The terrorists appear to have had a P.R. meeting -- or separate meetings. Both Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi have released tapes, one audio and one video. It may be, as the White House suggests, that the apparent progress toward forming a government of national unity in Iraq is the trigger for these howls, or it may be that Zarqawi is bidding to replace his "prince and commander" in the hearts of blood-thirsty Muslim fanatics. In any case, both tapes are descents into a fantasy world where up is down and black is white.
Bin Laden begins by cursing "Crusader journalists," which seems to refer to the Danish newspapers that published cartoons featuring caricatures of Mohammed. The "umma" (worldwide Muslim community), bin Laden declares, has "reached consensus that he who offends or degrades the messenger (Mohammed) would be killed." Not exactly. The zealots and extremists have so proclaimed, while the majority retreats into an intimidated silence.
Not that the world was panting to know where bin Laden stood on the matter. Is anyone shocked to discover that he blesses those who attempt to slit the throats of cartoonists? But the tape does not stop there. It's a tour d'horizon of hot spots around the globe, all viewed through the twisted lens of a mass murderer who thinks himself destined for the Muslim equivalent of sainthood.
He calls upon Muslims to resist the "Crusaders" in Iraq and Afghanistan, denounces what he calls the "Crusader-Hindu war" against Muslims in Kashmir, condemns France's decision to forbid head scarves in public school classrooms (ironically, though the Franks were major players in the actual Crusades, they are not designated as Crusaders), and views the world's pressure on the Hamas government of the Palestinian territories as a "Crusader-Zionist war on Muslims." Zarqawi too accuses Iraqis who are at long last forming a government of being tools of the "Western Crusaders."
"Crusader" is the terrorists' all-purpose epithet for the United States. (And our leaders lend this drivel some degree of credibility. Bill Clinton expressed the view that the West really started this clash of civilizations with the Crusades.) As for bin Laden, he sees Crusaders all around him.
Okay, let's see now, where on the globe will you find people possessed of a religious zeal and political power-lust who are willing, even eager to kill in the name of God? In Washington, D.C.? In Los Angeles? In Boston? How about Tehran, Baghdad, Riyadh and Amman?