By Greg Palast
The tooth fairy, Santa Clause, WorldCom profits, the Easter Bunny, al-Qaeda.
The cruel, evil jerks who blew up the London subway last week, despite appropriating al-Qaeda's name for their website and T-shirts, have about as much to do with al-Qaeda as a Beatles tribute band has to do with the Fab Four.
For all the horror, hoopla and hair-pulling, this was no September 11. Timmy McVeigh slaughtered a heck of a lot more people in Oklahoma City with his cow-poop bomb.
I'm not belittling the heartbreaking hideousness of this crime, but let's get the facts straight. If al-Qaeda is the Panzer Division of terrorism, these London bombers were terrorism's Cub Scouts. We're talking a few pounds of nitro wired to a clock -- a design badly copied off the Internet.
A witness watched some Arabic-looking teenager nervously checking his bag on a bus which, London's un-hysterical police now believe, he accidentally triggered, blowing apart himself and a bunch of unlucky commuters.
Al-Qaeda this ain't. All the evidence is that this half-assed attack was the work of some poor young Muslim schmucks, possibly whipped into a frenzy by the mewling mullah of Finsbury Park, Omar Bakri Mohammed, a cleric who enjoyed the comfortable middle-class dullness of England during the week while on weekends preaching, "a 9/11, day after day after day" to punish his Western hosts.
It's not al-Qaeda, but for George and Tony, it's good enough. Blair's Foreign Secretary dramatically dashed out to tell us that the explosions had the "hallmarks of al-Qaeda." Our Commander in Chief, looking as commanding as possible (no reading of kiddie stories this time), could not have been more satisfied.
The "hallmarks of al-Qaeda"? That's not true and Blair knows it. And Bush knows it. And that's no little matter, my friends.
Because Blair and Bush are al-Qaeda junkies. They've sold us on everything from fingerprinting five-year olds to invading Baghdad to tolerating plummeting paychecks all on the slick line that we are under attack by a well-trained, well-armed, well-funded hidden army called al-Qaeda.
But our War President and War Prime Minister are having a little problem with their war on terror. The enemy's gone AWOL. Except when we go LOOKING for trouble -- as in invading a Mesopotamian country -- trouble pretty much stopped looking for us.
Even September 11. Forgive me for pointing this out, but no matter how horrific, it was in the end the deed of a couple dozen fundamentalist fruitcakes with box-cutters hankering for a hot time with virgins in the next life who got "lucky."
Yes, unlike the London attack, the "luck" of the September 11 hijackers required the sick genius of monied operatives and a Washington administration that operated with eyes wide shut toward Saudi gangsterism.
But now al-Qaeda's luck's run out, not because Bush has us taking off our shoes in airports, but because, overwhelmingly, Muslims in this world really have no attraction to killing kids or commuters.
For Bush and Blair, organized terror's diminishing powers was a political problem -- until last week, when the al-Queda addicts of the White House and Downing Street got a new terror fix. Even if it wasn't the real al-Qaeda, it was enough for them to mainline into the body politic a big, fat dose of fear.
Now, with world media all jumped up on its latest fear high, Bush and Blair can resume their sales pitch: more weaponry, less liberty.
FDR calmed a nation when he said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But the Bush and Blair slogan is, "We have nothing to sell but fear itself."
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his commentaries or view his investigative reports for BBC Television at www.GregPalast.com .