Sunday, August 13, 2006

Al Qaeda remains strong and more needs to be done

Shehzad Tanweer has been dead for more than a year now, however, he had an uncanny level of knowledge about what the summer of 2006 would be like. We know this because he recorded a video with al Qaeda. CBS News:
The video, broadcast by Al-Jazeera, showed Shehzad Tanweer delivering the warning shortly before the July 7, 2005, attacks that killed 52 people and the four bombers.

"What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger," Tanweer said in the video, and, in a Yorkshire accent says attacks will continue "until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq."

Tanweer, 22, killed six people and himself aboard a London Underground train.
Yet, there is still a "debate" about whether we are safer today than we were before the administration of George W. Bush launched the war on terror.

British intelligence and police services have done noble work in disrupting the airline plot last week. But, this report in the Times of London is quite worrying:
The thwarting of the alleged plot has, however, failed to quash continuing fears among counter-terrorist experts. Senior security officials have briefed ministers that a “second phase” of attacks may be about to be launched.

At least two suspects escaped last Wednesday night’s police raids. Although they are not thought to be significant players, there remain concerns that they may now be galvanised into taking some form of unspecified action.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s deputy head, is said to have warned in a message placed on a restricted extremists’ website last month that the terrorist group was planning two large-scale attacks this autumn.
The Independent reports staggering numbers in Britain:
According to one report last night, al-Qa'ida's leader in Britain could have been held in the raids. But security sources estimate that as many as 1,200 people here are actively involved with terrorism, and that the country is still under "very severe" threat from other potential terrorist plots. This, they added, explained why there were no immediate plans to lower the current national threat assessment from "critical", its highest level.
This latest indication of Zawahiri's evil intentions fits the apparent intent of al Qaeda and should be viewed as ominous. Ron Suskind summarizes al Qaeda's intent in TIME:
Three years hence, this analysis seems borne out by London. Not only was the attack moving toward execution as Israel and Hizballah ignited the Middle East, but 10 planes exploding over the Atlantic or in U.S. airspace would indeed have created what U.S. experts believe our jihadist opponents desire: an upward arc of terror and dread between a second-wave attack and whatever might follow, five or even 10 years down the road.
Al Qaeda remains capable of plotting attacks, apparently one year in advance if we are to believe Tanweer (and we should). Al Qaeda remains potent and quite dangerous. We may feel like we're ahead of them at this point, but we are not. It's most likely a much closer call.

We have not done enough against al Qaeda in the Global War on Terror, despite the claims of our president.

The Chicago Tribune:
Until recently, many counterterrorism officials believed that extremist enclaves in Pakistan largely offered inspiration, ideological inculcation or even limited training for a new generation of militants living in the West who became radicalized or inspired by Al Qaeda propaganda.

The potential lethality of these cells ranged from the apparently innocuous, such as the so-called paintball jihadists in Virginia, to the extreme, including the London transit bombers who killed themselves and 52 others last year.

But the nature of the alleged trans-Atlantic plot foiled last week, a scheme that appears to have required substantial technical expertise and detailed planning, suggests the "homegrown" groups that pose the greatest terrorism threat may now be receiving more significant support, if not direct coordination, from within Pakistan.
The New York Daily News:
"A Muslim should prepare himself ... until he reaches the highest knowledge available, like nuclear or biological weapons," lectures a bearded Libyan squatting on the rocky ground. "A Muslim should try hard to own such weapons."

The appalling scene could be Osama Bin Laden's Afghanistan training camp before former President Bill Clinton pulverized it with cruise missiles in August 1998.

But these videos were shot recently - likely this year - at a secret Al Qaeda camp somewhere in the tribal no-man's land that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Al Qaeda has comfortably rebased itself on the border," terrorism expert Peter Bergen, who recently returned from Afghanistan, told the Daily News.

Proof of this is a surge of suicide attacks in Afghanistan, the scores of tapes released by Bin Laden's henchmen and a "resurgence of Al Qaeda training on the border," Bergen said.
The al Qaeda "pipeline" remains dangerous, with a number of potential plots in the works. We remain largely blind to the scope of this threat.

Note this AP story:
(AP) As the British terror plot was unfolding, the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology.

Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of Homeland Security Department steps that have left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.

Homeland Security's research arm, called the Sciences & Technology Directorate, is a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course," Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee declared recently.

"The committee is extremely disappointed with the manner in which S&T is being managed within the Department of Homeland Security," the panel wrote June 29 in a bipartisan report accompanying the agency's 2007 budget.

Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., who joined Republicans to block the administration's recent diversion of explosives detection money, said research and development is crucial to thwarting future attacks, and there is bipartisan agreement that Homeland Security has fallen short.

"They clearly have been given lots of resources that they haven't been using," Sabo said.
On Meet the Press today, Tom Keane of the 9/11 Commission said:
MR. KEAN: If you don’t make the defense of the American people your top priority, you’re not doing your job.
Are we safer with Bush's war on terror? That is an easier question than the debate would lead us to believe. It is true that important legislation has been passed and that good counterterrorism operations have been waged across the globe. But, we should be a lot safer than we are today; there are too many jihadists on the planet, and they remain very active.


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