Don't Panic! February 05 2003

Your war questions answered

What are some of the new potential fronts in the War On Terror?

I don't know about you, but I was pretty disappointed with this year's State of the Union address. First of all, there were no snappy phrases like Axis of Evil for me to exploit for laughs in this column. Cartel of Chaos, Mob of Murderers, Bevy of Badness and Passel of Assholes were all there for the taking. But Bush and his speechwriters IRRESPONSIBLY ignored them.

Secondly, by focusing so much of the speech on the upcoming war to disarm Iraq and get their oil, oops, I mean liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, President Bush didn't offer any insight on where the War On TerrorTM might be headed next. Patriotic fella that I am, I've decided to help the Bushman out by offering you my insight into where the war may be headed next. (Please keep in mind that "may" and "might" are great journalistic cop-out words meaning "I don't really know for sure, I'm just guessing").

The Washington Post reported in December that European intelligence agencies have discovered links between al-Qaeda and the presidents of the West African nations Liberia and Burkina Faso. Perhaps the word "links" understates things a bit. Liberia's President Charles Taylor is said to have received $1 million to hide al-Qaeda operatives in Liberia after 9-11. Just to offer a little perspective for our international readers, that's the equivalent of nearly 97 million Sri Lankan rupees!

Burkina Faso's President Blaise Campaore is said to have sheltered al-Qaeda operatives in the presidential palace in his country's capital, the overly voweled Ouagadougou. While operating out of those two countries, al-Qaeda is said to have cornered the West African diamond market as part of its effort to evade U.S. efforts to freeze its bank-held cash assets.

If Iraq offering medical care to an al-Qaeda soldier is enough to help justify Gulf War II: Fellowship of the Oil, then certainly presidents Taylor and Campaore harboring al-Qaeda operatives for money is enough to justify Operation Charles In Chains in Liberia or Operation Consonant Craving in Burkina Faso. By the way, President Charles Taylor of Liberia is in no way related to the popular "Chuck Taylor" sneakers by Converse, so you're not supporting terrorism if you buy them unless you do so from an al-Qaeda operative. But really, unless you shop at the Foot Locker in Karachi's new Mall of Pakistan, what are the odds of that?

Another potential stop on the terror safari that we haven't heard much about yet is Algeria. Arrests in the wake of the U.K.'s foiled ricin poison attacks have turned up a bunch of Algerians allegedly either involved in the plot or in al-Qaeda in general.

Europe (France in particular) is home to a large Algerian population, among whom terrorists can hide. Algeria itself has an even larger Algerian population and it's just a hop, skip and boat across the Mediterranean from Europe. It's also home of a long-lasting civil war between the government and Muslim fundamentalists, which has left over 100,000 dead. Algeria's overeducated, underemployed youths are targets of al-Qaeda recruiting. It's no wonder then that Algeria is supposedly the third-largest source of al-Qaeda recruits. Apparently those "Be Allah That You Can Be" commercials on Algerian TV are really catching on.

Tune in next week for part two of What's Next in the War on Terror.


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