On April 14, 2013, the Los Angeles Times published a story titled: With Al Qaeda shattered, U.S. counter-terrorism’s future unclear . A growing group of analysts and former government officials say the threat from Al Qaeda affiliates is overblown. Most terrorist groups are focused on local concerns, not on America, and have little or no ability to organize a broader plot. “To the best of our information, there is nobody out there with both the desire and the capabilities to cause any serious damage to the U.S. in any way at this moment ,” said Rosa Brooks, a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense. Note well: she didn’t say anything about Canada! Police say they have arrested two men accused of conspiring to carry out an “al-Qaeda supported” attack targeting a Via passenger train in the Greater Toronto Area, following a cross-border investigation that involved Canadian and American law enforcement. In a press conference that followed a report by CBC’s Greg Weston, police named the two accused as Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto. They have been charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and “conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.” RCMP officials said the two accused were plotting to derail a passenger train . As I say, the Los Angeles Times article appeared April 14. The next day, two bombs took the lives of three people in Boston, including that of an eight-year-old boy. But never fear. As long as we ignore our neighbor to the north, the story must be right about America — the Tsarnaevs notwithstanding. After all, as Stephen Hayes points out , the Obama administration has been very quick to assure the public that there is no connection between the Boston Marathon bombings and Al Qaeda. In an exceptionally well-reported story in the Daily Beast Friday, we read this: “One U.S. intelligence official who was regularly briefed on the investigation told Newsweek that he and his colleagues all but ruled out al Qaeda central or one of its affiliates giving direct and specific instructions for the attack. ” Those comments were published less than a full day after the authorities first revealed the pixilated photos of the two attackers taken on marathon day, just hours after the public first learned their names and well before Dzokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive. And if the Obama administration says so, well, it must be true! This is not, of course, the first time we’ve seen an apparent eagerness from the Obama administration to minimize or dismiss the possibility of broader ties to international terrorism after attacks or attempted attacks on U.S. interests. Three days after the attempted bombing of an airplane on Christmas Day 2009, President Obama suggested that the attempted attack was the work of “an isolated extremist.” He made the claim despite the fact that the bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told interrogators in interviews shortly after his capture that he’d worked with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Five months later, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the attempted bombing of Times Square by Faisal Shahzad a “one off” attack. Other administration officials downplayed the likelihood of ties to foreign jihadists. But several days later, Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged that the Pakistani Taliban “helped facilitate” the attack. “We know that they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction.” Perhaps most famously, the Obama administration downplayed involvement of al Qaeda affiliated terrorists in the attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Despite ample evidence of their involvement – including real-time reporting from U.S. officials on the ground in Benghazi, a memo September 12 from the CIA station chief in Tripoli with details of the attacks and who conducted them, and communications intercepts from those involved in the assault – administration officials for days (even weeks) suggested that the attacks came spontaneously in response to an anti-Islam video. These initial assessments fit nicely with the administration’s broader narrative about the end of the War on Terror and the imminent demise of al Qaeda. They were also wrong. Today’s Canada plot is a reminder of just how wrong they were. And anyway: counterterrorism is not just about Al Qaeda. Maybe we need to make sure that the terrorists’ names are spelled correctly on the watch lists and flight manifests . Maybe we need to take steps to make sure that a perfect spelling match with foreign names is not critical. Maybe we should pay attention to foreign governments when they tell us we have a dangerous radical Islamist in our midst . President Obama, stop telling us Al Qaeda and other terrorists have been vanquished — and start making your FBI and Homeland Security protect us from those who would kill us for what we believe. Thanks!
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Canada Disrupts Al Qaeda Plot
Today’s special, crispy fried jihadi. (Reuters) – Two suspected members of al Qaeda were killed on Sunday in a U.S. drone strike on a site used for training members of the Islamist network in central Yemen’s Marib province, a security official told Reuters. The official said the strike was carried out at dawn and that
In July 2011, then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the defeat of al Qaeda was “within reach.” The Obama Administration has used this line effectively to suggest terrorism and al Qaeda are one and the same. The objective has been to equate any demise of al Qaeda with the end of terrorism, as a result of the current White House’s programs. This issue has come to the fore in an atmosphere of growing public debate over whether the post-Bin Laden organization really continues to have relevance or is now merely a symbol. In any case, the Obama administration wants “Bush’s Global War on Terrorism” over and done with. Shortsightedly many on the left believe global peace will follow a recognition that radical Islamic terrorism is no longer a threat — and that this is a precursor to the overall end of terrorism of all kinds as a danger to world peace. How convenient this self-created logic is. Regrettably terrorism has many forms and motivations. Individuals alone or part of an organization who believe they are without recourse against real or perceived injustice find they have a ready weapon in taking action directly or symbolically through terrorist acts. It’s equally obvious that terrorism is sometimes utilized simply for material gain. It really doesn’t matter whether there is a spiritual or secular justification to these actions of the self-characterized oppressed. Terrorism as political warfare instrument will last long after al Qaeda is a memory or — at the very most — a theme of revolution attracting Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Osama bin Laden as a martyr is an attraction for radicals of all stripes. It is not too far a reach to envision OBL joining Che Guevara and Chairman Mao as symbols of socio-political revolt rather than as simply the late leader of a radical Sunni anti-establishment group seeking to regain the historical dominance their Islamic empire once had. The weapon of terrorism is always available. That’s why declaring al Qaeda vanquished — or even substantially diminished — is of limited value other than to further a partisan political ambition. There was a time when the money-raising capabilities of al Qaeda were touted as one of the strengths of the terrorist group. In recent years fundraising has become extremely difficult. Even before bin Laden’s death it was becoming increasingly difficult for al Qaeda to maintain its organized international network of safe houses and support personnel — to say nothing of providing the logistics necessary for operations and operators. The current franchise structure is forced for the most part to maintain itself, yet large and small cells claiming jihadi intentions spring up depending increasingly less on individual donors and more on illicit activities. Extortion, kidnapping for ransom, robbery, and drug smuggling appear to lead the current list. These evolving local groupings are increasingly important in the U.S. and the West’s counter-terrorism efforts. Drone attacks on individual jihadist-related targets have been key, and it is these “executive actions” that the American administration is really pointing to when its speaks of degrading al Qaeda assets. Leadership in terrorist groups of all kinds, however, tends to be quickly replaced and replenished. At the same time the various terrorist units do not appear to seek to establish and support a central governing body such as Osama bin Laden originally envisaged in al Qaeda. This diversity actually hinders the forces operating to counter terrorist actions and organization. Analysts are constantly looking for signs of who will be the next leaders, but now the development areas are considerably beyond the original sites in the Middle East. The global jihadist movement is joined together now by limited agreed goals. The dominant agreement centers about antagonism toward United States’ continued support for Israel. Even non-Islamic terrorist groupings seem to find it useful for financial assistance purposes from pro-jihadist sources to hold anti-American positions and thus artificial anti-Israel status. Of course this “marriage of convenience” also provides openings for Israeli counter-terrorism penetration. Convenience plays a large role in non-ideological terror alliances. Islamic terrorists may want to be regarded as “soldiers of Allah,” but in the end they are no different than the “turf-protecting,” illegal gun-running, drug-dealing, and human-trafficking cartels of Mexico, Afghanistan, the “golden triangle” of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. To these one can add the many criminal groups such as MS-13 and the gangs of Chicago and L.A. operating throughout the United States and elsewhere around the globe. The lesson to be learned from all this is that terrorism as a weapon has changed little over the years. To paraphrase Walter Laqueur: The specific targets of terrorism have changed and so have the origins of the terrorists. But the overriding message of hate remains unchanged. All American administrations have to bear that in mind. Photo: UPI
Reality of Terrorism
AQIM running low on cannon fodder? (Reuters) – Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has appealed for new recruits from North African Arab countries in its fight against what it said was France’s Crusader campaign in Mali, a U.S.-based intelligence monitoring website reported on Sunday. SITE said the appeal was posted on websites used
Better there than Israel. Via LWJ: A Palestinian jihadist military trainer and commander who was a member of the Tawhid and Jihad Group in Jerusalem and who previously served with Hamas was killed in Syria while fighting for the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s affiliate in the country. The