The Best Responses to 9/11—and the Worst
August 24, 2011
I was in bed at a New York hotel when my stock trader called to say that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by an airplane. “A horrible accident,” he surmised, adding “unprecedented” to the presumption. He told me to turn on the “tube,” such nomenclature dating him as middle-aged. The phone rang again: “The second tower is on its way down. And, of course, this means it is no accident at all.” Which was my intuition as soon as I’d heard the first terrible tidings. Moreover, I knew instinctively who’d done the dreadful deed; and it wasn’t a new version of the Unabomber.
My 18 Year Odyssey on the Trail of Osama bin Laden
August 24, 2011
I have covered the story of violent jihadism for the past 18 years, and, more than anything else, it has been a slow process of discovery. Looking back, it seems clear to me that, at any given moment in the story, there was always so much we didn’t know. Al Qaeda was founded in 1988 in Pakistan, although it wasn’t until 2002—when the minutes of the group’s first meetings were discovered by chance in the offices of an Islamist organization in Sarajevo—that the facts surrounding its origins were well-understood.
Do Ideas Matter?
August 24, 2011
I. MY ROLE ON September 11 was to be a reporter for The New Republic. I was in downtown Brooklyn, and from my rooftop I watched the first tower crumble, and then I ran downstairs to the street with pen and notebook and plunged into the crowds fleeing over the bridges. I spoke with one person after another, asking what they had seen. They told me. I compiled my report.
What Is Al Shabab—and What Does It Want?
August 08, 2011
Twenty-nine thousand children under the age of five have died in Somalia in the past 90 days. Nearly 3.6 million people are at risk of starvation. While the crisis has a number of causes—drought, livestock deaths, rising food prices—blame for the worst of the famine lies with the militant Islamist group Al Shabab, which has denied the existence of the famine, diverted water from poor villages, and kept food away from the people who need it most. What is Al Shabab—and what does it want? The answer to that question lies in Somalia’s recent turbulent history.
The Frightening Rise of Lone-Wolf Terrorism
August 06, 2011
Is the end near for terrorism as we know it? According to a much-discussed Washington Post article that ran on July 26, U.S. counterterrorism officials believe that, after the death of Osama bin Laden and in the face of sustained drone attacks, Al Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan is on the “brink of collapse.” However, counterterrorism officials stressed in the article that the threat from “aggressive” affiliates is not diminishing—nor is the threat from “radicalized individuals,” also known as lone wolves.
All Over the Map
July 28, 2011
On June 21, 2007, Mitt Romney delivered a speech at the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute in Beaver Creek, Colorado. To coincide with the address, his campaign released a statement explaining the candidate’s vision for fighting the war on terrorism.
Last week’s heart-breaking massacre of teenagers and others in Norway makes it dismayingly clear that the religious warfare at the heart of Al Qaeda’s crusade against the West and its supporters has now found its mirror-image not in the random act of a deranged lunatic, but in a meticulously planned execution of the anti-Islamic ideology that has been spreading like a poison throughout European political culture for at least a decade.
The Norway Attacks: Who is Abu Suleiman Al Nasser?
July 22, 2011
Speculation abounds as to who conducted today’s attacks in Oslo and for what reasons. For now, we don’t know who is responsible. Recent news has focused on the Nordic identity of the gunman in custody, suggesting that the incident was an example of domestic extremism.* At the same time, an organization called Ansar Al Jihad Al Alami, or The Helpers of the Global Jihad, has also taken responsibility for the attack.
July 13, 2011
The U.S. ship in the successor flotilla aiming to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip has been named The Audacity of Hope. It is a bad joke that Barack Obama deserves. His proven coldness toward Israel has emboldened these foolish and meretricious people (including the uproariously silly Alice Walker) to open yet another front against the Jewish state. Of course, their campaign is not really about the embargo. It is about the very existence of Israel. It is not genocide, but it is politicide, and this is also a crime against humanity.
The right is again aflutter about the Obama administration’s approach to the war on terror. The occasion this time is the decision by the administration to prosecute an alleged terrorist in federal court. We are told Ahmed Warsame provided material support to bad people, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Amid conservatives’ angry squawking, it is useful to take a step back and reflect on the case and how it fits into our current national debate about justice for alleged enemy combatants.