Having an hour to kill this afternoon, I decided to read the AQTM, to see how it was that I, Amnesty International, the Red Cross, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and the rest of the MSM had been so completely duped. Let's just say that if I wanted to draft a brief for the defense in this matter, showing that the Koran-flushing tales are little more than an Islamist version of the hippies-spat-on-Vietnam Vets urban legend, the AQTM would probably not be the strongest evidence at my disposal. For one thing, much of the material is clearly dated, as this passage (p. 16) reveals:
The member of the Organization must be Moslem. How can an unbeliever, someone from a revealed religion [Christian, Jew], a secular person, a communist, etc. protect Islam and Moslems and defend their goals and secrets when he does not believe in that religion [Islam]? The Israeli Army requires that a fighter be of the Jewish religion. Likewise, the command leadership in the Afghan and Russian armies requires any one with an officer’s position to be a member of the communist party.One would hope that our enemies would crack open a newspaper at some point over the past fifteen years, or at least know that their former allies in the Afghani government were not communists. This error is ironic, since later in the AQTM the reader is instructed (pp. 21-2) to avail himself of the benefits of the Free Press:
In order to gather enemy information, the Military Organization can use means such as magazines, publications, periodicals, and official printed matter. Through these means, it is possible to learn about major government events and about the news, meetings, and travel of Presidents, ministers, and commanders.Thus, it isn't just the violent rhetoric, the apocolyptic attitude, and the bellicose manner that the bloggers of the Right and the jihadists have in common; they also share a parasitic connection to the news media, which they use voraciously (and selectively), all while trying to destroy that very institution. And, assuming the authenticity of the AQTM, both groups apparently have a hard time believing that the Cold War is finally over.
Another interesting fact is that the names "Al Qaeda" and "Osama" never appear anywhere in the manual. In fact, the AQTM seems more consistent with an "old school" terrorist network that concerned itself with the random assasination, kidnapping and spying than on the ambitious program of OBL. There's nothing in the manual that would provide tips on how to get into a flight school, or how to strap enough explosive material onto one's body to blow up the Rose Bowl, or even survival tips for living in caves. Most of is is just common sense advice, such as don't discuss what you're doing with your wife, or don't try to be conspicuous in a crowd.
And a lot of it is quite chilling, too, if one assumes the authenticity of the AQTM, in the same manner that The Anarchists Cookbook isn't an easy read. But unfortunately for the Soft-on-Torture crowd, nowhere in the Manual does it instruct anyone to lie about torture, or to fabricate instances of Koran-abuse. There is a passage (p.16) that instructs prisoners to "...insist on proving that torture was inflicted upon them by State Security [investigators] before the judge," but considering that this was probably written well before 9/11, and was aimed at movements within Arab countries (p.9), such as Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, where the torture of prisoners would have been the rule, not the exception, this is merely evidence that they should document the pain inflicted upon them for reasons of propoganda, and can hardly be construed as evidence that our accusers are plying misinformation about their treatment.
As it turns out, the Bush Administration is now acknowledging that they did have reports that the Koran had been deliberately mistreated by interrogators. Better luck next time, fellas.