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Bodansky: Terrorists Seek �Mass Casualties on an Unprecedented Scale�

Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM

Bodansky was the first expert to significantly warn the West about Osama bin Laden in his 1999 best seller, �Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America.�

As director of research at the International Strategic Studies Association and director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the U.S. House of Representatives, Bodansky is one of the world�s most sought-after terror experts.

In an exclusive interview with NewsMax, Bodansky starkly concluded that the U.S. is losing its war on terrorism. In fact, since Sept. 11, he estimates, �the cadres of terror groups have actually tripled since mid-September 2001, and the active support echelons have grown ten-fold.�

Also the best-selling author of �The High Cost of Peace: How Washington's Middle East Policy Left America Vulnerable to Terrorism,� Bodansky has no doubt that America is vulnerable to a major attack before the Nov. 2 elections.

Already, he says, there is talk among Islamic terror groups of an attack on the U.S. homeland yielding �mass casualties on an unprecedented scale.�

While lauding the policies of the Bush administration, he chides U.S. intelligence agencies.

NewsMax caught up with the busy expert as he traveled back to the U.S. from Geneva, Switzerland.

I don�t have a specific comment regarding this or that commission, but I think that the MAIN problem of our war on terrorism has so far eluded public debate. So, here goes my rather lengthy overall take:

The United States is losing the war on terrorism despite sound policies, responsible decision-making, and laudable dedication of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

Even a cursory examination of the war is not encouraging �

Iraq is going up in flames � the outcome of an escalating grassroots rebellion. A wave of terrorism engulfs Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan is falling apart because of revived fratricidal warfare. Pakistan is on the brink of civil war because of mounting grassroots opposition to Musharraf�s cooperation with the U.S. The Chechens escalate their terrorist war to the heart of Russia. The HAMAS escalates operations beyond the Palestinian theater, as do other Islamist-Jihadist groups in dozens of countries around the world.

The size of the Islamist-Jihadist terrorist forces around the world has tripled since mid-September 2001, and the active support echelons have grown ten-fold. Meanwhile, the hard core of Osama bin Laden�s loyalists have markedly improved their ability to strike out at the heart of the United States and Western Europe.

Despite the formulation of a correct policy by the Bush Administration, the war is in a dire state primarily because the U.S. intelligence community has repeatedly failed the White House by providing scant concrete data and wrong threat analysis.

It has been the wanting of intelligence that has made implementation of the President�s policy virtually impossible, and at times has even aggravated the problems facing the U.S.

The primary flaw of the U.S. intelligence community is the intellectual isolationism and arrogance of the purveyors of knowledge to the White House � that is, the intelligence system of research and analysis.

The current disastrous state of affairs is the outcome of more than a decade of intentional recruitment of like-minded individuals to sustain the course.

Consequently, there emerged an institutional culture � much like the State Department�s culture � that taints and tilts analysis, refusing to confront the possibility of lack of knowledge or errors of judgment.

Within the intelligence community�s analytical elite there is by now a very strong echo-chamber effect. And recent history is full with cases of honest analysts who dared question the party-line (through channels) being fired or forced to resign because they would not toe the line.

The American intelligence community does not tolerate challenge and dissent to the detriment of the national interest.

The gravity of the crisis of the U.S. intelligence community, particularly in view of the mounting quagmire in post-Saddam Iraq, is now widely acknowledged throughout official Washington.

Thus, the harsh criticism of the U.S. intelligence community by the various commissions investigating recent crises is warranted. Moreover, a crucial issue outside their mandate � namely, how come that intelligence community knows so little and comprehends even less � is yet to be addressed.

Therefore, the recommendation that there should be a profound reorganization of the intelligence community, including the creation of a new cabinet-level position for an Intelligence Czar and the elimination of the CIA as a single agency through partitioning, is only the first step in what should be a profound revamping of America�s intelligence community and its culture. A profoundly thorough reform is urgently needed.

The current sorry state of affairs cannot continue. If the U.S. is to persevere and prevail in the war on terrorism � and it must ultimately triumph if Western civilization is to survive � it ought to comprehend its foes.

Intelligence is the key to fighting terrorism and subversion. The present U.S. intelligence community has not only failed to meet the challenge, but is failing to learn from its own recent mistakes, adapt and correct its ways of doing business.

Increasing the intelligence budget and reorganizing existing institutions no longer suffices. Urgently needed are changes of priorities and methods � the revamping of the U.S. intelligence culture. The intelligence community�s analysts must be freed from the current institutional stifling, must have greater exposure to the real world, must interact with outside expertise even if dissenting, must increase their reliance on open source-material � at least until viable sources are acquired and developed.

Without such profound intelligence reforms, the United States will keep losing the war on terrorism � an unthinkable prospect.

The mere fact that I�ve discussed in great length the evolution of the Islamist-Jihadist cooperation with Saddam Hussein�s Iraq between the early 1990s and the spring of 1999 in my book �Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America� is in itself telling because the book was published in the summer of 1999 � long before this cooperation became a hot political topic.

I cannot point out to a single specific piece of evidence as �the strongest proof.�

We are dealing with evolving cooperation that started way before Osama bin Laden was a leader and essentially continues � in the form of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri�s June 2004 formal alliance with Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi after the demise of Saddam Hussein.

Perhaps the multiple source evidence about the training in fall 2002 of al-Qaida terrorists in WMD by Iraqi Military Intelligence Unit 999 in Salman Pack � as described in great detail in my latest book, "The Secret History of the Iraq War" � is the most relevant proof of these relationships.

Al-Qaida has always been an amorphous entity.

From an operational point of view, of significance are the terrorist groups run by and/or associated with the International Front for Confronting the Crusaders and the Jews.

There has been a major expansion since winter 2001 with the operational cadres (would-be terrorists) increasing by three-fold and the active support elements increasing by ten-fold.

Most significant is the flow of thoroughly westernized Muslims in Western Europe into the ranks of the would-be terrorists. Moreover, there is an ongoing radicalization and alienation of ever greater segments of the Muslim world even if only a relative few resort to violence.

However, of far greater significance is the fact that there is NO real counter-movement throughout the Muslim world since the fall of 2001. There is no popular movement calling for moderation, modernization, co-existence with the West, etc.

Osama bin Laden has never been in direct operational control over the majority of the Jihadist-Islamist groups.

Ayman al-Zawahiri has controlled, and is still controlling, the key elite terrorist formations committed to spectacular strikes of strategic or global significance.

The marked expansion of the Islamist-Jihadist movement since fall 2001, concurrent with the reduced importance of the Afghan-Pakistani hub, resulted in the growing pronouncement of the regional distinction of the various Islamist-Jihadist groups, particularly those with charismatic commanders and leaders.

Bin Laden, however, remains the undisputed supreme spiritual authority that charts the overall course of the Jihad.

Ideologically and theologically, all of these developments are still the manifestation of the growing alienation of the Muslim world from the West and the grassroots adoption of the call for fateful confrontation bin Laden has been advocating since late 1990s.

By mid-2002, the U.S. preoccupation with Baghdad � the former sacred capital of the Caliphate, as distinct from Saddam Hussein�s secular Iraq � resulted in the eruption of Islamist zeal based on the cataclysmic legacy of the Hulagu Khan syndrome.

I discuss this issue in great detail in the Introduction to "The Secret History of the Iraq War." Needless to say that the subsequent U.S. occupation of Iraq and the widespread destruction wrought only aggravated the situation and confirmed bin Laden�s worst-case scenario.

In a nutshell, going to a warranted and justified war to disarm and topple the Saddan Hussein regime, the U.S. completely ignored the much wider and more profound global Islamic ramifications of such a move � particularly the inevitable worldwide Islamist-Jihadist mobilization.

We now pay dearly for this oversight and will continue to do so for generations to come.

There is ample evidence from impeccable sources that the Islamist-Jihadist forces are adamant on striking out before the U.S. elections. Some of the warnings specify a commitment to inflicting mass casualties on an unprecedented scale � perhaps through the use of a nuclear suitcase-bomb (which they definitely have).

At the same time, however, the key terrorism sponsoring states urge prudence � fearing U.S. retribution. Right now, there are intense theological deliberations within the Islamist movement about what to do next. We will surely see the outcome of these deliberations.

Generally: For as long as the Mullahs� Regime remains in power, and for as long as the Jihadist culture remains prevalent and dominant in Pakistan (Musharraf�s declared policies not withstanding), the qualitative Islamist-Jihadist war against the U.S.-led West � that is, the lethal, spectacular, strategically significant terrorist strikes � will keep escalating.

Moreover, the overall bitter struggle between the modernity (both values and technology) the West is imposing on the world and Islamdom will continue escalating and expanding until a genuine, indigenous self-reforming movement emerges in Islamdom.

There�s nothing the outside world can do in this respect but fight ceaselessly and resolutely the aggressive violent manifestation of this fateful struggle � Islamist-Jihadist terrorism.


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Bodansky was the first expert to significantly warn the West about Osama bin Laden in his 1999 best seller, �Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America.� As director of research at the International Strategic Studies Association and director of the Congressional...
Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM
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