micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Holmquist's full archives are listed here.
Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)
Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
"Recent suicide bombing attacks and plots against Westerners show that al Qaeda loyalists are heeding their weakened leadership's call to initiate a new terror campaign using rudimentary, smaller-scale operations aimed at creating economic hardship, according to U.S., Western and Arab intelligence officials and experts," write Peter Finn and Dana Priest in today's Washington Post.
Few of these "officials and experts" are named or directly quoted and I wonder if this is a case of looking at what is being done and not having the facts lead to an explanation, so the explanation posited is merely one that the facts don't disprove. That is a logical step to take but if you are doing that, you really should look at all of the possible explanations that the facts don't disprove and acknowledge that you don't know the answer.
Later in the story, Finn and Priest describe al Quaeda's attacks till the aftermath of 9-11:
Up to and including Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda's signature actions were elaborately planned and centrally controlled -- the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 and the suicide airliner hijackings that struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- and all of them took months or years to plan.This is a plausible and likely scenario but the similarities between these two phases of attacks might be more important than the differences. The attacks mentioned above were not designed to cause a maximum number of causalities -prior to September 11, 2001 it would have been far easier to walk into many a professional or college sports stadium during a game and detonate a bomb than hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings, and it most likely would have resulted in a higher number of deaths- but rather to strike targets with symbolic value.
Saturday’s bombing in Bali might not seem to have much symbolic value but it is possible that the target was perceived decadence in the nightclub and/or to announce and make clear to everyone that al Qaeda is active in Indonesia. Whatever the case, the attack was not the most effective way to kill large numbers of people and it is unclear how this puts a tremendous damper on the Indonesian economy as the “officials and experts” want to suggest. All of the other relatively minor attacks seem to follow this pattern and in relatively open societies it is still very possible, with the right explosives, to cause many thousands of deaths by targeting a crowded gathering.
Finally, it is important to note that al Qaeda hasn’t always moved at the fastest of clips. It is perfectly possible that another one of their “signature actions” is in the works and these smaller attacks just represent an escalation of their actions.