Friday, May 16, 2003

Here is a very nice analysis of who and what the terrorists in Saudi Arabia may have been targeting this week:

Both the recent bombings and the 1995 attack were made against the same target. This was the Vinnell Corp., a Fairfax, Va., company recently acquired by Northrop-Grumman that trains the 80,000 member Saudi Arabian National Guard under the supervision of the U.S. Army.

Vinnell employs ex-CIA types and has close ties to the Bush Admin. It goes on:

Even before the first Gulf War, when the United States established a formal military presence in Saudi Arabia, Vinnell was a “stealth” military presence in the Kingdom. It was seen as a military colonizing force. The Saudi Arabian National Guard, by extension, was seen as a de-facto American military force.

The Bushites were quick to blame al Qaeda for the attack as was most of Big Media. But, not so fast there Sparky:

The facts of this earlier attack call into question the theory that the al Qaeda operation was responsible for the May 12 bombing. Ali al-Ahmed, executive director of the Washington-based Saudi Institute for Development and Studies, said on the PBS NewsHour of May 13 that this was a “home-grown operation” that borrowed ideas from al Qaeda but was not directed by Osama bin Laden.

Americans have become used to thinking of al Qaeda as the primary terrorist opponent of the United States. The Bush administration has encouraged a public view of al Qaeda as a highly organized group with omnipotent, worldwide reach. This has led to a general view that every group espousing violent political change is an emanation of Osama bin Laden’s machinations. The view is inaccurate. Insofar as it has a structure at all, al Qaeda is a group of loosely affiliated cells, many of which have no knowledge of the operations of the others.

So, if we take out all of the al Qaeda network there will always be other groups who are willing to attack American interests around the world. I thought Dubya said we were winning the war on terror?

More about Vinnell from the LA Times:

Vinnell was founded in 1931 as a small Los Angeles-area construction firm. According to a 1975 profile of the company in the New York Times, the firm's early growth was tied to the building of the L.A. freeway system, work on the Grand Coulee Dam and the construction of Dodger Stadium.

But by the end of World War II, the company was already dabbling in military work, funneling guns to Chiang Kai-shek to fuel his efforts to displace the communist regime in Beijing. In a memoir, former CIA operative Wilbur Crane Eveland described using his title as Vinnell vice president as a cover while working in Africa and the Middle East in the early 1960s.

Vinnell's military contracts took off after that. The Times' article reported that the company landed work building military airfields in Okinawa, Taiwan, Thailand, South Vietnam and Pakistan. At the height of the Vietnam conflict, Vinnell had 5,000 personnel in country. According to a March 1975 article in the Village Voice that quoted an anonymous Pentagon source, the company did everything from base construction to military operations. The source described Vinnell as "our own little mercenary army in Vietnam."