Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's the economy, stupid? Well, yes and no

Although last week's national elections were a referendum on the Obama Administration's handling of the economic crisis, the government should not lose sight of the continuing threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism. The failed attempt to ship exploding printer cartridges from Yemen is a case in point. Here's is an excerpt from a piece posted by the American Enterprise Institute yesterday:

"When the new Congress convenes in January, all eyes will be fixed on the economy. There is, however, another policy crisis: nine years have passed since September 11, 2001 and fourteen years since Osama bin Laden declared war against the U.S., yet the threat from the al Qaeda network continues to grow. Meanwhile, the U.S. response remains ad hoc, lacking an overarching strategy and a clear procedural approach to al Qaeda and its affiliated groups. Congress must help correct this deficit.
In the last week and a half, authorities disrupted a Yemen-based plot to place package bombs on planes destined for the U.S. In two other attacks upon the American homeland in the last year, terrorists linked to the al Qaeda-led network nearly killed hundreds of Americans in New York City in May and over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. A year ago, Nidal Malik Hasan, who al Qaeda propagandist Anwar Awlaki helped inspire and radicalize, opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas. Nor is al Qaeda's network idle abroad: seventy-four Ugandans died in an attack carried out by the al Qaeda-friendly al Shabaab in July. Since September, European security services have been on high alert following intelligence indicating that al Qaeda has been recruiting Westerners for a Mumbai-style attack on the continent.
"The al Qaeda network has improved its ability to strike the West by recruiting more Westerners, who are valuable for their ability to enter and move about Western countries without attracting attention. In recent months, dozens of American citizens and residents in Alabama, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have been charged for attempting to provide aid to al Qaeda-linked groups like al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (located in Yemen), and the myriad of radical groups based in Pakistan. In just the last few weeks, charges have been brought against two individuals from northern Virginia: Zachary Adam Chesser, who had attempted to travel to fight in Somalia, and Farooque Ahmed, who plotted to blow up several Metro subway stations in Washington, DC. The al Qaeda network has also strengthened its territorial holds in areas such as the Horn of Africa, Yemen, West Africa, and even Pakistan, where al Qaeda-linked groups like Lashkar-e Taiba, the Haqqani Network, and Mullah Omar's Taliban forces operate with relative impunity.
"The al Qaeda-led network has shown itself flexible and resilient enough to retain the capacity to strike at prominent Western targets. We should not accept that danger--the case of Iraq shows terrorists can be defeated and attacks reduced--but rather contest the war more coherently under the umbrella of a comprehensive strategy.
"Rather than playing a largely passive role in the war against al Qaeda, as it often has in the past, Congress can actively ameliorate the President's conduct of the war. Those actions should focus on quickly correcting errors that have become apparent over the last year: the lack of a comprehensive strategy, the inability to preemptively recognize terror groups that strike at the U.S., the failure to take seriously some warnings about terrorists and terrorist groups, and the reduction in support for democratic activists in the Middle East."

Makes sense to me.

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