Calm down, I’m not going to say there’s “long established ties” between them. But they’re both in headlines this weekend.

Bin Laden wants a jihad in Darfur, “according to an audiotape attributed to him which aired on Sunday.”

The speaker, who sounded like the Saudi-born militant, also said on the tape broadcast on Al Jazeera television that the West’s shunning of the Hamas Palestinian government showed it was waging a “Crusader-Zionist war” on Muslims.

“I call on the mujahideen and their supporters in Sudan … and the Arabian peninsula to prepare all that is necessary to wage a long-term war against the Crusaders in western Sudan,” bin Laden said, accusing the West of seeking to divide Sudan.

Sudan hosted bin Laden in the 1990s, but on the tape he criticized Khartoum for not enforcing Islamic sharia law throughout the country and made clear his call to arms in Darfur was in spite of his differences with the Sudanese government.

Some aspects of Bin Laden’s twisted worldview shine through in this missive. They’re nothing new, if you have paid attention to him. But it’s worth repeating for the sake of understanding what we’re up against — “what,” not “who” because the ideology is more than just this one man. And in war, a valuable asset is knowing the mind of your enemy — knowing the world he thinks he inhabits, not just the world you think you live in.

  • All conflicts in the Islamic world boil down to Muslims vs. Crusader/Zionists = the West = America. The role of a third actor like China — which is deeply involved in Darfur’s oil (China is Sudan’s largest trading partner and has invested a reported $15 billion in Sudanese oil projects) — never seems to register.
  • Nor is there any difference, in Bin Laden’s mind, between a unilateral U.S. cowboy rescue raid and a proper U.N. peacekeeping force, all done up according to protocol. It’s all “Crusader troops” to him.
  • Nor is there any difference for him between a legitimate Muslim grievance and murder pure and simple. Before 9/11, he mentioned the sanctions against Iraq, which many people in the West agreed were cruel and ineffective collective punishment against a helpless civilian population. In Darfur, the issue is Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, waging a campaign of murder, rape and plunder against fellow Muslims who happen to be African. Bin Laden isn’t the champion of Muslims against Western imperialism; he’s an Arab nationalist, plain and simple.
  • There is no democracy in Islam, except as a temporary expedient to advance Islamist causes. Western governments supported the Palestijnian Authority when it was run by Fatah. They have pulled their support since the electoral takeover by Hamas. To Bin Laden, this is proof of “a Crusader-Zionist war against Muslims.” He only criticized Hamas for “breaking what he said was a taboo against ‘joining infidel assemblies.’ ”

As for Iran, according to the “Times” of London, Ahmadinejad is calling in his chits with terrorists to make them part of his defense if the U.S. should try to take out Iran’s nascent nuclear program.

US officials and Israel intelligence sources believe Imad Mugniyeh, the Lebanese commander of Hezbollah’s overseas operations, has taken charge of plotting Iran’s retaliation against western targets should President George W Bush order a strike on Iranian nuclear sites.

Mugniyeh is on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists� list for his role in a series of high-profile attacks against the West, including the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jet and murder of one of its passengers, a US navy diver.

Now in his mid-forties, Mugniyeh is reported to have travelled with Ahmadinejad in January this year from Tehran to Damascus, where the Iranian president met leaders of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

The meeting has been dubbed a “terror summit� because of the presence of so many groups behind attacks on Israel, which Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe from the map.

Politics Bin Laden and Iran