Osama's campaign commercial.

Military analysis.
Oct. 31 2004 4:03 PM

Osama's Campaign Commercial

Does he hope his video will help Bush?

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We know, for example, from a late December 2001 video message that Bin Laden anticipated and welcomed the U.S. retaliation against Afghanistan for the 9/11 attack, and he seems to have been delighted to hold this up as another example of American bloodthirst. It was a central part of his public-relations campaign to win support among Muslims. Similarly, his message shortly before the U.S. invasion of Iraq practically crooned with pleasure about the prospect of a U.S. military deployment that would proving again his argument about America. This may seem bizarre, but Lenin was thrilled by the carnage Russia suffered in World War I and rightly saw it as weakening the Czarist regime. We commit a dangerous mistake if we refuse to recognize that the jihadists are capable of such strategizing.

The idea that Bin Laden is pursuing a plan of "heightening the contradictions" is backed up as well by recent material from a jihadist Web site. On the Al-Hesbah Islamic Insurgent Message Board this week, the "moderator," who goes by the name Muhtaseb Abu Musab, weighed in with his own opinion about the election:

[I]n my opinion, Al-Qaida is not aiming at getting Bush to lose the upcoming elections, as some might believe. Al-Qaida knows very well that Bush's policy in Iraq and Afghanistan serves the Jihad to a great extent. The increase in hostility towards the Americans by all of kinds of people, is terrifying the wise [reasonable] Americans, to the extent that many of their allies (the Philippines, Spain, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic) walked out on them after only one year of the war. What will be the case if the war lasts for years and years?!!

It is worth mentioning that the Mujahideen are prepared for a long lasting war, that could go on for decades, until the fall of America into the same trap that the Mujahideen had set for the Soviets in the past ...

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This material was translated and given to me by reputable researchers who monitor the jihadist Web sites. It has to be acknowledged that the message board allows anyone to post on it—in Arabic—and could include disinformation. Abu Musab's conclusion seems consistent with other jihadist analysis: "What I mean to say here, is that the Mujahideen prefer the re-election of 'Bush Junior' because his policy is a mixture of arrogance, pride, recklessness and eagerness. These qualities are most important in leading the Americans to an early defeat, God willing."

How do the jihadists feel about Bush's opponent? Abu Musab writes, "As for Kerry, we are positive that he is not less hostile than Bush. ... In the end, Kerry agrees with Bush on the goals and ends; however, he has a different, and more malicious vision in running the war in Iraq (it is the policy of getting international support)."

Give Abu Musab credit: He's trying to know his enemy. Perhaps less talk about medieval primitives would help us know ours.

Daniel Benjamin is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He served as director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council staff in 1998-99 and is the co-author ofThe Age of Sacred Terrorand The Next Attack.