Two high-profile terrorist attacked allegedly linked to al-Qaeda
may shine a revelatory light on the terrorist organization's goals and
strategies. What clues do the failed Detroit airline bomber and the Jordanian double-agent's suicide attack on Afghanistan Forward Operating Base Chapman provide for engaging and predict al-Qaeda? Here's what we may have learned.
- The Cost of Supporting Israel Salon's Glenn Greenwald points to reports that the suicide-bombing double agent didn't turn until the Israeli war in Gaza "changed" him. "There's just no question that the U.S.'s loyal enabling of (and support for) Israel's various wars with its Muslims neighbors contributes to terrorist attacks directed at Americans." But he concedes, "Al Qaeda leaders who actually care little about the Palestinian cause have a history of exploiting that issue to generate public support. The fact that Terrorists object to Policy X does not prove that Policy X should be discontinued."
- Al-Qaeda's Non-Strategy Spencer Ackerman describes it as, "Kill People & Blow Stuff Up." He notes that the Jordanian double-agent's decision to blow himself up rather than spy on them and provide them with misinformation makes him an unusual, and not so effective, double-agent. The attack "raises the prospect that al-Qaeda might think it knows all it needs to know about U.S. intelligence operations in eastern Afghanistan."
- We're 'Fighting Blind' Time's Joe Klein warns that intelligence on al-Qaeda remains dangerously sketchy. "[I]t is likely that the attack on FOB Chapman will spill over into the efforts to train the Afghan army and police -- which was always an iffy proposition and now faces a massive security question: How many of these trainees are actually reporting to Mullah Omar and bin Laden? After eight years in Afghanistan, is it possible that we're still fighting blind?" He writes, "Given the skill of this operation, how trustworthy are the other sources the CIA has been using to help target its drone attacks against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan?"
- 'The Butt Bomb' The New Republic's Michael Crowley explores "the alarming concept of explosive Al Qaeda asses." He explains of anally secreted explosives, which have been used in the past to bypass rigorous security, "even full-body-image scanners at airports might not detect anally stashed explosives. The upside is that much of the blast from such a rear-end bomb would be absorbed by the terrorist's body--perhaps enough of the explosion that the airplane would not crash."
- What Recruits Terrorists RedState chief Erick Erickson insists it's not the prison at Guantanamo Bay. " According to Barack Obama, Al Qaeda keeps attacking us and recruiting new terrorists because GTMO exists. Unfortunately for Obama, Al Qaeda says the recent attack on the CIA was actually because of our drones. If we follow Obama's logic that the existence of GTMO causes terror attacks, we must conclude that Obama will now shut down the remote drone program."
- 'Terrorists Are Stupid' James Joyner thinks it's just that simple. "Like most other criminals, terrorists just aren't very smart. Given how lousy we are at catching them, that's a good thing." He points to the suicide bomber who "blew up seven low-level agents rather than actually gaining complex intelligence or at least waiting for a higher-profile target" and to the Detroit bomber who carried no luggage with him. "Anyone who even remotely keeps up with the news knows that one-way tickets and a lack of luggage are going to raise eyebrows. So, why wouldn't terrorists -- let alone those sent by the well-financed al Qaeda to pull of major jobs -- avoid these traps?"