Since the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has sworn to destroy ISIS, threatening to be “nasty” and to “annihilate” the terrorist group and its leaders by “bombing the s*** out of them.”
But is he missing the larger threat?
“We need to start preparing for a big comeback by al-Qaeda” former FBI terrorism expert Ali Soufan told PRI earlier this month. The author of Anatomy of Terror: From The Death of Bin Laden To the Rise of the Islamic State, Soufan is one of many who warn of an Al-Qaeda resurgence, likely to take place under Osama bin Laden’s charismatic 28-year-old son, Hamza.
Canadian counterterrorism expert Mubin Shaikh agrees. “The thing that everyone keeps getting wrong about Al Qaeda is because of what AQ’s Al Suri said long ago,” he wrote in a recent e-mail. “Al Qaeda is a system, a methodology, not a group per se.”
Indeed, as ISIS loses territory in Syria and Iraq, Al Qaeda’s influence and power is growing. Some experts have speculated about a potential ISIS-Al Qaeda merger. Others point to the demise of ISIS as a motivation for Al Qaeda operatives to strengthen their recruiting efforts, and as reason for newly-inspired would-be jihadists to turn to Al Qaeda in its place.
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The people in the audience who clap their hands should be ashamed of themselves!
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Looking back at 9/11 through the tunnel of years, like watching the painfully blue light of the memorial towers of light sweep the sky, is both remote and vast. Looking back through time is like looking at a mountain or the sky. At a skyscraper or thousands of graves. A vastness beyond meaning.
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,” Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address. It was not that way at Gettysburg, but it has been that way at Ground Zero. All the words fall away and we are left only with the shock and the horror.
The hole in the world.
It is the second part of Lincoln’s phrasing that reveals where the hole in our world lies. “It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here, have, thus far, so nobly advanced.”
What unfinished work was advanced since that day? What work is there to advance? The Civil War could be won. The dead of Pearl Harbor could be laid to rest with victory. It is the dead of the unfinished wars who haunt us. It is why the Vietnam MIA is still with us. Victory carries its own meaning. As does even defeat. It is the twilight of the unfinished war whose meaning is unclear. When we cannot put a purpose to death, then it haunts us with the mortality of meaninglessness.
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Seven out of 10 Americans believe the trillions spent on counter-terror measures since the attacks on New York and Washington fifteen years ago have not made a dent.
It used to be a joke: “But then the terrorists have won.” Attach the phrase to any sentence—”We could just stay home and watch it on cable, but then the terrorists have won”—and you had both a ready-made quip and a light reminder that life goes on, even after a great national trauma.
But now the terrorists have won.
We know this because Americans say so. In a Pew poll released this week, 40 percent of people said terrorists have a greater capacity than before 9/11 to mount another major attack on the United States. That’s roughly twice as many people as thought so a year after 9/11. It’s the worst assessment recorded in the last 15 years. Today, only 25 percent of Americans say terrorists are less capable of mounting a major attack. While 31 percent say they’re every bit as capable today as they were on 9/11.
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Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) Wednesday, his first visit to a U.S. mosque since becoming president.
ISB leaders have amassed a record of support for radical Islamic causes over the years, including endorsing the Chechen jihad and Palestinian suicide bombings. Its former imam was active in a charity later linked to terror financing including Hamas, the Taliban, and for providing “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to Osama bin Laden.
More recently, a resident scholar described homosexuality as a threat to societal health, in stark contrast to the president’s views on the issue.
It’s safe to assume the White House vetted the ISB and found it an acceptable venue for a presidential appearance despite this history. And that is not surprising. The Obama administration has repeatedly embraced contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, repeatedly meeting with its officials during and after the Arab Spring while ignoring secular democracy advocates. It praised the early tenure of Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi when he briefly served as Egypt’s president. The administration also helped a Brotherhood delegation skip routine screening by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon landing in America.