Terrorism under the radar

A great piece by Praveen Swamiin in India's the Hindu that lists the dozen or so terrorist busts in the US in the last few months that included plans to attack not only the United States but other countries as well.

What struck me as I read this article was that we have not seen this kind of "big picture" coverage of terrorism anywhere in the American media that I have noticed. When examined from the standpoint that these arrests can be seen as diligent attempts by al-Qaeda and their offshoots to inflict large scale attacks on America, you realize what a huge mistake the Obama administration is making in downplaying the very idea of a "War on Terror."

Ever since February, authorities have detected almost a dozen jihadist operations targeting the United States - or using it as a staging post for attacks elsewhere. In March, at least 20 men were reported to have returned home to fight with the Islamist group al-Shahab - recruited by a Somali-American cell operating out of Minneapolis. Four men were held in May for planting inactive explosives, provided by a police informant, outside synagogues in New York. The next month, seven North Carolina men were held for planning attacks in Israel and Pakistan.September saw the detection of three major plots. Inspired by Islamists at a Flushing mosque, and his imagination fired by the Indian televangelist Zakir Naik, Afghan-born and Pakistan-trained Najibullah Zazi is alleged to have been preparing to set off several improvised explosive devices. Jordanian Hosam Maher Smadi and Illinois resident Michael Finton were also held for attempting to set off car bombs which had been provided to them by undercover agents.

In October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana. First held on charges of planning an attack on the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in Copenhagen, the two men are now thought to have played a role in the reconnaissance which preceded the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

In the weeks after the Headley-Rana arrests, U.S. authorities held Boston resident Tarek Mehanna and Ahmad Abousamra for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. The men were allegedly planning attacks on shopping malls, using automatic weapons.

Also, at the end of October, "FBI agents killed Detroit mosque leader Luqmaan Ameen Abdullah, after an exchange of fire with members of Ummah" - a radical group based here that sought to open training camps to arm jihadists.

What is going on here? First, it is apparent that law enforcement - national, state, and local - is doing a good job of identifying threats and snuffing them out before the plans of the terrorists can be carried out. That part of the story is somewhat comforting.

But as Swamiin points out, most of these threats along with other arrests prior to this year, mostly point to one nation where the jihadis train and organize; Pakistan. What Swamiin calls "autonomous jihad" in America was largely born and bred in the terrorist training camps of Pakistan.

Looking at this "big picture" highlights the danger to America. And the old saw about terrorism - "Terrorists only need to get lucky once" - rings especially true when you realize that the odds are shortening in the terrorists favor.


A great piece by Praveen Swamiin in India's the Hindu that lists the dozen or so terrorist busts in the US in the last few months that included plans to attack not only the United States but other countries as well.

What struck me as I read this article was that we have not seen this kind of "big picture" coverage of terrorism anywhere in the American media that I have noticed. When examined from the standpoint that these arrests can be seen as diligent attempts by al-Qaeda and their offshoots to inflict large scale attacks on America, you realize what a huge mistake the Obama administration is making in downplaying the very idea of a "War on Terror."

Ever since February, authorities have detected almost a dozen jihadist operations targeting the United States - or using it as a staging post for attacks elsewhere. In March, at least 20 men were reported to have returned home to fight with the Islamist group al-Shahab - recruited by a Somali-American cell operating out of Minneapolis. Four men were held in May for planting inactive explosives, provided by a police informant, outside synagogues in New York. The next month, seven North Carolina men were held for planning attacks in Israel and Pakistan.

September saw the detection of three major plots. Inspired by Islamists at a Flushing mosque, and his imagination fired by the Indian televangelist Zakir Naik, Afghan-born and Pakistan-trained Najibullah Zazi is alleged to have been preparing to set off several improvised explosive devices. Jordanian Hosam Maher Smadi and Illinois resident Michael Finton were also held for attempting to set off car bombs which had been provided to them by undercover agents.

In October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana. First held on charges of planning an attack on the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in Copenhagen, the two men are now thought to have played a role in the reconnaissance which preceded the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

In the weeks after the Headley-Rana arrests, U.S. authorities held Boston resident Tarek Mehanna and Ahmad Abousamra for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. The men were allegedly planning attacks on shopping malls, using automatic weapons.

Also, at the end of October, "FBI agents killed Detroit mosque leader Luqmaan Ameen Abdullah, after an exchange of fire with members of Ummah" - a radical group based here that sought to open training camps to arm jihadists.

What is going on here? First, it is apparent that law enforcement - national, state, and local - is doing a good job of identifying threats and snuffing them out before the plans of the terrorists can be carried out. That part of the story is somewhat comforting.

But as Swamiin points out, most of these threats along with other arrests prior to this year, mostly point to one nation where the jihadis train and organize; Pakistan. What Swamiin calls "autonomous jihad" in America was largely born and bred in the terrorist training camps of Pakistan.

Looking at this "big picture" highlights the danger to America. And the old saw about terrorism - "Terrorists only need to get lucky once" - rings especially true when you realize that the odds are shortening in the terrorists favor.


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