A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle taxis down the runway at an air base in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/US Air Force, Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
It ought to be pretty clear that President Obama doesn’t have the slightest clue about what to do about terrorism and radical Islam.
How else to explain why the United States, after saying that Al Qaeda is pretty much dead and buried, closed nearly twenty embassies around the world last week after US intelligence agencies intercepted a single message from the leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Pakistan to the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen? And then, making things worse, the United States unleashed an unprecedented barrage of terrorist-creating drone strikes against targets in Yemen? And, finally, with allied branches of Al Qaeda in both Syria and Iraq, the United States is offering to help Iraq’s government battle the group—which is setting off waves of suicide bombs that kill hundreds—while, at the same time, supporting the same Al Qaeda group in Syria?
The New York Times, in reporting on the Yemen drone strikes—which, it notes, in the past have “set off a major public backlash against the United States”—points out that the strikes have been targeting mid-level radicals, not its leaders and not necessarily anyone plotting any attacks against US targets:
Senior American intelligence officials said last week that none of the about three dozen militants killed so far in the drone strikes were “household names,” meaning top-tier leaders of the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But the American official said the strikes had targeted “rising stars” in the Yemen network, people who were more likely to be moving around and vulnerable to attack. “They may not be big names now,” the official said, “but these were the guys that would have been future leaders.”
Meanwhile, in Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and elsewhere, radical Islamists and Al Qaeda types have been freed in bold prison raids and other releases, the same Times piece reports:
Al Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate orchestrated attacks in late July that freed hundreds of inmates from two prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib, American officials said. A few days later, more than 1,000 prisoners escaped under murky circumstances at a prison near Benghazi. In another attack, fighters stormed a prison at Dera Ismail Khan, just outside Pakistan’s tribal belt, freeing nearly 250 inmates.
Needless to say, the Obama administration’s overreaction to the threat of terrorist attacks, in Yemen and elsewhere, has much to do with the continuing aftermath of the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya—which was not Al Qaeda–related—that became a Republican party political football that is still being kicked around. (It’s also true, of course, that the Republicans refuse to fund better security for US embassies and other facilities around the world.)