Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Toothpaste Effect

Dan Darling at Winds of Change lays out the best backgrounder to the Madrid train bombings anywhere. He points out the curious fact that many of the Madrid bombers had fled to Spain when they were hunted out of Morocco.

The more immediate origins of the Madrid attacks, however, date back to the May 16, 2003 Casablanca bombings in Morocco. As this primer explains, Salafi Jihad, the Moroccan al-Qaeda affiliate, is decentralized under the command of local emirs, each operating out of a major Moroccan city. In Casablanca, it was Abdelhaq Moulsabbat served as the emir of Assirat al-Moustaquim, the subgroup within Salafi Jihad that perpetrated the Casablanca bombings.

The Moroccan reaction to what happened in Casablanca actually serves as a fairly good example to other Arab countries of how to deal with al-Qaeda in a non-Western society. Moulsabbat was captured and likely tortured to death and 699 Salafi Jihad members arrested, including Moulsabbat's associate Pierre Richard Robert, the emir of Tangiers. In addition, King Mohammed denounced the attackers on national television, banned political parties set up along religious, ethnic, linguistic, or regional lines, having women deliver religious lectures during Ramadan, and pushing ahead with social reforms. All of these actions have been extremely beneficial for Morocco, but their unfortunate side effect is that the Salafi Jihad members who once planned revolution at home have been forced to flee abroard to avoid being detained by the authorities. They can't go to Algeria for fear of being detained by the military government there, so it appears that at least some of them have chosen to head north - to Spain. At least one of Pierre Richard Robert's minions, Abdulaziz Benayich, took that route and was planning an attack when he was arrested by Spanish authorities in likely preparation for an attack.

They are not the only terrorists who have fled to Europe looking for easier pickings. The group which has been threatening France with mayhem if it does not rescind the law banning Muslim headscarves in schools is thought to be either Chechen in origin or a false-flag operation by the Russian FSB, the descendant of the dread KGB. Either way, it represents a migration of an ongoing struggle onto more congenial grounds. An attack on the defenseless. Europe has long been the preferred base for the political arms of terror organizations. The Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade which initially claimed responsibility for the Madrid attacks is thought by Dan Darling to be a public relations front for a variety of Jihadist groups based in London.

Militant Islamists, perhaps embolded by a perception of European weakness, are challenging it to its face. In Mitrovica, 400 miles from the Austrian border, Albanian Muslims were purging themselves of the last infidel Serbs, reasonably certain that Europe cannot nerve itself to stop ethnic cleansing, at least not when the cleansees are Orthodox Christians. As Serbia's nominal overlords, the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) appealed for calm,  churches burned. Reuters reports from UN-controlled Serbia:

Albanians set fire to Serb Orthodox churches in Kosovo on Thursday as NATO scrambled to deploy up to 1,000 more troops to stifle an explosion of ethnic violence. A church was torched in the flashpoint town of Mitrovica despite the efforts of French NATO peacekeepers, who fired teargas and rubber bullets to drive off the mob. Gunshots were heard, but it was not clear where from.

A Serb church and Serb homes were also set ablaze in the central town of Obilic, near the provincial capital Pristina. Reports from Obilic said NATO peacekeepers had evacuated about 100 Serbs because it could not guarantee their safety -- as happened on Wednesday night in the capital, Pristina. NATO summoned reinforcements after 22 people were killed in the worst ethnic clashes in Kosovo since the allies and the United Nations took control of the province from Serbia in 1999. Some 500 have been injured, of whom 20 were in intensive care. The new troops will reinforce 17,500 peacekeepers and 9,000 local and international police trying to keep a lid on the province of two million Muslim Albanians demanding independence and 100,000 Serbs, many in enclaves relying on NATO protection.

The Serbs will flee and the UN with them. The US offensive in Pakistan and Afghanistan,  unrest among Syrian Kurds and continued resistance to the Mullahs in Iran against which the Islamists can mount no military riposte has naturally reduced them to attacking civilian targets wherever they can -- attacks which the press represents as great victories -- and there are no softer targets than those in Europe. The dreadful strokes which will now descend upon the Old Continent will not, as some imagine, bring down the New. They will simply smite the Old, passing easily through their Maginot Line of treaties and accords with the same ease as an icepick through a sheet of paper.


CNN is reporting that "Pakistani forces have surrounded a 'high-value' target believed to be Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant in al Qaeda, near the Afghan border. The troops reported fierce resistance from al Qaeda fighters." The Jihadis are facing military defeat everywhere, in Iraq, the Horn of Africa, Iran, Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. The terrorist toothpaste is being squeezed out of the tube and is even now squirming, like a thing possessed, towards the cavity-ridden European border.

Meanwhile fighting has continued for the second straight day in UNMIK controlled Kosovo. Churches and mosques are going up in flames as both sides battle for possession.

The clashes, which began Wednesday when ethnic Albanians blamed Serbs for the drownings of two children, have killed at least 31 people and wounded hundreds more, including several dozen U.N. police and NATO peacekeepers, according to U.N. spokeswoman Izabella Karlowicz.

The bloodshed underscored the bitter divisions that have polarized Kosovo's mostly Muslim ethnic Albanians, who want independence from Serbia, and Orthodox Christian Serbs, a minority in Kosovo who consider the province their ancient homeland.

Of course, the violence is all America's fault. If only the US had provided more support for the UN, after toppling Milosevic in the first place, this fiasco would never have happened in Europe, 400 miles from Austria and 4,000 miles from the United States.

The violence, which spilled beyond Kosovo's borders into the Serbian heartland, also dealt the Bush administration a potential setback in efforts to reduce the number of peacekeepers in the Balkans and redeploy them to Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots. About 2,000 Americans now serve with the force, down from 5,000 after the war, and the entire force has shrunk from 50,000 to 18,500.

Strange how Europe wants the very thing which they are determined the Iraqis should not have. American soldiers who are at once so valued and whose blood is so valueless are being asked again to halt the conflagration before Europe's shining socialist gates.