Breaking: Counterterrorism operation in Georgia?

September 29, 2010

Something’s going on just west of Atlanta:

A team of federal agents stopped tractor-trailers on Interstate 20 just west of Atlanta, inspecting each truck as it passed through a weigh station, and Channel 2 has learned its part of a counter-terrorism operation.

(…)

A TSA spokesman told Channel 2 the event is known as Visible Inter-mobile Prevention and Response, or VIPER, an operation that is conducted with local authorities as a training exercise. The TSA spokesman said the operation is not in response to a specific threat.

However, federal sources told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne the inspections are part of a counter-terrorism operation.

News Chopper 2 showed screening devices, dogs and a large drive-through bomb detection machine in use along the eastbound interstate near Lee Road.

It could just be an exercise, but given the recent news out of Europe and the increased American drone-strikes in Pakistan, one has to wonder if this is connected. I’ll update if any more news comes out.

Via Jihad Watch

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


O where, o where, did my 17 Afghans go?

June 18, 2010

Call me crazy, but isn’t this a problem? Even kinda-sorta?

Alert Issued for 17 Afghan Military Members AWOL From U.S. Air Force Base

A nationwide alert has been issued for 17 members of the Afghan military who have gone AWOL from an Air Force base in Texas where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, FoxNews.com has learned.

The Afghan officers and enlisted men have security badges that give them access to secure U.S. defense installations, according to the lookout bulletin, “Afghan Military Deserters in CONUS [Continental U.S.],” issued by Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Dallas, and obtained by FoxNews.com.

The Afghans were attending the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The DLI program teaches English to military pilot candidates and other air force prospects from foreign countries allied with the U.S.

“I can confirm that 17 have gone missing from the Defense Language Institute,” said Gary Emery, Chief of Public Affairs, 37th Training Wing, at Lackland AFB. “They disappeared over the course of the last two years, and none in the last three months.”

So, Muslim Afghans with military training and carrying valuable ID badges have just been going AWOL for two years? Umm… Jihad? Taqiyya? Shouldn’t we be a wee bit concerned?

Yes, but not quite in the way you think. From another part of the article:

A senior law enforcement official said Friday that the Afghans’ disappearance was more of an immigration violation than a security threat, saying there are no “strong indications to any terrorism nexus or impending threat.”

The official further said that an unspecified number of the 17 have been caught. “A number of these guys have already been located or accounted for by now,” the official said. “Some are in removal proceedings to be deported already. (Authorities) still need to locate the others, and that is why the bulletin went out.”

Okay, so some have been caught and they seem to have just been illegal immigrants, as opposed to jihadis. While FOX engaged in more than a bit of sensationalism in the headline quoted above, it doesn’t appear that this is some sort of mass jailbreak of jihadis with bombs strapped to their bellies, but something that happens often with a small fraction of the foreigners brought here for training and education.

Still, there are reasons to be concerned. Consider:

  • Because the captured Afghans had not committed acts of jihad terrorism does not mean they wouldn’t have, nor that those still out in the wild won’t. We must remember how Islamic doctrine enables the jihadist to dissimulate when in infidel lands to protect himself, conceal his real purpose, and justify his mission.
  • Those saying “there’s no real terrorism problem here” could be just as blinded by political correctness as those who failed to do anything about Major Nidal Hasan, the jihadist traitor who gunned down 14 people at Ft. Hood.
  • Even if these Afghans were not terrorists, even if they were just like “any other” illegal immigrant, the fact that we lost track of them and the restricted IDs they carried is another sign of our unwillingness to do what is necessary to guard against those who would pretend to be our allies. It’s another sign of how we are leaving ourselves inexcusably vulnerable.
  • Our complaisance in the shelter of our own vast power and our inability, even after 9/11, to conceive that “it could happen here” gives our enemies openings to attack us. Remember, on that day four jetliners were turned into deadly missiles by 15 Muslims armed only with boxcutters.

Thus the problem isn’t so much the 17 Afghans who have gone walkabout over the last couple of years (at least, I hope it won’t be much of a problem), as it is our apparent failure after nearly ten years of war with jihadist Muslims to take seriously the threat posed by those who are pretending to be our friends or at least be harmless. Because there is no magic device that can read the soul, we must be wary of those practicing taqiyya to insinuate themselves among us. And that means dropping the politically correct blinders and admitting that 17 missing Afghans with security IDs could be a serious problem.

Again, I am not saying all Muslims are terrorists; far from it. Most in the United States just want a peaceful life in a new land. But it is beyond dispute that the vast majority of terrorists active in the world today are Muslims who have chosen to obey the command of  Qur’an 9:111:

Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur’an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.

They’re still trying to kill us, so let’s not make it easy for them.

(via Obi’s Sister)


Home-grown jihadis, made in the USA

November 1, 2009

It’s not just foreign jihadis trying to attack America. No, lunatics born and bred here are taking up the sword of Islam to wage war against the West. The Long War Journal reviews recent developments:

In recent months, the US has experienced an alarming rise in jihadist activity. In the last two months alone, five terror plots have been foiled by the FBI, and there have been dozens of other arrests for various related crimes, such as providing material support for terrorists. The plots have been directed at targets at home and abroad, both civilian and military. The arrests clearly demonstrate the potential for al Qaeda and other extremist groups to recruit and carry out attacks in the US.

The extent of influence by al Qaeda and allied groups is evident in their ability to convince potential terrorists in other countries to come to the US with the intention of carrying out attacks; it is also shown by the capacity of these groups to indoctrinate US citizens and nationals. The case of Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan national accused of plotting attacks in the US, stands out in what has been described as the biggest plot against America since 9/11. Listed below are the incidents that have occurred so far in 2009.

Be sure to read the linked article to get the whole depressing picture.

They’re still trying to kill us.


Boot on boots on the ground

October 23, 2009

Afghanistan – what should we do? That’s the question that bedevils the Obama administration, even though the alleged Commander in Chief announced his decision for a counterinsurgency back in March to great fanfare, declaring the world’s safety was “at stake.” Then, having appointed a general to determine how that strategy would best be implemented, the President had a WTF moment when General McChrystal made it known he was going to ask for 40-50,000 more troops to implement that strategy. Now the White House has apparently decided to un-decide its March decision so it can again conduct a “top to bottom” review of Afghan policy in order to decide (again) on a strategy. (Much to the annoyance of Darth Vader Dick Cheney.)

Voices on the Right have supported an aggressive Afghan strategy to defeat al Qaeda and its Taliban allies (who are these days almost indistinguishable), but have differed sharply over how to do it. Some argue for a counterterrorism strategy, narrowly targeting al Qaeda with Special Forces and missile strikes and worrying far less about what they deride as “nation-building.” Others argue for a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy that concentrates on protecting the Afghan population from the depredations of the Taliban, gaining their trust and cooperation, which would isolate the enemy and allow aggressive operations against them. Again, General McChrystal has recommended COIN.

Max Boot, a foreign policy and strategy analyst and former advisor to the McCain presidential campaign, argues for the COIN approach and believes in giving McChrystal all he wants and more. As part of his case, he cites the success already reached in small areas of Afghanistan with a limited COIN approach. There’s No Substitute for Troops on the Ground:

“I HOPE people who say this war is unwinnable see stories like this. This is what winning in a counterinsurgency looks like.”
Lt. Col. William F. McCollough, commander of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, is walking me around the center of Nawa, a poor, rural district in southern Afghanistan’s strategically vital Helmand River Valley. His Marines, who now number more than 1,000, arrived in June to clear out the Taliban stronghold. Two weeks of hard fighting killed two Marines and wounded 70 more but drove out the insurgents. Since then the colonel’s men, working with 400 Afghan soldiers and 100 policemen, have established a “security bubble” around Nawa.
Colonel McCollough recalls that when they first arrived the bazaar was mostly shuttered and the streets empty. “This town was strangled by the Taliban,” he says. “Anyone who was still here was beaten, taxed or intimidated.”
Today, Nawa is flourishing. Seventy stores are open, according to the colonel, and the streets are full of trucks and pedestrians. Security is so good we were able to walk around without body armor — unthinkable in most of Helmand, the country’s most dangerous province. The Marines are spending much of their time not in firefights but in clearing canals and building bridges and schools. On those rare occasions when the Taliban try to sneak back in to plant roadside bombs, the locals notify the Marines.
The key to success in Nawa — and in other key districts from Garmsir in the south to Baraki Barak in the center — has been the infusion of additional United States troops. The overall American force in Afghanistan has grown to 68,000 from 32,000 in 2008. That has made it possible to garrison parts of the country where few if any soldiers had been stationed before. Before the Marines arrived in Nawa, for instance, there were just 40 embattled British soldiers there.

“I HOPE people who say this war is unwinnable see stories like this. This is what winning in a counterinsurgency looks like.”

Lt. Col. William F. McCollough, commander of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, is walking me around the center of Nawa, a poor, rural district in southern Afghanistan’s strategically vital Helmand River Valley. His Marines, who now number more than 1,000, arrived in June to clear out the Taliban stronghold. Two weeks of hard fighting killed two Marines and wounded 70 more but drove out the insurgents. Since then the colonel’s men, working with 400 Afghan soldiers and 100 policemen, have established a “security bubble” around Nawa.

Colonel McCollough recalls that when they first arrived the bazaar was mostly shuttered and the streets empty. “This town was strangled by the Taliban,” he says. “Anyone who was still here was beaten, taxed or intimidated.”

Today, Nawa is flourishing. Seventy stores are open, according to the colonel, and the streets are full of trucks and pedestrians. Security is so good we were able to walk around without body armor — unthinkable in most of Helmand, the country’s most dangerous province. The Marines are spending much of their time not in firefights but in clearing canals and building bridges and schools. On those rare occasions when the Taliban try to sneak back in to plant roadside bombs, the locals notify the Marines.

The key to success in Nawa — and in other key districts from Garmsir in the south to Baraki Barak in the center — has been the infusion of additional United States troops. The overall American force in Afghanistan has grown to 68,000 from 32,000 in 2008. That has made it possible to garrison parts of the country where few if any soldiers had been stationed before. Before the Marines arrived in Nawa, for instance, there were just 40 embattled British soldiers there.

This mirrors the Coalition experience in Afghanistan, where small examples of counterinsurgency’s effectiveness foreshadowed the immense success of the “surge” strategy in 2007-08. And while it’s foolhardy to apply a program as a one-size-fits-all template without considering local conditions, the Marines’ experience at Nawa and elsewhere indicates that COIN could work in Afghanistan, too, if given enough time and resources.

But there are serious questions, largely revolving around the hold of Islam on the population: Can a COIN strategy genuinely separate the population from the Taliban and al Qaeda, who claim to be mujahideen, “holy warriors?” Or will they only claim to be on our side, but instead practice taqiyya (religiously sanctioned deception), taking the goodies we offer but helping their Muslim brethren, fellow members of the Ummah? (Which I suspect would be the argument of Robert Spencer, an expert on Islam who grants great weight to its hold on the believer.) If the latter, then COIN would be a waste. I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the middle and that it will come down to “how many are there of each.” How many will genuinely back us, as opposed to those playing us for infidel suckers?

Based on our experiences in Iraq and the success of small COIN projects in Afghanistan, such as at Nawa, and given the expertise of Generals McChrystal and Petraeus (Servator Respublicae Iraqi!), I’m inclined to support the COIN strategy as “not guaranteed, but well-worth trying.” Afghanistan is the land from which the attacks of September 11th, 2001, were launched, and we can ill-afford to let the Taliban and al Qaeda come to dominate it again.

You decided on counterinsurgency once already, Mr. President. Now, act like a commander-in-chief and stick to it.

Related Reading: As I said, there’s been an argument on the Right about counterinsurgency versus counterterrorism.  Following are links to five articles that I think capture this debate and are well-worth your time to read. All these authors are top-notch:

  • Andy McCarthy writes against COIN, arguing that it’s folly to attempt “…the unlikeliest of social-engineering experiments: bringing big, modern, collectivist, secular government to a segmented, corrupt, tribal Islamic society”
  • Ralph Peters contends angrily that COIN is crazy, and it’s getting our troops murdered.
  • Max Boot has his own angry answer to McCarthy, and says McChrystal’s COIN strategy is the only way to win in Afghanistan and that the last eight years prove it.
  • Frederick Kagan makes his own persuasive argument that counterinsurgency is the way to go and that counterterrorism’s kill-and-capture methods have been shown not to work in the long run.
  • Finally, McCarthy replies to his critics to say that, if you don’t understand Islamic ideology, you don’t understand the problem in Afghanistan.

The articles are best read in the order presented, I think.


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