Al Qaeda: Pakistani Resurgence?
The recent tip-offs from European counter-intelligence have shown links with conspiracies against the Old World and the framers of September 11.
As an American, the first emotion that comes to my mind when Al Qaeda comes to attention is, well, disgust. Whether the strategy carried out by both the Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the divisions between voters on the issue, it’s clear that, despite being a winnable battle against Terror, the terrorists have essentially won.
That is, they have had the upper hand until earlier today, when German Counter-Intelligence placed threats on targets across Europe. U.S. officials have deemed these threats as “credible”, and it sends painful reminders of the “Mumbai-style” raids in 2008.
To recapitulate recent history, terrorists raided and bombed a Jewish Community Center, many famous hotels, and the legendary Taj Mahal. Because Mumbai was and remains a bustling commercial center for India, casualties amounted over 150. These terrorist attacks have been linked back to Al Qaeda, who seven years prior orchestrated the deadliest attack on America in its history.
The intel reports have cited threats against England, Germany, and France. Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower are possible targets. The conspiracy might be accurate, in which case this information should be dealt with very seriously, to learn from past mistakes.
However, a broader issue is at hand: what will it take to root out terrorism at the source? Although as of late it has been pointed primarily at the United States, Israel, and England, it now is reaching out and expanding. The blunt of the problem is that there is no perfect solution, as every course of action has its own consequences.
Take, for example, total war, which had been abandoned by “civilized” society (U.S.S.R. and exception due to Stalin’s reign of terror) in the last half of the twentieth century. Here is the main benefit of this: destroying the mechanism for creating terrorists by killing off any possible breeding pools, as well as destroying food and technology that is necessary to survive. On the other hand, destroying an entire region’s lifestyle destroys any chance of changing the radicals.
This leads to a second option: education. When the United States’ funded Taliban successfully resisted the Soviet forces in the 1980s, funding subsequently dropped for Afghanistan. Instead of building and securing schools teaching tolerance and rationality, America left a well-armed country in the control of a turbulent, radical group that ended up allowing groups like Al Qaeda free-reign. Frankly, if the U.S. built schools in Afghanistan, it would have stopped 9/11.
But both options have one major drawback. A country has jurisdiction. It has as much influence inside its own territory as it wants, but it ends on the border. Unlike the rules of governments, terrorism has no borders. Implementing education in one area would result in migration to another. Razing a region to the ground would result in finding another area to leech off. The United States declared war against Iraq and the Taliban, but it wouldn’t dare crossing the border into Pakistan, what with the nuclear tensions between them and India. Al Qaeda knows this, and is exploiting it wonderfully. If Osama bin Laden remains alive as many believe, it’s because he resides in Pakistan. It’s like trying to hit someone with a blindfold on and a cannonball chained to your foot: you’re slowly shooting darts in the dark.
That’s why this intelligence report is great for everyone involved. It means a revitalization of the war on terror and added allies for the United States Armed Forces in the struggle. It means a reunion between both extremes of American politics through mutual enmity for an external source. With less friendly countries to escape to, it might be possible to corner Al Qaeda after all. The odds are shifting, and for once, they’re in our favor.