Alexander's Column

Anaconda sized body slam

Mark Alexander · Mar. 8, 2002

Prosecuting our war against Jihadistan, the aptly named Operation Anaconda in eastern Afghanistan’s Shah-e-Kot mountain range has pitted about 2,000 of our U.S. and allied forces in a major campaign to draw out and kill regrouped units of Taliban and al Qaeda regulars, many of whom are Chechens, Uzbeks and Pakistanis streaming across mountain passes to join their evil brethren in pitched combat. Afghan commander Abdul Matin Hasankhiel described the plan of coalition forces: “They can’t escape. They’re surrounded. Slowly, slowly we are pushing in.”

“On Tuesday we caught several hundred of them with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and mortars heading toward the fight,” Maj. Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck reported. “We body slammed them today and killed hundreds of those guys. We truly have the momentum at this point.”

Eight of our service members and three of our Afghan allies were killed in the action – including Navy SEAL Neil Roberts who was captured by al Qaeda forces and later executed. (Alas, no outcry from the Leftmedia, who have complained about the treatment of non-POW terrorists at Gitmo….) “I think the days ahead are going to continue to be dangerous days for our forces,” Central Command’s Commander in Chief, Gen. Tommy Franks, said. “But the alternative to taking such a risk is not acceptable.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reiterated our strategy of taking the fight to our enemies: “I’ve said from the first day that defense against terrorism requires that we go on offense and force terrorists to think about their defense as we take the battle to them. That is the only successful defense against terrorism.”

Of course, virtually every Leftmedia talkinghead has offered some variant of this stupefyingly nescient question from Paula Zahn: “Should military commanders rethink the decision to send in ground troops?”

Memo to Paula et al.: War actually does involve casualties….

U.S. intelligence sources report that terrorists are also migrating back into training camps bombed earlier in the war – training camps for al Qaeda terrorists as operations specialists for the network of Islamic extremists in secret cells in 60 countries worldwide. Weather report for the terror training camps: Expect downpours of heavy ordnance soon! Next stops for U.S. military advisers, in activities much like those ongoing in the Philippines: Yemen and Georgia.

On the homeland security front, nearing Monday’s six-month anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, bodies of two early “combat fatalities,” New York police officers were recovered from the World Trade Center’s “Ground Zero” excavations. And it is worth noting, terrorists have a penchant for revisiting their enemies on anniversaries, and estimates have settled in at a disquieting figure of “at least 100 al Qaeda terrorists” in sleeper cells still lying low but capable of rising to quick reactivation within U.S. borders. U.S. authorities arrested 560 terror suspects immediately post 9-11, and recently still held 327 in detention. But of greater worry are “314,000 absconders” ordered deported but now missing and nowhere to be found. “They didn’t train tens of thousands of people for a single day’s assault,” Attorney General John Ashcroft reminded.

Elsewhere on the home front, there was much hand-wringing over the lack of security alerts in response to information that New York had been the target of explosive nuclear contamination devices. If the threats had been credible, New York officials would have been notified – end of story.

With that said, however, our Jihadi enemies do, indeed, have the capability to use “dirty nukes” as terror weapons. Dr. Harold Agnew, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, observed, “Those who say that building a nuclear weapon is very easy, they are wrong. But those who say that building a crude device is very difficult are even more wrong.” Testifying Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dr. Steven Koonin, provost of the California Institute of Technology concurred, “The dispersal of radioactive materials is, in my opinion, a plausible and significant threat. However, it is overwhelmingly likely that the effects of a terrorist attack using radioactive materials would be psycho-social and economic, not entailing a large number of deaths or illnesses.”

Also invited to give the Senate testimony about anti-terror protections, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge declined the Appropriations Committee’s bipartisan invitation, begging off as merely an “adviser” to the President rather than a Senate-confirmed administration officer. But Ridge’s demurral is actually more likely caused by the impotence of his position. You will recall The Federalist’s initial (and unchanged) view that Ridge’s appointment to the newly created position of Homeland Security Director was an afterthought (not even in the original White House text of the President’s September address to the nation) and his position is redundant of the mandates already tasked to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Speaking of FEMA, there was a brouhaha about President Bush’s “continuity of government” plans (coordinated and implemented by FEMA), as the Leftmedia breathlessly reported on the so-called “shadow government” put into place on 12 September.

Memo to all the Leftmedia and the “black helicopter” crowd: Give it a rest. This was an excellent decision and yet another example of Mr. Bush’s competent leadership in the war against Jihadistan. Weapons of mass destruction were, and remain, a real threat to domestic continuity of government and commerce.

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