16 years after 9/11, government lacks answers in combating terrorism

By Fred Lucas | The Daily Signal

The United States and allies seem to lack a clear strategy for toppling the terrorist threat 16 years after the worst terrorist attack in American history, experts say.

Since the 9/11 attacks, there have been another 97 terrorist plots against the United States, and the bulk of those 15 successful attacks happened in the last six years, according to a database maintained by The Heritage Foundation.

A total of 27 of the overall plots came from the Islamic State, David Inserra, a homeland security policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation, said Friday during a panel.

“The variable explaining this is ISIS,” Inserra said, explaining the uptick in attacks in recent years. “Something changed, ISIS occurred.”

For example, Inserra noted the largest attack since 9/11 was the mass shooting killing 49 at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando last year by an Islamic State-inspired attacker.

Wikimedia Commons

Since the 9/11 attacks, there have been another 97 terrorist plots against the United States, and the bulk of those 15 successful attacks happened in the last six years.

Terrorism itself has changed since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York after two hijacked airliners crashed into the towers. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon. Heroic passengers aboard a fourth plane thwarted a fourth attack by forcing the crash of a hijacked plane in a Pennsylvania field.

The 9/11 attack was carried out by al-Qaeda, which has diminished, while the Islamic State has risen, as have other terrorist groups such as al-Shabab and Boko Haram in Africa.

About 70 Americans sought to support al-Shabab either financially or in traveling to fight with them, said Joshua Meservey, senior policy analyst for Africa and the Middle East at The Heritage Foundation.

“These groups are motivated by ideology and there isn’t much the U.S. can do to affect that,” Meservey said about the African terror groups.

There are five key questions the “smartest people on the planet” haven’t come to a consensus on regarding how to combat Islamic terrorism in the post-9/11 world, said Mary R. Habeck, an adjunct professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

“Looking around the world, what country can honestly say they have defeated Islamist terrorism? The answer is none of them,” Habeck said.

Those questions, she said, are:

1. Who is the enemy?

2. How should we combat the enemy?

3. What is the relationship between the enemy and Islam?

4. What is the objective in war?

5. What will winning look like?

For instance, global leaders aren’t clear if the enemy is the ideology of jihadists and extremists broadly or more narrowly specific terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, she said.

Regarding combatting the problem: Is this a counterterrorism matter in which we, as Habeck said, “can just sit back and drone them to death?” Or, she asked, does the United States act alone, or insist on an international coalition?

Considering Islam, Habeck said, fewer than 1 percent of Muslims and an even smaller number of of the religion’s clerics subscribe to the radical views.

Regarding the objective, Habeck asked, does the United States keep itself safe or also its allies? Does the country want to win the war—as in destroying the enemy and discrediting its ideology? Or, will the United States just manage a conflict?

As for the final question regarding victory, Habeck asked: Does that mean no terrorist attacks? Does it mean just a few terrorist attacks? Does it mean al-Qaeda and ISIS no longer exist, while other groups could continue?

During a question-and-answer portion of the panel, someone asked why terrorism became such a problem.

“Broadly, it has been the failure of nearly every single regime in the Middle East to create successful societies,” Habeck said. “The governments have too often been corrupt or lacked any moral sense at all.”

Her reference included the more secular dictators whose rules prompted the religion-backed revolutions that overthrew their governments, from the shah of Iran to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, both considered somewhat pro-Western leaders.

Europeans were somewhat naïve about the terror threat in the past, but have since become almost numb to minor attacks, said Robin Simcox, the Margaret Thatcher fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Simcox said knife attacks have become common enough to rarely get headlines, while vehicles and trucks have “so far got a 100 percent success rate.”

Germany has seen skyrocketing attacks since the influx of Syrians into the country after the refugee crisis, he said.

“The terrorism threat in Europe has metastasized just in the last few years,” Simcox said.

3 thoughts on “16 years after 9/11, government lacks answers in combating terrorism

  1. Clearly our unelected government–the deep state–manages terrorism, to keep the rest of us down and fighting amongst ourselves over manufactured issues, while our country is dismantled and we give up our rights, freedom, and heritage.
    The 9/11 attacks were obviously an inside job! Steel framed highrise buildings can not collapse at free-fall speed into their own footprints–only controlled demolition can do that. It’s simple, junior high-school physics. And what about WTC7, not even hit by a plane–who could have predicted it would collapse hours after the twins went down, as reported by the BBC, BEFORE it happened? The timing was off, and the script read before the event. If that isn’t a smoking gun, what is?
    How can we have a free country when all the media blatantly lie, and most people are afraid to even think? When people who understand ordinary science and physics are too chicken to speak up, and say that the emperor has no clothes?
    Now the globalists are ramping up the muslim and mexican invasions, and we can only debate about how many illegal immigrants must be allowed to invade us and flout our laws. This is very disheartening. What chance has our country to survive when it’s turned against itself, and the masses are too brainwashed and tranquilized to understand or care about what is happening?

    • And how about the big round hole in the Pentagon and no wings laying outside where the went in? Another miracle of science. I agree wholeheartedly with Gordon and PeteMO.

  2. When an entire government – the Obama administration – won’t even identify what a terrorist is, and when an entire country is too politically correct to speak up, speak out….we will never win the war on terrorism. And Muslims know that. They are just biding their time. Americans have turned too far left and lost their ability to think in the process. The answers to the five questions asked are already known; they just need to be acknowledged. But PC is in the way.

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