Thursday, June 12, 2008

Al-Qaida Pressured, But Remains 'Lethal Foe,' Chairman Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

June 12, 2008 - Although al-Qaida's operations in Iraq have been battered, the
terrorist organization remains a threat to be reckoned with, the U.S. military's top officer said here today. Al-Qaida is "on the run in Iraq," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted at a Government Executive Magazine-hosted breakfast at the National Press Club. The terrorists, he said, are being pressured by U.S. and Iraqi security Forces, as well as concerned citizens who want al-Qaida out of their country.

However, al-Qaida remains a "lethal foe" of the United States, Mullen cautioned, noting the
terrorist group hasn't given up its intent to attack America again. Al-Qaida, he noted, even is "growing in some parts of the world," such as the Horn of Africa region.

Al-Qaida's
leadership "is still planning against us," Mullen pointed out. The terrorist group, he said, runs training camps in northwestern Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas, and al-Qaida operatives are known to enter Afghanistan from Pakistan to attack coalition and Afghan security forces.

U.S. and Pakistani troops aligned along the border have cooperated in efforts to stem the flow of insurgents into Afghanistan, Mullen said.

The United States and Pakistan, he said, both are investigating a recent border incident in which Pakistan claims some of its troops were killed by U.S. munitions during an anti-insurgent operation.

"The details of this [incident] are still not clear," Mullen said, noting the investigation is continuing.

Mullen cited the difficulty of maintaining
security along what he described as a "porous" Afghanistan-Pakistan border. "It's a very challenging area," Mullen said of the border region, noting Pakistan has a serious extremist problem.

Pakistan is a sovereign nation with a new government that will have to grapple with the extremist issue, along with food, energy and other challenges, Mullen observed.

Pakistan also is an ally of the United States in the war against
terrorism, Mullen pointed out, and a number of pacts between the two nations regarding border security and other issues are being worked.

The United States made prior agreements with Pakistan regarding border
security issues that realized limited success, Mullen recalled.

"These agreements have occurred before, but they haven't been enforced," Mullen noted.

1 comment:

John Maszka said...

...we're going to get them, no matter what it takes. This act will not stand; we will find those who did it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running and we'll bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them (Bush, 2001e).

Seven years have passed. The United States has met with failure, disaster, and world-wide public disapproval. This article by Gerry J. Gilmore realistically addresses the security issues we continue to face in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iraq, and as well as all over the world. It has a hint of optimism mixed with realism that is difficult to interpret.

Whether one is a hawk or a dove, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, we all want to win. We all agree that 9/11 was tragic, criminal...(insert your adjective here). The fundamental disagreement concerns what we should do about it. We should all realize by now, however that a military solution to terrorism is a last-resort option that has not worked because we used it first. In doing so, we simply started a multi-front asymetric war that did more to condone the terrorist strategy than it did to combat it.

Jessica Stern (2004:1121-2) quotes from Zawahiri’s autobiography, in which he refers to the “crusader” alliance and the “fundamentalist coalition” which opposes it: “It is anxious to seek retribution for the blood of the martyrs, the grief of the mothers, the deprivation of the orphans, the suffering of the detainees, and the sores of the tortured people throughout the land of Islam.”

Whether we in the west agree with Zawahiri’s particular brand of propaganda is irrelevant. The true issue is, what are we doing to either confirm or dispel it in the minds of one billion muslims?

Stern cautions that the Bush administration is giving Zawahiri every media advantage he could dream of to muster support for al-Qaeda. Not only does Stern claim that the Bush administration’s approach to fighting the war on terror is immoral when she refers to “the heart-wounding images of American soldiers humiliating, torturing, and killing Iraqi prisoners,” she also suggests that it’s just not very smart:
"If bin Laden were writing a script for George Bush and Tony Blair to follow, would he not command them to attack and occupy a Muslim country in defiance of the international community and in violation of international law? And would it not be his fondest wish to see the 'new crusaders' humiliate those Muslims, and themselves, in the most graphic way possible? Having those soldiers photograph their crimes might have seemed too much to ask for."

What the Bush administration is missing is the bigger picture. Far more than an engaging game of “whack-a- mole,” the United States government is facing a world-wide mutiny against the existing order.

“Western governments must recognize that the tiny proportion of the population that ends up in terrorist cells cannot exist without the availability of broader sources of active or passive sympathy, resources and support” (Cronin, 2006:81).

But how do terrorist groups obtain this support from the broader population? Given the offenses committed by the Bush administration, angering Muslims by the millions, the only challenge that remains for extremist organizations is to unite the Muslim population against a common enemy (that would be us). By invading and occupying muslim states, the US is doing the job for them.

Scott Atran (2006:136, 143) offers an explanation of how this is accomplished:
"The edited snippets and sound bites favored by today’s mass media have been used with consummate skill by jihadi leaders and ideologues, beginning with bin Laden himself. As a result, deeply local and historically nuanced interpretations of religious canon have been flattened and homogenized across the Muslim world and beyond, in ways that have nothing in particular to do with actual Islamic tradition but everything to do with a polar reaction to perceived injustice in the prevailing unipolar world...Historically and today, it is desecration of sacred places and perceived humiliation, even more than death and destruction, that has moved people to embrace violence."

The United States in supposed to be the most advanced democracy on the planet, but we are be daftly outstrategized.

"Thus it is said that one who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements." Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Isn't it time we begin to understand the enemy and engage it on terms that will allow us to prevail?

“We are in a battle, and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media... [We] are in a media battle for the hearts and minds of our umma.”
- Ayman-al-Zawahiri, July 2005 (reprinted in Lynch, 2006:50).