Al Qaeda

Bin Laden had the book on Obama

Featured image Being on bin Laden’s bookshelf has become, in a way, the modern version of being on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. Bob Woodward gets a special award. He gained both distinctions, if that’s the right word. Politico contacted some of the authors in question for comment. Warning: Greg Palast’s response is nausea-inducing. What should we make of the bookshelf? Above all, it confirms that bin Laden was obsessed with the United »

Bin Laden’s Correspondence

Featured image Today the Director of National Intelligence declassified and posted on the DNI web site 103 documents that were recovered during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound, along with a variety of other materials. Among those other items is a list of 39 books in English that were found at the compound. Let’s start with the books. While there are some legitimate works of history, the list is heavy »

Tide turns against Assad in Syria

Featured image The Assad regime has suffered a series of setbacks in its fight against rebel forces to the point that its ability to retain power appears to be in jeopardy, the Washington Post reports. Walter Russell Mead concurs. Both the Post and Mead cite Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria. He says “we may be seeing signs of the beginning of the end.” The most important signs are on »

Baathists “pervade” ISIS; weren’t they supposed to be secularists?

Featured image According to the Washington Post, former members of Iraq’s Baathist army play a “pervasive role” in ISIS. This is true, says the Post’s Liz Sly, not only in Iraq but also in Syria. ISIS evolved from al Qaeda in Iraq. It was well known that Baathists played an important role in that outfit. Sly says that the former Baathist officers became even more prominent when ISIS rose from the ashes »

Someone misled us on AQ’s demise

Featured image The Wall Street Journal carries an important column by Steve Hayes and Tom Joscelyn on the status of al Qaeda. The column is “How America was misled on al Qaeda’s demise.” The column is behind the Journal’s subscription paywall but accessible here via Google. One of the central themes of President Obama’s campaign for reelection in 2012 rested on the proposition that he had essentially defeated al Qaeda. By one »

ISIS on the march in Iraq; al Qaeda on the march in Yemen

Featured image This week, President Obama proclaimed that ISIS is on the defensive and that its morale is low. He cited no evidence, but if indeed ISIS’s morale had flagged, it will receive a pick-me-up from the capture by ISIS forces of an Iraqi town just a few miles away from a military base where hundreds of U.S. advisers are stationed. The town is called al-Baghdadi. The U.S. base lies only five »

U.S. offers reward on ex-gitmo poet

Featured image The United States government has put al Qaeda’s Ibrahim al-Rubaish on a global terrorist list and offered a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts. Once we knew his whereabouts — Guantanamo Bay detention center. But in 2006, the U.S. released Rubaish to Saudi Arabia where he was to be “rehabilitated.” At the time, Rubaysh was a poster child for the terrorist detainee-sympathizing, anti-Gitmo crew. Marc Falkoff, a lawyer »

Dianne Feinstein and her one-sided, self-serving report on enhanced interrogations

Featured image The big news today will be the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation policy during the Bush years, which has finally been made public. The mainstream media will see to it that the story dominates the headlines. It already dominates the Washington Post’s main page. I expect we’ll have lots to say about the report, whose contents have been leaked over the past months. For now, I’ll link »

Obama’s syrian proxies routed

Featured image The Free Syrian Army and Harakat Hazm were formed with the intention of fighting the Assad regime. President Obama hoped to convert them into forces that could help degrade ISIS. But over the weekend, both groups found themselves in combat against neither Assad nor ISIS. Instead, they fought Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. It did not go well. Both groups were routed. Many fighters surrendered. Many more scattered. »

The Khorasan Group — it’s legit

Featured image Last night I wrote about the “Khorasan Group” — the name used to describe operatives sent by al Qaeda to Syria for the purpose of plotting attacks against the West. In discussing the unusual name attached to these operatives, I quoted two experts on terrorism who speculated in the Washington Post that the name was supplied by Washington. Based on this reporting, I concluded: Perhaps further investigation will reveal that »

Does Obama have congressional authority to bomb ISIS?

Featured image Yesterday at the Heritage Foundation, a distinguished panel considered whether the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in 2001 authorizes President Obama to bomb ISIS. Steve Bradbury, a terrific lawyer who headed up the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during President George W. Bush’s second term, argued that the AUMF confers this authority. Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas and »

What’s in the Khorasan name?

Featured image “The Khorasan Group.” It sounds like a consulting firm, or maybe an orgiastic cult. Actually, though, it’s the name applied to a terrorist outfit the Obama administration targeted for bombing in Syria earlier this week in attacks separate from those aimed at ISIS. But what kind of terrorist organization is the Khorasan Group and where does the name come from? According to the reports I’ve read, the Khorasan Group is »

Obama’s “Yemen model” is failing in Yemen

Featured image In his address to the nation about countering ISIS, President Obama said that the will model for his strategy will be the one we have employed in Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP). That strategy consists of relying on the Yemeni government to combat AQAP on the ground and pitching in with targeted air strikes to degrade that terrorists’ leadership. On its face, the applicability of the »

Obama’s legal justification for asserting the power to attack ISIS: ironic and weak

Featured image President Obama initially justified air strikes against ISIS on the legal theory that, as commander-in-chief, he has a responsibility to protect U.S. citizens and facilities. However, as Eli Lake points out, Obama’s battle against ISIS quickly expanded into an effort to protect Iraqi infrastructure. And now it has expanded into an effort (how serious we don’t know) to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. By what legal theory does Obama justify this »

No bright line separates ISIS and al Qaeda

Featured image A source from deep within the intelligence world has commented on my post about Walter Russell Mead’s article concerning ISIS. Mead’s thesis is that ISIS is more radical, better organized, and better financed than al-Qaeda. And now that it controls some of the most strategic territory at the heart of the Middle East, ISIS poses a greater threat to the United States than any of its jihadist predecessors. My source »

Is Obama too sanguine about al Qaeda’s threat to the homeland?

Featured image Amidst all the straw men President Obama grappled with during his mushy commencement speech at West Point were a few serious points. One of them was this: [T]he need for a new strategy reflects the fact that today’s principal threat no longer comes from a centralized Al Qaida leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized Al Qaida affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in countries where they operate. And this »

Hillary Clinton, Boko Haram, and Obama’s most dangerous lie

Featured image Hillary Clinton, we now know, strongly opposed placing Boko Haram on the State Department’s official list of foreign terrorist organizations. According to Josh Rogin, the Justice Department (including the FBI), the CIA, and more than a dozen senators and congressmen wanted Boko Haram designated a foreign terrorist organization, but Clinton successfully resisted. Boko Haram wasn’t so designated until late this year, after Clinton had left Foggy Bottom. Now that Boko »