(photo: Like_the_Grand_Canyon)

And now, for a moment of not-terribly-sophisticated amusement…

During President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan last week, you might have caught a passing reference in support of the idea that the U.S. is winning what used to be called the “war on terror”:

The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda… has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam – thereby draining more widespread support.

As is their wont, administration minions went forth to provide anonymous support for this assertion.  Via TPMMuckraker, Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press describes part of the purported documentation:

The problem with the name al-Qaida, bin Laden wrote in a letter recovered from his compound in Pakistan, was that it lacked a religious element, something to convince Muslims worldwide that they are in a holy war with America.

Maybe something like Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad, meaning Monotheism and Jihad Group, would do the trick, he wrote. Or Jama’at I’Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida, meaning Restoration of the Caliphate Group.

As bin Laden saw it, the problem was that the group’s full name, al-Qaida al-Jihad, or The Base of Holy War, had become short-handed as simply al-Qaida. Lopping off the word “jihad,” bin Laden wrote, allowed the West to “claim deceptively that they are not at war with Islam.”

My brand marketing knowledge is a bit rusty, but I believe that branding gurus would describe this as a “brand relevance” problem — that is, the brand is well known, but is not perceived as relevant in the category (militant support for Islam) it would like to be associated with.

I bring up this admittedly obscure subject not only because it is mildly entertaining on its face, but because (again via TPMM) the formerly FDL-hosted Spencer Ackerman was inspired to start a rename al-Qaeda contest at Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog… with utterly hilarious results.

Many of the proffered new names are somewhat obvious, based on pop culture (“iQaeda,” “Angry Beards,” etc.)… but if you click over, I think you’ll find at least a couple more that will make you laugh out loud in surprise and snarky delight — including, for me at least, the name that is highest-rated as I write this post.  So go check it out, and then you can come back to FDL and resume following the world’s rapid handbasket-borne descent.

Speaking of which, whoever wins the Wired.com contest should be promptly hired to work on a slogan for Obama’s reelection campaign.  Having run on “Hope” and “Change You Can Believe In” last time, you know he’s gotta be looking around for something new.



Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (www.needlenose.com).