This LA Times report on the internal workings of Al Qaeda brought a little smile to my face. According to documents captured in Afghanistan and Iraq dating from the early 1990s to the present, Osama bin Laden’s terrorist buddies are a bunch of squabbling middle managers in an inefficient bureaucracy. The documents depict “an organization obsessed with paperwork and penny-pinching and afflicted with a damaging propensity for feuds.” What happens when you betray an Al Qaeda superior? Do you lose your head? No, you get a nasty memo:
Mohammed Atef was furious.
The Al Qaeda leader had learned that a subordinate had broken the rules repeatedly. So he did his duty as the feared military chief of a global terror network: He fired off a nasty memo.
In two pages mixing flowery religious terms with itemized complaints, the Egyptian boss accused the militant of misappropriating cash, a car, sick leave, research papers and an air conditioner during “an austerity situation” for the network. He demanded a detailed letter of explanation.
“I was very upset by what you did,” Atef wrote. “I obtained 75,000 rupees for you and your family’s trip to Egypt. I learned that you did not submit the voucher to the accountant, and that you made reservations for 40,000 rupees and kept the remainder claiming you have a right to do so. . . . Also with respect to the air-conditioning unit, . . . furniture used by brothers in Al Qaeda is not considered private property. . . . I would like to remind you and myself of the punishment for any violation.”
Gives new meaning to the phrase “toxic boss.”