Great news: Bin Laden declares jihad on global warming

Good stuff. Coming soon, presumably: Al Qaeda adopts a highway. It’s all the rage these days among violent ideologues, you know.

Look at it this way. The fringier climate-change fanatics have already shown themselves willing to take drastic measures to save the earth through depopulation. Osama and the boys are just ahead of the curve.

“The effects of global warming have touched every continent. Drought and deserts are spreading, while from the other floods and hurricanes unseen before the previous decades have now become frequent,” bin Laden said in the audiotape, aired on the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera.

The terror leader noted Washington’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and painted the United States as in the thrall of major corporations that he said “are the true criminals against the global climate” and are to blame for the global economic crisis, driving “tens of millions into poverty and unemployment.”…

“It’s a bridge issue,” Kohlmann said. “They are looking to appeal to people who don’t necessarily love al-Qaida but who are angry at the U.S. and the West, to galvanize them against the West” and make them more receptive to “alternative solutions like adopting violence for the cause.”

“If you’re looking to draw people who are disenchanted or disillusioned, what better issue to use than global warming,” he said.

People were snickering about this on Twitter this morning, but pathetic though it may be, it’s actually nothing new. Al Qaeda’s pandered to western leftists by paying lip service to their pet causes in all sorts of ways over the years, most memorably in Bin Laden’s 2007 video praising Noam Chomsky and deriding the evils of capitalism and corporations. In fact, follow that last link and you’ll find him mumbling about global warming even then.

Not convinced? Here’s Reza Aslan’s review of “The Al Qaeda Reader,” a compendium of jihadworld’s greatest rants:

Indeed, al-Qaida’s many grievances against the West are so heterogeneous, so mind-bogglingly unfocused, that they must be recognized less as grievances per se, than as popular causes to rally around. There are protests about the United Nations’ rejection of Zimbabwe’s elections, the Bush administration’s unwillingness to sign up to the International Criminal Court, and America’s role in global warming. (To quote Bin Laden: “You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases, more than any other country. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries.”) Zawahiri’s many complaints include the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, which he calls “a historical embarrassment to America and its values,” as well as the United Kingdom’s anti-terrorism laws, which “contradict the most basic principles of fair trial.” There is even a screed against America’s campaign-finance laws, which, according to Bin Laden, currently favor “the rich and wealthy, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts.”

Most Americans would agree with many of these complaints. And that’s precisely the point. These are not real grievances for al-Qaida (it does not bear mentioning that Bin Laden is probably not very concerned with campaign finance reform). They are a means of weaving local and global resentments into a single anti-American narrative, the overarching aim of which is to form a collective identity across borders and nationalities, and to convince the world that it is locked in a cosmic contest between the forces of Truth and Falsehood, Belief and Unbelief, Good and Evil, Us and Them.

Right — although they’re also a desperate bid for political relevance at a time when, more than eight years after 9/11, AQ’s usual schtick has been reduced to the level of background noise to most western ears. He’s got to do something to get some buzz. Expect the next audio tape to accuse Obama of being a tool of the Jews and a total disappointment who didn’t fight for the public option nearly as hard as he should have.

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