Clifford May challenges the view of the Washington foreign policy establishment that, though we should be concerned about the reconstitution of al Qaeda in Pakistan, we have little reason to fear that al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) will attack our homeland. Members of this same establishment believed during the 1990s that al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan posed no threat to our homeland. In their zest to see us pull out of Iraq, they seem to have forgotten how wrong they were then.
As May reminds us, the most recent National Intelligence Estimate found that AQI is al Qaeda’s “most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the [U.S.] homeland.” Already, AQI has launched attacks outside of Iraq. Its suicide bombers attacked three hotels in Jordan in 2005, and CBS News has reported that British intelligence services believe the recent filed attacks in London and Glasgow “bear the finger-prints of al Qaeda in Iraq.” And Abu Musab Zarqawi, who commanded AQI forces in Iraq until our forces killed him, pledged that his followers would “fight today in Iraq, tomorrow in the land of the Holy Places and after there in the West.” What reason is there in history or logic to doubt that this isn’t the progression they have in mind?
It’s odd to hear analysts who assure us that the U.S. presence in Iraq has turned thousands of Muslims into virulent haters of America simultaneously claim that the most committed of these enemies (the ones who are risking their life in Iraq) will be content (unlike their predecessors in Afghanistan) to leave the U.S. alone once they have established their foothold in Iraq. This looks like a case of wishful thinking trumping logical thinking.
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