Terror Never Left America’s Shores
Terror did not return to America at the Boston Marathon, because terror never left.
There have been more anti-US attacks and abortive attacks (not including Iraq and Afghanistan) in the last four years than in the previous seven years after 9-11.
This is not a statistic that is widely cited at government briefings, in the main news media nor on most college campuses, because our government, media and educational elites would like to pretend that the terror problem ended with Osama Bin-Laden.
“People shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts,” asserted President Barack Obama, but he and his top aides have spent the better part of the last two years on a mistaken conclusion.
They have pretended that there really was no terror problem, but only an Al-Qaeda problem, and that that problem was solved because, they said, Bin-Laden’s death was a death blow for terror.
They were wrong then, and they are wrong now, dead wrong. Terrorists often send us reminders just when we think we have beaten them.
Israel saw this happen several times in fighting Islamic terror. So did Britain in its experiences with both Irish and Islamic terror. And now the US is learning that fighting terror is not a sprint but a marathon.
The then-head of Israel’s Shin Bet (Karmi Gillon) bragged about killing the main terror planner of Hamas in 1996. As he pat himself on the back, Hamas launched suicide bombings that convulsed Israel for several more years until the suicide bombers were uprooted in a massive Israeli military operation in 2002.
Israel pioneered targeted killings, drones and other high-tech anti-terror methods, but it learned you cannot defeat terror just with high-tech. There is no substitute for the tough and painstaking collection of intelligence and grinding work on the ground.
President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and other officials in the Obama Administration have done their best to inhibit the collection of such intelligence, while they have at the same time launched probes or proceedings aimed at counter-terror warriors in the CIA and the top units of the US military.
America was kept safe by some of that same intelligence that was gathered earlier, including massive planned attacks on Los Angeles and London. Some of that same data gathered in interrogations also led to Osama Bin-Laden himself. Yet, those efforts have ended, and American intelligence has been coasting on previous efforts.
Meanwhile, Obama and his crew pushed the idea that America should worry more about hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs than terror by Muslims and Arabs.
Simply put, FBI crime statistics from the last eight years show that this idea is nonsense. America does not have a problem of hate crimes against Muslims.
Obama and Co. also minimized the role of Arab-Islamic terror in previous attacks on the US such as Fort Hood and the Christmas bombing in Detroit.
The first step in fighting terror is to realize that there is a terror problem that requires a major national effort, but some of our top “experts” on terror—especially in the Obama Administration—treat terrorists like they were business rivals.
“Al Qaeda became a franchise years ago,” asserted William Young in a paper published by the RAND Corporation a few months ago. Director of US National Intelligence (DNI) Lt. Gen. James Clapper, told Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood avoided violence, was “largely secular” and was built on franchises.
“They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera…..In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.”
Such analysis is why “US intelligence” is sometimes considered an oxymoron, like “cold fire.” This rosy view is a basic theme of President Barack Obama, his closest aide, Valerie Jarrett, and John Brennan, who Obama picked to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
“U.S. national security would be best served if Washington publicly acknowledged” that Iran and Hizballah had moved AWAY from terror, wrote Brennan in a long paper in 2008 saying the West could woo moderates inside Iran’s regime and Hizballah with sweet talk and some incentives. Events proved him wrong.
Iran and Hizballah are trying hard to move advanced weapons and chemical arms from the collapsing state of Syria into Lebanon. They also helped North Korea. Iran sped up long-range missile development, its bomb program, arms transfers to South America, and it planned or executed terror attacks in Asia, Africa and even the US.
President Obama is right not to jump to conclusions about the Boston attack, but he would be wise to realize he was wrong in his previous conclusions about terror. As the 9-11 Commission observed, fighting terror means using imagination, not pretense.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security, and he will be a visiting professor at University of California, Irvine in 2013-2014.
A version of this article was published by the New York Post.