American Elephants

Ex-NSA Chief Says the Risk of Terrorist Attack Is Growing by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama came to office with a particular view of the world. Much of it was based on the idea that the Iraq War was based on a Bush lie, that it was “a dumb war” and everything the Bush administration did was wrong. It would be hard for even the most partisan Democrats to disagree, for the president was careful to blame every problem he faced as Bush’s fault. That’s on the record.

The War in Iraq was to be ended as swiftly as possible. The War in Afghanistan was viewed as a pursuit of Osama bin Laden to “bring him to Justice.” After bin Laden was located in Pakistan, Obama dithered for months before authorizing the raid. The extent of the delusion about radical Islam is demonstrated by the presidential promise to shut down Guantanamo. The president and his advisers were quite sure that most of the inmates were innocent, improperly imprisoned.

From the Cairo speech on, Obama has tried for a completely different approach to he Muslim world. He viewed America as a world bully, and he was going to be a friend to Islam instead. The word apparently went out to all in the administration that words such as  “terrorism,” “Islamist,” and “Jihad” were no longer to be used. Hillary explicitly directed that Boko Haram was not to be identified as a terrorist group, nor to mention that it was affiliated with al Qaeda—though Boko Haram attacks had been going on for years. Typically, when the organization came to public attention, the response was #hashtag signs, with pictures of the celebrity holding the signs.

The extent of the delusion about radical Islam is demonstrated by the presidential promise to shut down Guantanamo. The president and his advisers were quite sure that most of the inmates were innocent, and improperly imprisoned. They were astonished to find that not to be so.

After Bin Laden was killed, the administration assumed that al Qaeda was defeated and no longer a real threat. “GM is alive and OBL is dead” they crowed.

The man who knows better and more than anyone else says “the threat of attacks are growing, there are a lot more coming our way.” General Alexander, who directed the National Security Agency for eight years, also served as commander of U.S. Cyber Command and chief of the Pentagon’s Central Security Service said that high-tech surveillance has foiled numerous plots, but “we are at greater risk.”

“Look at the way al-Qaida networks from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb, and now in Syria, the al-Nusra front.”

Explicitly contradicting the White House line that a more diffuse al-Qaida is good news, Alexander cautioned, “you can say those are distant countries, but a lot of these groups are looking to attack the United States.”

Obama boasted to the General Assembly that “al Qaeda has splintered into regional networks and militias, which has not carried out an attack like 9/11,” downplaying current threats as being “to governments, diplomats, businesses and civilians across the globe.” But the new, less centralized al Qaeda grows in the absence of U.S. global power. The premature pullout  from Iraq and Afghanistan have encouraged the convulsions in the Middle East.

Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in his testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade said:

The emergence of al Qaeda’s affiliates is no accident. Al Qaeda has always sought to push forward its agenda by working with, co-opting, or otherwise directing like-minded jihadist groups….As part of this Islamic army, bin Laden “enlisted groups from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia, and Eritrea.” The burgeoning al Qaeda network” also established cooperative but less formal relationships with other extremist groups from these same countries, from the African states of Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Uganda, and from the Southeast Asian states of Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Al Qaeda also supported efforts in the Balkans, Central Asia, Chechnya, and the Philippines. …Al Qaeda pursued a”pattern of expansion through building alliances” and had laid the “groundwork for a true global terrorist network.”

Not exactly a confidence-building list. Our borders are more open, our actions more restrained, our language is more carefully moderate, and our response is immediate—we will all hold up little signs asking them to stop. That should keep us safe.

How Much is Al Qaeda Involved in Syria? by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Jocelyn testified yesterday to the House Committee on Homeland Security, about al Qaeda in Syria and the threat that poses to the United States. Al Qaeda affiliates and allied jihadist groups dominate the insurgency in the heart of the Middle East. The Long War Journal published his testimony.

“The situation inside Syria is grim, with a despicable tyrant on one side and a rebellion compromised by al Qaeda and like-minded extremists on the other. In between these two poles are the people who originally rose up against tyranny in search of a better life. As we’ve seen time and again in this long war, Muslims embroiled in violence in faraway lands are often the first line of defense against an ideology and an organization that pose a direct threat to the West.”

We should have no illusions about the nature of the Syrian war. What we are witnessing right now is a conflict that will have ramifications for our security in the West. The fighting in Syria and the terrorist campaign in Iraq are deeply linked, feeding off of one another in a way that increases the violence in both countries and potentially throughout the region. American interests outside of Syria have already been threatened by the war. We saw this late last year when al Qaeda repurposed a cell of Jordanian citizens who had fought in Syria for an attack inside their home country. They reportedly had the U.S. Embassy in their crosshairs and were planning a complex assault involving other targets as well. …

Al Qaeda and its extremist allies have grown much stronger since late 2011. Al Qaeda does not control the entire rebellion, which is made up of a complex set of actors and alliances. However, al Qaeda and its allies dominate a large portion of northern Syria and play a key role in the fighting throughout the rest of the country. These same al Qaeda-affiliated forces have fought alongside Free Syrian Army brigades. There is no clear geographic dividing line between the most extreme fighters and other rebels. For example, al Qaeda’s affiliates played a key role in the fighting in Latakia, an Assad stronghold on the coast, in early August. And within the past week we saw al Qaeda-affiliated fighters lead an attack in Malula, a Christian village not far from Damascus. These are just two examples chosen from many.

Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s emir has made the fight for Syria a strategic priority. They are political revolutionaries who are looking to establish an Islamic Emirate in the heart of the Levant. They want a state of their own — as a start.  Other al Qaeda groups have joined the fight — the Taliban from Pakistan, Chechens , fighters from South Asia and North Africa, are fighting alongside each other. There is a Syrian Islamic Front that fights alongside al Qaeda. There is a direct connection between the terrorists over there and terrorists over here. Some are being repurposed for  operations against the West. And al Qaeda is recruiting Westerners who can be used against their home countries. They are looking for chemical and biological weapons in Syria, and an al Nusrah Front cell has been arrested and found to be in possession of about 2 kilos of sarin gas. Iraqi officials claim to have broken up an al Qaeda cell that was seeking to launch sarin gas attacks in Iraq, Europe and possibly North America.

Do read the whole thing. These people do understand that we are in — a long war — and have been since 9/11. It is civilizational and serious and real, and we must take it seriously.

NOTE: A piece I posted on September 3 was based on an article from the Institute for the Study of War, and based on information from Elizabeth O’Bagy, who was an adviser to John Kerry and supposedly an expert on the situation in Syria. The Institute has discharged her for misrepresenting her credentials, and she is apparently involved as a lobbyist for the Free Syrian Army. So I don’t know if any of what I wrote is true, nor if the map is correct.

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