Donald Trump’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Shows Up In Al Qaeda Recruitment Video

The anti-Muslim rhetoric Donald Trump has been using on the campaign trail has shown up in a recruitment video for an al Qaeda off-shoot group.

What, Exactly, Does Uttering The Words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” Accomplish?

Republicans insist that uttering the words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” is somehow important in the fight against ISIS and other terror networks, but it is entirely unclear what doing so would accomplish.

Al Qaeda No. 3 Killed

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, a founder and top leader of al Qaeda, has been killed. ABC News‘ Jake Tapper and George Stephanopoulos: US officials tell ABC News that al Qaeda’s No. 3 — Mustafa Ahmed Muhammad Uthman Abu al-Yazid, known as Shaikh Sa’id al-Masri and Mustafa Abu al-Yazid — has been killed. Al Qaeda released a […]

The Terrorist Expatriation Act

This is ultimately a non-starter (I think), but still worthy of comment: The Terrorist Expatriation Act, co-sponsored by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, would allow the State Department to revoke the citizenship of people who provide support to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda or who attack the […]

FBI ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ Inflation

One of the post-9/11 developments of particular annoyance to security scholars is the inflation of the term “Weapons of Mass Destruction” to encompass small-scale explosives.  Historically, it was reserved for nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological devices.  The FBI is an especially egregious violator, doing it again and again, most recently in touting the thwarting of […]

John Patrick Bedell, Pentagon Shooter: Terrorist or Nut?

It seems that John Patrick Bedell, who died from wounds received while shooting two policemen at the Pentagon Metro stop last evening, is, in the words of Patrick Frey,  “a 9/11 Truther and an anti-Bush nut case.” Matt Apuzzo and Devlin Barrett for AP: A California man killed in a shootout with Pentagon police drove […]

Bin Laden Christmas Bombing Tape

Someone claiming to be the reclusive terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, who for all we know now looks like a Spanish Communist, has released a tape claiming credit for the botched Detroit terror plot. Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day airline bombing attempt in Detroit, in a audio message released […]

Terrorists Are Stupid

Josh Marshall voices a question that I’ve had in my head for awhile, too: I tend to agree that if a young person gets on an international flight, not only with no checked luggage but no carry ons that suggest he plans on ever getting off the plane, that is sort of a tip off. […]

U.S. Tightens Airport Screening for Foreigners

The Obama administration has announced that citizens traveling to the United States from 14 countries will undergo more intensive airport security screening.   Eric Lipton for NYT: Citizens of 14 nations, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, who are flying to the United States will be subjected indefinitely to the intense screening at airports worldwide that […]

Obama Briefed on Homeland Terror Threats

The president and his key national security advisors were warned about a possible terrorist attack just three days before the failed Detroit plot, Mark Hosenball reports for Newsweek. President Barack Obama received a high-level briefing only three days before Christmas about possible holiday-period terrorist threats against the US, Newsweek has learned. The briefing was centered […]

Released Gitmo Inmates Planned Detroit Bombing

It appears that the Detroit terror plot was fomented by people formerly held at Gitmo: Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of […]

Airplane Toilet Terrorist

Two days after a Nigerian al Qaeda operative tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 as it landed in Detroit, we had an eerie repeat.  Another Nigerian on the exact same flight locked himself in the lavatory and refused to come out.  Thankfully, it was a case of the trots, not a terrorist plot. The […]

Underwear Bombs

It now appears that the thwarted failed Detroit terror plot was more sophisticated than initially thought.  The first reports — that the device was “incendiary rather than explosive” — appear to be mistaken. And we now think we know how the explosives got aboard the plane:  They were sewn into the terrorist’s underwear. Richard Esposito […]

Fort Hood-Linked Imam Killed in Yemen Strike

An air strike in Yemen may have killed the top leaders of al Qaead’s branch in that country, along with an American-born cleric linked to the Fort Hood massacre. A Yemeni air raid may have killed the top two leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branch on Thursday, and an American Muslim preacher linked to the […]

TSA Publishes Airport Screening Manual

Are you a terrorist who would like to blow up an airliner but confused about how best to elude screening?  Well, luckily for you, the Transportation Security Administration has published a How To manual to answer all your questions. In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inadvertently posted online its airport screening […]

Anti-War Right Unlikely, War-Skeptic Right Possible

There is a growing pocket of Republican skeptics of the war in Afghanistan, Reihan Salam contends, and they could cause serious problems for President Obama.  Alas, his argument is short on examples and long on speculation. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican known for his independent streak, has made a conservative case for withdrawal. And […]

Afghanistan Conundrum at True/Slant

E.D. Kain interviewed me via email yesterday for True/Slant on President Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy. Two short excerpts: Kain: Can a surge in Afghanistan work? Joyner: [I]t really depends on what we mean by “work.” And that’s not clear. If it’s defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban and creating competent, non-corrupt government and security forces […]

Obama Afghanistan Speech: Worst of Both Worlds (Updated)

My first take on President Obama’s Afghanistan speech,  “Obama Announces Afghan Surge and Exit Strategy” is up at New Atlanticist.  I plan at least two more essays later in the day dissecting international reaction and other aspects.  The lede: After months of careful consideration, President Obama announced his newest Afghanistan policy last night.  He will […]

Biden Right on AfPak

Ariana Huffington has generated quite a bit of buzz for her unlikely-to-be-taken suggestion that Vice President Biden resign in protest if President Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan.   The cuteness of the suggestion has unfortunately overshadowed the opening paragraph in Holly Bailey and Evan Thomas’ Newsweek piece on “A Day in the Life of Joe […]

Bacevich: A New Cold War?

Andrew Bacevich in an op-ed in the Washington Post proposes an alternative to conventional war or global counter-insurgency, an approach evocative of the Cold War policy of containment: Containment implies turning to the old Cold War playbook. When confronting the Soviet threat, the United States and its allies erected robust defenses, such as NATO, and […]

Why “Befuddled”?

Leslie Gelb, distinguished diplomat, journalist, and scholar, professes befuddlement over President Obama’s strategy with respect to Afghanistan: I’m lost on President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan policy—along with most of Congress and the U.S. military. Not quite eight months ago, Mr. Obama pledged to “defeat” al Qaeda in Afghanistan by transforming that country’s political and economic infrastructure, […]

Commemorating Anniversaries

Today, as you’ve doubtless realized, is the 8th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and the thwarted attack on a destination we’ll likely never know.  It is, for those of us too young to recall the JFK assassination or Pearl Harbor, the most significant public event of our […]

Catching Terrorists Not DHS’ Job?

Chris Battle is surprised how often he hears the question “How many terrorists has the Department of Homeland Security caught?” He argues that DHS’ job is prevention, not apprehension; that’s what the FBI does. The implication of the question — usually the questioner already knows the answer — is that the failure to catch members […]

The Limits of Afghanization (Updated)

Add Chuck Hagel to the chorus of voices rising in opposition to the escalation of our military commitment to Afghanistan: No country today has the power to impose its will and values on other nations. As the new world order takes shape, America must lead by building coalitions of common interests, as we did after […]

What Are Our Strategic Objectives in Afghanistan?

Since reading the interview with Anthony Cordesman in the Times of London this morning I’ve been doing the mental equivalent of sputtering. I honestly don’t know how to respond. I’m generally favorably disposed to Mr. Cordesman but I’m having some difficulty in relating the numbers that are being tossed out, the political realities in the […]

Guardian: No Nation-Building in Afghanistan!

The Guardian has come out against the current conduct of the war in Afghanistan: The empty rhetoric has to stop. State-building from the ramp of a Chinook is a fantasy, a folie de grandeur. The war against militants will not be won by expanding the battle-space. The resolution to this “good war” will not come […]

Preventative Detention

Hilzoy pronounces herself “happy as a clam” with President Obama’s speech yesterday on national security issues, with one glaring exception: But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat […]

What To Do About Pakistan?

This morning Bill Roggio is reporting that the Pakistani government has moved paramilitary forces, potentially to oppose Taliban forces should they advance on the capital: Islamabad officials have moved paramilitary forces to block a potential Taliban advance into the nation’s capital as US officials question Pakistan’s ability to stop the creeping insurgency. Islamabad’s deputy commissioner […]

Torture Worked! Foiled Los Angeles Attack! Yay Torture!

After several days of inflamed public debate following official confirmation that the United States government tortured suspected terrorists under specific authorization from the Bush administration, the inevitable pushback has begun.  Several reports now suggest that these extreme interrogation techniques had the desired effect, yielding valuable intelligence that saved lives. The most interesting of these, alas, […]

Multinational Law Enforcement Is Complicated

There’s an interesting news article from the Associated Press that highlights the complexity of dealing with Somali piracy: MOGADISHU (Reuters) — Dutch commandos freed 20 Yemeni hostages on Saturday and briefly detained seven pirates who had forced the Yemenis to sail a “mother ship” attacking vessels in the Gulf of Aden, NATO officials said. In […]

Obama: Focus on Al Qaeda (Just Like Bush)

President Obama told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the Bush administration had lost its focus in Afghanistan and that his team will “refocus attention on al Qaeda.” He additionally promised that “we now have resourced properly this strategy. It’s not going to be an open-ended commitment of infinite resources. We’ve just got to make sure […]

California Arrests al Qaeda Suspect Ahmadullah Sais Niazi

Rusty Shackleford is hot on the trail of an Afghani arrested in California  for lying about his lack of association with terrorists. The indictment, unsealed this morning, alleges [34 year old Ahmadullah Sais] Niazi hid associations with “Specially Designated Global Terrorists,” groups including Al Qaeda, Hizb-i-Islami and the Taliban, when he completed nationalization papers five […]

Obama Continues Indefinite Detention of Terrorism Suspects

Rusty Shackleford: Bush-Hitler: Holding terrorists indefinitely without charge in Gitmo. Hope-Change: Holding terrorists indefinitely without charge somewhere else. As Jacob Sullum notes in much more thorough post, it’s a natural consequence of the Obama administration’s continuing the Bush perspective that we’re at war with terrorists. In Holder’s view, then, we are engaged in a war […]

The New Strategy for Afghanistan

The Obama Administration has outlined a new strategy for Afghanistan: The Obama administration today today outlined a new campaign strategy for the war in Afghanistan, scaling back the ambitions of George Bush in a shift which senior officials and diplomats described as a “new realism” Richard Holbrooke, Barack Obama’s new envoy for Afghanistan, General James […]

Beating Al Qaeda But Losing in Afghanistan?

My New Atlanticist post “Beating Al Qaeda But Losing in Afghanistan?” rounds up several major reports coming out today, the gist of which are: Our military strikes against al Qaeda have been so successful that a “complete al Qaeda defeat” is on the horizon. We’re finally killing their leaders faster than they can replace them. […]

Europe Guantanamo Help Slow Coming

The title of my essay “EU Agrees to Take Non-Dangerous Gitmo Prisoners. Maybe. Some Day.” is deservedly snarky. The substance, though, is this: These objections illustrate the complexity of the situation. While there is almost universal agreement that locking up accused terrorists indefinitely without due process is unacceptable, it’s also the case that no democratic […]

Former Gitmo Inmate Now al Qaeda Leader

There has been quite a bit of blogospheric reaction to the news that two former inmates at Gitmo appeared in an al Qaeda video: Two men released from the US “war on terror” prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported. One of […]

Obama Continues Pakistan Policy He Recommended

My New Atlanticist essay “Obama Orders Pakistan Drone Attacks” notes that, While President Obama has sent some major signals in his first days in office that his foreign policy will differ from President Bush’s, he sent one yesterday demonstrating continuity on a very key issue: targeting al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. […]

Unilateral Ceasefire with al Qaeda?

In my New Atlanticist post “Ceasefire with al Qaeda?” I examine a proposal for a four-month ceasefire with al Qaeda proposed by a prominent Islamist in reaction to President Obama’s orders to end torture, close secret prisons, and shutter Guantanamo. Not to spoil it for you, but I’m skeptical.

CIA Rains Hellfire on Al Qaeda

A story on the front page of today’s NYT reports on the killing of two very senior al Qaeda officials in Pakistan. In my New Atlanticist piece “Marriot Bombing Planner Killed in CIA Strike,” I argue that it actually matters this time.

Avoiding Pakistan and India War One Piece of Larger Puzzle

Yesterday, Dave Schuler did an excellent job outlining the brewing mess on the subcontinent in Tensions Rising Between Pakistan and India. I’ve been blogging on the subject at New Atlanticist as well. My most recent posts on the subject are Pakistan Scales Down Anti-Terrorist Operations and Pakistan Readies for War with India. The upshot is […]

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Closing)

Having already devoted several thousand words to the topic of American involvement in the Middle East, I will make my closing comments brief. First, I’d like to thank Dave for a vigorous debate, James for hosting this discussion, and all the readers who have taken the time to follow the back-and-forth and comment on the […]

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Rebuttal)

Dave Schuler’s arguments and his responses to my cross-examination questions highlight three critical failings in his argument. These flaws are his preference for inertia over strategic assessment, overweighing ambiguous evidence that marginally supports his case while ignoring compelling evidence that refutes it, and a failure to account for what might be called “conditions on the […]

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Affirmative)

On January 23, 1980 President Jimmy Carter enunciated what became known as the Carter Doctrine. He stated, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by […]

Two Imaginary Meetings

In an op-ed in the Washington Post this morning former White House counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke narrates two imaginary meetings. One of these meetings takes place in Rawalpindi, Pakistan among Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba. They note […]

Iraq WMD’s Revisited

Bernard Finel, to say the least a fan of neither the Bush Administration nor the Iraq War, throws cold water on the Bush Lied, People Died meme that refuses to die: I’d like to urge folks to think through what standards should be applied to inherently ambiguous information. Here is what we knew in 2002: […]

Who’s Responsible for Mumbai Attacks?

A previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahedeen has claimed responsibility for the horrific attacks in Mumbai.  While these attacks came during a period when Western intelligence chiefs were “expecting an al Qaeda spectacular terrorist attack” and came just hours after the FBI warned that al Qaeda may be “targetting New York’s subways and […]

Al Qaeda #2 Uses Racial Slur

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Ladin’s deputy, called Barack Obama a “house negro.” Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites. The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama […]

Should Obama Hunt Osama?

In “Hunting Bin Laden,” a piece for New Atlanticist, I look at arguments made by Juan Cole and Robert Baer on President-Elect Obama’s vow to renew the effort to hunt down the al Qaeda leader. Short version:  We’re already trying and success won’t matter all that much. Long version: See the link.

Intelligent Reporting on Intelligence

One truism that I’ve noted over the years is that any event that I experience in person will invariably be reported in the press quite differently.  That proved true again last night as I began absorbing media accounts of CIA Director Michael Hayden’s “State of al Qaeda Today” address to the Atlantic Council. It seemed […]

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