President George W. Bush has flogged the same theme in lashing Democrats who favor a military withdrawal from Iraq.
"If we were to follow the Democrats' prescriptions and withdraw from Iraq, we would be fulfilling Osama bin Laden's highest aspirations," Bush said at an Oct. 19 campaign speech in La Plume, Pennsylvania. "We should at least be able to agree that the path to victory is not to do precisely what the terrorists want."
But these appeals from the RNC and Bush ignore U.S. intelligence information indicating that what al-Qaeda really wants is for the United States to remain bogged down in Iraq so the terrorist band can use the American occupation to recruit and train a new generation of jihadists, who can then be deployed against targets outside Iraq.
Recently disclosed internal al-Qaeda communiqués make clear that bin Laden's terrorist band is counting on a long-term U.S. occupation of Iraq to build its movement.
In a letter, dated Dec. 11, 2005, a senior al-Qaeda operative known as "Atiyah" lectured the then-leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on the necessity of taking a long view and building ties with elements of the Sunni-led Iraqi insurgency who have little in common with al-Qaeda except hatred of the Americans.
The "Atiyah letter" – like a previously intercepted message attributed to al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri – suggests that a U.S. military pullout in 2005 or earlier would have been disastrous for al-Qaeda's militants in Iraq, which are estimated at only about 5 to 10 percent of the anti-U.S. fighters.
Without the U.S. military presence to serve as a rallying cry and a unifying force, the al-Qaeda contingent faced disintegration from desertions and attacks from Iraqi insurgents who resented the wanton bloodshed committed by Zarqawi's non-Iraqi terrorists.
The "Zawahiri letter," which was dated July 9, 2005, said a rapid American military withdrawal could have caused the foreign jihadists, who had flocked to Iraq to battle the Americans, to simply give up the fight and go home.
"The mujahaddin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal," said the "Zawahiri letter," according to a text released by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.
The "Atiyah letter," which was discovered by U.S. authorities at the time of Zarqawi's death on June 7, 2006, and was translated by the U.S. military's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, also stressed the vulnerability of al-Qaeda's position in Iraq and the need to buy time.
Into al-Qaeda's Hands
So, by extending the U.S. occupation of Iraq – rather than looking for an early exit – Bush has played into al-Qaeda's hands. Indeed, looking back over Bush's almost six years in office, his actions – or some might say his blunders – have repeatedly benefited bin Laden's strategies.