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The Latest Al-Qaeda Plot: 400 Years in the Making - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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When the individual, probably a woman, visited the FEDEX airfreight office in Sanaa, she wrote two names and one address on two airfreight parcels. The store salesman did not realize the nature of the two names. I do not think that anyone in Sanaa or even Chicago knows the two names. They do exist and they do not have a real address in Chicago. However, they have a place in history that goes back to 400 years. They were the names of two commanders of European crusades against the holy lands in Jerusalem. They fought the Muslims, lost, and were killed.

The two names were not a history lesson by Al-Qaeda. They were two bombs loaded with highly-explosive PETN that cannot be detected by any explosives detection device. The two names are part of the lesson that Al-Qaeda teaches its members in the mountains of Yemen and outside Yemen. Al-Qaeda is telling them that the crusader war is still raging just as the war against the Muslim Shias has been raging for 14 centuries. Al-Qaeda is teaching its followers that the war to overthrow the Sunni political regimes has not stopped. Al-Qaeda is teaching its followers that its war on the Muslim community and against women, modernization, and sciences is also one of its values and “reforming” society is one of its goals. If the store employee in Sanaa did not recognize the two historical names – the Spaniard Diego and the French Pierre – he should have noticed that the address to which the two parcels are being sent is a Jewish synagogue in Chicago and his suspicions should have been immediately aroused. It makes no sense that anyone in Sanaa would want to send a parcel to a Jewish synagogue. If there is such a person, he should have raised suspicions in view of the extraordinary security conditions in Yemen. However, even such a mistake may be missed by a postal employee who does not verify addresses so long their destination are legitimate, such as the United States and the city of Chicago. Perhaps he thought there were Yemeni Jews in Chicago. And if he did not notice the historical names or the address of the synagogue, the nature of the parcel should have aroused his suspicions. Who would send a computer printer from Yemen to the United States? Logic says the opposite is true. The second question is why would one send two printers via expensive airfreight when the cost is actually higher than the price of the printer itself?

Do not blame the FEDEX employee; he was not the only one that failed to discover the Bomb parcels that passed under his nose. The two largest security organs in the world – the American and the French – also failed to discover the nature of the plot about which they had been alerted about 20 days ago in an intelligence dispatch. Paris hastened to announce the security advisory but Washington kept silent until only hours prior to the timing of the explosion. The security organs failed to discover where and how Al-Qaeda would strike until they obtained the cargo manifests. Immediately, the issue became a race against minutes to find the two booby-trapped parcels. Had it not been for the two alerts the two planes would have exploded over the skies of Chicago. The third fresh fact is that the Jewish synagogue was not the target as everyone had thought at first based on the address put on the two parcels. Al-Qaeda had designed the two parcels to explode in the air when the two planes were over Chicago and not after that. We should keep in mind that Al-Qaeda exploits the information that is available to the public on the Internet. One such program enables a person to monitor the movement and status of flights and through the sites of airfreight companies, a person can track exactly the course of his postal messages and where they have reached.

This is how Al-Qaeda was tracking the course of its two bombs. Using telephone chips, it intended to detonate the two explosive bombs over the city and thus commit another horrible deed using two planes in flight on the same day. The plan was to make Chicago the second city to be so attacked after New York was attacked by planes on 11 September. Al-Qaeda did not want to teach people history but it wanted to terrorize the world, incite hostility to Muslims, and ignite a war among the adherents of different faiths and religions.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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