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Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

It’s Good News When Terrorists Break Up

February 24th, 2014

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What happens when you’re the meanest player on a team with a history of violence (say, the Philadelphia Flyers from the 1970s), but you disobey the coach too many times? No matter how good on the field, pitch or ice you may be, the head office has no choice but to cut you from the roster.

This happened recently in the world of international terrorism, where al-Qaida Central became fed up with one of its franchises and disavowed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, or ISIS. This is the first time al-Qaida cut ties with one of its regional groups — surprisingly so since ISIS has been successfully driving the jihadist agenda in the heart of the Middle East.

This split is good news for the U.S. and its allies. Here’s why:

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During the Olympics, the greatest terrorism threats are outside Sochi

February 3rd, 2014

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Olympian Roberto Carcelén wouldn’t be competing in Sochi if it weren’t for his wife, Kate. She was the one who introduced him to skiing after he gave up elite surfing in Peru to move to Seattle and marry her. She convinced him that it was like surfing on frozen water.

When Carcelén skis for his native Peru on the cross-country track this month, however, Kate and their daughter will be at home. Amid reports about the possibility of terrorist attacks at the Winter Games, they decided it would be safer that way — and less stressful.

“I’m going to be up training in the mountains, while the family would be down in the city outside the Olympic rink,” Carcelén told CNN. “So that puts a lot of pressure on me as an athlete.”

The security threat during the Olympicsisn’t hypothetical. As has been widely reported, the Winter Games are being held in a country with an active insurgency capable of coordinating devastating attacks, including two suicide bombings in December. In the past seven months, Chechen terrorists have twice issued statements targeting the Olympics.But if there’s a terrorist attack during the Games, it’s far more likely to happen outside Sochi.

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Even al Qaeda Operatives Deserve Their Day in Court — and Justice

October 18th, 2013

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This week, the Obama administration indicted yet another terrorist in federal court, much to the expected grumblings of senior GOP lawmakers. On Monday, al Qaeda operative — and one of the FBI’s Most Wanted – Abu Anas al-Libi arrived in New York City to stand trial for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He unwillingly turned up in Manhattan after American special operations forces nabbed him in a daring raid in Tripoli.

In the expected Pavlovian response, senior Republican senators  Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Saxy Chambliss  (R-GA) criticized the move, arguing al-Libi should bypass the federal court system for a one-way trip to Guantanamo Bay and its military commissions. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, went a few steps further, calling the decision to arraign al-Libi in federal court ” despicable.”

Despicable? Hardly. But more importantly, this reflexive reaction ignores the records of the federal courts and the record — or lack thereof — of the military commissions.

Intelligence gathering is certainly one important aspect of the counterterrorism business, but ultimately the U.S. needs to prosecute and incarcerate these individuals instead of merely placing them in legal limbo — and our federal court system remains the most effective way to bring terrorists to justice. Here are three reasons why:

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Chill Out About the American Embassy Closings

August 7th, 2013

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From the tiny island-nation of Mauritius to mighty Saudi Arabia, numerous U.S. diplomatic facilities are being shuttered this week because of an intercepted message by al-Qaida’s chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling for the head of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasir al-Wahishi, to strike American targets

But, dear reader, there is no need to freak out, because the system is working. Here are three reasons why:

1) America caught wind of the terrorists’ plot. This signals intercept shows that that the mission of the much-embattled National Security Agency remains critical to thwarting terrorist attacks. Given that this communication occurred between two terrorists living abroad, the U.S. government’s overseas signals collection effort did not impinge on Americans’ civil liberties or privacy. Stopping or thwarting terrorist plots is exactly why the U.S. has these sophisticated tools and techniques – and we can see it here in action.

It’s not like the U.S. intelligence community’s intercept capabilities work in a vacuum. The embassy closures were based upon a “broad range of reporting” – presumably from information derived from other American intelligence agencies and foreign liaison services.

This is not new. For example, the CIA has worked with other intelligence services in the region, helping to thwart AQAP attacks in 2010 and 2012. America’s lethal counterterrorism tactics have taken key AQAP operatives (such as the group’s second in command) “off the battlefield” – though some argue this broad effort is ultimately counterproductive. Read the rest of this entry »

This Is No Way to Run a Jihad

June 12th, 2013

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CEOs don’t like it when they discover massive changes within their corporations from the media – but that’s what happened this spring to Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaida’s chief awoke one day to discover al-Qaida in Iraq, or AQI, had announced it was merging with Jabhat al-Nusra, currently waging jihad in Syria against Bashar al-Assad. Zawahiri then dashed off a three-page letter to both groups annulling the merger.

But CEO Zawahiri will soon discover that his ability to influence his franchises through his words – not backed up with money, men, and arms – has little impact on the twists and turns of the Iraq-Syria conflict. Once again, the diminished share price of the AQ ticker symbol will be evident to the brokers of terrorism in the exchange of global jihad.

A little background: Jabhat al-Nusra came into being as an AQI offshoot and quickly became one of the most effective (and brutal) groups fighting the Syrian government. In December 2012, the State Department announced that al-Nusra and AQI were one and the same; it was unsurprising then when AQI head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a new AQI-Jabhat al-Nursa group, the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” or ISIL, in April 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Pilots Drone Policy Through Political Headwinds

May 28th, 2013

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During the 2004 campaign, Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, made this statement to the New York Times Magazine:

“We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives but they’re a nuisance. As a former law enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it … to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day. It’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

Republicans instantly denounced Kerry’s statement as “a pre-9/11 view of the world.” President George W. Bush said at a campaign rally, “Senator Kerry talked of reducing terrorism to a, quote, ‘nuisance,’ and compared it to prostitution and illegal gambling. I couldn’t disagree more. Our goal is not to reduce terrorism to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terrorism by staying on the offensive.”

The Bush-Cheney campaign ran a television ad attacking Kerry for saying that defeating terrorism was “more about law enforcement than a strong military.” The ad concluded, “How can Kerry protect us when he doesn’t understand the threat?”

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