Choo Choo Track Attacks

I’m bemused by this first report on the intelligence from Osama bin Laden’s compound. Apparently, al Qaeda wants to derail trains.

A new bulletin issued tonight by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News describes the terror organization’s chilling desire to derail a train.

“As of February 2010, al-Qa’ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001,” the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden’s terror group. “As one option, al-Qa’ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge.”

With all due respect to the fuckers that brought down the World Trade Center, really? They want to tip a train off a track?

I’m bemused for several reasons. First, it sort of, kind of, refutes the point Jose Rodriguez is clinging to to justify having stopped the investigation of OBL. That is, OBL is still getting terrorist proposals; he’s not just a figurehead.

That said, really? The US is going to get all hot and bothered over a train derailment? When we manage to derail trains through our own declining rail stock all the time? And al Qaeda, the terrorist organization that scored one of the biggest media coups ever by taking down NYC landmarks wants to topple a train in a valley that doesn’t house major media outlets?

Finally, though, I can’t help but relish in the irony. As I noted earlier, our government seems to have a fondness for analogizing al Qaeda with Native Americans, first to Seminoles and then to Apaches. All this time we’ve been playing Cowboys and Indians. Only we totally misunderstood that we’re now dealing with the equivalent of Jesse James and his nineteenth century attacks on trains, not Indians. Al Qaeda and its current “aspirational” attacks has been degraded to the tactics used by Wild West gangsters.

But apparently, we’re still trying to fearmonger over it.

Apaches, Seminoles, and al Qaeda

As I noted several weeks ago (and as Carol Rosenberg has reported in depth), the government pissed off the Seminole tribe earlier this year by claiming that Seminoles defending themselves in territory held by the Spanish during the early 19th century fought like al Qaeda (and not, for example, American rebels using guerrilla tactics).

Further, not only was the Seminole belligerency unlawful, but, much like modern-day al Qaeda, the very way in which the Seminoles waged war against U.S. targets itself violated the customs and usages of war.

But it turns out that’s not the only analogy our government has made between Native American tribes defending themselves and al Qaeda. According to Chuck Todd, the code name we used for Osama bin Laden was Geronimo. (h/t zunguzungu)

How did special forces relay the news to commanders that OBL was dead? Code name was “Geronimo”; call came in as “Geronimo is KIA”

Of course, presumably he got that name during the Administration of the grandson of the guy alleged to have stolen Geronimo’s skull as a Skull and Bones prank, not under Obama.

Still, for the sake of the legitimacy of our fight against terrorists–and for the sake of some historical humility and shame–don’t you think it’s time we stop analogizing al Qaeda to tribes that were defending their homeland against our imperialism?