Alexander's Column

Memo to CinC: The Jihadis Are Alive and Well

Obama's Strategy Promotes Terrorist Attack

By Mark Alexander · Aug. 15, 2013
“A universal peace … is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.” –James Madison (1792)
Coming To America

According to Adm. Mike Mullen, Barack Obama’s former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “The single, biggest threat to our national security is our debt.” Indeed, the “Obama debt bomb” dropped on America will inevitably lead to insolvency, unless there is a resurgence of the economy or inflation, or both, which might devalue that debt and defuse the bomb. (Of course, Obama never mentions that threat in his unending campaign to tax and spend the nation into bankruptcy.)

But there is another perilous hazard, which has been and remains more immediate than the national debt threat.

As his approval ratings continue to sink, Obama seeks to maintain the allegiance of his green peacenik core constituency by trumpeting his ordered withdrawal from Iraq and his pending ordered withdrawal from Afghanistan. He justifies these withdrawals by asserting that the risk of Islamic terrorism is greatly diminished, though clearly, as soon as we withdrew from Iraq, terror networks sprouted again.

In a high-profile May speech at the National Defense University, Obama framed his perception of the war against terrorism, saying, “This war, like all wars, must end.”

“Al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the path to defeat,” he insisted. “Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us.”

This assertion is a continuation of a recurring political theme from his 2012 re-election campaign, when Obama said, “[W]orking with Joe Biden and our national security team, we’ve been able to decimate al-Qa'ida. … Al-Qa'ida has been decimated, Osama bin Laden is dead.” (Of course, that same cynical campaign theme was precisely why his administration’s political operatives changed the narrative talking points about the Benghazi attack.)

However, despite his false and repetitive contentions that al-Qa'ida was on its heals, on the ropes, in retreat and decimated, Obama qualified those assertions in his NDU speech, noting, “What we’ve seen is the emergence of various al-Qa'ida affiliates. From Yemen to Iraq, from Somalia to North Africa, the threat today is more diffuse, with al-Qa'ida’s affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula – AQAP – the most active in plotting against our homeland.”

So now the administration is differentiating between “al-Qa'ida core,” which was and remains a network of terrorist organizations and cells linked primarily by an ideological Islamist script, versus “al-Qa'ida affiliates,” which are a network of terrorist organizations and cells linked primarily by an ideological Islamist script.

This parsing should be filed under “distinctions without a difference.”

For the record, killing Islamist Sheik Osama bin Laden was about justice; it did little or nothing to end the increasing threat of Islamic terrorism. Granted, it was a terrorist cell under Osama’s direction that perpetrated the 9/11 attack on our nation, but the Islamofascist threat is far wider and deeper than al-Qa'ida or al-Qa'ida affiliates, and has grown steadily under Obama’s watch.

The “affiliation” between Muslim terrorist groups is based on a pervasive Islamist ideology, and misunderstanding that connection is lethal.

Fortunately, regardless of how Obama tries to downplay that threat and our war to contain it, our national defense and intelligence leaders and organizations currently remain focused on those Islamist threat vectors, and our efforts to exterminate them have not diminished.

But what may soon alter that focus is Obama’s mandate that terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens and facilities, whether at home or abroad, are to be treated as “criminal acts.” This accounts for why the Obama administration refuses to condemned the slaughter of American soldiers at Ft. Hood by Islamist Nidal Hasan as a “terrorist act,” opting instead to classify that incident as “workplace violence.” And this policy shift was made clear with a recent Obama administration “leak” concerning “sealed indictments” issued for the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack. That, combined with deep military cuts, will inevitably undermine our “war on terror” ops tempo.

If Obama’s policy shift sounds familiar, recall if you will that treating terrorism as a criminal act was the same policy position that the Clinton administration embraced, and that paved the way for the 9/11 attack.

After the twin 1998 al-Qa'ida bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Sudanese government twice offered Osama to the United States, but the Clinton administration declined, citing a lack of evidence to prosecute him.

By 2001, the U.S. military was severely downsized, and the Justice Department and CIA operated under very restrictive Clinton budgets and mandates. In other words, our offensive and defensive capabilities were weaker than at any time since the Carter administration.

Clinton’s final national security policy directive in December 2000 didn’t mention “al-Qa'ida” even once in its 45,000-word text. That directive laid bare the Clinton administration’s “strategy” of swatting flies – of lobbing the occasional cruise missile toward an empty tent and of treating terrorists as mere “fugitives” who should be extradited to “answer for their crimes.”

Michael Scheuer, the former CIA chief of the team responsible for hunting bin Laden, confirmed with great disdain that SpecOps had not one but two opportunities to kill OBL before 9/11. With bin Laden literally in their sights, however, Clinton pulled the plug on both operations.

Now, Obama’s attempt to revert to the Clinton model for terrorist prosecution betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of Islamic Jihad.

Obama’s policy shift is also driven by his deference to “cultural sensitivity and diversity.” Because Obama refuses to recognize that virtually every terrorist act in the last five decades has been perpetrated by Islamists, he has failed for the last five years to define any broader spectrum of Islamist terrorism than that with the al-Qa'ida label.

According to Obama, in his address to the UN General Assembly last year, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Obama has repeatedly reaffirmed “that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. … Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.”

CIA Director John Brennan, in his former capacity as senior adviser for Homeland Security, obsequiously insisted, “Al-Qa'ida is the antithesis of the peace, tolerance and humanity that is the hallmark of Islam.” He further asserted, “If the decade before 9/11 was the time of al-Qa'ida’s rise and the decade after 9/11 was the time of its decline, then I believe this decade will be the one that sees its demise.”

“Peace, tolerance and humanity that is the hallmark of Islam”?

In fact, the name “Al-Qa'ida” is used ubiquitously to represent the embodiment of all Islamic terrorism, which enables the Obama administration to package this enemy as if it were clearly defined, thus avoiding any offense to Muslims in general. What this characterization deemphasizes is the much larger web that supports terrorism – such as the Taliban and Muslim Brotherhood.

Yemen is a fine example of Obama’s misunderstanding of the broader Islamic threat. Within days of his meeting with the president of Yemen, during which he heralded that nation as a key ally in the defeat of al-Qa'ida, threats from Islamic terror groups within that same country forced the shutdown of 19 embassies and consulates in the Middle East. (Those Yemeni terror groups, by the way, are managed and directed by former Guantánamo detainees who Obama released to Saudi Arabia in 2009.)

Islamic terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa are not bound together and directed by al-Qa'ida. They are bonded by the toxic teachings of Wahhabism and other Muslim variants, and they are directed by the Q'uran’s “holy war” against “the enemies of Allah.”

Thus, shortly after 9/11, The Patriot Post coined the name “Jihadistan” to describe the international corpus of these asymmetric enemies. Jihadistan is a borderless nation of Islamic extremists around the world. These extremists seek to attack the U.S. and its interests anywhere, and to disable our economy using any terrorist means at their disposal in order to undermine our political, military and cultural support for liberty around the world, particularly in predominantly Muslim countries.

Despite Obama’s grand claims to the contrary, the al-Qa'ida organization once headed by bin Laden is resurgent and metastasizing. And like-minded Islamists are digging their roots in across America.

"I believe that Muslims have ... the right to build a place of worship ... in Lower Manhattan." --Barack Obama

For the last word on this resurgence, I turn to Obama’s former senior adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Bruce Riedel, who wrote in an op-ed concerning al-Qa'ida’s reemergence this month, “Two spectacular al-Qa'ida prison breaks in Iraq, freeing over 500 of its members in two separate prisons simultaneously, demonstrate the group is back with a vengeance. Al-Qa'ida’s Iraq branch is also the moving force behind the jihadist success in Syria. The resurgence of al-Qa'ida in Iraq has sobering implications for what is likely to follow the drawdown of NATO forces in Afghanistan for the al-Qa'ida mother ship in Pakistan.”

Riedel notes further, “At the same time, al-Qa'ida in Iraq has been the moving force behind the birth and growth of al-Qa'ida’s franchise in Syria. One of Zarqawi’s protégés, Muhammad al Golani, was sent by al-Qa'ida in Iraq to set up the al Nusra Front in 2011. By mid-2012 it had become one of the most effective groups in the Syrian opposition movement to Bashar al-Assad’s government. It got considerable support in money, arms, and men from the Iraqi front.”

Riedel concludes, “If American pressure on al-Qa'ida in Pakistan diminishes after the NATO withdrawal of combat forces next year from Afghanistan, we can expect a rapid regeneration of al-Qa'ida in Pakistan. The drones all fly from bases in Afghanistan, without which there is no pressure on al-Qa'ida next door in Pakistan. Iraq is a sobering lesson in what happens when a battered al-Qa'ida movement gets a second chance.”

In a follow-up analysis, “The Coming of al-Qa'ida 3.0,” Riedel summarizes the scope of al-Qa'ida: “The news that al-Qa'ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and his man in Yemen, Nasr al Wuhayshi, were communicating and hatching plots to attack Western targets in the region is no surprise. … What is new is the rapid growth of these franchises – associated cells and sympathetic movements from Algeria to Aden.”

Here, then, is the bottom line regarding Islamic terror: The “War on Terror” is not over just because Obama insists that it is. And by continuing to convey this falsehood, he is setting up our nation for yet another catastrophic attack, just as Clinton did by the end of his second term.