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The War On Islam Is Over, But...

In a clear break from former president George Bush's two national security strategies issued in 2002 and 2006 which endorsed unilateral military action and spoke of the threat posed by "Islamic extremism," President Obama has unveiled a new national security strategy which calls for more global engagement and aims to downplay fears that the U.S. is "at war" with Islam.


President Obama also expressed his desire to break away from the unilateral military approach of "either you are with us or against us" established in the wake of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.

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"While the use of force is sometimes necessary, we will exhaust other options before war whenever we can and carefully weigh the costs and risks of action against the costs and risks of inaction," President Obama said.


Not since Mr. Obama addressed the Arab and Muslim worlds from a podium at Cairo University on June 4, 2009, pledging "to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims," did the U.S. president send a clear and powerful message that America's foreign policy towards 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe has changed.


The 52-page document, entitled National Security Strategy, distanced the administration of President Barack Obama from the Bush-era doctrine of preemptive war and emphasized global cooperation and robust diplomacy to make the use of military force less likely to be updated every four years. The document omitted some of the most controversial language from the Bush administration, like the phrase "global war on terror" and references to "Islamic extremism".


"Yet this is not a global war against a tactic - terrorism, or a religion - Islam. We are at war with a specific network, al-Qaeda, and its terrorist affiliates."


Earlier on Saturday, the President, while offering a glimpse of his new national security doctrine to the West Point 2010 Cadets, reiterated his administration's position towards Islam and that of the actions of extremists and terrorists.


"Extremists want a war between America and Islam, but Muslims are part of our national life, including those who serve in our United States Army. Adversaries want to divide us, but we are united by our support for you soldiers, who send a clear message that this country is both the land of the free and the home of the brave."


Obama's National Security Strategy has been read carefully across the globe, and he has been widely credited with improving the tone of U.S. foreign policy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds. However, with unfinished wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nuclear standoff with Iran, and no progress on peace between Palestinians and Israelis, his words remain just words. We understand that the war on Islam is over, but war should end in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine as well.


Article originally published on the Huffington Post
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Lost in Translation

"The buck stops with me," declared President Obama on Thursday as he spoke about the results of an internal investigation into the failed Christmas Day airline bombing attempt. The president avoided blaming any particular agency or official for the security failures that allowed Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board an American airliner heading from Amsterdam to Detroit wearing explosives in his underpants.

Now, after the fact, this incident has sparked a renewed interest in Yemen, a country I warned about as a "powder keg" back in August, and a slew of new security measures at airports to make our travel experience more miserable than it currently is. Travelers will soon get used to going through full-body scanners, like they have gotten used to taking off their shoes at security checkpoints at airports, ever since Richard Reid, aka the shoe-bomber, tried unsuccessfully to take down another airliner in late 2001. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda and other groups will try to find other methods to bypass the new security measures until they succeed.


CIALast summer, Abdullah Asieri, one of Saudi Arabia's most wanted men, avoided detection by two sets of airport security including metal detectors and palace security, by borrowing a trick from the Columbian cartel. Asieri had a pound of high explosives, plus a detonator inserted in his rectum. His target was Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, head of Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism operations. The bomb was remotely detonated via a cellular phone call, but the Prince miraculously was left lightly wounded. The assassination attempt failed, but al-Qaeda managed to defeat security.

The US security failure is not at airports, but rather with overseas intelligence agencies. The President did not name the agency, but I will: the CIA, which has done a shoddy job of gathering information in Arab and Muslim countries and has relied heavily on information provided by security agencies of corrupt and despotic regimes.

What Americans should be worried about is not the few failed attempts by the likes of Reid or Abdulmutallab, but rather by what happened recently with the suicide bomber, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a medical doctor who had been recruited by Jordanian intelligence and then agreed to work for the CIA. He was assigned a Jordanian handler who had a close working relationship with the CIA and was subsequently sent to Afghanistan to help locate top al-Qaeda leaders. In reality, he was also a jihadist sent to infiltrate US intelligence: a "triple agent!"

The reason this succeeded is due to the fact that Afghanistan is an intelligence nightmare, and the CIA does not have enough Arabic or Pashto speakers on the ground. This is also the case in Yemen, Somalia, and Northern Africa, a fact that was confirmed to me by a former CIA employee. Many of he CIA's so-called Middle East specialists lack the language skills needed to analyze the material provided to them and rely on translations, which, as part of my experience producing a news show from the Middle East, I have discovered can be misleading and inaccurate. Many CIA agents are no different than those so-called experts on al-Qaeda that one sees on CNN or FOX news.

This latest infiltration of the CIA is worse than a thousand Abdulmutallabs, and will certainly cause a setback to the agency for years to come, something that the President did not talk about.

 

Article first published on the Huffington Post

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9/11: Good War, Bad War, No War

Eight years have passed since the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and the U.S. government is still waiting to pay the $25 million reward it has offered to anyone who provides information leading to Osama bin Laden's capture.

Meanwhile, almost eight years have passed since the U.S. has launched Operation Enduring Freedom, less than a month after the attacks of 9/11, in order to destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban government that harbored the group. It was supposed to be a swift and decisive victory until the U.S. botched an effort to nab bin Laden in late 2001 in Afghanistan's Tora Bora region. His trail has since gone cold, and everything has gone wrong.Bin Laden's Wanted Poster

 

George W. Bush shifted his attention to Iraq. We were told that the Land of the Two Rivers was ruled by a horrible man who was stockpiling WMDs and was bent on setting the region on fire. We were told that he also had something to do with 9/11. We found out that we were duped:

"Never mind," they said, " he is still a bad man." And Saddam was hung.

We were also told that democracy is contagious, and once we plant it in Iraq, it will spread all over the Middle East. They then showed us the "purple fingers," and we rejoiced. But now Iraq has become the "bad war"; it has been deemed a "war of choice." The "good war" we are told is in Afghanistan, "a war of necessity" in Obama's own words.

Today, America mourns the memory of those who perished eight years ago. But today America needs to reassess what has been done in the name of the victims of 9/11: two horrible and unwinnable wars. This is the reality of the situation.

No Afghans or Iraqis have been directly involved in the attacks of 9/11. All 19 hijackers were Arabs, mostly from Saudi Arabia, and their leader is in hiding. Exacting revenge for 9/11 was and still is a job most suited for the CIA, anti-terror units, and other international security agencies.

However, President Obama has already ordered the deployment of 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan by the end of the year, bringing the U.S. total to 68,000 and the coalition total to 110,000. This is despite the fact that now, for the first time, a majority of respondents (51 percent) in a recent Washington Post-ABC poll said the war was not worth the fight.

This past August was the deadliest month for US troops since the start of the war in October 2001, according to the Pentagon. Taliban forces have gained ground, and coalition troop casualties have steadily risen; therefore, an increase in American troops on the ground in Afghanistan will only lead to more casualties. You do not have to be a military general to figure this out.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has done a mediocre job on the intelligence side in the hunt for bin Laden. According to a recent article in the Times Online "the fruitless search [for bin Laden] has essentially been outsourced by the U.S. to a network of Pashtun spies run by the Pakistani intelligence services."

One of the former CIA agents, called Mr. Keller, interviewed for this article "spoke no Middle Eastern languages, and was not an expert on al-Qaeda or Pakistan."

Now we know why the reward for bin Laden's head remains unclaimed!

There is no "good war" and "bad war" in the aftermath of 9/11...there is bad strategy...and it has been bad all along.

 

Originally published on the Huffington Post

 
 

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