FrontPage Magazine | 6.5.07
Bya Alan W. Dowd
For anyone who cared to notice, the Associate Press reported on Saturday that US warships struck Islamist terror bases along the coast of Somalia. The nascent anti-Islamist government of Somalia had requested US support during another round of fighting against foreign jihadists, who are pouring into the broken country from as close as Eritrea and as far away as the US and the UK. An unidentified US destroyer answered the request with a volley of cruise missiles. The New York Times reports that US Special Operations units were even involved in aspects of the battle.
It is just the latest reminder that whatever you want to call this bloodied band of peoples under threat from the jihadists—the West, the liberal world, modernity, civilization—is engaged in a world war. Regardless of what the House Armed Services Committee says or decrees or wishes or hopes, this really is a global war on terror—because the jihadists are waging a global war on civilization. But don’t take my work for it.
The Navy delivered its counterstrikes on the Horn of Africa as US forces fight pitched battles against the remnants of al Qaeda and reconstituted elements of the shattered Taliban regime in Afghanistan; wage a bloody counterinsurgency against a toxic amalgam of internal and external, Islamist and Baathist, Sunni and Shiite militants in Iraq; and cruise up and down the Persian Gulf to deter what may be an un-deterrable madman in Iran.
Closer to home—and far too close for comfort—federal authorities announced they foiled a plan to blow up jet-fuel tanks and a fuel pipeline at JohnF.KennedyInternationalAirport. The plot was hatched by terrorists with links to “an international network of Muslim extremists,” their goal to cripple JFK and set off a chain reaction of explosions across some 40 miles of pipeline. A US law-enforcement official called it “one of the most chilling plots imaginable.”
Revelations of the conspiracy to blow up JFK come to light just a month after the FBI thwarted a plot by Islamic extremists to assault the US Army base at Ft.Dix in New Jersey and kill “as many soldiers as possible.” Perhaps most worrisome of all, both cells included American citizens. (Of course the good news is that federal law enforcement authorities prevented these attacks. For all their fumbles and failures, the feds are doing something right.)
Likewise, “homegrown” jihadists have launched or nearly launched attacks in allied nations such as the UK (recall the 7/7 attacks and foiled attacks on Canary Wharf, the Houses of Parliament, Windsor Castle and Heathrow Airport), Germany (recall last year’s foiled plan to bomb German rail lines), the Philippines (Australia and Manila just inked an agreement to expand counterterrorism operations in and around Mindanao, where US Special Ops units are believed to be conducting an ongoing hunt for the Abu Sayyaf leadership, which is linked to al Qaeda), and Canada (recall the stunning plan to literally decapitate Canada’s government in 2006).
While we’re in this hemisphere, the State Department concluded in 2006 that Venezuela had “virtually ceased its cooperation in the global war on terror,” adding that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez was tolerating terrorists on his territory and seeking closer relations with Iran. In fact, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Venezuela in late 2006.
In January 2004, concerns about Islamic terrorists based in Central America grounded flights inbound from Mexico City. Later that year, as CBS News reported, the Honduran government announced that al Qaeda was trying to recruit Hondurans for embassy attacks. The threat was serious enough for Honduras to declare a “national terror alert” that summer. In addition, US officials believe terror-cell leader Adnan el Shukrijumah met with leaders of an El Salvadoran gang that specializes in smuggling illegals into the United States.
In short, al Qaeda and other jihadists are attempting to gain a toehold in Latin America, or perhaps more accurately, a launching pad.
Back in the main theater of this global war—the Middle East—Israeli forces continue their endless war against rocket-wielding imams and time-bomb terrorists who kill innocents for Allah or sport or whatever reason they use to rationalize their atrocities.
Contrary to what the radicals, revisionists and relativists say, this is not a war against Islam or an attempt by the West to subjugate Islamic people. In fact, it is Muslims who are doing most of the killing and bleeding and dying in this war. Consider the Iraqi and Afghan fronts, where self-style holy men justify and promote the slaughter of their fellow Muslims by the dozens and hundreds.
Consider Lebanon’s second war in as many summers. Last year, it was Hezbollah and their Iranian paymasters who were to blame for the suffering. This year, the Lebanese army is fighting a desperate and courageous battle against yet another branch of Islamic terror—the al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al Islam. Likewise, the Ethiopian military and what exists of the Somali military are fighting other branches of global jihadism in Africa.
In short, as some of us have argued for the better part of a decade, Iraq is just one theater, one battle, in a truly global war. The sooner Americans come to a consensus recognizing this reality, the better. And if we fail to do so by quitting here or there, by ceding one front or another to the enemy, by repeating the mistakes made in Beirut in 1983-84 or Mogadishu in 1993-94, the front will shift back to our own shores.