A fascinating nugget comes from an unnamed senior U.S. official in a story today by ABC’s Jake Tapper. Citing U.S. intelligence, the official states that "Al Qaeda recruits have said that al Qaeda is racist against black members from West Africa because they are only used in lower level operations."

This is a curious detail, suggesting that some time and somewhere black al Qaeda recruits are voicing discontent about a lack of equal opportunity to participate in mass murder and that U.S. intelligence has picked up such chatter.    

This, together with the triple bombing in Uganda by the al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab, is being used by the White House to suggest that the terrorist organization holds “racist” views. In an interview recorded for South African television, President Obama says:

What you've seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself.  They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences for their short-term tactical gains. 

This is no doubt true, and it also may be true that al Qaeda, an organization with an entirely Arab leadership, might well harbor deeply racist ideas. Contempt for black Africans is, after all, endemic in the Arab world.  

Obama is to be credited for trying to mobilize African opinion in the war on terrorism; such an effort is common sense. But it is still necessary to point out that even if it turns out to be true that al Qaeda does not offer equal opportunity to its operatives, it certainly offers it to its innocent victims, as a long string of attacks from New York to Washington to London to Madrid to Bali to Lahore to Baghdad make plain.