Deafened by terror’s distant rumble

The most important development (or, rather, lack thereof) since the bombings in Bostons is the paucity of coverage in Australian media of policy implications and mention of Muslim extremists. Material has been published here on the course of investigations by the FBI, now indicating that the younger bomber had “friends”.

As to external terrorist activity, of particular interest and relevance is an article  in The Wall St Journal (see below) arguing in effect that President Obama’s apparent downgrading of that threat is totally mistaken. This is relevant to the similar mistaken downgrading of the terrorist threat in the Prime Minister’s recent strategic review. Although some ministerial comments suggest that we and Americans have to accept “occasional” terrorist activity, it is difficult to believe that there is substantive political difficulty in expressing the need to take steps to minimise Muslim extremism.

To a limited extent the Australian makes up for the failure to delve into that by its report on the arrest by Saudi Arabia of an Australian and a picture of his mother in a burka. By contrast ABC’s 7.30 accepted (without any explanation) her wish not to be shown! The report by The Australian also mentions that her two children were born Muslim to an Aboriginal father who was a Muslim. 

Note that Foreign Minister Carr’s comments (to the ABC) on this matter did not include any reference to the Islamic character of the complainant mother (or the father and son), but was limited to claiming a “well done” mark because the imprisoned lad had received six visits from consular officials, and that (rightly) the government cannot take a position as to who is right or wrong. Carr made no mention, however, of the son’s Facebook carrying the words “Osama bin Laden, God have mercy on him” or that this sentiment would have offended the Saudis.

Extremist Muslim Terrorism in the US

In my assessment of 28 April, entitled “Terrorism after the Bombings – Where to Now” (see www.ipe.net.au) I referred to information based on US reports, and I also indicated there that Foreign Minister Carr had referred (again on the ABC and without challenge) that he had “only” a two-page list of foiled attacks in America since 9/11, seemingly demonstrating the “success” of counter-intelligence. Carr drew a similar conclusion from the absence of killings in Australia and the fact that “only” 23 terrorists are in jail. 

However, the American story is totally different if one examines data on the web of Religion of Peace. That data shows that, since that 9/11, “Muslims have killed at least 61 people in 36 separate acts of terrorism in the United States (by the standards that Muslim-American groups set for hate crimes)”. This website further points out that there have also been “plenty of mass murder plots against Americans by Islamic terrorists that were thwarted by the FBI, law enforcement and overseas intelligence operations both before and after 9/11, as well as several that were simply botched, such as the attempt to blow up Times Square”.

Going back to 1972 (and including those killed on 9/11) the websites claims 3,101 killed by Muslims in America in 70 terror attacks.

The External Threat Facing the US (and Australia)

Key points from the Wall St Journal article are:

  • Although the US has killed or captured 13 of the top most wanted al Qaeda leaders, that group has revived or started terrorist franchises in Iraq, Syria, across N Africa and Nigeria and has set up bases in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. These franchises work more closely together than the US acknowledges.
  • al Qaeda has an offshoot in Chechnya and Dagestan, where the elder bomber was seen last year with militants by Russian security, is closely allied to that.
  • The current resurgence of al Qaeda has been assisted by the Arab Spring in states where state power is weak – Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Syria – and Islamists are empowered.
  • The American Enterprise Institute has a Critical Threats Project (is there one in Australia?) that has identified “five fully fledged affiliates, recognised as such by the al Qaeda core in Pakistan”. While each of the affiliates is different, leaders have usually served or trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
  • Only the French military intervention in Mali stopped a take-over there. But that is not necessarily over yet.
  • Egypt’s new authorities freed a militant in 2011 who participated in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
  • Many al Qaeda militants were freed from jail after the US exit from Iraq and they killed more Iraqi civilians in 2012 than in 2011.
  • The al Nusra group in Syria is closely linked to al Qaeda and has been financed by the Saudis, Qataris and Turks.

The article’s conclusion seems pertinent to Australia as well as the US:

“President Obama has preferred disengagement from the Middle East and South Asia to focus on “nation- building at home. One result is Middle East instability and the al Qaeda resurgence. To address these emerging problems, the Administration first needs to acknowledge them. The tide of war, to correct President Obama’s other favourite line, isn’t receding”

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