Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Will a resurgent al Qaeda in Iraq target the homeland?

REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Remember when Joe Biden said that Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of [the Obama] administration” — taking credit for the success of the surge that he and Obama opposed in the Senate, which had brought al Qaeda in Iraq to near defeat when Obama took office?

The Washington Post reports this morning that, in the wake of Obama’s withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq has made a comeback — and nearly pulled off a major attack on the US embassy in Jordan:

The plan was to unleash mayhem across an entire city and “bring Amman to its knees,” in the words of one security official. It would start with suicide bombings at two shopping malls, then build momentum as teams of terrorists blew up cars and raked cafes with machine-gun fire.

In the midst of the chaos that would ensue, the attackers would turn their attention to the U.S. Embassy, the primary target and a long-sought prize for the organization that investigators say provided critical support for the scheme: al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq….

Jordanian authorities foiled the plot last month, arresting 11 men said to be the ringleaders. Although the suspects are Jordanians, the investigation has affirmed the key role played by al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, commonly known as AQI, which analysts say is rebounding after being all but destroyed by U.S. troops in the past decade.

New evidence shared by security authorities here, including intercepted e-mails, shows that the terrorist cell received guidance from AQI. The instructions included recipes for powerful explosives intended to blow up shops, restaurants and embassies, according to Western and Middle Eastern officials briefed on the investigation.

“What we’re now seeing is al-Qaeda in Iraq’s revival, not only as a movement in that country but as a regional movement,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA counterterrorism expert who is with the Brookings Institution. From its base in the Sunni provinces west of Baghdad, AQI appears to be attempting to rebuild old networks into Syria and Jordan “at an alarming rate,” Riedel said.

If this is what Biden considers a “great achievement,” little wonder Osama bin Laden thought Biden was “totally unprepared” for the presidency.

Before the surge, on Nov. 9, 2005, AQI struck three hotels in Amman, Jordan, killing 60 people and wounding more than 100. And intelligence suggested that AQI had ambitions for even bolder attacks here in America. In 2007, President George W. Bush gave a speech warning that:

Al Qaida in Iraq shares Osama bin Laden’s goal of making Iraq a base for its radical Islamic empire, and using it as a safe haven for attacks on America. That is why our intelligence community reports — and I quote — “compared with [other leading Sunni jihadist groups], al Qaida in Iraq stands out for its extremism, unmatched operational strength, foreign leadership, and determination to take the jihad beyond Iraq’s borders.” … Hear the words of al Qaida’s top commander in Iraq when he issued an audio statement in which he said he will not rest until he has attacked our nation’s capital.  If we were to cede Iraq to men like this, we would leave them free to operate from a safe haven which they could use to launch new attacks on our country.

Thanks to the surge, they were forced to focus on survival instead of fulfilling their objective of striking the American homeland. Now, a resurgent AQI is striking beyond Iraq’s borders again — in Syria and in Jordan.

Some may take comfort that AQI is focused on regional attacks. But not so long ago, the Obama administration thought that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was just focused on regional attacks — until they succeeded in penetrating our defenses and nearly blowing up a plane over Detroit.

AQI may have similar ambitions. They just targeted the US embassy in Jordan. How long until they target us here at home?

4 thoughts on “Will a resurgent al Qaeda in Iraq target the homeland?

  1. If al Qaeda is mobile and adaptable to a diverse range of geography.. what did Obama not do that he should have?

    how do you deal with an asymmetric global threat?

  2. Marc Thiessen sounds, to me, like a liberal who suggests that the answer to bad government is more government. He seems to think that the answer to problems caused by the US interfering in other nations is to interfere more actively. And then of course comes the inevitable pressing of the fear button: If we don’t interfere more actively, they may become more active here in the United States.

    How does this make any rational sense? Am I really supposed to believe that the US can find security by subjugating the entire moslem world, on a permanent basis, through a policy of intervention that can only cause more anger and resentment? And this at a time when federal spending is bankrupting the nation?

    • NeoConism = more govt to mess around in other countries affairs but to use a “boogeyman” as the reason.

      NeoConism = money, money and more money for a bigger and bigger military and cut entitlements and other things so we can finance it.

      If McCain had become President – god knows what would have happened….

    • How does this make any rational sense?

      That depends on what the goal is. If you want to transfer more money and power to people who want interventionism then you try to create a narrative in which you isolate one particular possible outcome and ignore (or deny) the fact that the policies which you advocate makes such an outcome much more likely. The people at AEI favour Military Keynesianism and interventionism so it is no surprise that the arguments that you hear from them will be in favour of Military Keynesianism and interventionism.

      What gets to me is that they go and whine about the outcome of the election. Their preferred choice managed to make an evil warmonger like Obama look look like the peace candidate. And the voters chose as they usually do when given a choice between a man who advocates war and one that seems to advocate peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>