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Tags 9/11 , al qaeda , US-Saudi Arabia relations

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Old 10th July 2019, 08:06 AM   #1
Allen773
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Did the US-Saudi "special relationship" make it easier for AQ to pull off 9/11?

You could also add the US (and Saudi) relationship with Pakistan in the 90s - specifically in regard to the Taliban and their tolerance for/support of Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden's presence in the country.
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Old 10th July 2019, 08:22 AM   #2
theprestige
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Betteridge's Law of Headlines.

Do you have some evidence-based argument one way or the other? Or is this more of a JAQ situation?
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Old 10th July 2019, 08:46 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Betteridge's Law of Headlines.

Do you have some evidence-based argument one way or the other? Or is this more of a JAQ situation?
Iím taking the temperature of the room.
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Old 10th July 2019, 10:10 AM   #4
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How? The US presence in Saudi Arabia is what caused Al Qaeda to declare war against America.
I second the request for some kind of detail.
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Old 10th July 2019, 12:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Allen773 View Post
You could also add the US (and Saudi) relationship with Pakistan in the 90s - specifically in regard to the Taliban and their tolerance for/support of Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden's presence in the country.
The US-Saudi relationship played a part in that it was rare that a Saudi National was refused entrance into the county, and if that person over-staid their visa there usually was no penalty. But when you consider how many Saudis there are, and how many of them were Al Qaeda 9-11 hijackers it's ridiculous to say we could have drawn a correlation in advance.

In the 1990's Al Qaeda was based in the Sudan, and later found a home in Afghanistan. If you review all published FBI reports about the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing you will not see the name Al Qaeda mentioned, at least not as prominently as the Blind Shake. This is evidence of the FBI and CIA's focus or lack thereof on international terror as a threat to the continental US. Al Qaeda wasn't on our radar until 1997, but only by boutique FBI and CIA focus groups, and not until after the 1998 East African Embassy Bombings did the group get bumped up the threat ladder.

We did attack Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan with cruise missiles but Clinton didn't want to risk sending in ground forces. This is because Afghanistan has a long history being a basket-case country that sucks super-powers into what seems like a cut-and-dry situation only to find that nothing is easy in that country, and nothing is worth the blood and effort spent (See Alexander the Great, Great Britain, Soviet Union, and United States of America w/NATO). Even after 9-11 when we had early success against the Taliban the Bush White House's reluctance to go big into Tora Bora with a large Ranger and Infantry force allowed Bin Laden to escape, thus prolongation our involvement in that country.

The success of the 9-11 attacks boils down to this (in my view):

Al Qaeda did their homework and took the risks necessary to be successful.

Until September 12, 2001, the United States did not regard terrorism as a National Security threat, and even with the creation of SFOD-D, and DEVGRU our response was always reactionary, and not proactive.

The lack of cooperation between the CIA and FBI's boutique Al Qaeda units. Both units were independent of their agency's Counter Terror desks which made everything worse thanks to turf-pissing.

The Clinton Administration's many problems (some justified) with the use of military force, against the backdrop of an evolving Middle Eastern power structure that saw new governments rise in Yemen, and new forward-thinking leadership in Dubai, and the UAE. These countries had power-players who were sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

The Bush Administration's overall ineptitude. You could argue that our lack of a coherent counter terrorism policy created a musical chairs situation, and that the Bush Administration was the one left standing when the music stopped. But the President and National Security Adviser were both briefed about Al Qaeda's ACTIVE planning to strike within the US, and back-burnered the issue.
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Old 10th July 2019, 01:23 PM   #6
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Here's some evidence:

From "neo-conservative" Daniel Pipes:

Quote:
The same obsequiousness that exists on the level of the small-bore and the personal also holds on the grander scale of international politics. Some examples:

Oil production and embargo: Saudi energy policies in 1973-74 helped cause the worst economic decline since the Great Depression; it was met with appeasement and conciliation, without so much as a whisper of bolder action.

Lack of cooperation in finding killers of Americans: American officials meekly accepted in 1995 that the Kingdom executed the (dubious) suspects accused of killing five Americans in Riyadh before U.S. law enforcement officials could interrogate them. A year later, the response was similarly mild about the lack of Saudi cooperation in investigating the murder of American troops at Khobar Towers. After 9/11, it was even worse; as one observer puts it, "The Saudis' cooperation with our efforts to track down the financing of Al-Qaeda appears to be somewhere between minimal and zero."[25]

The spread of militant Islam: "Saudi money-official or not-is behind much of the Islamic-extremist rhetoric and action in the world today", notes Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY), then chairman of the House International Relations Committee.[26] The assault on September 11, 2001 was basically Saudi in ideology, personnel, organization and funding-but the U.S. government did not signal a reassessment of policy toward Riyadh, much less raise the idea of suing the Saudis for punitive damages.

Militant Islamic institutions in the United States: U.S. authorities have been lax about the funding of these organizations. Only in March 2002, for example, did Federal agents finally get around to raiding 16 innocuous-looking Saudi-funded institutions such as the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences of Leesburg, Virginia. This problem is widespread and unredressed, as a newspaper editorial from Canada suggests:

"Many terrorists and terror recruits get their first taste of death-to-the-West Islamic extremism from a Wahhabi imam or centre director in Virginia or London or, presumably, Hamilton or Markham [towns in Canada], whose paycheque is drawn in the Saudi Kingdom. It may not be necessary to add Saudi Arabia to the Axis of Evil, or to invade it. But it will be necessary to engage the Saudi spread of extremism if the war on terrorism is to be won.[27]"
Quote:
The heart of the problem is an all-too-human one, then: Americans in positions of authority bend the rules and break with standard policy out of personal greed. In this light, Hunter's report on the three main U.S. government goals in Saudi Arabia begins to make sense: strengthen the Saudi regime, cater to the Saud royal family, and facilitate U.S. exports. All of these fit the rubric of enhancing one's own appeal to the Saudis.
https://www.meforum.org/4133/the-sca...audi-relations

From the "paleo-conservative" Rand Paul:

Quote:
Paul noted that Saudi Arabia’s role in the Middle East was overall a destructive one. Riyadh, he noted, has spent $100 billion exporting extreme Wahabbist Islam to places as far away as Indonesia and funding madrassas that teach hatred in nations like Pakistan and India.

“So if you ask me who’s the worst at spreading hatred and trying to engender terrorism around the world, it’s Saudi Arabia hands down,” Paul said. “And if you say which people is probably more likely to come to Western ways and more likely to train with us and like the West, it’s probably Iran.”
https://www.theamericanconservative....n-iran-russia/

From the far-Left Jacobin Magazine:

Quote:
Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals, and the attack was planned by a scion of one of the country’s wealthiest and politically connected families. The hijackers, we now know thanks to the release of twenty-eight previously classified pages from the 9/11 commission’s report, had ties to members of the Saudi government, including the Saudi ambassador to the United States, who also belongs to the country’s royal family.

More recently, newly unearthed FBI files describe a 1999 “dry-run” for 9/11 carried out by Saudi government agents with tickets bought by the Saudi embassy.

But even without the 2016 release of those twenty-eight pages, Saudi involvement in anti-US terrorism has long been an open secret. John Lehman, Reagan’s navy secretary and one of the members of the 9/11 commission, went on record, saying that “it was well known in intelligence circles that the Islamic affairs office functioned as the Saudis’ ‘fifth column’ in support of Muslim extremists." Further, intelligence services suspect various Saudi charities of funding extremists, including the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a now-defunct, state-funded Saudi charity that exported a conservative, fundamentalist form of Islam and was known to support terrorists.

Leaked state department cables document Hillary Clinton’s concerns about the Saudi government’s reluctance to crack down on wealthy patrons of terrorism. Zacarias Moussaoui, a former al-Qaeda member, has testified that Saudi royals made large donations to the organization during the 1990s and that he discussed carrying out a terrorist attack with a Saudi embassy staff member. Meanwhile, many have complained that Saudi Arabia resists US efforts to crack down on terrorist financing and even stonewalls investigations.
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/11/t...h-saudi-arabia

From page 406 of The Eleventh Day, The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan:

Quote:
The CIA’s own inspector general, reporting in 2005, found that its bin Laden station and “ [name redacted] were hostile to each other and working at cross purposes for a number of years before 9/11.” In context, it is clear that the redacted name refers to the Saudi GID. Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter James Risen, who, writing later, revealed that—as early as 1997—Alec Station, the CIA unit that specifically targeted bin Laden, had seen its GID counterparts as a “ hostile service.”

The signs were, Risen reported, that intelligence given to the GID about al Qaeda was often passed on to al Qaeda. Once CIA staff shared intercepts with the GID, they found, al Qaeda operatives would abruptly stop using the lines that had been monitored Congress’s Joint Inquiry Report hinted at the true picture. “On some occasions,” one passage read—followed by several redacted lines—“individuals in some [foreign] liaison services are believed to have cooperated with terrorist groups.”

The legal defense fund of Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, on trial in the mid-1990s for plotting to bomb New York landmarks, had been supported with GID money. Osama bin Laden himself, who had made his name under GID direction during the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan, remained a hero for many.

A number of Saudi officials, a friendly intelligence service told the CIA well before 9/11, used bin Laden’s picture as the screen saver on their office computers. Little was to change. Even three years after the attacks—following the shock of serious al Qaeda attacks inside Saudi Arabia, and severe reprisals by the regime—one senior Arab source would still be telling the London Times that Saudi intelligence was “ 80% sympathetic to al Qaeda.”
From the New York Times: Saudis and Extremism: ‘Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters’ (August 2016):

Quote:
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do not agree on much, but Saudi Arabia may be an exception. She has deplored Saudi Arabia’s support for “radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.” He has called the Saudis “the world’s biggest funders of terrorism.”

The first American diplomat to serve as envoy to Muslim communities around the world visited 80 countries and concluded that the Saudi influence was destroying tolerant Islamic traditions. “If the Saudis do not cease what they are doing,” the official, Farah Pandith, wrote last year, “there must be diplomatic, cultural and economic consequences.”

In the realm of extremist Islam, the Saudis are “both the arsonists and the firefighters,” said William McCants, a Brookings Institution scholar. “They promote a very toxic form of Islam that draws sharp lines between a small number of true believers and everyone else, Muslim and non-Muslim,” he said, providing ideological fodder for violent jihadists.

Yet at the same time, “they’re our partners in counterterrorism,”
said Mr. McCants, one of three dozen academics, government officials and experts on Islam from multiple countries interviewed for this article.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/26/w...bia-islam.html


-------------------

The idea that Saudi Arabia - and by Saudi Arabia I mean wealthy, powerful, and influential Saudi royals, ministers, and businessmen, government officials and state-approved or state-funded religious leaders, and the Saudi intelligence and security services - supports or at the very least, turns a blind eye to the likes of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and like-minded groups if and when they're not directly threatening the internal stability of the Kingdom isn't (or shouldn't be) a wild notion. It is supported by many across the political, ideological, neutral-to-polemical spectrum, and factual-to-opinionated spectrum. Furthermore, many Muslims complain about the "Wahhabi" influence of Saudi Arabia throughout the world. None of this is a secret.
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Old 10th July 2019, 05:20 PM   #7
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Nope.

What made it easier?
Cost of knives?
Cost of plane tickets?
Fake pilot training, which was only aiming training?
Fake hijacking to give time to use aircraft as weapon, how does SA/US relationship make this easier?
The way we treat hijacking, made it easier to do 9/11.
The fact that our skies before 9/11 were for civil aircraft, no fast time intercept of hijacked planes, no armed patrols of the US skies - how does SA/US relations aid a fact which made it easier to almost complete the plot.
The plot was too easy, the US/SA relationship had nothing to do with the easy plot - take planes - crash planes.

The 19 idiot UBL nuts made it harder to pull off 9/11 - based on the exact time the Passengers on Flight 93 stood up and took action.


9/11 cost plane tickets, pilot training (US was the place to go for pilot training), knives
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Old 10th July 2019, 06:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Axxman300 View Post
The US-Saudi relationship played a part in that it was rare that a Saudi National was refused entrance into the county, and if that person over-staid their visa there usually was no penalty. But when you consider how many Saudis there are, and how many of them were Al Qaeda 9-11 hijackers it's ridiculous to say we could have drawn a correlation in advance.

In the 1990's Al Qaeda was based in the Sudan, and later found a home in Afghanistan. If you review all published FBI reports about the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing you will not see the name Al Qaeda mentioned, at least not as prominently as the Blind Shake. This is evidence of the FBI and CIA's focus or lack thereof on international terror as a threat to the continental US. Al Qaeda wasn't on our radar until 1997, but only by boutique FBI and CIA focus groups, and not until after the 1998 East African Embassy Bombings did the group get bumped up the threat ladder.

We did attack Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan with cruise missiles but Clinton didn't want to risk sending in ground forces. This is because Afghanistan has a long history being a basket-case country that sucks super-powers into what seems like a cut-and-dry situation only to find that nothing is easy in that country, and nothing is worth the blood and effort spent (See Alexander the Great, Great Britain, Soviet Union, and United States of America w/NATO). Even after 9-11 when we had early success against the Taliban the Bush White House's reluctance to go big into Tora Bora with a large Ranger and Infantry force allowed Bin Laden to escape, thus prolongation our involvement in that country.

The success of the 9-11 attacks boils down to this (in my view):

Al Qaeda did their homework and took the risks necessary to be successful.

Until September 12, 2001, the United States did not regard terrorism as a National Security threat, and even with the creation of SFOD-D, and DEVGRU our response was always reactionary, and not proactive.

The lack of cooperation between the CIA and FBI's boutique Al Qaeda units. Both units were independent of their agency's Counter Terror desks which made everything worse thanks to turf-pissing.

The Clinton Administration's many problems (some justified) with the use of military force, against the backdrop of an evolving Middle Eastern power structure that saw new governments rise in Yemen, and new forward-thinking leadership in Dubai, and the UAE. These countries had power-players who were sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

The Bush Administration's overall ineptitude. You could argue that our lack of a coherent counter terrorism policy created a musical chairs situation, and that the Bush Administration was the one left standing when the music stopped. But the President and National Security Adviser were both briefed about Al Qaeda's ACTIVE planning to strike within the US, and back-burnered the issue.
How could the US not regard terrorismas a national security threat until September 12, 2001, when the World Trade Center had already been bombed years earlier by terrorists?
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Old 10th July 2019, 06:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by beachnut View Post
Nope.

What made it easier?
Cost of knives?
Cost of plane tickets?
Fake pilot training, which was only aiming training?
Fake hijacking to give time to use aircraft as weapon, how does SA/US relationship make this easier?
The way we treat hijacking, made it easier to do 9/11.
The fact that our skies before 9/11 were for civil aircraft, no fast time intercept of hijacked planes, no armed patrols of the US skies - how does SA/US relations aid a fact which made it easier to almost complete the plot.
The plot was too easy, the US/SA relationship had nothing to do with the easy plot - take planes - crash planes.

The 19 idiot UBL nuts made it harder to pull off 9/11 - based on the exact time the Passengers on Flight 93 stood up and took action.


9/11 cost plane tickets, pilot training (US was the place to go for pilot training), knives
I think it was probably the idea of hijacking a plane with nothing but knives was a bit too hard for a lot of intelligence anylysts to take seriously. I think they were looking for some kind of massive bombing...like the 1993 WTC attacks.
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Old 10th July 2019, 06:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
How could the US not regard terrorismas a national security threat until September 12, 2001, when the World Trade Center had already been bombed years earlier by terrorists?
It was a question of urgency;I don't think either the Clinton or the Bush Adminstrations really thought a major attack on US soil was imminent.
Iit was sort of like Pearl Harbor in one regard; Intelligence knew Japan was up to something, but simply discarded the idea of an attack on Pearl Harbor as being too far fetched.
They saw the 1993 WTC was a one off, they felt attacks on US installations overseas was much more likely (and, to be fair, that was the pattern through the 90's attacks on US installations overseas such as the US embassy in Kenya but little activity on US soil).
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Old 11th July 2019, 01:37 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
How could the US not regard terrorismas a national security threat until September 12, 2001, when the World Trade Center had already been bombed years earlier by terrorists?
You'd think, but no, not in the 1990's. Not after the first WTC bombing, not after NYPD foiled a second plot to bomb the subway, not after Oklahoma City.

Counter Terrorism requires nuance and an uncomfortably large gray area to be successful. Before the USA Patriot Act nobody in the top management of the FBI and CIA were willing to take the kind of risks we do today. Most of the people working in the counter terror desks at both agencies had little background in terrorism. Even today the CTU's attract as many ticket-punchers as they do qualified agents.

Hell, the Russians called the FBI and told them to keep close tabs on the Boston Marathon Bombers, and that was 2013. Our Constitution's 4th & 5th Amendments make counter terrorism operations in this country tricky even today (and I'm not complaining).
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Old 11th July 2019, 09:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Axxman300 View Post
The US-Saudi relationship played a part in that it was rare that a Saudi National was refused entrance into the county, and if that person over-staid their visa there usually was no penalty. But when you consider how many Saudis there are, and how many of them were Al Qaeda 9-11 hijackers it's ridiculous to say we could have drawn a correlation in advance.
I mean, it wasn't exactly a secret to US intelligence that Saudi Arabia has not historically been helpful about combating al-Qaeda, especially prior to the 2003 bombings in the country - and even then, the Saudi regime still seems to have a lot more tolerance and possibly covert support of some of these militant groups as long as they operate outside Saudi Arabia and aren't mounting attacks within the Kingdom.

Osama bin Laden's high school science teacher Ahmed Badeeb was one of longtime Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal's top aides. He has openly said "I loved Osama" and "He was our man" in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

When considering just how much Saudi funds (including the extended bin Laden family's) were channeled into the "Arab Afghans" and the most stringently reactionary-Islamist of the Afghan mujaheddin from intelligence sources, from charities, from religious fundraisers, from prominent business families (again, like the bin Ladens), and from the personal coffers of Saudi royals and senior officials, and when considering how popular Osama was, how admired he was for his personal religiosity and for giving up a cushy lifestyle in Saudi Arabia for the war in Afghanistan, and all of the strong relationships with important Saudis (and important players from across the Islamic world, but especially in the Gulf monarchies and obviously Pakistan and Afghanistan), it simply strains belief that he didn't maintain at least some of these important contacts even after he was officially disowned by the Saudi regime along with his own family (a rather slow process that stretched out multiple years in the 1990s, by the way).

This puts alleged or real Saudi support for bin Laden/AQ in some context. Honestly, I think the "exporting" of Saudi jihadists or would-be jihadists was as much about hoping/praying that they would be martyred on a battlefield in Afghanistan, Chechnya, or Bosnia as much as anything else. Dead suicide bombers in a war zone aren't a threat to regime stability, after all.

And remember that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan happened right as the Iranian Revolution was in full swing and Khomeini was consolidating his power. The Ayatollahs were saying Death to Israel, Death to America - and Death to Monarchs (like the deposed and exiled Shah; none of this was lost on the House of Saud). Saudi Shia were rising up in the Eastern Provinces (where the oil is, incidentally) at the same time as some Muslim Brotherhood-influenced Sunni fanatics had seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, provoking a bloody fiasco of a siege that left many hundreds of Muslims dead. All of this heavily religious discontent and instability had to be dealt with somehow, so the Saudis did what they saw as rational: get all the jihadist crazies into Afghanistan where they could martyr themselves while granting far more power and influence to the Wahhabist clerics at home.

And note that this was all before a victorious and long-supported by his family and the royals who sponsored them (and him) Osama bin Laden came home and offered his services as a Saudi patriot and a pious Muslim fundraiser and organizer of jihad to expel Saddam from Kuwait - and was promptly snubbed in favor of the Americans, who proceeded to station hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Land of the Two Mosques - Osama's land - with the formal blessing of the same Saudi royals and state clerics who refused his offer of help against Saddam. Needless to say, the rest is (horrible and tragic) history.

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Old 11th July 2019, 09:19 PM   #13
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When you talk about the Saudi Royal Family has 15,000 members, 2,000 of which hold some level of power in that country, the 10% Rule applies.

Al Qaeda isn't the only terrorist organization that receives "Saudi" money, just the best known. Al Qaeda hoped to overthrow the royal family and seize control of the country at some point, and you have to wonder about the motivations of the Saudis who gave them money. The Saudis have done a lot of house cleaning lately.

Nobody disputes that Al Qaeda got Saudi money. As I said before, the US has suffered under the ineptitude of the Bush Administration's policies and wars. We find ourselves in a situation where we are stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan because if we withdraw the wrong way we make things worse (See ISIS in Iraq). The failure was that the Bush Administration bent to the public demand that we bomb the crap out of somewhere in a very loud, and over-the-top way. The "War on Terror" should have been fought in the shadows, not with conventional forces. Iraq shouldn't have happened at all. Bush's father understood the Middle East and the complexities, and nuance required for successful foreign policy. W Bush's NSC obviously didn't care about diplomacy or the consequences.

Yes, the Saudis are a questionable ally on a good day, but they ARE an ally, and the Saudi money the United States has received over the decades to fund off-the-books operations (like aiding the Mujaheddin against the Soviets) far outstrips the money they gave Al Qaeda and others. And we're not going to show them the door anytime soon.

All that said, I don't think Al Qaeda had it any easier with our special relationship. They did their homework, studied the targets, and came up with - frankly - an ingenious plan. In a way we got lucky that they only planned on 4 planes. They could have taken twice as many to attack more cities had they been less cautious. And they would have succeeded. Al Qaeda found a HUGE blind-spot and took advantage. Sometimes the bad guys win.
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