Two posts up today -- one a news blurb on the revaluation of the yuan, the other an essay about signs that China's leadership (or at least one faction) is turning back toward the Mao Zedong era. I don't have time today to get up much of an essay about an ostensible al Qaeda 30 day ultimatum, and I am still waiting for an okay to publish notes that a reader took on Yossef Bodansky's report on John Batchelor's show last night about the warning. I will try to put up more information tomorrow. I emphasize that I didn't catch all of Bodansky's report and thus, a caveat applies to the following summary:
The warning was passed along by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade -- I tentatively assume on their website or a related one. An ultimatum was addressed to all governments that have troops stationed in Afghanistan and other 'Muslim lands.' If the governments do not pull out their troops from the countries in question within 30 days, there will be more terrorist strikes after the 30 day deadline has passed. Italy is high on the list for the next target.
Readers unused to intelligence-based news reporting need to keep in mind that Dr Bodansky is a counterterrorism expert, so he is simply passing along the brigade's announcement.
My view of the timing for the ultimatum is that it has more to do with the upcoming election in Germany than anything else. Tehran is sweating bullets because Angela Merkel (the opposition who is very likely at this time to unseat Schröder) and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French presidential hopeful, have gotten friendly. *
So my guess is that Tehran is pulling out all the stops in a last-ditch attempt to save Gerhard Schroeder's bid. Of course Schröder does not want such help, any more than Spain's opposition did. But the 3/11 Madrid train bombings were so successful at giving the win to the opposition in Spain that Tehran would be a fool not try it again.
As to why they put Italy on the top of the list rather than Germany, I'd guess three major reasons. First, Germany is a harder target than Italy. Second, they wouldn't want to screw up Tariq Ramadan's planned visit to speak in Germany. There is already some strong opposition to allowing him entry. Third, and most importantly, they probably have a cell in Italy that they think has the best chance at this time to pull off a strike.
So the warning should be taken seriously. If Europe's governments don't kowtow, Tehran will order al Qaeda to strike wherever they have the best chance of succeeding. Tehran is desperate; the last thing they need is a get-tough attitude from a new German administration during negotiations about Tehran's nuke program.
I went to considerable effort in recent essays to get across that now is the time for those fighting evil to keep their wits about them and not allow themselves to be spooked. I hope Europe's leaders arrive at the same conclusion.
* See London Financial Times story at: