Why We Ask: Our mission and operations are funded 100% by conservatives like you. Please help us continue to extend Liberty to the next generation and support the 2021 Year-End Campaign today.

Dan Gilmore / June 18, 2015

Gauging America’s Decapitation War Against Terrorism

The dust has settled since America allegedly killed two al-Qaida leaders over the weekend. This is where we stand.

According to the accounts, the United States pulled off a remarkable airstrike in Yemen, one of two that week. As Yemen devolved into bloody conflict this spring, U.S. intelligence pulled out of the country. That retreat harms future United States antiterrorism operations in the country.

But without boots on the ground, without working with the Yemeni government, a CIA drone fired and killed Nasir al-Wahishi, al-Qaida’s second in command who also headed the terrorist group’s franchise in Yemen. This is the most significant strike against al-Qaida since we snuffed bin Laden. After the U.S. left the country, the CIA continued to monitor al-Wahishi “through technical means,” Bloomberg reports, and lined up the shot. Al-Qaida was kind enough to let us know that we smoked him.

But as for the United State’s larger goal of stopping terrorism against its citizens, the strike did little. Another leader will rise to take al-Wahishi’s place. Remember: Osama bin Laden was already dead when al-Qaida attacked the Charlie Hebdo office.

Airstrikes aimed at assassinating top terrorist leaders may disrupt the organization for a short time, but airstrikes will neither degrade nor ultimately destroy terrorist organizations. In solely targeting al-Qaida, the Obama administration may be giving the Islamic State just the breathing room needed to grow even faster.

As Washington Post intelligence reporter Greg Miller writes, “[T]he continued spread of al-Qaeda’s ideology and the emergence of brutal new offshoots, including the Islamic State, have underscored the limitations of a U.S. strategy that remains largely reliant on ‘decapitation’ strikes. … Many officials and experts in the U.S. counterterrorism community now see the destruction of al-Qaeda and its progeny as a more distant goal than at any time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”

Assassination might work great if it’s one country fighting another. If a briefcase bomb actually killed Adolf Hitler, then Germany would have lost its charismatic leader. Al-Qaida just temporarily loses the man focusing the group’s hate against the West.

Furthermore, Miller notes that Obama’s strategy could have just helped the Islamic State gain a further foothold in Libya.

Last week, two F-15 fighter jets flying over Libya dropped 500-pound bombs on what U.S. officials allege was Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an al-Qaida-linked jihadist who broke off from the terrorist group, formed his own brigade and attacked an Algerian natural gas plant in 2013, killing 38 hostages.

Belmokhtar’s terrorist group was another with which the Islamic State, looking to further establish itself in Libya, had to contend. Both groups are competing for the same recruits, and currently the Islamic State is winning the propaganda war with its acts of brutality. By taking out the competition, the U.S. opened up Libya for the Islamic State’s jihadi brand.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of the strike. Is Belmokhtar dead? No one friendly to the U.S. can check the site for physical evidence, as it’s in hostile territory. But there is a worrying report that the Obama administration is inflating its success.

The Daily Beast alleges that when U.S. bombs rained downed on Belmokhtar, he was in a Libyan farmhouse, talking with members of the Islamic State, talking about how the two groups could cooperate.

“Supposed rival extremists were together when the U.S. tried to take out an infamous jihadi chieftain,” writes the publication. “So just how much are ISIS and al Qaeda really at odds?”

It’s a dramatic story, and one the Beast got from an anonymous “senior administration official.” The story is further collaborated by anonymous “security officials in Libya” and “locals in Ajdabiya.”

Perhaps the Obama administration wanted the public to believe that the two terror groups are collaborating and not at odds with one another. Perhaps it floated the tale using anonymous sources to bolster its “decapitation strikes” in the Middle East. It’s advantageous for the administration for the public to think a strike against al-Qaida is a strike against the beheading, murdering, pillaging barbarians in the Islamic State.

Despite weekend successes like these two strikes, the war against terror has ground to a standstill. The Obama administration is fighting an idea with assassinations. One falls. Another takes his place. Welcome to the long war.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.