So Obama thinks the problem of terrorism has receded to pre-9/11 levels and we can call the whole thing off. Won’t be long now before the New York Times re-runs the Larry Johnson article from July 2001, “The Declining Terrorist Threat,” which confidently proclaimed:
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. . .
Although high-profile incidents have fostered the perception that terrorism is becoming more lethal, the numbers say otherwise, and early signs suggest that the decade beginning in 2000 will continue the downward trend. . . terrorism is not the biggest security challenge confronting the United States, and it should not be portrayed that way.
Good call, Larry.
Has anyone sent the Obama memo to al-Qaida? Oh, that’s right—al-Qaida comprises “loose networks” of “lone wolves” and other lowlifes, and now that Osama bin Laden is dead, they are as rudderless as a George Lucas Star Wars prequel. There’s no central office to send the Obama memo to.
The AP has a fascinating article out yesterday that explains how al-Qaida is highly organized like a corporate bureaucracy complete with a board of directors, expense reports from the field, and business plans, culminating in the staggering fact that the North Africa chapter raised an estimated $89 million for jihadist activity through kidnappings and ransoms. That starts to look like a serious business model. The AP story relates what amounts to a “performance review” of one of the leading North African terrorists, who left the company for his own startup after a critical annual review:
The complaint reflects how al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, initially considered one of the group’s weaker wings, rose to prominence by bankrolling its operation with an estimated $89 million raised by kidnapping-for-ransom foreign aid workers and tourists. No less than Osama bin Laden endorsed their business model, according to documents retrieved in the terror leader’s hideout in Pakistan.
The letter also confirms for the first time that payments from European governments went directly toward buying arms to carry out attacks against Western targets, as long speculated by experts. The council chides Belmoktar for not following this practice. . .
The list of slights is long: He would not take their phone calls. He refused to send administrative and financial reports. He ignored a meeting in Timbuktu, calling it “useless.” He even ordered his men to refuse to meet with al-Qaida emissaries. And he aired the organization’s dirty laundry in online jihadist forums, even while refusing to communicate with the chapter via the Internet, claiming it was insecure.
Sounding like managers in any company, the Shura leaders accuse Belmoktar of not being able to get along with his peers. They charge that he recently went to Libya without permission from the chapter, which had assigned the “Libya dossier” to a rival commander called Abou Zeid. And they complain that the last unit they sent Belmoktar for backup in the Sahara spent a full three years trying to contact him before giving up.
JOHN adds: This is Michael Ramirez’s cartoon today: