Pancho Villa

A radical Hispanic group that claims the southwestern United States belongs to Mexico is hailing elusive al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as the “Pancho Villa of Islam.”

Writing for the website “The Voice of Aztlan,” Ernesto Cienfuegos recalled the telegraphed message sent by Gen. John J. Pershing after failing to capture the Mexican revolutionary nearly a century ago, “Villa is everywhere but Villa is nowhere.”

Villa, after raiding a small New Mexico border town in 1916, outlasted Pershing after an 11-month search. The Mexican leader, Cienfuegos said, “knew every rock, every stream, every cave, and every cactus of the immense sierra of Chihuahua.”

Today, Cienfuegos said, “we are hearing similar accounts” concerning the search for bin Laden by U.S. special forces.

Osama bin Laden

Thursday, the Arab television news network Al-Jazeera broadcast a new audiotape purported to be from bin Laden that came after several reports suggesting the al-Qaida leader was dead. The tape warns that al-Qaida is preparing new attacks inside the United States and says the need for preparations, not heightened security measures, is the reason there have been no attacks since 9-11.

“Like Pancho Villa, it looks like Osama bin Laden has outsmarted the U.S. military generals,” Cienfuegos wrote in a piece posted Sunday.

Cienfuegos noted media reports saying bin Laden had deceived U.S. operatives by planting videos and voice recordings used by Taliban fighters over mobile phone communications to make them think he was at a certain location.

“General Villa utilized similar tactics to fool Pershing, he said, who was “chasing phantom Villas all over Chihuahua and finally became exhausted and gave up.”

Cienfuegos said thee are “other uncanny similarities” between bin Laden and Villa.

“Both are revered by the common people of each respective community,” he said. “Both are seen as Robin Hoods by the poor and oppressed. Both were construction contractors at one time in their lives. Francisco Villa was a general contractor on the construction of the railroad through Chihuahua’s majestic Copper Canyon. Both Osama bin Laden and General Francisco Villa were indirectly fighting those whom they perceived to be lackeys of the United States.

Villa, Cienfuegos said, “was fighting Venustanio Carranza, who had a cozy ‘sellout’ relationship with (President) Woodrow Wilson, and Osama bin Laden is fighting the Saudi royalty who have a very cozy relationship with U.S. oil interests to the detriment of the overall disenfranchised Arab population.”

The U.S. military expedition to capture Villa was “doomed to failure,” he said, because Pershing and his expedition were “unfamiliar with the territory, were up against a very clever military genius, and were operating within a very hostile local population who had come to see the revolutionary as a folk hero and national symbol of defying America.”

Villa, said Cienfuegos, “was seen by Mexicans as a clear winner, emerging triumphant from a battle with the powerful United States and assumed legendary status that endures till this day.”

“It certainly appears today, that Osama bin Laden is headed for the very same legendary and folk hero status in Islam.”

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