Thursday, February 10, 2011

10-Feb-11: We're winning against the terrorists, right?

The head of the US government's anti-terrorist ministry told the US Congress yesterday that the terrorist threat to the U.S. may be at its most heightened state since the 9/11 attacks, according to today's Washington Post. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the jihadists of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates are putting greater efforts behind recruiting Americans and other Westerners to carry out terror attacks.

The Post goes on to say that the House Committee on Homeland Security has planned hearings on the domestic threat posed by radicalization among Americans, and the growing incidence of U.S. citizens or legal residents involved in terrorist plots. A week ago, the senior Democrat on the committee called for the scope of the hearings to be expanded, while its chair, Republican Peter T. King, said the threats from "Islamic jihad were uniquely diabolical... The Committee cannot ignore the fact that al-Qaeda is actively attempting to recruit individuals living within the Muslim American community to commit acts of terror."

Meanwhile, to illustrate how endlessly disputed the things we think we know about terror are, the French newsagency AFP reported earlier this week that "the number of Muslim Americans involved in terrorist acts dropped by more than half last year compared to 2009, easing fears that the minority group is being radicalized."

Good news, no?

And Stephen M. Walt, the Harvard professor who notoriously co-authored a lengthy diatribe against the Jewish state and its supporters called "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", has an intriguing view on the Foreign Policy website today headlined "Some Good News About Islamic Terror". He somehow sees Islamicists as much less threatening:
"Ever since 9/11, Islamophobia has been a recurrent problem in a number of Western societies, including the United States. It's been fueled by opportunistic politicians, hate-mongering bloggers, and any number of the other usual suspects. The lingering fear of Islam undergirds the present concerns that the turmoil in Egypt might give groups like the Muslim Brotherhood greater political influence there... I know there are lot of people getting rich fueling Islamophobia."
Walt's attack on the so-called Israel lobby was described here as "a work without a trace of balance, in essence no more than an angry polemic disguised as academic research... [that] fails the test of academic integrity and honest research."

Also today, an American woman who was charged with aiding Islamic terrorists in their plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had "offended Muslims" pleaded guilty to conspiracy to  murder. Colleen LaRose called herself Jihad Jane, Sister of Terror and Fatima LaRose at various times.
"Today's guilty plea, by a woman from suburban America who plotted with others to commit murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists, underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General David Kris."
With the stakes of being wrong about terror and terrorists so incredibly high, it's quite puzzling that people can have such diametrically opposed views of where the threats are coming from and what ought to be done to blunt them.

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