Al Qaeda on the Rise: The Grim News From Africa

January 23, 2013 1:07 am 0 comments

Armed man stands outside U.S. Consulate in Libya as it burns. Photo: Twitter.

Accepting his party’s renomination for president on Sept. 6, Barack Obama boasted, “Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.” The crowd roared its approval.

It’s now painfully clear that someone wasn’t listening. Five days later, terrorists attacked in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Other terrorists in northern Mali, affiliated with al Qaeda, were in the process of seizing territory the size of Texas, and still others just carried out a daring raid in Algeria resulting in 38 or more hostages killed.

The US and Western response to date has been disjointed and with decidedly mixed results. If President Obama doesn’t soon jettison his ideological blinders about the threat of international terrorism, we could see a series of further attacks — not unlike the 1990s series that culminated in the 9/11 strikes.

Obama has attempted verbally and politically to narrowly define the terrorist threat in order to declare victory. In his acceptance speech, for example, he said: “I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have.” By continually restricting and narrowing “terrorism” to al Qaeda in Waziristan (thereby excluding the Taliban, al Qaeda components elsewhere and in fact nearly everyone except bin Laden’s own cadre), the administration hoped to reach the point where it could proclaim the war on terror finished.

Yet events in Libya, Mali and now Algeria have shredded that budding myth, at a tragic cost in human life.

By demanding the release of terrorists imprisoned in America in exchange for their hostages, the Algerian marauders in particular demonstrated that we are still top of mind in the terrorist world.

In Libya, Obama walked away after Moammar Khadafy’s overthrow. Terrorists took root, leading to the Benghazi tragedy. Meanwhile, Khadafy’s mercenaries fled, carving out a sanctuary in Mali that radicals from around the world could use as a safe haven. And in Algeria, where the military fought a bloody civil war 20 years ago against Islamicists, the embers flared again.

One terrorist attack didn’t cause another, but the correlation of forces underlying these mortal threats now stands unambiguously exposed. Khadafy’s overthrow, touted by Obama’s White House as vindication of its Middle East policies, has simply exposed the reality that the terrorist threat had metastasized well beyond bin Laden. Killing him and al Qaeda leaders in Waziristan hasn’t reduced threats that now grow daily: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb; Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda in Iraq — the list of thriving franchises continues to grow.

And when the Taliban recapture power in Afghanistan, as Obama’s policies are almost surely guaranteeing, we can count on al Qaeda re-emerging there as well.

The hostage-taking at BP’s In Amenas natural-gas facility was purportedly in retaliation for Algeria permitting French military over-flights in support of their mission against the Mali terrorist enclave, as was the little-reported execution of a French hostage in Somalia. But the terrorist attack in Algeria certainly required extensive prior preparation.

Moreover, while hostage-taking was its most salient objective, it is quite significant that the terrorists assaulted a critical economic target. Oil and gas production is central to Algeria’s economy; if energy facilities there are now targets, others around the region will soon be as well — with potentially sizable effects on volatile energy prices. And the affair may presage broader attacks on infrastructure, financial institutions or Western economic targets.

Yet the massive defense cuts of Obama’s first term (with another $500 billion looming through sequestration) will substantially reduce America’s ability to project force internationally to protect our interests. Europe is in even worse shape: Even though France’s Mali operation is in its colonial backyard, Paris’s capacity to continue for an extended period is doubtful.

If the terrorists can hold their own, they can plan and stage operations worldwide. Timbuktu may sound far away, but it’s only two plane rides from Manhattan. Precisely because terrorism doesn’t operate through corporate hierarchies or military command-and-control structures, we can’t easily “decapitate” it. Al Qaeda isn’t simply an organization but an excrescence of extremist ideology that has swept across the Middle East and beyond.

Under Obama, the United States is whistling past the graveyard while the Middle East descends into chaos. Beyond North Africa, the wars in Syria and Yemen wind on. The Arab Spring, far from yielding peaceful alternatives to al-Qaeda-style terrorism, has instead become an adjunct and even an enabler of terrorism — with radical Islamism in power in Egypt and threatening regimes friendly to the United States.

Now safely re-elected, will Obama care even less about external threats to America than he did previously? We have a long four years ahead. And our adversaries know it well.

John R. Bolton is a former US ambassador to the United Nations.
This column was published in the New York Post.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.