« | »

NYT: No Reason To Fear Terrorist Attacks

From the terrorists’ very own flagship media outlet, the New York Times:

Rethinking Our Terrorist Fears

By SCOTT SHANE

September 27, 2009

WASHINGTON — Eight years after 9/11, the specter of terrorism still haunts the United States. Just last week, F.B.I. agents were working double time to unravel the alarming case of a Denver airport shuttle driver accused of training with explosives in Pakistan and buying bomb-making chemicals. In Dallas, a young Jordanian was charged with trying to blow up a skyscraper; in Springfield, Ill., a prison parolee was arrested for trying to attack the local federal building. Meanwhile, the Obama administration struggled to decide whether sending many more troops to Afghanistan would be the best way to forestall a future attack.

But important as they were, those news reports masked a surprising and perhaps heartening long-term trend: Many students of terrorism believe that in important ways, Al Qaeda and its ideology of global jihad are in a pronounced decline — with its central leadership thrown off balance as operatives are increasingly picked off by missiles and manhunts and, more important, with its tactics discredited in public opinion across the Muslim world.

“Al Qaeda is losing its moral argument about the killing of innocent civilians,” said Emile A. Nakhleh, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency’s strategic analysis program on political Islam until 2006. “They’re finding it harder to recruit. They’re finding it harder to raise money.”

Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and forensic psychiatrist, counted 10 serious plots with Western targets, successful and unsuccessful, that could be linked to Al Qaeda or its allies in 2004, a peak he believes was motivated by the American-led invasion of Iraq the year before. In 2008, he said, there were just three.

Dr. Sageman has been in the forefront of those who argue that the centrally led Al Qaeda responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is giving way to a generation of dispersed, aspiring terrorists linked largely by the Internet — who still pose a danger, but of a lesser degree.

“I said two years ago it was a diminishing problem, and everything I’ve seen since then has confirmed it,” Dr. Sageman said of what counterterrorism specialists call Al Qaeda Central.

Dr. Sageman is not alone in that assessment. Audrey Kurth Cronin, a professor at the National War College in Washington, cites the arcs of previous violent extremist groups, from the Russian People’s Will to the Irish Republican Army, that she studied for her new book, “How Terrorism Ends.”

“I think Al Qaeda is in the process of imploding,” she said. “This is not necessarily the end. But the trends are in a good direction.” …

The celebration in many Muslim countries that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has given way to broad disillusionment with mass killing and the ideology behind it, according to a number of polls.

Between 2002 and 2009, the view that suicide bombings are “often or sometimes justified” has declined, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, from 43 percent to 12 percent in Jordan; from 26 percent to 13 percent in Indonesia; and from 33 percent to 5 percent in Pakistan (excluding some sparsely populated, embattled areas). Positive ratings for Osama bin Laden have fallen by half or more in most of the countries Pew polled

In addition, Al Qaeda, for all its talk of global religious war, offered no practical solutions for local problems: unemployment, poverty, official corruption and poor education. “People realized bin Laden didn’t have anything to offer,” Dr. Mandaville said

Even those who are convinced Al Qaeda is growing weaker offer a cautious prognosis about what that might mean. They say that what is growing less likely is an attack on American soil with a toll equal to or greater than that of 9/11. But they concede that the example of Al Qaeda will continue to produce copycats: “Bin Laden has given others a narrative, a grand story of struggle, and he’s given them tactics as well,” Dr. Mandaville said.

Dr. Sageman said the United States should approach the threat not with hysteria, but with a careful analysis of the motives and patterns of people drawn into violent plotting.

“Terrorism,” he added, “is here to stay.”

The news last week made that crystal clear, but it also made clear a corresponding reality: counterterrorism, too, is here to stay, and is achieving some successes. Al Qaeda has no entirely safe haven today, and the Afghanistan debate is over how to keep it that way. And if the arrest of Mr. Zazi sent a shudder through many Americans, it’s worth remembering that it came before any bombs went off.

Mind you, this is supposed to be a news article.

(For the record, note that this was written by the New York Times national security expert, Scott Shane. The same intrepid reporter who saw nothing wrong in leaking the name of the CIA interrogator who questioned Khalid Sheik Mohammed.)

Dr. Sageman said the United States should approach the threat not with hysteria, but with a careful analysis of the motives and patterns of people drawn into violent plotting.

Weirdly, The Times neglected to get any quotes from those who think the threat of terrorism should be approached with hysteria.

Al Qaeda has no entirely safe haven today, and the Afghanistan debate is over how to keep it that way. And if the arrest of Mr. Zazi sent a shudder through many Americans, it’s worth remembering that it came before any bombs went off.

We are just about to make Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorists once again.

And we are supposed to be reassured that the threat from terrorism has abated because Mr. Zazi and the three other terrorists plotting major attacks were caught?

Oh, and lest we forget, this is the same New York Times that ran another amazingly similar editorial by yet another supposed terrorism expert, (the well known crackpot) Larry C. Johnson, a mere two months before the 9/11 attacks:

The Declining Terrorist Threat

By LARRY C. JOHNSON
Published: July 10, 2001

Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villains in our popular entertainment, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

None of these beliefs are based in fact. While many crimes are committed against Americans abroad (as at home), politically inspired terrorism, as opposed to more ordinary criminality motivated by simple greed, is not as common as most people may think.

At first glance, things do seem to be getting worse. International terrorist incidents, as reported by the State Department, increased to 423 in 2000 from 392 in 1999. Recently, Americans were shaken by Filipino rebels’ kidnapping of Americans and the possible beheading of one hostage. But the overall terrorist trend is down. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, deaths from international terrorism fell to 2,527 in the decade of the 1990’s, from 4,833 in the 80’s

[T]errorism against American interests is rare. There were three attacks on American diplomatic buildings in 2000, compared with 42 in 1988. No Americans were killed in these incidents, nor have there been any deaths in this sort of attack this year.

Of the 423 international terrorist incidents documented in the State Department’s report ”Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000,” released in April, only 153 were judged by the department and the C.I.A. to be ‘’significant.” And only 17 of these involved American citizens or businesses…

I am not soft on terrorism; I believe strongly in remaining prepared to confront it. However, when the threat of terrorism is used to justify everything from building a missile defense to violating constitutional rights (as in the case of some Arab-Americans imprisoned without charge), it is time to take a deep breath and reflect on why we are so fearful.

Part of the blame can be assigned to 24-hour broadcast news operations too eager to find a dramatic story line in the events of the day and to pundits who repeat myths while ignoring clear empirical data. Politicians of both parties are also guilty. They warn constituents of dire threats and then appropriate money for redundant military installations and new government investigators and agents.

Finally, there are bureaucracies in the military and in intelligence agencies that are desperate to find an enemy to justify budget growth. In the 1980’s, when international terrorism was at its zenith, NATO and the United States European Command pooh-poohed the notion of preparing to fight terrorists. They were too busy preparing to fight the Soviets. With the evil empire gone, they ”discovered” terrorism as an important priority.

I hope for a world where facts, not fiction, determine our policy. While terrorism is not vanquished, in a world where thousands of nuclear warheads are still aimed across the continents, terrorism is not the biggest security challenge confronting the United States, and it should not be portrayed that way.

Larry C. Johnson is a former State Department counterterrorism specialist.

If history is any precedent, we should be girding our loins for another major terrorist attack.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, September 28th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “NYT: No Reason To Fear Terrorist Attacks”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “Dr. Sageman said the United States should approach the threat…….. with a careful analysis of the motives and patterns of people drawn into violent plotting.”

    FYI, that is done, as a matter of course. Apparently Dr Sageman thinks the defenders of freedom in the US are a bunch of bumbling dolts, not an astute intellectual, like him.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      “[T]errorism against American interests is rare. There were three attacks on American diplomatic buildings in 2000, compared with 42 in 1988.”

      Hurricanes that strike the Carolinas are rare. In 2008, there were none, compared to 1989, when there were three.

      —-Ipso facto, I should build my house in Myrtle Beach out of sticks. Because the odds tell me it’s safe.

      Empty argument Doctor.

  2. proreason says:

    The canary in the coal mine just chirped.

  3. caligirl9 says:

    Just … wow.

    On occasion I get to work with an expert on terrorism (in the transportation setting). I wonder why he says pretty much the opposite of what this Ph.D,-holding hack has to say. I guess this academic’s qualifications (time in the CIA and a shrink) trump the expertise of a former Green Beret who has been studying terrorism since … Vietnam (pretty much).

    The U.S. needs to be vigilant because the threats are out there, same as they ever were,

    Attacks on diplomatic buildings don’t send the message terrorists want to send. They are not shocking enough, and not enough damage is done nor are enough people hurt or killed. Even I know that …

  4. beautyofreason says:

    It was an excellent, excellent choice to point out the NYT’s ignorance/revisionism on terrorism by including the July 01 article. Thank you.

    Animals have an instinctive method for responding to threats called fight or flight. Liberals have chosen to psychoanalyze the threat, offer condolences and to run away against both nature and reason, convinced that the threat no longer exists. They refuse to confront the fact that some groups – particularly Islamic ones – are irrational and hellbent on causing harm to people of American descent and non-Muslims.

    “And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

    None of these beliefs are based in fact.”

    Fact: 1,424 Islamic terrorist attacks have been carried out since 9/11.

    I feel a lot less safe in my own country under this administration than I did under Bush.

  5. canary says:

    Seriously, I think the New York Times has been infiltered, or getting something under the table for this treasonous reporting.
    1. Obama wants to go after Pakistan now.
    2. Iran becoming more bold to spread islam threatening to destroy us
    3. Indonesia extremists become more barbaric every day
    3. Africa muslim extremists worse than ever.
    4. Afganistan worse than in 2001, regressing since Obama took office.
    5. Libya & Liberia becoming more extreme
    6. UK’s streets are ran by Islam.
    7. U.S. looking more like the UK
    8. A muslim U.S. president that honors muslims, more than Christians or Jews.

  6. proreason says:

    Brilliant essay by Thomas Sowell about how disastrous “smart” people like Obamy can be:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2009/09/29/the_brainy_bunch?page=2

    The only thing he says I disagree with is that the Moron doesn’t seem very smart to me. He hasn’t accomplished anything in his life, other than being around when his handlers destroyed his electoral opponents, and away from the TOTUS, he’s just another fumbling bumbling lying politician. No better or worse than Van Jones, who nobody has annointed as a genius yet.


« Front Page | To Top
« | »