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Al Qaeda’s Special Animus

Why Jews remain important players in a global struggle

by
Marc Tracy
November 01, 2010
Administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan last Friday.(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)
Administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan last Friday.(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Whether you buy the official explanation, proffered yesterday by the Obama administration, that the two al Qaeda-planted bombs addressed to Chicago synagogues were in fact intended to blow up midflight, or whether, like Tablet Magazine’s Lee Smith in his new column, you have your doubts, there is no getting around where these packages were addressed to. Surely the Jewish connection wasn’t a coincidence. As top spy correspondent (and Tablet Magazine contributor) Yossi Melman put it, “Although Israel and Jewish targets are not the terror networks’ main focus, attacking Jews remains a guiding motivation.”

One of the targets was a small shul that specifically serves LGBT Jews. One synagogue’s Website reportedly received dozens of visits from Egypt recently. KAM Isaiah Israel, which famously is located across the street from the Obamas’ house in Hyde Park, was not one of the targets.

I do buy the official explanation of just whom exactly these bombs were supposed to kill (which is to say, airplane passengers, not Chicago synagogue attendees). So I can no longer completely agree with contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg’s argument (which he also made before the revelation) that the bomb-making terrorists “are fundamentally annihilationist in outlook, meaning that they have as a primary goal the killing of Jews, everywhere.” It seems to me that their primary goal is killing Americans and other Westerners in sensationalistic fashion. At the same time, the addresses on the cargo do make plain their special animus. “There are many people out there who believe that al Qaeda and its fellow travelers are angry over settlements,” Goldberg continued. “They are not. They are angry over the continued existence of Jews.” This was a useful reminder.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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