Wednesday, August 4, 2004

The Terror Web

Lawrence Wright at The New Yorker has written an absolutely riveting piece on Islamic terror titled The Terror Web. Wright explains how the internet is being used by the jihadis to facilitate their operations and also discusses at length the Madrid train bombings and how the perpetrators were apprehended. The Terror Web is chilling but important reading. Some excerpts:

Muslim immigration is transforming all of Europe. Nearly twenty million people in the European Union identify themselves as Muslim. This population is disproportionately young, male, and unemployed. The societies these men have left are typically poor, religious, conservative, and dictatorial; the ones they enter are rich, secular, liberal, and free. For many, the exchange is invigorating, but for others Europe becomes a prison of alienation. A Muslim's experience of immigration can be explained in part by how he views his adopted homeland. Islamic thought broadly divides civilization into dar al-Islam, the land of the believers, and dar al-Kufr, the land of impiety. France, for instance, is a secular country, largely Catholic, but it is now home to five million Muslims. Should it therefore be considered part of the Islamic world? This question is central to the debate about whether Muslims in Europe can integrate into their new communities or must stand apart from them. If France can be considered part of dar al-Islam, then Muslims can form alliances and participate in politics, they should have the right to institute Islamic law, and they can send their children to French schools. If it is a part of dar al-Kufr, then strict Muslims must not only keep their distance; they must fight against their adopted country.

Later, Kepel and I discussed the reason that Europe was under attack. "The future of Islam is in Europe," he said. "It has a huge Muslim population. Either we train our Muslims to become modern global citizens, who live in a democratic, pluralistic society, or, on the contrary, the Islamists win, and take over those Muslim European constituencies. Then we're in serious trouble."

Intelligence officials are now trying to determine who is the next target, and are sifting through "chatter" in search of a genuine threat. "We see people getting on the Internet and then they get on their phones and talk about it," a senior F.B.I. official told me. "We are now responding to the threat to the U.S. elections." The idea of attacking before Election Day, the official said, "was born out of Madrid." Earlier this year, an international task force dubbed Operation Crevice arrested members of a bomb-making ring in London. During the investigation, officials overheard statements that there were jihadis in Mexico awaiting entry into the U.S. That coincided with vague warnings from European imams about attacks before the elections. As a result of this intelligence, surveillance of border traffic from Mexico has been increased.

Read the whole article. It's worth the time.

Kerry's Record

John Kerry suggested in his Convention speech that he would keep the American military strong, well-equipped and well-manned. "We will add 40,000 active duty troops," he assured us, "not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure....To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way." In light of his record in the Senate, however, these promises are simply laughable, and Kerry himself looks foolish to anyone who has had a glimpse of what he has done when he's been given the opportunity to do something for our military besides make empty rhetorical gestures.

One of the most egregious bits of hypocrisy in a convention that was larded with it was Kerry's outrage that military families were forced to hold bake sales to buy body armor for their soldiers because of President Bush's implied failure to equip the troops properly for the invasion of Iraq. This claim was all the more reprehensible because funding for body armor and other equipment was contained in the $87 billion appropriations bill that Kerry so famously voted against. Also in that bill was funding for hazardous duty pay for soldiers and $1.3 billion to provide for medical care for military families. Kerry voted against all of it.

In fact, for Kerry to actually do what he suggests, now that he wants to be elected president, he will have to reverse completely the utter disdain toward the military and our intelligence services that he consistently demonstrated during his nineteen year tenure in the senate. The following information about Kerry's voting record on military issues is taken from the book Reckless Disregard by Lt. Col. Robert Patterson:

During the 1980s: Senator Kerry called for cuts to the military totaling $50 billion and voted against the Peacekeeper missile, the B-1 and B-2 bombers, the F-15, F-14A, F-14D and the AV-8B fighter aircraft, the Aegis air defense cruiser, and the Trident missile.

In 1990: He voted against the B-1 and B-2 bombers, the F-14, F-15, F-16, the Patriot missile, the Aegis Air Defense cruiser, the Trident submarine missile, the M1 Abrams tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle, and the Tomahawk cruise missile.

In 1991: He voted to cut $3 billion from the defense budget.

In 1992: He voted to cut $6 billion from defense.

In 1993: He voted to cut defense by $8.8 billion. He also voted to downsize the Army light infantry, Air Force tactical fighter squadrons, and the number of Navy submarines.

In 1994: Kerry proposed cutting $43 billion from the defense budget.

In 1995: He voted against the Marine AV-B8 Harrier and the AH-64 Apache helicopter. He also tried to cut the Air Force F-22 Raptor.

In 1996: He proposed a reduction of $6.5 billion in the defense budget. He also voted against funding an anti-ballistic missile defense system, denying that there was any ballistic missile threat against the U.S. Two years later North Korea had the Tae po Dong missile which is capable of reaching the west coast. China also has ballistic missiles capable of striking our mainland, largely as a result of technology transfers from the Clinton administration.

Throughout these years he voted twelve times against military pay increases (George Bush has raised military pay by 21%)

In 1994, 1995, and 1997 Kerry voted to cut several billion dollars from our intelligence gathering agencies, and yet after 9/11 he told Face the Nation " the moment, the single most important weapon for the United States of America is intelligence. It's the single most important weapon in this particular war." Nevertheless, he served eight years on the Senate Intelligence Committee and never cast a single vote to increase human intelligence capability or to reform the intelligence community or to provide greater funding for their efforts. This record is especially deplorable in light of his charge that President Bush has not moved fast enough in the wake of 9/11 to shake up the Intelligence establishment and to make us more secure against our enemies. What has Senator Kerry himself been doing in the last eight years other than emasculating the very agencies which might have prevented the Islamist attack?

When Senator Kerry talks about a strong America it must be borne in mind that whatever kind of strength he's talking about it's not the kind that he wants us to think it is.