Desperately Seeking The Sheik

The Egyptian President has asked President Obama for the release of the Blind Sheik, in prison since his conviction in the first World Trade Center bombing. The Blind Sheik is a rampant, radicalized, Salafist Muslim Cleric. He is a respected, revered leader of the ‘blow it up’ crowd; after all he was the first to go after the towers. I remain unaware of a “hell no” Presidential response. There are messages everywhere, very few of them comforting! President Obama’s most recent reply was to the Algerian situation, he said; In the coming days, we will remain in close touch with the government of Algeria to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent tragedies like this in the future.” That should strike fear in the hearts of Jihads. This is a clear message of equivocation.

The request from President Morsi was a message as well, understood nearly everywhere, save the United States. It was not a specific message, it was a “hey, someone, anyone; can I get some help here; a little violence maybe, perhaps a few hostages; Buehler ….. Buehler, anyone?” Come on guys, nothing like a few hostages to create a little pressure and put us in the news”.

Presto! Algeria is now on the hot map. First, the attackers said it was about French involvement in Mali, impossible to put that operation together as quickly as that. No, no, now it’s about the Blind Sheik, we want the Blind Sheik! What makes them think this is possible? The answer is simple, messages. When our Egyptian Embassy was under attack, we apologized for a video. When the Benghazi Consulate was attacked, nothing happened; the only suspect in those murders was released this week. Egyptian Christians are under relentless attack, no firm response from President Morsi and no condemnation from the White House. In response to massive Syrian bloodshed nothing beyond standard politically correct rhetoric. Rockets into Israel; issue warnings of caution to the Israelis. The message to Jihadists is clear from their point of view. The message to bandits using Jihadism as a cover is the same. Don’t worry, be happy!

There are other messages as well. Algeria went operational with no communication to allies and friends. Offers of help were rejected. That, as well, is a message; “stay the Hell out, you’re more trouble than you’re worth, we’ll deal with it”. “We may not deal with it well but that’s not your problem!” “We don’t want your help; we don’t want your advice and most of all we don’t want your soldiers on our soil; bad timing, no good can come of it!” Western influence absent the courage to attack those that attack you is no influence at all.

It is true that a U.S. or Western response will motivate Jihadists, especially true when there is no strong message followed by retaliatory action. However, the absence of response also generates consequences. The simple fact is that Jihadists are unafraid of retaliation.

We have, to appearances, chosen to view global Jihadism through a prism of fear, fear that action will motivate yet more Jihadism; it was the fundamental argument against Gitmo; “close it down or we’ll get more”. Well, we have gotten more; Gitmo has nothing to do with it. If it wasn’t Gitmo it surly would have been something else. After all, we’ll always have Israel, Christianity and Western values; that’s plenty.

The arc of North Africa from Mali in the West, across the Mediterranean costal countries to Kenya in the East faces major movements supported by Jihadist Ideology. It’s not just the Middle East anymore! Many of these countries are relatively new energy producers. Amidst the violence and incident specific analysis it has always been a part of the al Qaeda strategy to cripple the West economically, perhaps the fledgling energy industry in these countries has something to do with it.

In play as well and fundamental to what we will see in the short term is the ever growing number of Islamist dominated potential state sponsors of Islamist mischief: Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Somalia and Sudan. Coming soon to a Jihadist near you: Tunisia, Libya, and Syria and, eventually, Jordan.

Failing to understand the message that would be sent by returning the Blind Sheik is ignorance of the first degree. Failing to understand President Morsi’s unrepentant request for the Blind Sheik is equally so.

  • Bob

    No “It’s not just the Middle East anymore” Little is being said about the situation involving the Senkaku/Diadyu islands.For a good part of the past year China,Japan,the Philipines,and Vietnam have been argueing about who has control over them.

    Most recently the new leader of Japan has ordered his ships to fire warning shots and board Chinese ships which violate the Islands territory.Below you will see an article which appeared in the “Defense News” blog entitled “Chinese Generals Call for War with Just About Everyone”.In it one of the more vocal military men Air Force Lt.Col.Dai Xu states a “a short decisive war with Vietnam,Japan or the Philipines would kill the chicken to scare the monkey philosophy” America being the monkey they feel we would not defend our mutual defense agreements with those countries.He further states these countries are running dogs of the United States in Asia.

    Our enermies smell blood and it’s type “O”for Obama.

  • Bob

    It was China not Japan that announced last month they would board and seize any vessel in those waters.

  • China sees no red lines in their future. Taiwan is the ultimate prize.

  • Bob

    Of course Taiwan is the ultimate goal of the mainland China as it has been since 1949.However it would be naive to believe that the new leaders who just took over this past December under the 18th Communist China Party convention don’t have other objectives in the pacific basin.According to the PRC Taiwan has no international or diplomatic standing therefore no right to approach the United Nations or other organizations about joining.The communist believe that Taiwan is part of China (whether they think so or not)and they must consult with the PRC.As long as Taiwan doesn’t try to declare independence and limits it’s defense spending from the west the communist are willing to be patient and to let the situation stay as is FOR THE IMMEDIATE TIME BEING.

    After a decade of the Bush administration ignoring Asia to the extent that they failed to send high level officials to regional meetings the Obama administration is engaging Asia but with a pivot maneuver that fails to give these countries the scrutiny needed.

    Myanmar,Vietnam,Philippines and Malaysia are eager to cement closer cooperation with the United States to counter balance the rise of Chinese power. The Philippines,Sinapore,and Malaysia have flawed democracies by the standards of the Freedom House and the west.Vietnam although not a democracy has a well disciplined military that isn’t known to committ mass abuses against it’s population.President Obama is engaged with Cambodia,Thailand,Myanmar and Laos which has a military dominated politicial climate.Washington will soon establish military to military ties with Myanmar whose military are unlkely to lean toward China since they want to reduce dependence on China but are known to have committed some of the worst crimes against humanity.In Cambodia President Obama started small scale joint exercises and joint training from U.S.Special Forces.Cambodia which has a history of assassinating domestic opponents and violating human rights was given a $500 million dollar loan two months ago by CHINA. We have also started exchanging defense attaches along with military education programs with Laos which has the worlds most closed society.Thailand Prime Mininster has no great love of the military since they purged his brother from power six years ago and with the United States is organizing a massive joint exercise.

    The current administration seems to prefer the Pentagons ability to serve as leading diplomat in the area and a lot is riding on the United States military ability to change the habits and culture of some of these countries making them more reliable. Granted the President didn’t choose which countries surrounded China but rushing into something without any consideration of what the future will bring is a dangerous way to conduct foreign policy and one which we should remember has dangerous consequences.

  • Bob,

    You essentially correct on China and the President did announce a ’tilt’ toward greater emphasis on Asia.

    China thinks long term, they fit todays’s actions and decisions into a 30,40, 50 year framework of goals and objectives. This is the fact that makes them scary to me. We can’t seem to think beyond the next traffic light.They are relentless and strategically sophisticated.

    China is no friend and US upheavel is in their interests, their actions on the Security Councel prove it. Small ‘a’ adventurism will continue, they will push, push push to see where, if any, a red line exists with the West.

  • Bob

    China seems to have some concern over the nuclear test announced by North Korea. According to KCNA news agency reports top military told them the “High level nuclear test and more long range rocket launches were aimed at it’s arch enemy the United States.” They went on to say”Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force,not words.”

    According to the article “China has been playing a careful balancing act in dealing with the reclusive North Koreans persuasion,pressure but not sanctions.So Chinas backing of the United Nations resolution expanding sanctions is a departure from it’s long standing policy on North Korea.The main reason for the shift in policy is China needs United States support in dealing with increased tensions between China and Japan over the disputed islands in the East China Seas.

    North Korea has conducted two previous nuclear test in 2006 and 2009

  • Bob,

    I don’t believe North Korea does anything significant absent Chinese foreknowledge. It appears to me that North Korea and dear leader are used by the Chinese to complicate the situation in the area and give the US something to worry about. China could make it stop tomorrow if they saw that as being in their interests. The vast majority of aid going into North Korea is from China. If the aid stops so does the threat. Chinese reluctance to stop aid is a fear of refugees from North Korea flooding China.

    China can both support sanctions and step up critical food aid, etc to North Korea. It’s a shadow game to test limits.

  • Bob


    Interesting. How far do you think North Korea is willing to be China’s puppet however? I get the feeling their leaders ego’s aren’t the type to be under anyones thumb.I also get the feeling they have the same mindset of dominating it’s people that China had back in the 1960’s that if their longterm leadership decisions causes a famine … be it. “And thus it shall pass…..”

  • North Korea will remain a puppet, they don’t have a choice is China pulls what meager aid there is North Korea starves. North Korea as has Iran has gotten away with bad behavior for a long time they are a litmus test for the Chines vis a vis the West.

  • Bob

    “Obama Administration Approves Sale of Sensitive Military Technology to China” by Audrey Hudson in “Human Events” 29th of January 2013