Ten questions that will not be answered 11

Judith Miller asks ten pertinent questions about the Times Square act of terrorism.

Read them all here.

We are most interested in the answers to these, the last five, though we don’t expect to get them:

  • On Sunday just after the failed Times Square attack, why did DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano describe the failed terrorist attack as a “one-off”? And what on earth did she mean by that? [Actually, we know what she meant: “don’t even suggest that this attack is part of the jihad” – JB.]
  • Why did members of President Obama’s national security team – Napolitano, Holder, and Robert Gibbs (who as press secretary seems to be an insider even on national security issues and operating way beyond his pay grade) go out of their way to avoid using the term “terrorism” to describe the failed attack until the obvious could no longer be denied? And why, to this day, has the term “Islamic” never been linked with Shahzad or his plot?
  • If Shahzad really got some terrorist training up in Waziristan, what on earth did they teach him? How to pick a fertilizer for a bomb that could not explode? How to leave your own car and house keys in the ignition of the vehicle you intend to blow up in Times Square? And how can Washington ensure that all aspiring terrorists enroll in such classes?
  • But seriously and most important – when, where, why, and how was Faisal Shahzad radicalized? How did a happy-go-lucky Facebook guy, married with two kids and apparently doing OK in America, go from watching “Everyone Loves Raymond” – listed as one of his favorite TV shows – to Peshawar for terrorist training and back to Times Square to kill his fellow Americans? Was he radicalized during his stay in Pakistan by the steady stream of deadly American drone attacks on Muslim extremists as some newspapers are now suggesting? Or, more likely and as some of his neighbors have alleged, was he already withdrawing from society and being radicalized in Shelton, or Bridgeport, Connecticut?
  • Finally, as former deputy police commissioner Michael Sheehan has asked, if “home-grown” radicalization is the challenge we believe it to be, why have local police forces in areas with large clusters of young Muslim residents – yes, in Connecticut and New Jersey and Rhode Island — not mimicked the NYPD by investing at least SOME resources in trying to spot radicalized, potentially dangerous people and prevent terrorist organizations from establishing a presence in their communities? This is not rocket science. As Sheehan argues, we know how to do this.

Until we know the answers to these and other vexing questions surrounding our latest terrorist near-miss, self-congratulation is, to say the least, premature. Let’s remember that [the] Faisal Shahzad alleged deadly plot failed not because America’s law enforcement and homeland defense systems are effective, but because he was incompetent.

But? 1

The New York Times journalist David Rohde was captured and held by the Taliban for 7 months and 10 days, and finally escaped. He tells his story here.

An extract:

Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.

Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.

As Cliff May points out in a Townhall  article discussing Rohde’s story here, ‘Though groups such as the Taliban — as well Hezbollah and Hamas — may fight locally, their leaders have always thought globally, viewing their struggles as part of a broader War Against the West.’  We would add, ‘and against the whole of the non-Muslim world’.

Rohde goes on:

I had written about the ties between Pakistan’s intelligence services and the Taliban while covering the region for The New York Times. I knew Pakistan turned a blind eye to many of their activities. But I was astonished by what I encountered firsthand: a Taliban mini-state that flourished openly and with impunity.

The Taliban government that had supposedly been eliminated by the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was alive and thriving.

All along the main roads in North and South Waziristan, Pakistani government outposts had been abandoned, replaced by Taliban checkpoints where young militants detained anyone lacking a Kalashnikov rifle and the right Taliban password. We heard explosions echo across North Waziristan as my guards and other Taliban fighters learned how to make roadside bombs that killed American and NATO troops.

And I found the tribal areas — widely perceived as impoverished and isolated — to have superior roads, electricity and infrastructure compared with what exists in much of Afghanistan.

As the months dragged on, I grew to detest our captors. I saw the Haqqanis as a criminal gang masquerading as a pious religious movement. They described themselves as the true followers of Islam but displayed an astounding capacity for dishonesty and greed.

Why did he not understand how extreme the Taliban ‘had become’ when millions of us who have never set foot in Afghanistan know how extreme they have always been?

That ‘but’ of his in the last sentence  gives the answer  – and may evoke sardonic laughter.

Remember, though, that this is a New York Times journalist we are talking about. There are many facts about the world we live in, well known to the rest of us, that must come as a surprise to NYT writers, editors, and loyal readers, if forcibly impressed on their consciousness at last by extraordinary circumstances.

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Islam, jihad, Muslims, War by Jillian Becker on Friday, October 30, 2009

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Wait for it 3

If the US does not soon find a way to confiscate or neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal – and is there the least glimmer of a chance that Obama and Hillary (‘smart-power’) Clinton will even try? –  the Taliban will almost certainly take control of it.

Can we doubt that they will use it?   

Walid Phares writes (read the whole article here): 

Over the past few months, Pakistan’s government authorized governors in the Northwest part of the country to sign agreements with the leaders of the “Sharia Movement” in the Swat valley, a Jihadi front, to apply their interpretation of religious laws. The founder of the movement, Sufi Mohammad accepted the terms of the settlement with Islamabad. But his son in law Maulana Qazi Fazlullah the chief of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi organization (TNSM), who since 2007 has deployed his 5,000 militiamen in 60 villages forming a “parallel emirate,” is now on the march to expand Taliban influence beyond the “authorized” district. In short, the cohort of jihadists is not stopping, not reconciling, not de-radicalizing but seeking to eventually reach the capital.

First in Waziristan, then as of last year in Swat, and now seizing the district of Buner, the Taliban are conquering Pakistani land. Their technique is simple: Give us Sharia implementation or endure terror. Authorities have been choosing the morphine option: let them apply Sharia if they cease fire. But as soon as an area is “granted” to the jihadists, a new “jihad” begins towards the adjacent district. The “forced Sharia” gives the Taliban more than just catechism: full control, broadcast, courts, training facilities, and money. It just cedes territory and people to a highly ideological force. Their Sharia-based “Talibanization” grants them harsh show of severity and intimidation: girls and women punished, opponents eliminated, civil society repressed, a copycat of pre-2001 Afghanistan.

But the strategic consequences of the last “offensives” inside Pakistan are boundless. By reaching a distance of 70 miles or so of the capital the Taliban are putting the government under their direct menace. Pushes elsewhere are expected southbound and northeast bound. The army is deploying around public buildings; that is a bad sign. I’d also project a Jihadi push along the Kashmir borders with India. The hydra is expanding gradually, preparing for a massive squeeze.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, April 27, 2009

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