Whack A Mole, al Qaeda Edition

by Michael Crowley | January 4, 2010

Good WSJ story on how al Qaeda operatives migrate away from U.S. military pressure, always finding the next safe haven:

U.S. and allied-government officials have claimed significant progress against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq recently. But the group appears able to nimbly deploy forces to places where international military pressure isn't as concentrated or has eased, including most recently Yemen and Somalia, according to officials and analysts.

Arab intelligence officers say they have tracked foreign fighters allied with al Qaeda traveling from one Mideast battlefield to another -- in particular from Iraq to Yemen, and, over the summer, from Pakistan to Yemen....

The global network "moves to the weakest point," says Mustafa Alani, director of security and terrorism studies at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, a think tank. "In Yemen, they have found opportunity."

Obama has his hands pretty full right now just responding to this new threat. But at some point I'd like to see him explain whether and how it affects his thinking about going big in Afghanistan. You can make the case that it only raises the stakes in our larger confrontation with al Qaeda. But there's also a strong argument suggesting that we just can't win this fight through major military action, and all those billions of dollars are better spent on surveillance, drones, and counter-terror training for local forces. I still haven't quite made up my own mind.

Any bets on whether Obama would have made a different AfPak decision had Abdulmutllab popped up a few weeks earlier?

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/whack-mole-al-qaeda-edition