06 May 2005

Mr. Faraj, the Libyan

That's approximately what the name Abu Faraj al-Libi means. You may wonder, "Who in Hell is that?" If you aren't continually glued to your TV or internet connection, it's a good question. The coverage of his capture by Pakistani authorities on May 2 was so scant and so short-lived that one could easily not know or even notice that al-Qaeda's Number Three, the current Head of International Operations, was taken into custody. I certainly hadn't noticed. An acquaintance had to tell me, and I had to check it out on Google, because the scant media blip it caused was already over.

If the media had made a bigger deal of it, I might feel more assured that we in what Thomas Barnett calls "The Functioning Core" of globalization have what it takes to suppress al-Qaeda and the other components of the Global Salafist Jihad. But it wasn't a big deal at all. Do we have too short an attention span? Or is it that we have fallen into such a winner-take-all mentality that only the capture of Number One - Bin Laden himself - will capture our imagination?

The combination of our short attention span and our "only number one counts" mentality is what shakes my confidence. The current conflict is what Bin Laden and company call "The Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders," or simply "The Jihad," as if there were no other. The Jihad had been gathering strength for 15 years, striking massive death here and there, but not really getting our attention until the 9/11 attacks. If we get Bin Laden, will we then then turn our attention to other things, and give the Jihad another 15 years to regrow?

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