September 13, 2009

To Follow Up A Little…

…on some of the content of my 9/11 post, there was an interesting article in U.S.A. Today* the other day regarding the differences of opinion as to how strong a threat the terrorist organization actually is, or remains to be.

In the eight years since the 9/11 attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller has spent nearly the entire time focused on one enemy: al-Qaeda.

Thousands of terrorist operatives have been killed or captured. Terrorist safe havens and training grounds in Afghanistan where operatives were trained have been destroyed. Military forces largely have shattered al-Qaeda’s leadership in Iraq. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden and top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, who once closely managed al-Qaeda’s day-to-day operations, have been driven into seclusion.

Now, Mueller and counterterrorism analysts are tracking the emergence of a new threat. Al-Qaeda has morphed into a fractured network of small terrorist franchises strewn across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In Yemen, according to Senate testimony by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, a “jihadist battleground” is rising amid growing political upheaval and poverty. Blair says there are concerns that al-Qaeda could establish a “regional base of operations” in Yemen to train operatives and plot new attacks against the West.


Al-Qaeda’s transformation raises an unsettling question: Does its splintering help make the USA and its Western allies safer, or does it complicate efforts to guard against terrorism?

“Yes, they retain the capability of striking overseas,” Mueller says in an interview, declining to specify whether the USA is vulnerable to such an attack. “They are still lethal.”

Although al-Qaeda’s pre-9/11 command structure no longer exists, its smaller terror cells are freer to conceive and direct their own operations, making them increasingly unpredictable. Several analysts worried about a terror resurgence cite evidence that pieces of al-Qaeda are gathering strength in Yemen and Somalia. Yemen’s stability is especially crucial to U.S. interests because of its strategic location on the Arabian Peninsula, its access to critical shipping lanes and its vast border with the world’s largest oil supplier, Saudi Arabia.

There is “growing concern that al-Qaeda will begin providing social and civil services to the people of Yemen on a scale that could challenge the Yemen government for allegiance,” says Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen analyst based at Princeton University.

This is not at all unheard of where sizeable Islamofascist guerilla organizations are concerned. As a prime example, look how Hamas perpetuated and strengthened its influence by becoming a political party among the “Palestinians”, and Hezbollah has done the same thing in Lebanon, ostensibly providing services and other positive social products that are either not delivered or are not delivered as well by official government.

If al-Qaeda and its affiliates expand in Yemen and other weakened states, he says, the “danger to the U.S. is quite great.”

Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director who oversaw the bureau’s Baghdad operations, says that “in one sense, you are safer because al-Qaeda no longer has that (pre-9/11) chain of command. On the other hand, al-Qaeda has become so decentralized, it can be harder to stop. … It’s like a dormant volcano.”

This is true — fragmented, without a central chain of command, al-Qaeda leaves no single chain to follow to any one nucleus of command. As I said in the 9/11 post, what we see now are what amount to a number of franchises. Basically autonymous franchises.

Other terrorism analysts, however, say government officials refuse to admit the threat al-Qaeda once posed largely has passed.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” says Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer and prominent al-Qaeda analyst, citing his own analysis, which suggests that al-Qaeda’s capability to strike targets in the West is declining. “There is not much left of al-Qaeda except in the minds of those inside the (Washington) Beltway.”

Sure, and pigs might fly.

We still see the hand of al-Qaeda active in places like Indonesia (Jemaah Islamiyah, for example, led by a demon-on-earth called Noordin Mohammed Top) in which terrorist attacks, because of their remoteness on the globe in terms of “relevant” political hotspots, don’t get nearly the fanfare in the media that the same events taking place, say, in Britain, Spain or France would.

And of course when terrorists strike in Israel, the world media, the U.N. and the E.U. tend not to notice that anything’s amiss until the Israelis retaliate or otherwise defend themselves. But that’s another story entirely.

At any rate, these now splintered off, independent franchises merely make it harder for the good guys to focus on a single, tangible enemy entity.

Mueller says much of the danger now comes from a “genre” of hybrid groups spawned by the destruction of al-Qaeda safe havens. Separate groups, which share al-Qaeda’s philosophy of eliminating Western influence from Muslim areas, have been inspired by al-Qaeda.

Among those groups, Mueller says, is the Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, which he says is responsible for last November’s attack in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Yemen claimed responsibility for two strikes against the U.S. Embassy in Sana last year. One was a coordinated assault last September that killed 17 people, including the six attackers.

Remember, having not evolved along with the rest of mankind over the centuries, Islam still resides in the age when Mohammed cursed the earth with his satanic presence.

Fundamentalist Muslims live with a mindset totally alien to our own, one that countenances mass, cold blooded murder of men, women and children in the name of their so-called god (allah) and the martyrdom of their youth (never, of course, of the so-called “holy men” who preach martyrdom and/or send these naive fools out to die) in the performance of butchery of the innocent.

“These guys think in terms of decades and centuries,” says Phil Mudd, executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “The challenge is whether you can keep the pressure on.

“It’s a shark’s mouth,” he says of al-Qaeda’s resiliency. “You have to keep taking the teeth out again and again. You can’t allow the teeth to rotate to the front.”

Well said!

Read the entire U.S.A. Today article here.

* U.S.A. Today does have its “moments”, and this is one of them.

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