WASHINGTON—In a statement posted this morning on several Islamist websites, the global terrorist network al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for last Thursday's devastating personal attack on Carbondale, IL resident Tim Harris.
The highly coordinated strike, which targeted the unsuspecting 32-year-old as he exited a Huck's convenience store, and made light of his ample girth, lack of employment, and inability to meet single women, occurred at 9:32 a.m. At 9:35 a.m., a second wave of vicious insults was reportedly launched at Harris, obliterating what little remained of his self-esteem.
"The foot soldiers of Islam have struck at this pathetic slob of a man with righteous force, and they have brought him down," read the statement, which praised as heroes the four al-Qaeda operatives who carried out the personal attack. "There is nothing left of him now. Tim Harris has been destroyed."
"Praise be to Allah," the statement continued. "Allah is great."
Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters that it could take months to determine the full extent of the damage from what they are calling the worst-ever ad hominem strike on American soil, even as crews worked around the clock to salvage whatever bits of Harris' self-respect they could from the wreckage.
"Never before has our nation witnessed such brutal mockery," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "It appears that al-Qaeda had been monitoring Mr. Harris long enough to become fully conversant in his insecurities, and was prepared to employ any means necessary, even pointing out his huge, Neanderthal-like underbite, to achieve its terrible goal. Indeed, there wasn't a single emotional sore spot—from his lack of sexual experience to the fact that most animals don't seem to like him—that they did not exploit."
"It's unthinkable," Napolitano added. "They even reminded Tim about the time nobody showed up to his New Year's party."
When asked by reporters why her department had failed to prevent the hurtful attack, Napolitano said it was impossible for the government to secure every potential target in a country so densely populated with losers.
"At this time, we simply don't have the resources necessary for such an undertaking," Napolitano said. "As much as we would like to, we cannot guarantee the safety of every former telemarketer who sleeps on a futon and still has roommates despite being almost 35 years old."
Critics, however, pointed to the fact that al-Qaeda had attempted a similar personal attack on Harris in 2003, one that might have succeeded had it not been for an uncharacteristic intelligence-gathering error on the terrorists' part.
"We know that al-Qaeda will keep returning to a target until they get their desired result," CIA director Leon Panetta said. "Seven years ago, for whatever reason, they failed to take into account that Mr. Harris had been feeling pretty good about having done push-ups that morning and was optimistic about a job interview he'd just been on. That attack was unsuccessful, but we should have learned from it."
"I mean, just look at the guy," Panetta added. "It's hard to imagine a more vulnerable target."
While acknowledging that there is no foolproof way of protecting oneself against the cruelly incisive barbs of al-Qaeda, DHS released today a list of basic self-maintenance measures that Americans, particularly the most defenseless sad sacks, should employ to minimize their risk. Chief among these is cultivating an awareness of one's personal appearance. According to Napolitano, small, relatively easy improvements in wardrobe and hygiene can deprive al-Qaeda of obvious defects upon which to capitalize.
"All Americans must be vigilant about combing their hair," Napolitano said. "Also, they should wear a shirt that fits them for once in their life, and if they choose to put on sweatpants, maybe avoid those with obvious mustard stains on them."
"A personal attack can come at any time and when you least expect it, whether you're lounging around all weekend in your bathrobe or sitting in the waiting room of a hair-loss clinic," she added.
Napolitano stressed that there was no immediate threat of a personal strike against any particular individual. However, she admitted that her department was closely monitoring a number of "soft targets," including recently divorced Chicago resident David Braumberg, chronically fatigued Wal-Mart cashier Bridget Carmichael, and Rich Parker, a 28-year-old Ohio native who divides his time between playing poker online and staring glassy-eyed at old high school yearbooks late at night.
"I've personally monitored a few of these targets myself," Napolitano said. "Believe me, an attack from al-Qaeda is the last thing these losers need."