NATIONAL SECURITY: by John MillerNews Weekly
Global terrorist threat escalates
, February 6, 2010
The latter half of 2009 saw the number of terrorist cases and arrests increase. September was something of a golden month for the US Department of Justice when court proceeding began against a number of apprehended terrorist suspects.
Interestingly, some Somali migrants to the US had obtained American documentation and travelled back to the land of their birth to engage in jihad, fighting for al-Shabaab, about which little was known at the time but which is aligned with al Qaeda. This happened in the same timeframe as a number of Australian citizens of Lebanese and Somali background were arrested and charged under our much-maligned anti-terrorist legislation.
A target of one group of the Australian plotters was to be the Holsworthy army base in south-west Sydney. The planned attack was reminiscent of the attack on the hotels in Mumbai in late 2008 and another, early in 2009, against the police academy in Lahore, Pakistan. These attacks were carried out by heavily-armed terrorists who aimed to kill as many people as possible before either being killed or escaping.
If the attack in Australia had been successful, the outcome would have been terrible to contemplate. Firearms on Australian military bases are secured except when being used or cleaned, as is the case in the UK and US.
However, the attack by Major Nidal Hasan on the Fort Hood army base in Texas on November 5, 2009, demonstrated a grave weakness in America's national security. Here was a man of Jordanian extraction who had sworn an oath to the US and its Constitution and armed forces. As we now know, this meant nothing when he prepared himself, in typical Islamic terrorist fashion, by giving away his possessions and leaving farewell messages before killing 13 people, including fellow soldiers about to be redeployed and, tragically, a pregnant woman.
Not long afterwards, on Christmas Day, a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young man from a well-to-do family, who had apparently been radicalised in the UK and given training in Yemen, attempted to blow up almost 300 passengers on board Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.
He had managed to secrete explosives on his body before boarding the flight. However, possibly because of a failure of will, Abdulmutallab belatedly attempted to detonate the charges on the approach to Detroit. He was tackled by a Dutch tourist and other passengers and duly secured before landing.
Being male, he had hidden the explosives in his underpants and, while the device failed to detonate fully, he was left with severe burns. He was arraigned and charged on Boxing Day.
This case recalls that of the so-called Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid (also known as Abdul Raheem and as Tariq Raja), a British convert to Islam of Jamaican descent.
On December 22, 2001 - a mere three months after 9/11 - he boarded American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. During the flight he lit a match and attempted to ignite a shoe packed with explosives until he was tackled and restrained by other passengers.
I await with interest a full account of the case of Abdulmutallab, not out of morbid curiosity, but because of the dimensions of the problem it has raised an America.
One respected journal, the left-liberal online Salon
magazine went so far as to say that too much had been made of the case. One can only wonder what magnitude of terrorist outrage would be sufficient to rouse the concern of the writer and editor of that article.
The American public, however, has been gripped by this case and it was seen as a test of the Obama presidency.
The immediate reactions were surprisingly laid back. The Secretary for Homeland Security Ms Janet Napolitano made something of a fool of herself with her initial statement, on December 27, saying that the "system had worked", only to be followed up a few days later with a cringe-inducing about-face.
This is scarcely surprising, for this is the person who has forced the language of political correctness onto the US intelligence community.
Ms Napolitano is notorious for, first, describing terrorism as a human-caused disaster (without any acknowledgement of its Islamic objectives and overtones) and, second, for raising a ruckus by suggesting that troops returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan could be security risks by joining militia groups aligned to the more feverish elements of the political right.Islamic jihad
Although President Obama declared forcefully that America was at war with al Qaeda, his speech made no reference to other Islamic terrorist groups which once appeared in their hundreds on the Department of State list of terrorist organisations, but which has been pared back. Nor did he refer to the Islamic jihadist nature of the terrorist activity.
Many American security experts have concluded that the jihad against the US and its allies has changed its methods. Rather than a 9/11-style "big bang" approach, the objective now is death by a thousand cuts.
Whether terrorists are amateur or professional, rich or poor, they are prepared to attack the West using the destruction of aircraft to undermine our will and resistance.John Miller is a former senior intelligence officer.