Saturday, February 26, 2005


The Loose Noose

While reading about the umpteenth pipeline bombing in Iraq, I came upon a phrase heard repeatedly in the news yesterday [all emphasis mine]—
The violence came one day after the government announced the arrest of a man it described as a key figure in the country's most feared terrorist group, and a top official said the noose was tightening around the group's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

So now it is al-Zarqawi with his neck in a noose. But he may not be feeling the constriction, if the experience of Osama bin-Laden may be taken as a guide.

Let's go back to October 2001 to see what they were reporting about bin-Laden in the Guardian

The noose tightens
Bush listened intently as Cheney also told him the noose seemed to be tightening on Osama bin Laden.... Although rumours and disinformation about his whereabouts had whirled out of the barren and treacherous terrain of central Asia - some spies said he had slipped out of Afghanistan dressed as a woman and was now in Chechnya; others, that he had fled to Somalia - Cheney had enough intelligence to suggest bin Laden remained in Kabul, the Afghan capital. There were even reports that the world's most wanted man had been identified visiting his doctor for treatment for his chronic kidney problems.
We didn't know what to think. Had Bin-Laden turned into a sick transvestite?

A little later, in November 2001, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.—

Noose tightens on Osama bin Laden
According to the Americans, he's on the run, and with a $50 million reward for information that locates him, he's at high risk from Taliban traitors. Osama bin Laden is reportedly surrounded by British and US special forces, in a 78-square kilometre zone in southern Afghanistan. Britain's Sunday Times says he's thought to be travelling with his family, bodyguards and advisers, moving in a convoy of jeeps from one bunker to another.

Just like Bush back on the ranch.

Jump forward to July 2003. These were heady times. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, second under bin-Laden, had been captured in Pakistan. A South African news service was reporting

"The noose has tightened after the arrest of Sheikh Mohammed who had information on bin Laden's whereabouts and bin Laden might have lost therefore the possibility of getting his message through," said [French analyst] Abidi.

By August 2003, we were treated to an event in which Senator Roberts proved that George Bush is not the only Republican with a feel for stage props and a playful sense of reality—

US: Noose Tightening Around Bin Laden in His Absence

WASHINGTON, D.C.- A loose noose
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R. Kansas) held a much-hyped press conference on Monday. While the exact purpose of the event was not clear, photographers could clearly see Roberts holding an old-fashioned hangman's noose and standing inside a 5' x 5' taped-off area. The Senator said that American forces are closing in, and the noose is tightening around Osama Bin Laden, even if the terror mastermind doesn't happen to be there himself.

Then a year ago, we were really closing in. Zahid Hussein of the Pakistani Newsline writes

The Noose Tightens
There has also been a marked improvement in the information-gathering by coalition forces on the Afghan side of the border. Electronic and air surveillance has restricted Al-Qaeda's options. The Pakistan military has adopted a carrot-and-stick policy in an effort in an effort to destroy Al-Qaeda's support network . In the latest operation in Waziristan, Pakistani security forces arrested several women married to the foreign fighters in the hope that they would provide leads to the possible whereabouts of bin Laden. In addition, they destroyed the houses of those tribesmen suspected of sheltering Al-Qaeda fugitives. Pakistani officials said the move has worked well towards providing some valuable information that could help them close in on one of the world's most wanted men.

Note the adoption of Israeli terror tactics—arresting family members, destroying houses. Torture isn't mentioned, but when you see the phrase "providing some valuable information," can torture be far behind?

By October of last year, leading up to the election, bin Laden was so far from the noose that it appeared he was going to vote. The media were trying to figure out which of the Presidential candidates he would choose. Gene Messick felt that Osama was unequivocally for Bush. John Kerry, he said, would draw the noose tighter on bin-Laden—

... as the new guy on the block, he [Kerry] most likely will organize a tight, effective world wide noose in many nations around bin Laden's Movement. This means bin Laden would not have Kerry cornered in Iraq, as he has Bush pinned down, depleting his forces man by man, day by day, drip by drip, with no chance to win the guerrilla war.

Unfortunately, Kerry let the noose slip from around the neck of George Bush, so we will never know how that might have turned out.

But I have to conclude that by now al-Zarqawi must have figured out that the U.S. is playing with a loose noose, and probably takes his "noose" with "a grain of salt."

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