The killing of Osama bin Laden is a victory for the United States, but it does not mean jihadists will stop trying to attack the country from all quarters, terrorism and Middle East expert Dr. Walid Phares told Newsmax.TV.
Although bin Laden capitalized on anti-American feelings in the Middle East, Phares said, the al-Qaida leader did not initiate them — and the threat is still out there.
“What we need to do is understand the mind-set of the jihadists,” Phares said in the exclusive interview with Newsmax. “This is an ideological network. I liken it to ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Yes, the lord is very important — the emir, the caliph, the chief of all these networks is important — but he did not create these networks.
“Osama bin Laden was created by the jihadist movement; he did not create the jihadist movement.”
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It is important for the U.S. government and the American public to realize that the al-Qaida threat exists not just in faraway places such as Yemen and the border areas of Pakistan but also in the United States, Phares said.
“Their agenda is not going to stop with the vanishing of their boss. They’re going to continue with their attempts to strike the homeland,” said Phares, a Newsmax contributor and author of “The Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad.”
He warned that, if the United States and NATO withdraw from Afghanistan before a stable government and civil society take root there, the Taliban quickly will assume power again.
“That means the establishment of a Taliban-controlled regime in Kabul,” Phares said. “Are we going to give them that gift?”
Considering the terrible sacrifices U.S. troops have made, he said, it would be a shame to let the Taliban come right back to the position they enjoyed 10 years ago, before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan chased them out.
Phares also said that it would have been impossible for bin Laden to live undetected in a villa in Pakistan for so many years without someone in the government knowing — and someone within the national security agency must have been protecting the terrorist leader.
“While it is possible that the president of Pakistan, the Cabinet of Pakistan, who are coming from a party that has been targeted by al-Qaida . . . the government may not have known exactly the location, but they knew bin Laden was within their country,” Phares said.
And he said it would be impossible for an intelligence service as well-developed as Pakistani’s ISI to be unaware of bin Laden’s hideout in the pleasant mountain town of Abbottabad.
“A circle, a segment within the national security must have known and these must have been the case officers protecting bin Laden,” he said.
Nevertheless, Phares said the United States should not yank the billions in aid it gives Pakistan each year. Instead, he said, it would be more effective to put pressure on the Pakistani government to reform its intelligence service.
“There are jihadists, among them terrorists, who have great influence inside Pakistan,” Phares said, adding, “The government and the people are our allies, or at least opposed to the Taliban.”
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