Tags: Al-Qaida | Barack Obama | Middle East | War on Terrorism | terrorism | 2012 | presidential

NYT Reporter Claims Obama Admin. Misled on Al-Qaida in '12

NYT Reporter Claims Obama Admin. Misled on Al-Qaida in '12
Former President Barack Obama (Julio Cortez/AP

By    |   Monday, 20 November 2017 08:43 PM

A top foreign correspondent at The New York Times claims the Obama administration deliberately downplayed al-Qaida's strength in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.

Rukmini Callimachi made the assertion during an event last week at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

"The overall narrative that I think was being pushed to the press, and if you look back at the editorials that were done when that trove came out, was an image of [Osama] bin Laden isolated, he had lost control of this group," Callimachi said, referring to the 17 hand-picked documents released by the Obama administration in May of 2012.

Asked by former Associated Press and CBS correspondent Kim Dozier, who now is editor at Cipher Brief, if Callimachi thought Western intelligence "was missing" the true strength of the radical Islamic terrorist group, Callimachi replied "I think that [the killing of bin Laden] was theorized into something much bigger."

"The head of the organization has been killed, and now — these are literally quotes that I would get: the organization has been 'decimated,' the organization is in 'disarray,' the organization is 'on the run,'" she continued. "At the same time that we were preparing to pull out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that it was important to portray this as a problem that no longer existed."

The Trump administration released roughly 470,000 files in November that were captured in the Abbottabad raid.

Only a few hundred were released under the Obama administration, according to The Weekly Standard, which first flagged Callimachi's remarks.

When Callimachi was covering West Africa in 2011, she said Obama administration officials and others told her al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which had just taken over the northern half of Mali, "was actually not really connected to al-Qaida."

"The narrative I would get is that . . . it had opportunistically taken the al-Qaida name in order to have prestige and scare people, and that in fact those people were just criminals," she said.

In 2013, after the same group had been cleared out of the area, Callimachi said she discovered evidence "central" al-Qaida commanders were actually "micromanag[ing]" the Malians who the Obama administration had said had no ties to al-Qaida.

"Suddenly, my worldview, which had been informed by officials . . . started to fall apart," she said. "Suddenly, I was seeing that this group that I was told really had no ties, with no connection . . . was in fact being micromanaged by al-Qaida central."

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A top foreign correspondent at The New York Times claims the Obama administration deliberately downplayed al-Qaida's strength in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
terrorism, 2012, presidential, election
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2017-43-20
Monday, 20 November 2017 08:43 PM
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