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National Security

Al-Qaida on the Run? Not Quite

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell says U.S. intelligence misjudged al-Qaida.

Paul Albaugh · May 5, 2015
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell

Reinforced by recent events in Garland, Texas, as well as terror attacks continuing around the globe, terrorism and national security rose once again to the top of the list of concerns for Americans these days. Yet Barack Obama tells us we are more secure than ever. Who is he trying to fool?

In a new book set to be released later this month, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell reveals how U.S. intelligence agencies severely misjudged al-Qaida’s ability to exploit the political chaos in the Middle East and regain strength throughout the region after Navy SEALs terminated Osama bin Laden.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials have previously acknowledged the failure to anticipate the downfall of several governments in the Middle East and North Africa resulting from the so-called “Arab Spring.” But Morell notes the CIA compounded those errors by making optimistic assessments that the upheaval would be devastating to al-Qaida.

“We thought and told policy makers that this outburst of popular revolt would damage al Qaeda by undermining the group’s narrative,” he wrote, but instead “the Arab Spring was a boon to Islamic extremists across both the Middle East and North Africa. … From a counterterrorism perspective, the Arab Spring had turned to winter.”

Morell notes U.S. intelligence agencies had hoped al-Qaida was on the path to defeat after bin Laden’s death. Sound familiar? Recall that during Obama’s re-election campaign — after the Benghazi attack — he made at least 32 references to al-Qaida being “decimated,” “on the path to defeat” and “on the run.”

Was Obama hoping intelligence assessments were correct? Or was the intelligence community hoping that Obama’s narrative would serve as enough propaganda to cause al-Qaida to back off on attacks? Under normal circumstances, U.S. policies and actions against terrorism are driven by intelligence, but the Arab Spring and Obama’s failed policies in response destabilized the Middle East.

Under this administration, Libya, Iraq and Yemen are failed states. Syria likewise remains in chaos, though the U.S. had less direct involvement with its failure. And we have the rise of the Islamic State, which, by the way, is not on the run but is instead holding fast to conquered territory.

Furthermore, with the Islamic State, Morell notes that while the group severed connections to al-Qaida the two groups are ideologically indistinct. Furthermore, he points out the Islamic State “has announced their intentions to attack us — just like bin Laden did.”

We have extensively covered the real threat to our national security over the last several years, and will continue to do so unabated. It’s not climate change, it’s terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists. Mark Alexander summed up the real threat: “Our enemy is not limited to al-Qa'ida. Instead, it involves a global network of Islamofascist groups which combine to form what we long ago coined ‘Jihadistan,’ a borderless nation of Islamist jihadis with global reach who have their collective sights set on Americans at home and abroad.”

Garland, Texas, was the latest terror attempt from jihadists who wanted to murder those involved with drawing images of Muhammad. Thankfully, those jihadists picked the wrong state to mess with and were killed before they could carry out their plot.

But it shouldn’t have come to that at all. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi perpetrated the sixth attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and they did so after having been questioned by the federal government. As National Review’s David French points out, “[W]e’re pretty effective at identifying potential terrorists, just not so effective at doing anything about it. It’s almost as if there’s an actual policy or philosophy at work here — one designed to minimize threats and rationalize extremism rather than deal with the harsh reality of jihad.”

Indeed, that is the policy and philosophy emanating from Barack Obama. Yet rather than fight radical Islam, this commander in chief has chosen the path of retreat and has futilely attempted to pacify the misnamed Religion of Peace™ so as not to offend Muslims around the world. Americans are concerned about our national security, and it’s past time our government focused on the real threat: Islamic jihadists abroad and, sadly, even here at home.

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