Reid vs. reality of al-Qaida in Iraq

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it’s time for the U.S. to “dedicate our resources and attention to al-Qaida and the real threat it poses.”

We believe the Nevada Democrat has it exactly right — the U.S. should focus its attention on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida movement because it attacked America on 9/11 and for years before and since that terrible day has been telling the world that it plans to destroy America. We are, for al-Qaida, “the Great Satan” — once they have defeated America, their plan is to establish a radical Islamist dictatorship known as a caliphate across as much of the world as possible.

Since defeating an enemy first requires understanding him, we must know what al-Qaida tells us about its priorities, what is its order of battle. Once we know where and how al-Qaida sees the battlefield, we can better do as Reid encourages. So, let us see what al-Qaida’s top leader says is the crucial battlefield in their war against us:

“I now address my speech to the whole of the Islamic nation: Listen and understand. The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world’s millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate.” — Osama Bin Laden, Dec. 28, 2004

If there is any doubt on this point, here’s how bin Laden’s second-in-command describes al-Qaida’s plans:

“Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals: The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or emirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate — over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq. The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq. The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.” — Ayman al-Zawahiri, July 9, 2005.

And so here we are following Reid’s strategy and it takes us to Iraq. Yet it is Reid who has been declaring the American effort there a failure and demanding withdrawal.

But what does al-Qaida say will happen after the U.S. leaves Iraq?

In the same letter quoted above, al-Zawahiri says it is vital that his forces “not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq. Instead, their ongoing mission is to establish an Islamic state, and defend it, and for every generation to hand over the banner to the one after it.”

Who should Americans believe, Reid on al-Qaida in Iraq, or al-Qaida in Iraq?

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