Is al-Qaeda backing McCain?
On the al-Qaeda leaning website al-Hesbah, Muhammad Haafid said that the “impetuous” McCain would exhaust US military and economic strength. Haafid emphasized that McCain was the better choice because he would continue the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Haafid said that a major terrorist action by al-Qaeda would create support for McCain.
Al-Qaeda expert Lawrence Wright put it this way, “They want to continue to promote the idea of a clash of civilizations. Jihadis are anxious about Obama because he is a bridging figure.”
Does that mean al-Qaeda plans a pre-election surprise?
Bin Laden tried that in the 2004 election when he released a video three days before the election. No one knows what his release of a video laced with threats intended, but the Bush campaign used it to portray al-Qaeda as fearful of Bush.
Former Bush official Frances Townsend thinks John Kerry was Bin Laden’s choice. He says Bin Laden did not want Bush to win.
Nevertheless, John Kerry blames his narrow defeat to the Bin Laden tape. He led in the polls, then the tape came out, and he lost the election.
It is unlikely that Bin Laden likes McCain or Obama more than he likes the other. What is clear is that Bin Laden hates Americans in general. Although Bin Laden is credited as a terrorist mastemind, he is not the Karl Rove of terrorism, weighing every action for its subtle political effects. Bin Laden does not know elections or the voter’s mind. Bin Laden does know maximum public exposure, and he likes publicity.
In Spain, an al-Qaeda bomb swept the opposition to power a few years ago. In the US, it reelected Bush. To Bin Laden it does not matter. Whatever happens, he will get credit for its effect. That is all he wants.
In the end, a Bin Laden pre-election surprise might take some attention off the economy and help McCain. However, if Obama emphasizes that seven years after the 9/11 attacks Bin Laden is free and the Twin Towers have yet to be rebuilt, voters may remember that change looks better than the status quo.