Maidhc Ó Cathail
While Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may have claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb plot, it’s worth considering how this latest Yemen-linked terror scare has been a gift to their avowed enemies.
A mere two weeks before the discovery of mail bombs addressed to “two places of Jewish worship in Chicago,” Rupert Murdoch sounded prescient as he received an award from the Anti-Defamation League for his support of Israel. "The terrorists continue to target Jews across the world," declared the media mogul in his acceptance speech. "But they have not succeeded in bringing down the Israeli government - and they have not weakened Israeli resolve." Equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, the Fox News owner smeared the growing worldwide condemnation of Israel's rogue behaviour as an "ongoing war against the Jews."
Benjamin Netanyahu, a frequent London house guest of Murdoch and a likely recipient of his political contributions, was quick to make hay of the foiled plot. Briefing the cabinet on his impending address to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, the Israeli prime minister told them that it would be "held against the background of reports about the attempt to attack the Jewish community in Chicago."
Linking the parcel bomb plot to some of the most iconic terrorist attacks of the post-9/11 era, Netanyahu said that "it does not matter if the target was a synagogue in Chicago or a railway station in Madrid, London, Mumbai or Bali." Deftly associating his increasingly isolated government with the victims of those attacks, the Israeli prime minister proclaimed: "We are facing a growing wave of terrorism by extremist Islam."
Netanyahu, never one prone to understatement, offered this analysis of the unsuccessful attempt to use desktop printers as terror weapons: "It is growing in the scope and brazen gall of its attacks, in the weapons with which it is arming itself, and in the sweeping objectives of the leaders of global terrorism."
He then assured his colleagues that "one of the main issues" he would be addressing in New Orleans with American Jewish leaders was "the steps that the civilised and free world must take in order to stop this wave that threatens us all."
Needless to say, those "steps" are unlikely to include an end to the 43-year occupation and colonisation of the West Bank or a lifting of the 4-year blockade of Gaza.
An American apologist for Israel's self-appointed guardian of "the civilised and free world" took a similar line. Joel Pollak, a Republican candidate in the midterm elections, released a statement condemning the attempted terror attack, saying he would be spending the Jewish Sabbath in West Rogers Park "in solidarity with the people of the 9th congressional district who were the direct targets of Al Qaeda terror." Sounding a lot like Netanyahu, Pollak attempted to rally his constituents by telling them, "We must not stop fighting to eradicate the twin evils of terror and hatred."
Again, we can take it as read that the "terror and hatred" Americans are being urged to combat only applies to Israel's enemies.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly, which describes itself as "the leading geopolitical newsletter," has even attempted to implicate Israel's current enemy number one, Iran. The next issue, for subscribers only, promises to reveal "how the al Qaeda air package plot fit [sic] into the selective partnership between Tehran and al Qaeda and homes in on the areas where their schemes dovetail."
But how trustworthy is "the leading newsletter in this rarefied field"?
"Debka is prepared mostly by former Mossad operatives. A reliable stream of information," Martin Peretz, the Islamophobic editor-in-chief of the staunchly pro-Israel New Republic assures us.
Ever since an Israeli firm let the Christmas Day crotch bomber "slip through" security at Schiphol Airport without a passport, a few influential voices with close ties to Israel have been instrumental in making Yemen "the new buzzword."
Appearing on Fox News two days later, the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress, Senator Joe Lieberman, announced: "Iraq was yesterday's war. Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war."
Within a week, Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Saban Center in the Brookings Institution, had an op-ed in The Daily Beast titled "The Menace of Yemen." Touting the botched Christmas Day plot as evidence of "the growing ambition of al Qaeda's Yemen franchise," Riedel called for "significant American support to defeat AQAP."
Riedel's employer, the Saban Center, is named after Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul, who in 2002 pledged $13 million to found the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Two years later, Saban admitted to the New York Times, "I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel."
"The US may be walking into a bit of a trap," warns Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert and doctoral candidate at Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies.
That "trap" has been best described by a former CIA officer. "America's misguided war on terror," Philip Giraldi pointed out in a recent article, "is in fact a complete adoption of Israeli security paradigms without any regard for the actual threats that confront the US, making Israel's many enemies also the foes of Washington."
Israel must be very grateful indeed for this latest terror scare. If al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula did not exist, they might have to invent it.
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published writer based in Japan.