Jan 5, 2008

Surprise! Al-Qaida Plans to Attack U.S.!

By Michael D. Evans

Remember 9/11? Remember Osama bin-Laden? Have you noticed that, ever since the Twin Towers were brought down, you have to take your shoes off just to get to the airport gate?

If you answered yes to the above, then you might be puzzled by the declassified findings of the latest National Intelligence Estimate, obtained in advance by the Associated Press. The report indicates – hold on to your shoes – that al-Qaida is actually planning to attack the United States. Yes, the same al-Qaida that brought us 9/11.

If ever there were a more obvious conclusion to be drawn about the world we live in, a government agency in Washington would be the one to do it – and probably for a lot of money. In fact, National Intelligence Estimates are supposed to be the most authoritative conclusions of the government's 16 spy agencies, reflecting the strategic consensus of America's top intelligence experts.

How did all those experts conclude that al-Qaida intends to attack the US (again)? They studied how al-Qaida murders American soldiers in Iraq. "Of note," AP quotes the analysts, "we assess that al Qaida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the homeland."

While the experts acknowledge that defensive measures instituted after 9/11 have made the US a tougher target, probably not many Americans are convinced these measures can be absolutely effective. It's just not possible – ask any Israeli, whose country has lived with more deadly terrorism for a lot longer. The Israelis know the only way to eliminate terrorism is to eliminate the terrorists. Until then, no one can be safe.

I wonder how much the American taxpayer paid those 16 agencies to predict that al-Qaida is likely to keep aiming for high-profile targets and mass casualties. Didn't we already know, as the report states, that "The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles"?

Do we actually need 16 intelligence agencies to conclude – one wonders how long it took – that al-Qaida is ruthless, fanatic, and continues to seek weapons of mass destruction – atomic, biological, or chemical – and "would not hesitate to use them"?

To be fair, the National Intelligence Estimate appears to have come up with a genuinely new estimate. For the first time, it acknowledges that Hizbullah, Iran's terrorist proxy in Lebanon, "may be more likely to consider attacking" the United States, in response to threats against it or Teheran.

On the other hand, Hizbullah's expertise seems to be firing artillery rockets from Lebanon at civilian targets in northern Israel. The National Intelligence Estimate doesn't say anything about Hizbullah terrorists deploying along the Canadian border.

In the spirit of equal opportunity, the experts also offer a prediction about non-Muslim terrorist groups. Surprise! The same crazies who have been blowing up animal-testing labs or mink farms for decades "probably will attack" again – "in the next several years, although on a smaller scale."

There is no doubt – and we didn't need 16 spy agencies to tell us – that al-Qaida is trying for a comeback in Afghanistan and is helping fellow jihadists murder American soldiers in Iraq. This is not classified information but is, unfortunately, in dozens of news reports every day.

What would be unforgivable would be not to take the National Intelligence Estimate's findings seriously as far as Iraq is concerned. The Bush administration is rightfully determined to pursue Bin-Laden and his al-Qaida to the ends of Afghanistan and Iraq, for there is no reasoning with the kind of terrorists who can perpetrate 9/11. The logic is just as obvious as the National Intelligence Estimate: We can fight al-Qaida on the streets of Baghdad – or on the streets of America.