Reading al-Qaeda into Madrid

It’s almost laughable the way our corporate media reads the shadowy presence of al-Qaeda into nearly every terrorist incident around the world.

I said almost.

Fact is, the often absurd claims made by Fox News, CNN, and other alphabet corporate news organizations effectively demonstrate how eagerly a supposedly free press has bought into the preposterous idea of an international Islamic terrorist network symbolized by Osama bin Laden and his intrepid cave dwellers with satellite phones.

For instance, before the smoke had a chance to clear in Madrid, the corporate media was all over blaming al-Qaeda, even though the evidence of this was at best tenuous. Fingers pointed at Abu Dujan al Afghani, a previously unknown person appearing on videotape claiming responsibility in the name of al-Qaeda. And yet it was not generally reported that the name Abu Dujan is attributed to a mythical “Red-Banded Warrior” who fought for the Prophet Mohammed, according to Muslim scholars.

In other words, it appears jellybean journalists laboring for the Bush Ministry of Disinformation had a fast one pulled on them.

CNN was so athirst for “evidence” connecting al-Qaeda to the Madrid bombings they impulsively waved around an unsigned document harvested from Global Islamic Media, a radical Islamic website, on March 16. According to CNN, the document proves al-Qaeda “planned to separate Spain from its allies by carrying out terror attacks,” even though, as closer examination of the partially translated document reveals, there is no mention the terrorist bombings in Spain. In fact, the document mentions attacking Spanish troops in Iraq, not killing innocents in Madrid.

“The document was discovered, not by CNN, but by Thomas Hegghammer and his colleagues at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment north of Oslo, during a routine trawling of radical Islamist websites for interesting documents or statements,” notes Brendan O’Neill in an article appearing on the Spiked and Global Research websites.

After releasing the questionable document to CNN, Hegghammer had second thoughts. “This document is not a blueprint for action,” Hegghammer admitted. “I would say it is more like a contribution to a debate. If there is a connection between the document and Madrid, it is probably not organizational. In my view it is more likely that the document has been circulating on websites and the Madrid attackers may have read it, rather than going from top to bottom like an instruction.”

O’Neill, however, is far less reticent than Hegghammer. “For all the news reports about this ‘al-Qaeda document’ that proposed and designed ‘attacks against Spain’, in fact there is no clear evidence that this is an al-Qaeda document and nowhere does the document suggest launching terror attacks in Spain. The claim that the document is a writ from al-Qaeda is pure guesswork and speculation on the part of the media; and the claim that the document threatened ‘blows’ inside Spain, which then came to fruition in Madrid on 11 March, is the result of severely selective reporting, of taking certain paragraphs out of context and reproducing them in isolation. The document proposes no such terrorist attacks.”

But then “selective reporting” — to say nothing of passing along cynical Bushite lies as gospel truth — is the stock and trade of the corporate media, especially Fox and CNN, the most sycophantic and obsequious of the clan.

Adam Dolnik of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore believes al-Qaeda is big on myth and small on substance.

“In my view, if you subscribe to the ideology and decide to take action on its behalf, you can call yourself al-Qaeda,” Dolnik told O’Neill. “It seems to me that al-Qaeda is currently best understood as a type of leaderless resistance of members as well as new sympathizers who want to become involved. So when we talk about al-Qaeda documents, we need to look at two dimensions: in the first are the writings of high-up al-Qaeda leaders such as Zawahiri, and these are the documents of al-Qaeda the group. In the second dimension you have grey area documents written by unknown authors, inspired by al-Qaeda as an ideology, whether they are actual sworn members of the group or not. So I think we cannot use such documents as clear-cut evidence of involvement of al-Qaeda the group, but they do provide an insight into the dynamically evolving strategic thinking of al-Qaeda the ideology.”

In fact, the so-called al-Qaeda organization has never used that name, although you will never hear the hacks over at Fox admit as much. “Bin Laden never used the term al-Qaeda prior to 9/11,” Dolnik told O’Neill last November. “Nor am I aware of the name being used by operatives on trial. The closest they came were in statements such as, ‘Yes, I am a member of what you call al-Qaeda’. The only name used by al-Qaeda themselves was the World Islamic Front for the Struggle Against Jews and Crusaders,” a name apparently too unwieldy for the likes of the New York Times.

The scheming Bushites, according to Dolnik, made the al-Qaeda mole hill into a gruesome mountain by “the automatic attribution of credit to the group for disparate attacks; by making unintelligent and unqualified statements about the group’s very basic ‘weapons of mass destruction’ programme; by treating al-Qaeda as a superorganism; by creating the impression that al-Qaeda can do just about anything,” when in fact it cannot be demonstrated they did anything at all.

Furthermore, Bush and crew have yet to make the case bin Laden and his gang of medieval cave dwellers pulled off the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even though they claimed to have evidence of such in the days immediately following the event. But then amnesia runs rampant in America where Osama is Saddam and all crucial distinctions blur on cue.

It no longer matters if there is absolutely no evidence linking al-Qaeda to the train station bombings in Spain. Innuendo and preposterous exaggeration suffice. “In a world where one email sent to a news agency translates into a headline stating that al-Qaeda was behind even the blackouts in Italy and the USA, anyone can claim to be al-Qaeda — not only groups but also individuals,” explains Dolnik.

In the meantime, a phantasmal al-Qaeda will continue to be faithfully employed to explain rumblings and uprising in the third world.

Latest example: violence in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Those responsible for the violence “are Wahhabis who belong to one of the branches of the international al-Qaeda terror group,” Ilya Pyagay, Interior Ministry deputy anti-terrorism chief, told the Washington Post. “These are bandits who planned these attacks long in advance.”

It only makes sense, of course, that al-Qaeda would surface in Uzbekistan: Islam Abduganievich Karimov, the brutal dictator of Uzbekistan, is on excellent terms with Bush, who deployed the US military to the Kandabad air base at Karshi soon after 9/11.

At least it can be said the specter of ex-CIA asset Osama bin Laden’s organization is consistent, for wherever Dubya takes the fraudulent war on terror, al-Qaeda is certain to follow.

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.

He can be reached at:


KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: