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Barack Obama is ending his presidency like he has conducted it: in a fantasy land. Yesterday, in a farewell speech to the special forces community at McDill Air Force Base, he claimed that there has been no foreign directed terrorist attack on American soil during his presidency. His carefully chosen words are misleading at best and most likely wrong. The main reason that a large scale attack, planned overseas has not happened is because radical Islamic jihadists have changed their tactics to one that now focuses on training and inspiration. President Obama’s words minimize the very real current threat.

Here’s what President Obama said yesterday.

We should take great pride in the progress we’ve made over the last eight years. That’s the bottom line. No foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland [applause], and it’s not because they didn’t try.

That statement depends on what one means by “foreign terrorist organization.” There have been multiple attacks on our homeland, during his presidency, that have been at the very least inspired by “foreign terrorist organizations.” In some cases, the perpetrators allegedly received training at foreign terrorist bases before carrying out the attacks in the United States.

The hair splitting by President Obama misses the broader picture.

President Obama’s comments yesterday are one of the reasons America has lost standing in the world. Since July of 2015 there have been eight jihadist attacks in the United States. Almost all of the inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. As someone who was in Boston on the day of the Marathon bombing, it is hard to forget that attack, yet President Obama seemingly does.

Earlier this year, I reviewed Peter Bergen’s book, “The United States of Jihad.” I discussed then the switch in focus form directed attacks, to inspiring jihad. Here’s what I wrote then.

After U.S. military actions destabilized the command and control functionality of Al-Qaeda, the organization made a shift to uncoordinated, or decentralized jihad.

Part of the shift was the publication of the online magazine, Inspire. That magazine played a role in two recent jihad attacks on the homeland, Boston and San Bernardino, as both sets of terrorist got bomb making skills allegedly from the publication.

Art Cummings, a former Navy Seal, turned FBI counter-terrorism agent told Bergen, “we used to say that we would never let a terrorist group establish sanctuary ever again in a country like al-Qaeda did in Afghanistan. Well they don’t need to attach to geography anymore. It already exists. It’s on the Web. It’s pure sanctuary.”

Whether foreign terrorist organizations plan or inspire attacks, they are still ultimately responsible. The hair splitting by President Obama misses the broader picture.

Here are just a few of the “foreign terrorist” connections of jihadis who have attacked the United States.

Tsarnaev Brothers

Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the jihadis who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, were “heavily influenced by al Qaeda,” according to testimony at Dzhokhar’s trial. The FSB — the Russian intelligence service — believed that the elder Tsarnaev, Tamerlan, spent time with terrorists when he travelled to the Caucus region of Russia.

Little Rock recruiting office shooter

In June of 2009, Obama’s first year in office, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammed, an African-American born Carlos Bledsoe, attacked a military recruitment office in Little Rock, Arkansas and killed Private William Long. In his book, Bergen outlined how Bledsoe went to Yemen to wage jihad. On pages 62-63 of the book, Bergen outlined that Bledsoe spent significant time in the Al Qaeda hotbed.

Following instructions to report to the FBI, Bledsoe met again with Thomason, who tried to recruit him as an informant. When Bledsoe refused, the FBI stopped tracking him. This decision is hard to reconcile with the information the Bureau had at the time. After all, Bledsoe had just been arrested in Yemen with a fake Somali identification care, jihadist literature and manuals on bomb making and guns. Perhaps this information was not properly communicated by the Yemeni intelligence service, but even so, Bledsoe’s long stay in Yemen and his arrest should have been enough to raise concerns about what he might do next. Michael Leiter, director of the NCTC [National Counter-Terrorism Center], believes that the FBI committed an unequivocal error by not apprising the rest of the intelligence community about its information on Bledsoe. “There should have been broad dissemination on this,” he later said.

Times Square jihadi

USA Today, recounts how the narrowly failed jihadi Faisal Shahzad got training.

Faisal Shahzad, who tried in 2010 to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square, told investigators he learned to make bombs in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan near the Afghan border.

Shahzad allegedly received training by a foreign jihad organization. The only reason his attack failed was because the bomb did not detonate, not because American law enforcement or intelligence services thwarted the attack. According to the New York Times, the attempted attack occurred in the spring of 2010.

The focus on rooting out radical Islamic jihad promised by the incoming Trump administration should go a long way in both giving the American people a truer picture of the threat — without misdirection — and in ending the threat. President Obama’s false bravado, and parsing of words is one of the reasons that Trump won the election.



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