Sunday, January 20, 2002

Al Qaeda Inc.

From: Head Cave
To: All Employees
Re: Exit Strategies

There have been a number of inquiries received here at headquarters with regard to recent events. Rather than answer these piecemeal, or have any of you see it on Al Jezeera, we wanted to get you the most current information we have available without Gunga Dan putting his spin on it.

First, before we get down to the nitty gritty, a few personal notes are in order. To begin with, a big Al Qaeda "Thank You" to the Phillip Morris organization for their thoughtful name change. While it wasn't a coordinated effort, it's only a matter of time before George W confuses Altria and Al Qaeda. He'll probably call back some of the Marines who are currently stationed in Kandahar and send them to Park Avenue. Every little bit helps.

I also wanted to acknowledge the help... though unintended... from Toyota Corporation for their great pickups. They've been just super in driving on some pretty bad roads, outrunning laser guided missiles and swerving around bomb craters. We've had such good luck with them that we're currently in talks about an endorsement deal. Current slogans under consideration include "Built Terrorist Tough" and "The Truck the Taliban Depends On. " I personally prefer the more pithy, "Not that YOU'LL ever have to retreat... but it's good to know that you can." Special thanks to Mullah Abdul Hamashi in our Tokyo cell for spearheading this one.

Now, to the business as hand. I know that everything hasn't been going our way as of late, leaving a lot of you locked up, on the run or holed up in the countryside. Since the concerns of each group are a bit different, let me address the situations separately.

First, the lucky ones. If you've been detained in a foreign country, it will be noted in your file as a company sponsored vacation. After all, you'll have a warm and comfy cell, three square meals a day and won't have to keep up the "hide in plain sight" ruse that can grind on your nerves. True, the lap dances will be missed, but in light of the alternatives, consider yourself fortunate. The criminal justice system in the west takes years to run its course, and we've got a lot of good lawyers on retainer. I admit that the military tribunal thing is a bit worrisome, but we're working on it.

On the other hand, those captured here at home might have a bit rougher time. All those basic rights and protections that we've exploited so effectively overseas are almost non-existent here. When our good pal Mullah Omar was in charge and we were on the winning team, it didn't make much difference. But with the shoe on the other foot, we're working behind the scenes to make things happen. Before you were captured, perhaps you saw some footage of the meeting in Bonn. Rest assured that at every chance, our representatives are invoking all those treaties we never honored, like the Geneva Convention and the Warsaw Agreement. Our advice is to drink a lot of water, and chill out.

Now... turning to those of you fleeing from the Northern Alliance, our advice is to go with the flow. Remember, we've been there before, with the Russians most recently, the British before that, and on and on for the last couple of millenniums. Do what your fathers and grandfathers did for the past few centuries... change sides. But just don't make a big deal out of it. Don't start preaching jihad and all that; just become a member of the next village. Odds are you'll find someone there who speaks your dialect and has the same ratty caftan. It shouldn't be that hard to play the refugee card and meet the tribal elders.

I would, however, recommend that you keep your guard up in case. Just be careful not to jump to any conclusions. Why, just yesterday, I shot my cook, because I thought he was a CIA operative. Imagine my surprise when he turned out to be the 13th son of my fourth wife. He doesn't hold a grudge... and I'm certain that your new neighbors won't either.

Finally, for those of you... myself included... who are spending way too much time underground, rest assured that you are not alone. Our strategy is to just wait it out. Given what we've seen in Somalia, Iraq, Haiti and other third world hot spots, eventually the western public gets tired and they move on other important issues, like the Britney Spears new CD. So in spite of Crazy Donny Rumy and his merry band of soldiers, the calendar is on our side. I know many of you doubted it at the time, but I hope you now see the wisdom of getting all those PS2's at bargain prices to wile away the hours. Just turn down the sound so they won't hear you.

While we fully expect to weather this storm, it is possible that we'll all eventually have to bury the guns and melt into the woodwork for a while. In that case, my advice to each of you is to just flip over those reversible turbans, trim your beard, and blend right back in. If you don't hear anymore from me, it's not because I don't care, I'm just running for my life. Worse case, let's all meet by the big tree in Islamabad two years from next Wednesday, and have a drink. I'll be the one with the "Al Gore for President" pin.


Marc Wollin of Bedford is wondering which organization tanked faster... Al Qaeda or Enron. His column appears regularly in The Record Review and The Scarsdale Inquirer.