New White House talking point: Al Qaeda is racist

First come the drone attacks, then comes the surge in Afghanistan, and now — the big one drops.

Speaking about the Uganda bombings, the president said, “What you’ve seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself. They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences for their short-term tactical gains.”…

Explaining the president’s comment, an administration official said Mr. Obama “references the fact that both U.S. intelligence and past al Qaeda actions make clear that al Qaeda — and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire — do not value African life. The actions of al Qaeda and the groups that it has inspired show a willingness to sacrifice innocent African life to reach their targets.”…

“Additionally, U.S. intelligence has indicated that al Qaeda leadership specifically targets and recruits black Africans to become suicide bombers because they believe that poor economic and social conditions make them more susceptible to recruitment than Arabs,” the official said. “Al Qaeda recruits have said that al Qaeda is racist against black members from West Africa because they are only used in lower level operations.”

“In short,” the official said, “al Qaeda is a racist organization that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life.”

I like the idea behind it. It’s a cheap, hopefully effective way of combating jihadi recruitment in Africa by elevating racial pride above religious identity. If Al Qaeda is racist then surely no self-respecting black man or woman would ever join. (The political logic of that argument seems … familiar somehow.) And of course it’s true that jihadis are pathological bigots when it comes to Jews, women, and infidels various and sundry. But strictly on the facts, I’m not sure how heavily race factors into AQ’s calculus. At least one African has ascended to the highest ranks of their inner circle; Africans were also among the masterminds of the embassy bombings. Beyond that, doesn’t everything said in the blockquote apply equally to Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis, Indonesians, and any other population where AQ operates? AQ doesn’t spill African blood because it disdains Africans, it spills innocent blood — including/especially the blood of innocent Muslims — because it tends not to, er, discriminate when it comes to killing people to advance its agenda. No race is exempt from being targeted or used as cannon fodder, as any Saudi or Iraqi could tell you. But then, we needn’t overthink this. This is psy ops on the presidential level, and if it works, all to the good.