Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not With A Bang But A Whimper -- Obama's Contacts With Al Qaida

from Infidel Bloggers Alliance:

WASHINGTON -- Diplomatic sources said Barack Obama has engaged several Arab intermediaries to relay messages to and from Al Qaida in the months before his elections as the 44th U.S. president. The sources said Al Qaida has offered what they termed a truce in exchange for a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"For the last few months, Obama has been receiving and sending feelers to those close to Al Qaida on whether the group would end its terrorist campaign against the United States," a diplomatic source said. "Obama sees this as helpful to his plans to essentially withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq during his first term in office."
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An article in Geostrategy-Direct on Nov. 19, 2008 noted that "perception, whether solidly based on reality or not, is the basis for geopolitics. And the fact is that many Muslims throughout the world perceive Barack Obama to be one of their own even though he is a professed Christian."

On his first day in office, Obama ordered the shutdown of the U.S. Navy prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which contains 245 suspected Al Qaida members. The president said he would also dismantle unspecified CIA holding centers for Al Qaida detainees.

"Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect," Obama said in an interview to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya satellite channel on Jan. 26. "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries."

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy -- we sometimes make mistakes -- we have not been perfect," Obama said.

The two presidential decisions prompted calls for reconciliation by a range of leading Muslims. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi called on the United States to launch a dialogue with Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden while the Al Qaida-aligned Gamiat Islamiya urged an immediate four-month ceasefire.

At this point, the sources said, Al Qaida appears divided over Obama. They said Al Qaida's No. 2 Ayman Zawahiri has regarded Obama, identified as a Muslim in much of the Arab world, as dangerous to the jihad movement, while others believe the new president was intent on ending the so-called global war on terrorism, begun in 2001. The U.S. war was sparked by Al Qaida air strikes in New York and Washington, which killed more than 3,000 Americans.

"Addressing the Islamic world, Obama said we are in need of a new direction," a statement by Gamiat leaders said. "So he is calling for adopting a new approach that differs to the blocked and irrational path that [former U.S. President George] Bush followed."

As a result, Gamiat has opposed a call by Al Qaida leader Abu Yehya Al Libi for renewed attacks on the West, particularly Britain and the United States. The Egyptian-based Islamic network warned that such attacks would force Obama to rescind his decision to close Guantanamo and resume the U.S. offensive against Al Qaida.

"These positions -- Obama announcing a diplomatic approach towards Iran and its nuclear file, his willingness to close Guantanamo Bay, and his request that judges suspend trials for four months in Guantanamo Bay -- show that there is a new opportunity that must be explored and not thrown away before making sure that it is just a mirage," Sheik Essam Derbala, a Gamiat leader, said.

The diplomatic sources said Obama's effort has been endorsed by most of the U.S. intelligence community. They said the community has assessed that Al Qaida, isolated in northwestern Pakistan, would not reemerge in Afghanistan, even under a Taliban regime.

"The United States has imposed attrition on Al Qaida, disrupting its command, control and communications and isolating it," George Friedman, a U.S. strategist and director of Stratfor, said in a report. "To avoid penetration by hostile intelligence services, Al Qaida has not recruited new cadres for its primary unit. This makes it very difficult to develop intelligence on Al Qaida, but it also makes it impossible for Al Qaida to replace its losses."

Still, Saudi Arabia has been concerned over any reconciliation between Al Qaida and the United States. The sources said Saudi King Abdullah fears that Obama's effort would legitimize Al Qaida and bolster its status in the Gulf Arab kingdom.

"Calling for a dialogue with Al Qaida alone is evidence of the extent of our shortsightedness and our failure to understand what is more of a threat to us than to the West," Tariq Al Homayed, editor of the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat daily, said. "What we need is to tackle the threat posed by Al Qaida's ideology rather than Al Qaida members."

Al Homayed, said to be close to the Saudi leadership, envisioned a contest among Arab states to sponsor an Al Qaida-U.S. reconciliation conference. He urged the Saudi leadership to clearly oppose such an effort.

"Interaction with Washington and Obama is important, especially with regards to what concerns us," Al Homayed wrote in an editorial. "But if our reactions are going to resemble those that are mentioned above, then this will be frustrating, not for Washington, but for us, the people of the region who are hoping for a better future."

Is Obama guilty of sedition? Is he dumb enough to think that Al Qaida might be honest and up front with him? What would be gained since all the serious jihadis would just leave Al Qaida for other organizations?

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