Not long after 9/11, Osama bin Laden released a recording to al Jazeera that expressed his goal for the attacks: to bankrupt the US.
"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah," bin Laden said in the transcript.
He said the mujahedeen fighters did the same thing to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, "using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers."
"We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat," bin Laden said.
He also said al Qaeda has found it "easy for us to provoke and bait this administration."
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations," bin Laden said.[..]
As part of the "bleed-until-bankruptcy plan," bin Laden cited a British estimate that it cost al Qaeda about $500,000 to carry out the attacks of September 11, 2001, an amount that he said paled in comparison with the costs incurred by the United States.
"Every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million dollars, by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs," he said. "As for the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars.[..]
"And it all shows that the real loser is you," he said. "It is the American people and their economy."
Looking at the collapse of 2008 and the near historical levels of income inequality, it's hard to argue that bin Laden didn't succeed. And that is exactly what Ted Koppel wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
Terrorism, after all, is designed to produce overreaction. It is the means by which the weak induce the powerful to inflict damage upon themselves—and al Qaeda and groups like it are surely counting on that as the centerpiece of their strategy.
It appears to be working. Right now, 19 American embassies and a number of consulates and smaller diplomatic outposts are closed for the week due to the perceived threat of attacks against U.S. targets. Meantime, the U.S. has launched drone strikes on al Qaeda fighters in Yemen.
But don't tell that to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. McCaul KNOWS that the threat is "real" and "growing".
You know, well, listen. I think the threat's real. And what I call the narrative of the president, saying that Al Qaeda's on its heels; the struggles over, "Let's go back to a pre-9/11 mentality" -- I think is a very dangerous narrative. I get the same threat briefings that the president of the United States does, and I'm not seeing his rhetoric meeting reality. And the fact of the matter is, there is a spider web. You know, we were just focused on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq; core Al Qaeda versus non Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda everywhere: distinction without a difference. It's all Al Qaeda.
Wait, what? The president has a "pre-9/11" mentality? The guy who ordered the successful hit on Osama bin Laden and who has his own personal "kill list" for drone strikes is thinking pre-9/11? You know McCaul is just reciting Republican talking points and counting on no pushback from David Gregory, because when Gregory does ask him what else Obama could do, he hems and haws and basically can't name anything he'd do differently.
Meanwhile, Ted Koppel has the right side of it. Terrorism has always been around and always be around. How we choose to react to it is the measure of how successful it is.