Can the International Community Take the Wind out of the Sails of Al Qaeda Propoganda?

Bin Laden is at it again. This time he is railing against the international community’s sluggish response to the Pakistan floods.   “What governments spend on relief work is secondary to what it spends on its armies,” bin Laden says on the 11-minute tape called, “Reflections on the Method of Relief Work.”

He’s actually wrong on that point. What governments spend on relief work is much, much less than ‘secondary’ to military expenditures.  That said, it is hard to argue with the criticism that the international community, as a whole, has not risen to the challenge of providing adequate funding for Pakistan flood relief efforts.

From the most recent Pakistan situation report from OCHA:

Preliminary results of rapid needs assessments in KPK, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan suggest that 10 million people are in need of immediate food assistance. Further assessments are ongoing and will give a clearer picture of food assistance needs both in terms of relief and early recovery…Food Cluster requirements in the revised Pakistan Floods Emergency Response Plan amount to $574million, with a $374 million shortfall. Between October and December alone, $170million is needed to implement activities as planned.

The lack of funding also means that there is a critical shortage of shelter.  According to the report, 1.2 million households have yet to receive emergency shelter material. In all, the international community has only contributed 31% of funding required for emergency relief.

Between Bin Laden’s statement today and statements from al Qaeda principals last month it is clear that the terrorist organization is seeking to use the Pakistan floods to its advantage.  What is less clear is whether or not the international community is willing to counter al Qaeda’s propaganda by fully funding Pakistan flood relief.