Morning Report 8/5/05
Guns of August

Religious nuts of all persuasions fan flames as crucial occupation-pullout deadlines in Israel and Iraq near

FBI; Knesset

Missing, but in action: Terrorists Ayman al-Zawahiri (with beard) and Meir Kahane (with beard) aren't physically in Iraq and Israel, but their fanatical adherents are plenty busy in both places

Jewish and Muslim fanatics continued yesterday to fan the flames of terrorism that threaten to make both Israel and Iraq—not to mention the U.K. and U.S.—even more dangerous in just a few days than they already are.

Fanaticism cuts across religious lines and often has strategic, political purposes—and terrorism is an occupational hazard.

But that doesn't faze George W. Bush, who keeps talking about "intelligent design"—as if he would know.

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If there is a designer, then he, she, or it has a macabre sense of humor: Key deadlines regarding unjustified occupation in both Israel and Iraq are converging on practically the same day.

Iraq's pols face an August 15 deadline for coming up with some sort of constitution; that, in turn, may determine how long the U.S. occupation of Iraq will last and how much bloodier it will be.

On August 17, Ariel Sharon's Gaza pullout is scheduled to formally begin. But Israel is crazed right now by protests and threats from fanatically religious Jews—and their fanatically religious Christian allies—against the disengagement.

Suicide terrorist Eden Natan-Zada, a newly minted disciple of dead extremist Meir Kahane, opened fire yesterday on a bus full of Arabs in northern Israel. His yarmulke firmly in place, he killed at least four people and wounded 10 more before the rest of the passengers beat him to death.

Even Sharon labeled Natan-Zada a "bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist." But a whole host of orthodox Jews and orthodox Christians consider him a martyr because God has commanded them to not pull out of Gaza.

In other words, the young Jew fit the terrorist profile invoked so often these days regarding young Muslims.

Some older religious fanatics fit it as well. Also yesterday, terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video promising "rivers of blood" in Great Britain and the U.S. because of the occupation of Iraq.

"God willing," Zawahiri added.

Hey, don't forget the Christians. Not to be outdone, born-again Bush, speaking from his Prairie Chapel Ranch, turned the other cheek to Zawahiri the way Bart Simpson did to Australia more than a decade ago. As the Washington Post reports:

    Zawahiri, wearing a white tunic and black turban and posed next to a rifle, did not directly assert al Qaeda's responsibility for the attacks. But he said that since Britons "shed rivers of blood in our land, we exploded volcanoes of anger in your land."

    His statement accused U.S. leaders of concealing from Americans that "there is no exit from Iraq except in immediate withdrawal." He called the casualties of Sept. 11, 2001, "merely the losses from the initial clashes."

    President Bush, speaking in Crawford, Tex., said that the comments "make it clear Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war. He's saying, you know, leave. . . . People like Zawahiri have a ideology that is dark, dim, backwards. He's threatening. They have come up against a nation that will defend itself."

This all comes amid another eerie convergence. Four years ago tomorrow, Bush was warned that the U.S. might get attacked by planes. (For details, see 9-11 Timeline compiler Paul Thompson's essay "The Failure to Defend the Skies on 9/11.")

Rick Perlstein recalled that August 2001 day in a May 3, 2004, Voice story:

    For George W. Bush, August 6, 2001, had to have been a pretty harrowing day, reading as he did in his Daily Brief that operatives of Osama bin Laden were "in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives," and surveilling federal buildings in New York, and mulling over plans to attack Washington, D.C. But a reporter who saw him cavorting on his Crawford ranch not long after said, "The president was probably at the most relaxed I've ever seen him."

    April 9, 2004, couldn't have been too nice for the president either. That was when he was deciding whether to publicize the contents of that Daily Brief, after Condoleezza Rice's grilling at the hands of the commission investigating 9/11. He knew the document would unravel his cover story of several years' standing as to why he couldn't have known Bin Laden was determined to strike in the U.S.; its title was "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." But Bush blithely spent the day pulling bass out of the lake on his ranch with a TV host, who observed, "The president was very relaxed."

What does Bush know about "intelligent design"? He didn't even recognize it when it was right in front of his nose.

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