But what do they have in common? Anti-Americanism.
Thirty years ago this month, Germany's Red Army Faction--better known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang--kidnapped Hanns-Martin Schleyer, president of the German employers' association, and murdered his driver and three bodyguards. Six weeks later, on Oct. 18, 1977, the RAF murdered Schleyer, too, after the West German government refused to give in to RAF demands for the release of its imprisoned leaders. That same day, three of those leaders--Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe--committed suicide. Schleyer's body was found the next day in the trunk of a car, his mouth stuffed with pine needles. An RAF communiqué announced that "we have ended Hanns-Martin Schleyer's pitiful and corrupt existence. . . . His death is meaningless for our pain and our rage."
Thirty years later
Islamism is a political doctrine no less than it is a religious one, and in its critique of Western society it is indistinguishable from the rhetoric of radical chic. "The capitalist system seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of 'globalization,' " says bin Laden in his latest sermon. He also manages to cite Noam Chomsky on the subject of "the manufacturing of public opinion," while scolding the Democrats for not putting a stop to the war in Iraq and the Bush administration for "not observing the Kyoto accord." Where have we heard this before?
Anti-Americanism is the common thread. The German terror plot of 2007 had as its targets the U.S. Air Force base at Ramstein and the Frankfurt airport, which thousands of Americans pass through on their way home. For its part, Baader-Meinhof detonated car bombs at U.S. military bases in 1972, 1977, 1981 and 1985. In the last of these attacks, RAF cadres Birgit Hogefeld and Eva Haule lured American GI Edward Pimental from a bar, murdered him, and used his ID to park a car bomb at the Rhein-Main air base. The bomb killed American airman Frank Scarton and civilian contractor Becky Bristol and injured 20 others.
Different killers, but the same sadistic, anti-American justification.