Inside Opinion

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Tag: al-Qaida


A new kind of terrorism on American soil

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Anyone who thinks the war on terror is something less than a war should take a better look at the images out of Boston on Monday.

Innocent runners and spectators — not soldiers — deliberately targeted. An 8-year-old among the dead; many survivors gravely injured. Limbs blown off. Streams of blood on the pavement.

Most sobering of all is the certainty that many rejoiced at the carnage. Hatred of the United States — of the entire West — is endemic in parts of the world. Some in this country share the sentiment. Read more »


Helping lawmakers get re-elected isn’t Army’s mission

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Many members of Congress stumping for re-election back in their districts decry government spending and those awful earmarks. Except (wink, wink) our earmarks, that is.

That’s as good an explanation as any for why the House more than tripled funding for a 70-ton tank the Army doesn’t need or want – and added hundreds of millions more for other items the Pentagon didn’t request, including an anti-drug program that duplicates one performed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It’s all about jobs that lawmakers can brag about preserving in their districts. If it means the Army gets more tanks that have little use in the kinds of war it’s been fighting in the 21st century, so be it.

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Legal martyrdom for an ‘American’ terror leader

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

As a couple Supreme Court justices and others have noted, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. It doesn’t require the president to passively watch international terrorists mount attack after attack on Americans from safe havens beyond the reach of the law.

Barack Obama’s decision to kill an al-Qaida leader hiding in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, was thoroughly justified regardless of al-Awlaki’s U.S. citizenship.

Some civil libertarians complain that this American-bred terrorist was denied his constitutional right to due process. U.S. agents, presumably, were supposed to try to arrest him in some terrorist snake pit, risking his escape and their lives, in hopes of spiriting him off to America to receive a court-appointed attorney, a proper trial and the usual rounds of appeals.

There’s no real doubt that al-Awlaki was an eager would-be murderer of Americans. His fiery calls for terror attacks were openly posted on the Internet; by all accounts he was complicit in the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger jet in 2009 and the 2010 plot to detonate bombs concealed in printer cartridges at various U.S. targets, including a Jewish center in Chicago.

Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of massacring 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, reportedly exchanged many emails with al-Awlaki prior to the attack.

Al-Awlaki’s nationality seems about as relevant as the U.S. citizenship of a few German soldiers who fought against Americans in World War II. The struggle with al-Qaida abroad is a war, not a courtroom drama.
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For Osama bin Laden, no more human sacrifices

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

One of the most telling details reported from the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday was the human shield. The female human shield.

Those who studied the scene of the firefight say that one of his wives was physically positioned to protect one of the men who was shot, whose number included one of bin Laden’s sons and two of his brothers.

The woman may have shared his murderous values, but in al-Qaida, females are not fellow warriors on an equal footing. It looks as if she didn’t choose

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On trial: Terrorists, courts and military tribunals

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

As a matter of political reality, President Obama’s hopes of trying high-value Guantanamo terror suspects in civilian courts probably died Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

When a New York jury wound up acquitting an accused al-Qaida bomber of more than 224 murder charges – charges the Justice Department had been confident would stick – the verdict was instantly politicized as evidence that terrorists can’t be held to account with normal criminal prosecutions.

But the reaction is itself evidence that, more than nine years after the terror attacks of 9/11, too many Americans continue to let fear compromise their notions of justice.

The jury’s decision was admittedly screwy.

Ahmed Ghailani – the first Guantanamo detainee tried in federal court – stood accused of helping blow up two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. Incriminating evidence abounded, but the judge prevented federal prosecutors from calling a key witness because the CIA had extracted his identity from Ghailani during coercive interrogations.

Based on the evidence that was admitted, the jurors convicted Ghailani of conspiring to blow up the buildings – but not of killing the 224 people killed by the explosions.

Administration officials found consolation in the single conviction, which could put Ghailani away from 20 years to life. Still, that is only one conviction short of a complete shutout for the Justice Department.
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Another far-too-close call with airborne explosives

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Americans have been in a roaring argument with each other all year about the future course of the country.

But last week brought a chilling reminder that some see us not as Republicans, Democrats or whatever, but as infidel Westerners worthy of nothing but death.

Two high-explosive bombs expertly concealed in printer ink containers appear to have been designed to explode in flight en route to the United States. They’d been addressed to two Jewish centers in Chicago. In the minds of Islamic terrorists, all Americans deserve hatred, but some deserve more hatred than others.

The bombs came from Yemen, which in the last couple years has become a full-fledged base of operations for al-Qaida. The local franchise is called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula; it consists of high-end professionals, like the man believed to have constructed these devices, as well as rank-and-file Islamist warriors who’ve fled a welcome crackdown on terrorists in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Like last year’s attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, this was way too close a call.
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Small-timers: The new face of terrorism?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Terrorism and competence don’t always coincide, thank goodness.

Whoever was behind it, the attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square last weekend was clearly an act of terror. A deadly explosion in the middle of Manhattan would have created considerable anxiety in the nation’s leading city. The FBI is now investigating the possible involvement of international terrorism.

Fortunately, it was the work of a first-class bungler. The black SUV parked amid the crowds of Times Square held three patio grill-sized tanks of propane, two jugs of gasoline, firecrackers and 100 pounds of fertilizer.
This was more Three Stooges than Hollywood thriller. The fertilizer was not the kind that blows up. The propane might have been serious business, but the perpetrator bungled the detonation.
And firecrackers?

It’s somewhat reminiscent of the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound jet, in which the would-be terrorist tried to set off an explosive hidden in his pants and wound up only setting his legs on fire.
And that was reminiscent of “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid’s failed attempt in 2001 to trigger explosives in his boots after he’d apparently deactivated them with his sweaty feet. Any explosion on an aircraft could easily kill everyone on board, but you’ve first got to get the bomb to go off.

It increasingly looks as if meticulously planned and flawlessly executed monstrosities like the 9/11 and London subway bombings will be rare in the war against terror. The United States is more likely to see lots of small-time attacks carried out by “lone wolves” and tiny groups with minimal connections to international organizations.
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Eight years later, dots still unconnected

Eight years later, dots still unconnected.

In a mere week and a half, the Obama administration’s line on the Christmas Day terror attempt has undergone a remarkable evolution.

The weekend before last, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asserted that Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was acting alone. President Obama described him as “an isolated extremist.”

How did they know? They didn’t. A few days later, Obama said that al-Qaida “trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America.”

On Tuesday came something far more disturbing. Obama said explicitly that U.S. intelligence had reports of Abdulmutallab’s ties to al-Qaida prior to the attack, “but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list.”
If that’s true, it’s shocking news eight years after 9/11.
Read more »