Obama’s ran­dom charges of cyn­i­cism

Re­fus­ing to see al Qaeda’s global in­flu­ence gives it room to grow

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By James E. Liv­ingston and Michael S. Smith II Maj. Gen. James E. Liv­ingston, re­tired from the U.S. Ma­rine Corps, is a re­cip­i­ent of the Medal of Honor. Michael S. Smith II is a na­tional se­cu­rity and ter­ror­ism an­a­lyst.

Kid­nap­pings, co­erced con­ver­sions to Is­lam, rapes, and sales of young girls in Nigeria high­light more than just the sav­agery of the Is­lamic ter­ror­ist group Boko Haram. This sit­u­a­tion show­cases poor judg­ment on the part of Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials who have de­fined Amer­ica’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism pos­ture with their tun­nelvi­sion-like fo­cus on al Qaeda, to the ne­glect of many other Is­lamic ter­ror­ist groups that are part of the global ji­had move­ment.

In­deed, events in Nigeria ex­pose the need for the pres­i­dent to demon­strate true lead­er­ship by tar­get­ing the larger global ji­had move­ment, which is the chief prop­a­ga­tor of Sal­i­fiya Ji­hadiya — a rad­i­cal ide­ol­ogy guid­ing ter­ror­ists’ ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from in­tim­i­da­tions of non-Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties in “his­tor­i­cally Mus­lim lands” to al Qaeda’s at­tacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Re­gard­less of whether al Qaeda’s lead­ers en­dorse Boko Haram’s tac­tics, al Qaeda op­er­a­tives have helped Boko Haram de­velop the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to ex­e­cute such de­spi­ca­ble plots. The case is the same with nu­mer­ous of other mil­i­tant Is­lamist groups that re­ceive lit­tle at­ten­tion from the White House and the State Depart­ment. They needn’t con­duct ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions be­yond the borders of their home coun­tries to func­tion as agents of global ji­had. Al Qaeda’s agenda has al­ways been “global.”

In­deed, since its in­cep­tion, al Qaeda’s lead­ers have made it a pri­or­ity to help groups such as Boko Haram threaten com­mu­ni­ties and gov­ern­ments that do not share their be­liefs. These ter­ror­ists are es­pe­cially con­cerned with com­mu­ni­ties and gov­ern­ments whose val­ues re­sem­ble Amer­ica’s, which are in­clined to pro­mote women’s rights, free­dom of re­li­gion, even the free­dom not to prac­tice re­li­gion, or the free­dom to adopt sys­tems of gov­er­nance at odds with ex­trem­ists’ in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Shariah.

It is also im­por­tant for the pub­lic to un­der­stand al Qaeda’s net­work al­most cer­tainly con­sists of more en­ti­ties than of­fi­cial al Qaeda “af­fil­i­ates” such as al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP). As noted by al Qaeda’s cur­rent leader sev­eral years ago, “Many groups have joined al Qaeda, some of which have been an­nounced and oth­ers have not.”

Na­tional se­cu­rity man­agers must do a bet­ter job of ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic about these re­al­i­ties. Un­var­nished reporting on ad­ver­sar­ial el­e­ments com­mit­ted to de­stroy­ing our way of life is the mother’s milk of pub­lic sup­port for poli­cies that em­power our govern­ment to ef­fec­tively counter threats to Amer­ica and our al­lies posed by them. Among the threats are mem­bers of Jab­hat al Nus­rah, An­sar al Shariah, AQAP, and the Shi­ite thugs in Tehran re­ceiv­ing help with their nu­clear-weapons pro­gram from Cold War relics such as Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Al­though se­crecy is vi­tal to the suc­cess of many coun­tert­er­ror­ism ac­tiv­i­ties, federal of­fi­cials must be­come more trans­par­ent about the im­pacts of the Salafi-ji­hadist ide­ol­ogy on the global se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment even if Is­lamist ac­tivists and their pals in the me­dia de­cry much-needed pub­lic dis­course re­gard­ing rad­i­cal Is­lam as xeno­pho­bic sensationalism. Af­ter spend­ing $1 tril­lion on ef­forts to deny al Qaeda op­er­abil­ity, it is un­ac­cept­able that the ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion to­day poses no less a threat than it did a decade ago. The pub­lic de­serves to know why. This means the ad­min­is­tra­tion must ac­knowl­edge a fail­ure to de­vise an ef­fec­tive coun­tert­er­ror­ism strat­egy shaped by sound as­sess­ments of ways that changes oc­cur­ring dur­ing the Arab Spring could — and did — yield tremen­dous growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for al Qaeda and the larger global ji­had move­ment.

Re­sults of failed fea­tures of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism strat­egy must be made as vis­i­ble as highly pub­li­cized in­ten­tions of Pres­i­dent Obama and his ad­vis­ers to make part­ners out of Salafists, es­pe­cially those who ac­com­mo­dated al Qaeda’s resur­gence. The pub­lic also de­serves an ex­pla­na­tion of how ad­vo­cates for such Salafist el­e­ments who served as ad­vis­ers to the pres­i­dent — “ex­perts” on ex­trem­ism such as Quin­tan Wik­torow­icz, a mem­ber of the Obama Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil — in­flu­enced poli­cies that have made it easy for al Qaeda to op­er­ate in places like Libya. Mr. Wik­torow­icz was copied in emails ex­changed by of­fi­cials who por­trayed ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Beng­hazi as a protest turned vi­o­lent ver­sus what they were; namely, ex­am­ples of ji­hadis ex­ploit­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s enig­matic Mideast poli­cies and killing Amer­i­cans.

Like the at­tacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the ar­ray of threats posed to the United States and our al­lies by the man­i­fes­ta­tions of the ide­ol­ogy of al Qaeda demon­strate that, for rad­i­cal Is­lamists, Is­lam is more so the stuff of or­tho­praxy than or­tho­doxy. Their al­lies in Syria, “lone wolf” ter­ror­ists such as the Fort Hood shooter and the Bos­ton Marathon bombers all show that ac­tion — ji­had — is their rai­son d’etre. Not un­til the pres­i­dent shows a sim­i­lar will to act can de­fense, in­tel­li­gence and law en­force­ment com­mu­ni­ties be al­lowed to do ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary to de­fend Amer­i­cans from threats posed by rad­i­cal Is­lamists, whom we must not make our part­ners — no mat­ter how much his ad­vis­ers might want to.

In­deed, not un­til coun­tert­er­ror­ism poli­cies are re­cal­i­brated to ac­com­mo­date the tar­get­ing of the broader global ji­had move­ment and its fa­cil­i­ta­tors will we de­feat al Qaeda. The 25-year-old ter­ror­ist en­ter­prise, ac­cord­ing to its leader Ay­man al-Zawahri in April 2014, is more con­cerned with pro­mot­ing an ide­ol­ogy than sim­ply grow­ing an or­ga­ni­za­tion.


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