Dean Barnett

Last week, the American government released a statement from al Qaeda's one-time operational czar Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Even allowing for an amount of potential blarney and outright fabrication, Mohammed's confession provided some unique and chilling reminders about the terrorist mind.

First and foremost, for al Qaeda and like-minded types around the world, Sept. 11 wasn't the culmination of a reign of terror but merely its intended beginning. Mohammed's plans were audacious and ambitious. According to the testimony he gave at Guantanomo, there was nary a prominent skyscraper in the United States that he didn't at some point plan to knock down. Past American presidents also received his unwanted attention. Mohammed boasted of plans to assassinate several former presidents including Presidents Carter and Clinton.

Most chilling were his words regarding Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal. Mohammed crowed, "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the America Jew Daniel Pearl." While some, including Pearl's father, have questioned the legitimacy of this boast, there is little doubt that Mohammed was deeply involved in Pearl's abduction and murder. Even if a fellow jihadist's "blessed right hand" actually did Pearl in, it should be beyond dispute that a man such as Mohammed who would brag about such a deed and had an unquestioned role in several mass murders is quite literally the face of evil.

The removal of Mohammed from the ranks of al Qaeda and his subsequent use as an American asset should be an occasion for joy for all stakeholders in the war on terror. This list of stakeholders is extensive, and includes everyone in a Western country who values their freedom. And yet, oddly, Mohammed's comments last week served as sort of a Rorschach test, revealing where several areas of our society mentally and emotionally place themselves.

The Daily Kos and its most rabid denizens, for instance, tend to view everything through their prism of Bush hatred. For them, Mohammed's confession amounted to nothing more than a disingenuous public relations stunt. In an attempt at satire, Kos diarist "Sargent Pepper" wrote, "Did you also know that he's taken responsibility for outing CIA covert agent Valerie Plame? He's also taken responsibility for firing the U.S. attorneys, faulty prewar intel on Iraq, turning Foley and Haggert into gay men, enticing Duke Cunningham into stealing millions [and] shooting Dick Cheney's lawyer buddy." He concluded his essay by asking, "What other atrocities can we suggest that he committed?"

Dean Barnett

Dean Barnett blogs almost daily at He has also been a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard's online edition, The Daily Standard. He can be reached for comment at

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