Does Mohammed's reference to political targets highlight the conflict through the eyes of Muslims, that this is a conflict over Western influence and Western support of Israel?
No. The list of targets he notes are visible symbols within the United States. The Empire State Building, one of the targets he claims to have plotted to destroy, has nothing to do with American cultural and economic influence in the Arab world. Nor are assassinations of former American presidents, who have no power to exert in foreign relations. Mohammed even noted a plot against former President Jimmy Carter, who has done more to delegitimize U.S. support of Israel than any American leader in recent memory. This demonstrates the agenda for al Qaeda to be one of aiming attacks for their sensation value, to attract news coverage that demoralizes the secular West into fearing the potency of Islam. High-media-exposure attacks such as 9/11 also affected the choice of other bombings, such as that of the London transportation system, in order to recruit the ideologically sympathetic with "successes." Yet to date, al Qaeda has not advanced beyond pronouncements and its capacity to destroy. Some say that it is a movement without a country. To the contrary, it is a movement in many countries, including the United States. But Mr. Mohammed's description and listing of targets and plots is very much consistent with al Qaeda's personality as a movement that has little substance to it beyond its sheer capacity to destroy.
Dr. Michael Welner is chairman of the the Forensic Panel, a national forensic science practice. Welner, an associate professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, is also researching an evidence-based measure, the Depravity Scale at http://www.depravityscale.org, which invites Americans to participate in surveys that are being used to help develop a legal standard of what represents the worst of crimes.