"Mission: innocuous"

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In an interview in the March issue of Australia's GQ Magazine, actor Russell Crowe says that he was the target of an Al Qaeda kidnap plot in 2001. Crowe says that the terror network has been intent on "taking iconographic Americans out of the picture," and so decreed his kidnapping as part of a "cultural destabilization plot." Here is an FBI-authenticated list of some of the other inimitable Americans – cultural treasures, one and all – that Al Qaeda has, at one time or another, planned to remove from circulation.

Jessica Alba – Envision, if you will, a world without the hard-working star of Dark Angel, Honey, Sin City, Fantastic Four and Into the Blue. Not a pretty sight, is it? Were Al Qaeda to fulfill its nefarious plan of removing Alba and the shining example she sets of something or other, the repercussions would be both immediate and catastrophic: The drop in sales of Abdominizers and Sun-in alone could cripple America's economy. Written plans for the kidnap operation (code-named Project Alba Seenya) predict a public reaction typified by tearful candlelight vigils in major cities and a presidentially mandated day of mourning – particularly if news of Alba's loss were to arrive at a time when Kate Bosworth was between pictures.

Jeff Foxworthy – If you've ever called a convenience-store manager "Habib" and laughed about it all the way to your brother-in-law's spousal abuse hearing … you might be a redneck terror target. It's a testament to Al Qaeda's low-cultural savvy that they've long recognized the value in eliminating the standard-bearer of blue-collar comedy. Without Foxworthy around to make unrepentant yahoo-ism look like good-natured introspection, the residents of the Southern states would have to find their self-esteem in more traditional pursuits. Like armed secession.

Jo Anne Worley – Let's see if we can spot the over-40s with this one. They'll understand why the average Al Qaeda operative sees a move against any Laugh-In alumnus as sweet revenge for all those exposed belly buttons. The reason this particular plot was ultimately abandoned? Perceived irrelevance. Bin Laden's crew loves party games, and every one of them guessed 100 percent wrong when Worley's name came up in a spring 2002 round of "Dead or Alive?"

Gary Cherone – So deep is Al Qaeda's contempt for our way of life that they've even considered going after the man who replaced David Lee Roth's replacement in Van Halen. But Operation Extreme Measures collapsed when bin Laden's top advisers realized that a Cherone-free landscape would destabilize absolutely nobody, except maybe the webmaster of melodicrock.com, and fuck that guy.

Winn-Dixie – Unless you've been living under a rock – and even if you've been living in a cave – you know that this friendly pooch has a magical ability to bring out the best in people. Eliminate that elusive element of four-footed healing, and you have yourself a country full of small towns in turmoil. Families would crumble. Churches would close due to lack of attendance. Crossing guards would direct defenseless toddlers into oncoming traffic, just out of spite. And it all would have come to pass in our lifetime, if not for a little-known psychographic detail that doomed the plot to failure from the get-go: Islamic extremists are petrified of dogs. Frightened to death of the things. To a man.


Jenna Jameson – The strategy for shanghai-ing this happy harlot followed a simple three-point design: 1) Locate organ or organs that govern her thought and motor functions; 2) Shock said organ(s) with cattle prod; 3) Throw lifeless body in sack. Accomplishing that minor task would rob Middle America of its complete and utter fascination with the furiously schtupping Jenna's habits and attitudes. Denied her invaluable advice columns, informative chat-show visits and sleazy best sellers, committed couples might have to forget about learning how to make love like porn stars and stumble through their coital lives as clumsy amateurs, just like their parents. (Eeeeeeeeew!)

Mitch English – It's long been suspected that Muslim fundamentalists were planning a strike against one of greater Orlando's many cultural landmarks, like Cinderella's Castle or The Fillin' Station. Little did any of us know that the top entry on evil's wish list was to still the championship heart of TV's Daily Buzz crew. The logic is unassailable: Land a crushing spiritual blow against a community that's become dependent on the comforting spectacle of a semiliterate doughboy predicting the weather. Imagine the horror when regular viewers turn on their sets and instead see a captive English kneeling before a phalanx of hooded abductors, pleading in vain for them to spare his vaguely square-shaped head from the chopping block. It would be a major Buzz-kill indeed, rendering any future broadcast as irrelevant as a little-theater production of Of Mice and Men with no Lenny.

Wesley Willis – Schizophrenic songster Willis seemed an ideal candidate for a terrorist rubout: Having him off the touring circuit was seen as a way to irrevocably demoralize our nation's independent-record-store clerks, who would suddenly have no one left to feel superior to. Initial Al Qaeda documents profiling the author of "Rock n' Roll McDonald's" characterized him as easily confused, and thus as easy to subdue as a hot apple pie; later, however, senior schemers began to worry that the violent tendencies behind songs like "Shoot Me in the Ass" could easily be redirected outward at a moment's notice. The debate became moot when Willis died tragically of leukemia in 2003, a career move that abruptly made him fitter fodder for the terror network's thriving extracurricular trivia contests than its abduction strategies. (His unique celebrity figured heavily in the first edition of a new game, "Six Degrees of Jo Anne Worley.") Recent chatter picked up by intelligence agencies indicates that the Willis kidnap operation may have shifted its focus to William Hung.

Colin Farrell – OK, so he's not technically American. Where do you think Russell Crowe is from, Omaha? In fact, the idea of snatching Farrell was only cooked up as a backup in case the plot against Crowe failed. But this Phone Booth raid of a Plan B was put into unexpected turnaround when terror cells far and wide received an urgent message: "You want Russell Crowe and all you can get is Colin Farrell? Wait!" A strike against Jude Law was said to have been ruled out for similar reasons.

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