Monday, October 29, 2007

Al-Qu'aida Conspiracy & AFRICOM?

Left: Flag of Yemen
Right: Flag of Djibouti

Jamestown Foundation offers us a riveting piece of conspiracy theory in this entry, which decries a bridge construction between Yemen and Djibouti. The newly announced project aims to build the world's longest bridge—17 miles connecting Yemen and Djibouti—under Tarek bin Laden's Middle East Development LLC. The main contention of the article centers around builders of the bridge who happen to be one of Bin Laden's brothers.

Jamestown mentions in passing "on the economic level, access to African oil and the will to counter China's increasing presence on the continent are vital strategic interests that are pushing Washington to rationalize its approach. The U.S. wants to see its share of African oil imports go from 15% to 25% by 2015," but links this financial claim to the security issue—terrorism. Jamestown recoils and makes a leap of faith pronouncing "the proposed construction of a bridge connecting Yemen and Djibouti, however, is likely to threaten the ongoing U.S. mission in Africa."

Left: Flag purported by the intelligence community to be that of Al-Qu'aida.

Al-Qu'aida is, of course, prominent as usual in this "intelligence" piece. Although, Jamestown realizes "recently declassified Harmony documents illustrate the serious challenges that the terrorist group has faced while operating in Somalia" and east Africa nevertheless, it could not resist the temptation to scare readers into a mindset strewn with threats. Jamestown goes on to state "Yemen, on the other hand, provides an ideal location for al-Qaeda operations, aside from President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security services." Be as it may, Yemen is one of US closest allies in the region, there is a US base there with some 1,800 troops and Yemeni and US security forces train, exercise and perform theater operation together. [There are also French troops stationed in Djibouti]

Every good conspiracy story needs a villain and a mystery. Jamestown provides both by noting that Yemen "is, of course, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, with his father hailing from the valley of Hadramawt, in eastern Yemen, to the south of the Empty Quarter (al-rub` al-khali)." Adding that "some terrorism experts have even questioned whether bin Laden has sought refuge in one of these areas after losing his sanctuary in Afghanistan in late 2001," satisfying both necessary nodes of a good conspiracy theory. Indeed, Bin Laden, who ever he is, may be any where in the world, which makes for perfect conspiracy theorizing.

Left: Flag adopted as the 911 Flag (Also the flag of the USA)

Moreover, Jamestown tells us about the links that Tarek Bin Laden had with Mujahideens in the effort against the USSR, but omits the same US connections to that revolutionary effort. As is well known since becoming information in the public domain, the US funded, armed and trained those fervent recruits from around the Muslim world who wanted to help free their Afghan brothers from the yoke of Soviet domination. However, none call for the imprisonment, ostracizing or the garnishment and freezing of the assets of those US entities who were involved with destabilizing the Soviet regime—in fact these US principals were the leaders of the effort.
More than merely a developer, in the 1990s he was general supervisor of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a fraudulent Saudi group designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as having aided al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups' fundraising efforts. The IIRO, or Hay'at al-Igatha al-Islamiya al-'Alamiyaa, is one of eight bodies under the umbrella of the Mecca-based Muslim World League (WML). The IIRO's terrorist ties go back to the first Afghan jihad against the Soviets, when Osama bin Laden's Maktab al-Khidmat (Office of Services) worked with Wael Julaidan, then with the IIRO and WML (Government's Evidentiary Proffer Supporting the Admissibility of Co-Conspirator Statements, United States of America v. Enaam Arnaout, Jan. 6, 2003).
The fated bridge is presented as a back-door, which threatens US domination in Africa by exposing a gaping hole in the security system. However, people have been moving across this territorial divide for thousands of years. Certainly, since the US has emerged as sole super-power, people have continued to migrate to and fro between these two locales. Jamestown still does not miss the opportunity to ask:
All of this begs the question: how could Osama bin Laden's half-brother be constructing a bridge linking Yemen to the HoA at the birth of AFRICOM?
But goes on to inform us that U.S. Rear Admiral James Hart, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), U.S. Central Command, recently explained to Le Monde, "Djibouti was chosen as a base because it is a safe location." Not only is Djibouti a sphere of US dominance, the pentagon recently renewed its lease for five more years with an option for 10 additional, and the size of the base has just been multiplied by five. This bridge nor the surrounding political atmosphere hardly present a precarious situation for US military power and economic hold on the horn of Africa.
Six years after the September 11 attacks, it is baffling to imagine a project under Tarek bin Laden, through a California-based firm, linking Yemen to Africa. Taking into regard al-Qu'aida's growing presence in Yemen, it is even more puzzling as to how the U.S. envisions this project promoting greater security or helping to combat terrorism in the region. What does seem a given, however, is that U.S. troops (at the only U.S. base in Africa) could end up being at far greater risk than they are today.
Jamestown tries to link this civilian project with global Islamic terrorism and asks God to keep our 1,800 strong military presence in Djibouti safe from those wanton religious cadres who are lurking on the African continent. Jamestown's speculations supported by its weight as a "think tank" gives its unfathomable assertions an air of plausibility. The fact that well- established and powerful institutions try to manipulate various aspects of society including, the economy, politics, and discourse may continue as before. However, one must also, maintain vigilance and not allow these organizations to become vigilantes against truth.


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