Man Without Qualities

Monday, March 25, 2002

Al Qaeda’s Contempt for Islamic and Afghan Lives

General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said over the weekend that the U.S. has discovered an abandoned biological-weapons lab near Kandahar. There's lots of evidence that al Qaeda was gathering the technology and expertise to weaponized anthrax on a large scale at that location. Al Qaeda abandoned the facility before construction was complete.

Naturally and correctly enough, General Franks and the American media are focusing on the potential threat to America this biological facility would have posed - and the possible links it suggests to the post-9-11 anthrax outbreaks in this country. But people throughout the world – especially those faithful to Islam who might at some level be drawn to al Qaeda - should take note of the almost inconceivable risk al Qaeda was creating for the lives of the residents of Kandahar. For if al Qaeda had completed its anthrax production facility, the residents of Kandahar would likely have been its first victims.

Kandahar can thank its American invaders that that city did not experience a fate at least as hideous as that of Sverdlovsk (now called Yekaterinburg), Russia, where dozens of tombstones mark the consequences of what happened on an April morning in 1979, when a small amount of anthrax dust was accidentally released through the ventilation system of a Soviet anthrax production facility located there. The invisible plume blew through a working class neighborhood and a ceramics factory. It is believed that almost 70 people died horribly in civilian hospitals, and that number doesn't include the many soldiers who also probably died.

It is very hard to believe that the conditions in the Yekaterinburg anthrax production facility were not vastly safer and more professional than whatever primitive set up al Qaeda would have been able to create in Kandahar. Can anyone doubt that the al Qaeda facility would soon likely have emitted its own anthrax plume over that Holy City if the facility had been completed? Nor would Afghanistan have had any ability whatsoever to treat such anthrax victims with antibiotics or otherwise.

The victims would have been Islamic Afghans. Al Qaeda didn't seem to care too much about that.

Other potential hosts of al Qaeda might want to keep in mind this example of how al Qaeda rewarded the hospitality it received from the Taliban, who had Kandahar as the very center of their movement.

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