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