How Bill Clinton Turned Osama Bin Laden into a Rock Star

At one point in the mid-1990's, Osama bin Laden was persona non grata in just about any place in the world. Imperiled by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, however, United States President Bill Clinton's face saving missile attacks on the Sudan and Afghanistan changed bin Laden's fortunes. In very short order, bin Laden was a Middle Eastern rock star. So, you see, Bill Clinton's impeachment wasn't just about sex.


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On November 17, 1997, six men, dressed as police, entered the Luxor Temple precinct in Egypt. Tourists from a variety of nations were there. For several minutes the tourists attempted to hide from their attackers, the victims screams outdone in volume only by automatic weapons fire and repeated shouts of "Allahu akhbar!" When the shooting was over, 58 tourists, along with five Egyptians, were dead. Some of the bodies had been mutilated, including that of a Japanese man, whose entrails were cut and spilled from his body.

"The Islamic Group", an organization with loose ties to Ayman al Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, claimed credit for the massacre. People all across the Middle East were outraged at the unprovoked barbarity of the killers. This proved to be a turning point against terrorism in Egypt.  Due to constant public outcry, attacks by Islamic terror groups in Egypt stopped completely. With a near drought of public support, terror groups, such as Zawahiri's al Jihad and bin Laden's Al Qaeda, seemed to be on their last legs.

On August 7, 1998, al Qaeda committed its first large-scale atrocity on the public stage. An enormous blast outside the United States embassy in Kenya tore the facade of the building.  Flying glass and other debris killed, disfigured, and otherwise mutilated hundreds of embassy staff and passers by.  A next-door secretarial college was flattened. The death toll finally reached 213, with 150 people blinded and nearly 4,500 others injured.  A stroke of good fortune meant that, at nearly the same time, the death toll at the United States embassy in Tanzania was only 11.

bin Laden declared soon thereafter that, with the twin bombings, he wanted to give the Americans a taste of their own medicine.  The problem was that Africans made up far and away the bulk of the casualties in Osama's twin terror attacks.  Bin Laden Terror Inc. had suffered a near-fatal public relations blow.

Teaching America what terror felt like was not bin Laden's only goal, however. His primary aim was to coax the United States into attacking Afghanistan, knowing that, with such an attack, the great likelihood existed that the pendulum of Middle Eastern public opinion would swing strongly back into his favor.  He was right.  And, sadly, he didn't have to wait very long.

Ten days following the embassy bombings, Monica Lewinsky testified before a grand jury about her sexual liasons with United States President Bill Clinton. As pundits began to suspect that Clinton would use an attack on the Middle East as a smoke screen for the Lewinsky affair, Muslims throughout the world demanded "No war for Monica".  Had the United States not expressed its outrage in the form of two flailingly misguided counterattacks, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri would likely have been tiny speed bumps on the course of world history.

Despite intelligence assets not being in place, and despite the indication of already-gathered intelligence that attacks were not the appropriate response, President Clinton directed that Tomahawk cruise missiles would be directed against a supposed chemical weapons plant in Khartoum, the Sudan, as well as an al Qaeda training camp in Khost, Afghanistan.

The CIA had been recently suspecting that bin Laden had commissioned the production of chemical weapons in Sudan. A anonymous, paid Arab spy claimed that there existed at a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum trace amounts of the chemical EMPTA, which could be used to manufacture chemical weapons.  Based on this flimsy evidence, Clinton directed to let fly a host of Tomahawk cruise missiles against the pharmaceutical plant.

That same evening, Osama bin Laden and his entourage were headed to the al Qaeda training camp at Khost.  For some reason, explained now by Muslims as divine prompting, bin Laden decided to go to Kabul, Afghanistan instead.  Meanwhile, dozens of missiles headed for the camp at Khost, as well as another nearby camp, called Jihad Wal. Many of the Tomahawk missiles fell short of their mark, killing some civilians in Pakistani territory. Other missiles failed to detonate; these weapons were sold to the Chinese government for millions of dollars.

Soon, when it became obvious that the Sudan pharmaceutical plant was not a chemical weapons factory, and when bin Laden broadcast on live radio the words "By the grace of God, I'm alive!", any emotional and moral capital the United States had against Islamic terrorism had evaporated.  In short order, even people in Kenya and Tanzania could be found wearing pro-bin Laden t-shirts.

Even terrorism requires public support.  Without such support, terrorism withers and dies on the vine, as illustrated by the near death of various Islamic terrorist organizations following the atrocities of Luxor, Kenya, and Tanzania. To the world's great misfortune, however, American political and intelligence assets failed to see this fundamental truth. After bold miscalculations on the part of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Osama bin Laden, global Islamic terror enjoys a dramatic resurgence that would otherwise have been snuffed out.

Historically, Clinton's apologists want you to believe two things:

1. That the sexual improprieties with Monica Lewinsky were not worthy of impeachment. This is something I agree with.

2. That he was not worthy of impeachment for any other offense. On this count they are wrong. William Jefferson Clinton's selfish acts, which unleashed the charisma of Osama bin Laden, haunt United States and the world to this day.


Comments

  1. So the House Republicans presciently impeached Clinton because he was going to provide the catalyzing actions for terrorism--actions Clinton took *because* of the impeachment trial? Brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Derek: My mind thought one thing, and my fingers typed another. I've hopefully clarified what I meant by the "historical" claim that I have heard some liberals make. I do remember well a couple of months before the actual impeachment vote, how the pundits were claiming (and I think rightfully so) that Clinton launched Tomahawks at Sudan and Khost simply to divert attention away from himself and the scandal. Historically, THESE are some of the actions for which Bill Cinton was really worthy of impeachment.

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