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The Cave Man Letter

How realistic, do you think, is the strategic planning of Osama bin Laden’s terrorists?

October 24, 2001

How realistic, do you think, is the strategic planning of Osama bin Laden's terrorists?

Citadel-of-the-Martyrs Cave,
October 19, 2001

Muhammad Atef
Commanding Officer, al-Qaida
Karachi, Pakistan

Dear Muhammad:

All is going according to our greatest hopes. And yet, in the cave next door Osama mopes like a suicide pilot who has missed his flight. He hardly comes by for ideological advice these days. He is depressed that there is hardly a peep out of Saudi Arabia.

I think he is beginning to see the Saud family are his equal in political genius. He fears they will find a way to keep the Saudi Kingdom under their thumbs. The chances of our exotic desert friend leading a holy assembly in Riyadh are not so good as ours back home in Cairo.

This frustrates Osama, especially because he knows that many members of the royal family hate the Americans almost as much as you and I do.

But as long as the royals worry about Saddam waiting across the border in Baghdad, the Saud need the Americans to protect them as much as the Americans need Saudi oil to drive their giant cars.

So Osama sits on his carpets and dreams of the Americans finding a connection to Saddam. He has visions of the bugs in the U.S. mail and the hysteria in the U.S. media whipping their people into an anti-Iraqi frenzy.

For Osama, this is the only way to strike a spark bright enough to set all the oilfields of the Saud on fire. He desperately needs the Americans to attack Iraq — and get rid of Saddam for once and for all.

Only then will Saudi Arabia be free from American servitude. And only then will al-Qaida’s arguments carry as much weight in Riyadh as the royal family’s frightened bureaucrats. Those cowards are so afraid of Saddam’s guns that they are willing to remake the land of Mecca and Medina in the image of Las Vegas just to pander to their U.S. protectors.

Tell me, Muhammad, do you suppose the Americans left Saddam in Baghdad on purpose? Could any people as stupid as they have understood how to chain the Saud to their wash basins? I tell you, it is their stupid luck. But I believe the Americans are more stupid than lucky, Allah be praised.

Allah has taken great care to give the Americans a child’s understanding of the world. They believe Israel is the only thing standing between them and eternal friendship with Islam.

For an adult’s point of view, go to Moscow and Beijing. The Russians and Chinese watched 20 years in horror as the Americans dallied with this Muslim country and that Muslim country.

They were fully aware that Islam is destined to end their infidel empires over our Asian brothers in faith. And they were always fearful that the crazy Americans would stumble over to the wrong side of the coming battle. Nobody understood as quickly as the Russians and the Chinese that September 11 was the day the prodigal son — the sheep who wandered from the rest of the crusader flock — returned to delay their day of reckoning with your namesake.

But now I am sounding arrogant and, truth be told, I have not always been so optimistic since September. At first, I feared the Americans with a stroke of their stupid luck would unravel the entire plan and simply impose UN Security Council Resolution 242 on the Zionists.

Americans have always said they support pushing the tribe of David out of the occupied territories. And think how cheap peace — at least as far as the Americans are concerned — would have been!

It would have come down to asking a few Tel Aviv developers to stop taking West Bank and Gaza land they did not buy. But the Americans do not seem to understand bargains, and never will peace be so cheap again, Allah be praised.

These days, I confess I am less worried — and perhaps a little more impressed — by our friend Osama. He never fretted when the Americans were talking and doing nothing. He did not even fret when those cowards who call themselves holy men at our own Al Azhar University in Cairo made excuses for a crusade against the Afghans.

Osama always knew that the Americans would end up sending bombs to Afghanistan — and that those bombs would instantly and permanently erase any sympathy for the crusaders after even our latest little exploit in New York.

But just in case there were not enough bombs, or the bombs ended too quickly, he knew he could rely on Kashmir and the Hindus to light a match under the sleeping masses in Cairo and Aden and Riyadh — and most of all in Karachi.

For your work in Karachi, o Muhammad Atef, there are not words enough of praise. Every day, the protests grow. Every day, the Hindus become more terrified that your young Pakistani friends will seize President Musharraf’s biggest bombs — and find a good place to send them.

And fear will drive the Hindus over the line that divides Pakistan and India into our hands. It is a glorious fate that awaits your new hosts, and they will not die in vain.

The combination of American bombs and Hindu armies on Muslim soil will be all I need to make the streets of Cairo rise — and send Hosny Mubarak, that so-called President of our own beloved Egypt, and his entire government straight to hell.

And if the Americans suffer death and humiliation, so what? They have insulted us. Vietnam, Serbia, even Haiti are evidently good enough for this “democracy” they are so passionate to defend.

But in the Middle East, they prefer to deal with kings and generals fattened by corruption. Osama says the Americans brought Mohammed Atta’s madness on themselves because they are infidels. I say they are bringing catastrophe on themselves because they think we are not good enough for their democracy.

Yours in faith,
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Chief of Ideology, al-Qaida