Lucid Lang: Al Qaeda

English is often hi-jacked. The language is manipulated, overlooked — and frankly — ignored. That’s why there’s a need for Lucid Lang, a skeptical look at how propaganda, politicians and profiteers exploit the language to fit meet their needs. This is the start of the Tank’s periodic attempts to keep lang somewhat lucid.

In a Sesame Street-like tone: Today’s words are “Al Qaeda” or “Al Qaida”

The words means “training base” in Arabic. The words are used to describe the U.S. enemy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and now Yemen. The words are used loosely as an umbrella for these different organizations that are not centrally directed.

If these organizations are all called “Al Qaeda” they could be construed into a guilt-by-association conclusion. The enemy in Yemen is different than the enemy in Afghanistan. And their actions should be dealt with individually because, if all are pooled together, the perceived threat could be exacerbated.

Sure, there are genuine ties to be made, but they must be addressed judiciously.

Take Yemen for example. The attempted Christmas Day airline bomber originated in Yemen, the same site of the U.S. Cole bombing in 2000. The Cole bombing killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others, and the 9/11 Commission Report said the bombing was “supervised directly by Bin Laden.”

But Ali H. Soufan, a former special FBI agent who oversaw the attempt to prosecute those responsible for the Cole bombing, doesn’t believe the threat of an estimated 200 outlaws is worth the time of U.S. soldiers. The issue should be addressed by Yemen, Soufan wrote in Sunday’s New York Times.

The larger issue isn’t the network of “Al Qaeda,” but the proper prosecution of individual suspects once they are arrested in varying countries. Some of the leadership of the outlaw cell in Yemen was released from Guantanamo Bay after detention, while others weren’t properly prosecuted in Yemen for the Cole bombing.

Before associating all the “terrorist” cells into one, consider that they are more individual factions, not a global network. They should be watched closely and assessed on their independent tenets. 

The Tank is far from an intelligence expert, but we believe it’s a delicate balance between two things: 1. Al Qaeda using a centralized goal of global jihad and a decentralized attack and 2. simply using jihad under the label of “al Qaeda.”

Please read “Al Qaeda” closely.

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