It's no longer a war on transnational terrorism? Before Emile Coue's method of psychotherapy, self-improvement based on the healing power of optimistic autosuggestion, becomes our national security comfort blanket, it would behoove us all to take a deep breath and snap out of creeping amnesia.
By simply changing mental pictures, Coue figured the subconscious also changes — as well as the body that houses it. By shifting its tone on terrorism and discarding the language of war, the administration junks the global war on terror because it's no longer an accurate description of the terrorist threat.
No less an authority than Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona who now runs 22 former government agencies, believes we have been neglecting domestic threats from the far right, neo-Nazis presumably plotting Adolf Hitler's revenge against the Jews.
The deranged 88-year-old white supremacist James von Brunn, who walked into the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and killed security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns is, alas, not the only nut case whose demented musings on his Web site "exposes the Jew Conspiracy to destroy the White gene-pool."
Scott Roeder, now in custody for the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, was another member of an extremist group known as the Montana Freemen, according to what his father told the Topeka Capital-Journal. And lest we forget, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168, injuring more than 680, and destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius. Before Sept. 11, 2001, it was the largest criminal investigation in history.
The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis is concerned that "rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans, who possess combat skills and experience, in order to boost their violent capabilities."
But that threat pales next to those currently plotting to kill tens of thousands of Americans with weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, or nuclear materials). Islamist extremists consider themselves at war with the United States.
According to intelligence chiefs throughout the Muslim world, they are roughly 1 percent of Islamic states' population — that's 13 million potential "holy warriors," or jihadis, who would like nothing better than the opportunity to help destroy what they regard as the empire of evil that their imams and mullahs say is out to destroy Islam.
President Obama's magisterial vocal outreach to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4 did not shake the extremist beliefs of the fundamentalists, an estimated 10 percent of 1.3 billion. That's 130 million scattered among 57 Muslim nations. "Amrika," in Arabic, and Israel, are Tweedledee and Tweedledum in the thousands of al-Qaida Web sites that provide the refuge of a virtual global caliphate for the millions of jobless Muslims in the rundown suburbs of Western Europe's major cities.
MI5, Britain's internal security and intelligence service, has uncovered some 200 terrorist plots. They all track to Pakistan's tribal areas where al-Qaida and Taliban still enjoy safe havens in the foothills of the Hindu Kush. More than 100 similar plots have been detected among Germany's Turkish minority of almost 3 million. Their trails led to Turkey during summer vacations and then on to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where the Pakistani army is now back on the offensive after a two-year hiatus.
Osama bin Laden is presumably still well concealed and protected by several layers of security, including longtime friends retired from Pakistan's security services who have ignored the $50 million reward (doubled by Congress in 2004) for information leading to his capture.
Al-Qaida groups have sprung up in widely scattered parts of the Muslim world from West Africa (Mali) to North Africa (Algeria) to the Horn of Africa (Somalia) to the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen). Bin Laden is more source of inspiration as the supreme guide and is not believed to exercise any direct control.
The al-Qaida supremo is convinced his Arab, Pakistani, and Afghan mujahideen brought down the Soviet empire. The last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan Feb. 15, 1989, and the world watched the collapse of the Soviet Union that began shortly thereafter. On Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down, and the Soviet Union formally dissolved in December 1991. Bin Laden then took on the American "empire": U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were truck bombed simultaneously on Aug. 7, 1998, killing 291 and wounding 5,000; a suicide boat rammed the USS Cole in Aden harbor on Oct. 12, 2000, killing 17 sailors, injuring 47, and immobilizing a $1 billion warship for 18 months with a repair bill of $250 million.
Then came the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon, with almost 3,000 killed and causing $750 billion worth of damage to the U.S. economy. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., after apparently being taken over by the passengers.
The next major attack against the United States by al-Qaida's "unholy warriors" is only a matter of time. Chances are it won't be impacted by the war in Afghanistan. But it could be by Pakistan's new determination to destroy the privileged sanctuaries al-Qaida and Taliban still maintain in FATA, and where 7-year-olds have been recruited, brainwashed, and trained as suicide bombers on the fast track to Paradise.
When Mr. Obama ordered 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to reinforce some 35,000 already there, it was, he explained, to go after al-Qaida. But Osama bin Laden and his then-motley band of several hundred terrorists actually escaped from Afghanistan's 13,000-foot Tora Bora mountain range, then being pounded by U.S. B-52 bombers and 2,000-pound bombs, and made it safely into Pakistan's FATA (seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas) on Dec. 9, 2001. He exited via the Tirah Valley, FATA's most inaccessible terrain, where we missed him by three days. Al-Qaida has been in Pakistan ever since.
After a winter of R&R in FATA and Baluchistan, some 35,000 Taliban insurgents are back in action against almost 60,000 U.S. troops, 9,000 Brits, 3,000 Canadians and a battalion of Dutch soldiers. The rest of the NATO coalition has instructed its contingents to fire only in self-defense.
Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, on his first visit to Afghanistan this week as Mr. Obama's national security adviser, concluded economic development, more than military engagement, had to show tangible results countrywide by year's end. Donor fatigue permitting.
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