Now this all sounds silly from the secular American viewpoint. But from the Muslim viewpoint he has checked the three boxes that have been established in Islamic history—through the Koran, and through the sayings of the prophet—to stage a very big attack on the United States. He's warned us, he's given us a chance to convert, and he has religious guidance that says an attack causing large numbers of casualties is okay.
Obviously, Osama bin Laden is a very upright gentleman, one that follows the rules of orderly combat. Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as upright a gentleman? It may well be that he is, and that he is pedantically following the regulations laid down by someone or other. So he writes his letter to Bush, gets carried away a bit (but you do when you're a believer) and finishes up with half a book. Is he sanctioned to do the deed? It seems so. According to a report quoted on Regime Change Iran, Mohsen Gharavian said
When the entire world is armed with nuclear weapons, it is permissible to use these weapons as a counter-measure. According to Sharia too, only the goal is important.
Mohsen Gharavian is "a disciple of the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, who is widely regarded as the cleric closest to Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

So should we get ready to duck? Robert Spencer is cautious.
This letter could be -- but is not necessarily -- a prelude to an attack.
I call that a reason for optimism.

Tagged: ,

No comments: