Failed Airline Attack Shows Our Weaknesses

Monday, 04 Jan 2010 09:49 AM

By Walid Phares

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In the Arab world there is a saying: “Take their truth from their crazies.” I didn’t think it would fully apply in geopolitics until I heard Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, claiming on al-Jazeera a few years ago that Bin Laden had acquired intercontinental missiles.

The “crazy boy,” as the late Egyptian President Sadat used to call him, argued sarcastically that al-Qaida has developed an unstoppable weapon: human transoceanic missiles. He meant by that jihadists who were committed to istishaad (martyrdom) by blowing up commercial jets over targets in America.

The man who has been ruling Libya for the past 40 years knows his region very well and despite his peculiar behavior, has predicted what most observers of the jihadist movement have also projected: al-Qaida and its allies worldwide have discovered the Achilles' heel of American defenses: the inability of its security apparatus to identify the readying of the new weapon, its deployment and its launching.

The situation is so bad, that a man who was on some “persons of interest” list was nearly able to massacre hundreds of passengers and possibly innocent people on the ground but for the failure of his underwear bomb and the courage of a citizen of the Netherlands who rose to defend humanity with his bare hands.

A Nigerian young man, educated in Europe, with no antecedent (and visible) involvement in “violent extremism” — as defined by new U.S. doctrines — with a family wealthy enough to extract him from disenfranchisement and other so-called roots of radicalization, burned parts of his body as he was leaping into the “heaven of virgins.”

Had he succeeded he would have accomplished a considerable feat: the second bloodiest terror act within U.S. borders, pushing back the Fort Hood jihad to third position after 9/11.

The rapidly unfolding incident, a sheer and clear act of war, shocked and awed the American public to the core.

Nine years after Mohamed Atta led an al-Qaida platoon into a genocidal attack against this country, Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, an obscure person with no dramatic history brought hundreds of men, women and children to the edge of existence before they were bounced back to the world of the living, thanks to the instincts of ordinary individuals.

How can that be possible after billions of dollars spent until now on homeland security, two overseas wars waged by the previous administration to end the terrorist threat?

Abdulmutallab’s act contrasts poorly with the Obama administration’s pledge to shut down Guantanamo by this administration in order to calm down “extremism” in addition to all the president’s speeches announcing retreats. If closing Guantanamo and ignoring democracy movements doesn’t satisfy the jihadists, what will? Why do they keep coming to kill more people?

The “Mujahid from Nigeria,” as described by al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen is the perpetrator of the 13th terrorist act on U.S. soil in one single year.

From the Arkansas murder of a U.S. military, to the jihadists of North Carolina, New York, Illinois, Texas, all the way to Fort Hood, these are the precursors of a wider wave to slam our shores unavoidably.

Abdulmutallab, like all other suicide-to-be perpetrators is a human missile designed, programmed and set off by a jihadist war machine. Ironically, the responses uttered by U.S. officials only deepen the conviction within the jihadi war rooms that we are trailing behind in understanding their threat.

When Major Hasan killed 13 colleagues, the nation was urged “not to rush to judgment.” Days later, emails surfaced about links to Imam Awlaki, the bête noire of Yemen.

In the wake of Abdulmutallab’s arrest we were told “there were no credible links to al-Qaida” just before a bold statement by the organization claimed the operation against the “American enemy.”

By now, after the most active year in terrorism targeting the U.S. since 2001, it would be advisable not to rush to judgment, but the other way around.

Do not claim that massacres — those that happen and those that are stopped — are inexplicable during a war with the jihadists.

In World War II, every Nazi bomber that flew over Britain was an act of war. In this conflict, every jihadi-inspired attack is an act of warfare.

Every rush to deny it and it treat it as a mere act of violence is a challenge to our national security, and eventually a threat to our defense.


Dr Walid Phares is the director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of "The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad."

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