Al Qaeda Red Tape Could Sink Padilla

(AP / CBS)
In the trial of terror suspect Jose Padilla yesterday, prosecutors for the U.S. government presented into evidence an alleged al Qaeda training camp application containing the finger prints of the Chicago native once accused of plotting to detonate a dirty bomb.

My first reaction as I read this news: So you have to fill out an application to join al Qaeda? It's one of those terms that seems strange on its surface, like "Paul Wolfowitz's girlfriend" (not that I'm surprised Wolfowitz has a love interest, but the term "girlfriend" more befits adolescents making out in a food court than two high-level civil servants).

So what's on this al Qaeda application? One of the top-notch producers at the CBS News Investigative Unit, Phil Hirschkorn, wrote a good blog entry on yesterday's proceedings and he's included a copy of the form with the government's translation. Among the questions: "What do you plan to do after your training?" where applicants can select either, "train and return," "jihad" (I'm assuming the most popular choice), or "work within a group." Al Qaeda also wants to know if "you have any advice for your Mujahideen brothers?"

Apparently, flying thousands of miles and tracking through the rugged Afghan countryside to a terrorist safe house isn't enough to convince al Qaeda an applicant is serious about jihad. They want it in writing. At the end of the form there's a pledge that every word on the form is correct, "as Allah as my witness." Call it terror cell red tape. And this bureaucracy could help bring down al Qaeda.