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Al Qaeda's Nightmare Scenario Emerges

Does Osama bin Laden plan to become the ultimate suicide bomber?

11:00 PM, Feb 18, 2003 • By MANSOOR IJAZ
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Add to this troubling possibility the fact that the terror group has resorted to the use of seafaring vessels to move its people around, and now has a fleet large and diverse enough that one or two could seamlessly move into a large harbor or congested waterway undetected, and a picture emerges of an unparalleled potential threat to the global economy from the paralysis that could be caused by a crude plutonium bomb exploding in the belly of an al Qaeda ship with bin Laden onboard.

The Targets

THE EASIEST TARGETS today for such an al Qaeda plot are Singapore harbor--the world's second largest seaport and the gateway to and from all trade done in the Far East--and the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which if irradiated could disrupt the normal flow of reasonably priced oil for half a century, no matter how much oil Alaska, Russia and Venezuela produce. There have been reports that easily accessed Australian ports, possibly even Sydney harbor, might be the target of an al-Qaeda dirty bomb plot. There are other potential targets with more symbolic value: the Panama Canal, to demonstrate al Qaeda can hit us again in our hemisphere; the Suez Canal, to hurt what bin Laden perceives as the traitorous Arab governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia simultaneously; and the Straits of Gibraltar, where al Qaeda cells in Morocco tried to launch an attack last year.

But the target closest to bin Laden's heart likely remains a seaport that would allow him to go to his Allah in the belly of the Eagle--perhaps on the western seaboard of the United States. One thing is sure: Bin Laden's ego and ethos will compel him to go out in a blaze of glory that will secure the recruitment of his legions for decades to come and enshrine him as one of history's most evil beings.

America has a moral responsibility to the rest of the world to get on with the onerous task of dismantling and destroying those who enable al Qaeda's evil designs. To delay or fail in this task is to watch the destruction of humanity, bit by bit, by men who never understood God or His teachings, and with whom we can never achieve peaceful co-existence.

Mansoor Ijaz, chairman of Crescent Investment Management in New York, negotiated Sudan's counterterrorism offer of data on al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and other terrorist groups to the Clinton administration in 1997. He also worked closely with Mujahedeen and Islamist leaders in Pakistan to enact the July 2000 cease-fire in Kashmir between Muslim separatists and India's security forces.