Walid Phares: Obama Doesn't Get Global Fight Against Jihadists

Friday, 24 May 2013 02:51 PM

By Melanie Batley and Kathleen Walter

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President Barack Obama fails to understand that the fight against jihadists is a global war based on a shared international ideology, according to a leading terrorism expert.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Dr. Walid Phares, a Congressional advisor and the co-secretary general of the Transatlantic Legislative Group on Counterterrorism, said the president's counterterrorism speech on Thursday "ignored the fact that the jihadists are connected worldwide."

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"The president said, for example, that there are a bunch of thugs in every country and they call themselves al-Qaida, meaning that they are not connected, and therefore our counterterrorism effort should be country-by-country and not [an] interconnected, international, global effort against the jihadists," said Phares, the author of several books on terrorism including, "The Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad."

He said even though jihadists are diverse and vary by country, they are international, have a global view, and exchange information.

"The mistake in the analysis of the administration is that they don't see the global dimension while we are in a global war with the jihadists," he said.

Phares called on the president to take more steps to explain the ideology and terminology linking jihadists so that they can be more easily identified and connected.

Commenting on Wednesday's murder of a British soldier on the streets of London, Phares said the incident is another example in a long list of cases, starting with shoe bomber Richard Reid and most recently with the Boston marathon bombers, of what he calls "urban jihadists," or individuals who have become indoctrinated and have increasingly taken the fight to the streets of Western cities.

"This is not an isolated act of terror against Western democracies," he said. "The words that these two terrorists have used, and we were fortunate enough in the international community to have been able to see it on YouTube on video, those words are used by al-Qaida. This is coming directly from the narrative of al-Qaida."

Phares said those involved in such attacks are part of a worldwide terrorist movement "putting pressure and intimidation and terrorism on democracies around the West so they can rule in the Middle East and establish a Taliban-like state."

He also said that the president's recent decision to close the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base demonstrates the administration's misguided philosophy that terrorists should be prosecuted within the framework of nation states, instead of being dealt with through international courts and military councils.

"The issue is about the philosophy of war. If the administration — and in this case, it is — considered there is no global war, therefore, there are no global prisoners; everybody should be in a country and those that we capture could serve in our court system. That is wrong. There is an international conflict and we need to have a management under the laws of wars."

He added, "The Republicans, or at least those who criticize the issue of the closure of Guantanamo, need to push back not in terms of the case of Guantanamo, but on the ground of principles."



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