Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Second Front (Naval)

Austin Bay sends a link to an article he did for the Weekly Standard which describes some of the goals of Al Qaeda in Southeast Asia.

Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia lie first and foremost in JI's geo-strategic kill zone. JI (Jemaah Islamiyah) has large plans for the whole of Southeast Asia, plans dating from well before 9/11. Drawing on cadres schooled in past radical political movements that used Islam as both a wedge issue and a rallying cause, JI seeks to establish a grand "Islamic state" stretching from southern Thailand through Malaysia, the Philippine and Indonesian archipelagoes, and Australia. Indeed, JI produced a "green map" where the reach of sharia, as interpreted by JI leadership, extends into the Australian continent and New Guinea. Fanciful? Megalomaniacal? After 9/11 only the willfully blind can dismiss the motivating power of such an imperial eschatology.

At the time Bay was visiting Singapore, the JI was considering an attack on American naval targets as a demonstration of their power, the better to rouse the Muslim millions of the Southeast Asia.

The fast boat, packed with explosives and a suicide pilot, could slip from an inlet on the Malaysian side, gun its engine, whirl around an islet, perhaps Pulau Tekong, seeking the slate gray side of a carrier. ... An American officer familiar with U.S. Navy security concerns in southeast Asia first tipped me to the aircraft carrier scenario. "Singapore's a logical choice for a 'super Cole' operation, or something similar," he said. That was October 2001.

Their method emphasizes patience. A videotape captured in Afghanistan showed the surveillance of US naval targets in Singapore. Bay spoke to the director of Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and asked how Al Qaeda could obtain the personnel to carry out this scheme.

"Jemaah Islamiyah in Malaysia. They are clever, yes. They have an education program. But their secret is no secret. It's money. Arab money. Saudi Arab money."

"Can you prove that?"

"Where else but oil does it come from?" he says. "I know what I am told. With that money they promote the Arabization of our Islam in Southeast Asia. Object and you face personal violence."

That money was used to good effect in the United States itself. The object was not to recruit a suicide attacker who would sink a supercarrier but merely to assassinate the American President. As Little Green Footballs notes, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the US citizen charged with conspiring to assassinate President Bush, was not simply "a former Virginia high school valedictorian" the regular newspapers make him out to be. The "high school" he attended was a Saudi funded madrassa called the Islamic Saudi Academy.