Al-Qaeda is back in vogue

Islamic terrorism and al-Qaeda in particular seemed to be in the doldrums, what with military defeats and drone attacks.  But now that an al-Qaeda franchise took over that natural gas installation in Algeria–at last count, 38 hostages killed, including 3 Americans–its stock is reportedly soaring in the radical Islamic world and more young people are getting excited about terrorism again.  So reports Joby Warrick in the Washington Post:

A week of violence in Algeria and Mali has transformed al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch into a cause celebre for militant Islamists around the globe, boosting recruitment and fundraising for the jihadists and spurring fears of further terrorist attacks in the region and beyond. [Read more...]

Hostage bloodbath

Information and details about the hostage situation in Mali are uncertain and contradictory.   But it seems that Algerian forces have stormed the natural gas facility.  Reuters reports that 30 hostages were killed (more than we were told there were), though some escaped.  The fate of the Americans was not known.  From Reuters:

Thirty hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants were killed on Thursday when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas plant in a bid to free many dozens of Western and local captives, an Algerian security source said. [Read more...]

Another hostage crisis

The French intervention into Mali spilled over to other countries, as Islamic radicals in Algeria attacked a natural gas facility and seized at least 20 hostages, including  7 Americans, as well as French, British, and Japanese nationals.  From Reuters:

Islamist fighters seized dozens of Western and Algerian hostages in a dawn raid on a natural gas facility deep in the Sahara on Wednesday and demanded France halt a new offensive against rebels in neighboring Mali.

Three people, among them one British and one French, were reported killed, but details were sketchy and numbers of those held at Tigantourine ranged from 41 foreigners – including perhaps seven Americans as well as Japanese and Europeans – to over 100 local staff, held separately and less closely watched. [Read more...]

France starts its own Iraq

Back when the U.S.A. invaded Iraq, the French refused to join the “coalition of the willing” and opposed our efforts, leading to Americans making fun of French military prowess and making anti-French gestures such as re-labeling a favorite food indulgence as “freedom fries.”  But now the French–not us–have embarked on a military invasion of a Muslim country, the West African nation of Mali (a former French colony)  in order to quell al Qaeda terrorism and the establishment of an Islamist state.  Not only that, this is the work of the left-wing socialist government of President Francois Hollande, who is as far from a George W. Bush figure as one could imagine.  Evidently, the war on terrorism and fighting back against Islamic jihad is not necessarily a right/left, conservative/liberal issue. [Read more...]

The new 9/11 attack in Libya

The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, was killed, along with three other Americans, when Islamists fired rocket grenadees at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.   Mobs were protesting an American-made movie ostensibly funded by Jewish militants entitled  Innocence of Muslims, which depicts Mohammad and portrays him (some say pornographically) as a sexual predator.  (All that had been released was a YouTube trailer, since taken down.  See this on questions about the filmmaker.)  Officials are saying, however, that the protests may have only been a cover for a planned attack designed to avenge the recent assassination by drone of a major al-Qaeda leader on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The killing of an Ambassador is traditionally considered an act of war.  American warships are taking positions off Libya and Marines have moved in to secure the Embassy.  Meanwhile, the protests over the film are spreading to other Muslim countries, with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo under siege.  With the alleged Jewish connection to the movie, Israel will be a sure target.

For details, see  U.S. officials: Attack on consulate in Libya may have been planned – The Washington Post.

Also this.

So now a major international crisis breaks out just before the election.  For the political fallout, see this.  Normally, when America is attacked, the country rallies together and partisan divisions are set aside.  But Mitt Romney has chosen to take the occasion to blast President Obama for his foreign policy weakness and his poor handling of this incident.  Now Romney is getting blowback for inappropriate and unpatriotic criticism at a time of crisis.  Who’s right here?

 

“The war on terror is over”

Michael Hirsh, writing in the National Journal, in the course of a discussion of the Obama administration’s new Middle East policy quotes an unnamed State Department official as declaring that “the war on terror is over.”

The Obama administration is taking a new view of Islamist radicalism. The president realizes he has no choice but to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood and other relatively “moderate” Islamist groups emerging as lead political players out of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. The Muslim Brotherhood officially renounced violence decades ago, leading then-dissident radicals such as Ayman al-Zawahiri to join al Qaida.

It is no longer the case, in other words, that every Islamist is seen as a potential accessory to terrorists. “The war on terror is over,” one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told me. “Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.” In a Tuesday night update to this post, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor clarified that while the “war on terror” concept has been dropped, “we absolutely have never said our war against al Qaida is over. We are prosecuting that war at an unprecedented pace.”

The new approach is made possible by the double impact of the Arab Spring, which supplies a new means of empowerment to young Arabs other than violent jihad, and Obama’s savagely successful military drone campaign against the worst of the violent jihadists, al Qaida.

Some of the smarter hardliners on the Right, like Reuel Marc Gerecht, are coming to realize that the Arab world may find another route to democracy–through Islamism. The question is, how will this play politically at a time when Obama’s GOP rival, Mitt Romney, is painting the president as a weak accommodationist?

via Can Obama Safely Embrace Islamists? – 2012 Decoded.

Thus, the end of the war on terrorism does not mean that we can have a big celebration in Times Square, much less that we can stop getting strip searched at airports.  It means that the administration wants to cozy up to at least some jihadists, without considering them our enemies.

Wise or unwise?

 


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