Monday, February 19, 2007

Must read report today on resurgence of al Qaeda

"Al Qaeda Chiefs Are Seen to Regain Power."

This report echoes reports a few months back, that Al Qaeda's developed strongholds along the Afghan-Pakistani border, particularly in North Waziristan. The new information is that Bin Laden and his deputy Zawahiri are back in the saddle controlling operations. Also reported here and not really new, is the fact that British citizens of Pakistani descent are travelling to Pakistan for terrorist training in camps set up just for such purposes.

The sourcing for this article is anonymous and comes from "intelligence and counterterrorism officials." So what's the motivation for this story being put out now? Bush spoke to the American Enterprise Institute at the end of last week on Afghanistan and the need for NATO to have more of its troops fighting there, not solely involved in humanitarian efforts. Echoing Bush's call? Is that what they're doing? Or do we take them for purer motivations, perhaps, as providing a dire reminder that Afghanistan is equally as pressing as Iraq's challenges at this time. That perhaps the intelligence community is looking for a surge in the Afghanistan direction rather than Iraq?

Or are the Americans thinking of taking action in Pakistan? The difficulties inherent in that are laid out in the article. Musharraf's fragility is the primary difficulty. Is this intelligence laying the groundwork for some new front?

Whatever the motivations of these officials, there are some tough questions that have to be asked as a result. What are our armies doing over there? And I'm speaking largely from a Canadian perspective regarding the Canadian contingent over there. This report, if true, essentially means that our troops are over there metaphorically sticking their thumbs in a dike. For what? So we don't have to fight "them" over here? Sounds like "they" are gearing up to do just that anyway. Our troops aren't capable of stopping those plots. All they can do is help sustain Afghanistan's stability so the Taliban can't come back to run that country. And we don't have the numbers there to do that.

This report suggests there needs to be a greater emphasis on intelligence to root out the terrorists from their camps and safe havens. Traditional warfare is clearly proving obsolete.

It may well be that after years of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the plotters of 9/11 remain relatively free to continue on with their new plots in the safe haven they've created. They've waited out the Americans in Afghanistan and watched as the U.S. has become bogged down in Iraq. They sat in their caves and waited while the world has been preoccupied with another part of the world. It's enough to make a person feel outraged and saddened all at the same time. With the stakes so high, we have failed miserably in answering the terrorist threat.

There's a real opening for a Canadian leader in the upcoming election to speak coherently about Afghanistan and terrorism in a manner that provides a stark contrast with the vision of the Bush administration that Harper has largely followed...