ADEN, YEMEN – Al Qaeda (AQ) may be a household name today but it was not when it bombed a hotel in Yemen back in 1992.
You would have to be from a parallel universe not to have heard of AQ. After all, the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001 have defined for many what era we are living in. It has been two decades of the ‘war on terrorism’.
And yet many also forget that AQ was once an ally of the West. It was leader Usama bin Laden’s ragtag bunch of ‘Afghan Arabs’ that we supported to fight the Soviets who had invaded and occupied Afghanistan. They may have been brutal sons of bitches, but to paraphrase US President Franklin Roosevelt they were OUR sons of bitches.
It was not until the early 1990s that AQ turned its gaze to attacking the West. Enraged that his own Saudi Arabia would ask for US troops to be stationed in the Kingdom to protect possible Iraqi incursion after that country had invaded and occupied Kuwait – bin Laden had wanted his boys to be given the job – AQ saw the US presence as anathema. Women soldiers, Westerners acting terribly, it all rankled the AQ leader.
The rest, as they say, is history.
On this day in December 1992
AQ carried out its very first operation targeted against the US. Two attacks on two hotels in Aden which were believed to be housing US Marines scheduled to head across the Red Sea to Somalia to begin ‘peacekeeping’ operations led to the deaths of two people: an Australian tourist and a hotel employee.
The troops went on to Somalia as scheduled, but the triumphant leaders of al-Qaeda told themselves that they had frightened the Americans away and scored an easy victory.Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower
We certainly have come a long way since that first attack. AQ is still a formidable force the death of which has been exaggerated many times. Steel yourself for more such incidents.