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What Were Their Intended Targets?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Before we begin, I want to warn you that the following may be a bit controversial to some. This is presented solely for the sake of raising alternative points of view for discussion. Proceed at your own risk...
In recent weeks, there's been some talk around the blogosphere about who or what were on the terrorist's target lists. One such blogger, Tim Birdnow, asserts that the terrorists aim to exterminate all Westerners because they stand in the way of their restoring the Caliphate (see Wikipedia's entry for background on the Caliphate). This and other articles about American foreign policy (see here) got me thinking about what exactly it was that started this recent round of battles between the West and the East. Specifically, the events that transpired on September 11, 2001.
Without delving too deeply into what others have theorized, I thought I'd put forth my own observations with some supporting evidence, too. There's an old article over at the Telegraph that talks about a video that circulated amongst al-Qaeda's members after 9/11. It's a video that was released by bin Laden that's purportedly meant to rally support for their cause amongst his followers. That's not why I'm interested in it, though. What I'm interested in is how he perceived his targets when he discussed them with his fellow comrades. Remember, this video was not intended for "public consumption" like so many other of bin Laden's videos. This video was meant to stay in-house as a sort of training and recruiting aid.
My theory? Here it is: al-Qaeda's intended targets on September 11, 2001, were not the citizens of America, but the symbols of America. Bin Laden meant to destroy our symbols of financial might and military dominance by attacking and destroying what he believed to be their greatest examples--the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House. We all know that flight 93 was meant for the White House, but was unsuccessful in reaching it's destination. Unfortunately, the other two planes were successful in reaching their targets.
If we look to the video for bin Laden's perception of his targets, we find that he clearly states:
"The Twin Towers were legitimate targets, they were supporting US economic power. These events were great by all measurement. What was destroyed were not only the towers, but the towers of morale in that country."
Note that his focus is on objects--not people. He then addresses concerns apparently raised by those around him that Islam forbids the killing of innocent civilians which would mean that he'd be guilty of murdering people when he ordered the destruction of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House. Again from the Telegraph's article:
The hijackers were "blessed by Allah to destroy America's economic and military landmarks". He freely admits to being behind the attacks: "If avenging the killing of our people is terrorism then history should be a witness that we are terrorists. Yes, we kill their innocents and this is legal religiously and logically."
"The towers were supposed to be filled with supporters of the economical powers of the United States who are abusing the world. Those who talk about civilians should change their stand and reconsider their position. We are treating them like they treated us."
His comments, in my opinion, show that he never intended for American citizens to be directly targeted on September 11th. They're subsequent deaths were what our military likes to call collateral damage. To reiterate, I believe that al-Qaeda's intended targets for the September 11 attacks were symbols of America's dominance.
In Osama bin Laden's mind, September 11 was not a first strike, but a retaliation to previous aggressions made by the West. This can be seen by his use of the word 'avenging' which implies their action to be a reaction to our action. To further this claim, note the last sentence from his statement above, "We are treating them like they treated us." Again, their reaction to our action.
Am I justifying their attacks on us? Absolutely not. I merely wish to look at the facts in their proper context. Its when facts get distorted that innocent people usually end up dead... and the original problems remain unresolved. So, what is the original problem? I'm not sure, but I'd venture to guess that America's intervention in Middle Eastern affairs plays a major part in it. I think we need to look there for the answer.


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