Monday, January 16, 2012

Assassinating American Citizens?
CONAN: This is an editorial from The Daily Beast by Richard Miniter: For the first time since the days of Abraham Lincoln, an American president has ordered the killing of a U.S. citizen, far from any battlefield or courtroom. And like Abraham Lincoln, Obama has saved the Constitution and the country by defending it against a nihilistic and narrow reading of the Constitution that would prevent the country from protecting itself.
Awlaki was an imminent threat to the lives of Americans and our allies. Based on Awlaki's links to two 9/11 hijackers, to the leadership of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and to jihad in America, there's no doubt he posed a continuing and urgent threat. As evidence accumulated of Awlaki's links to Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, the so-called underpants bomber, who planned to down a Detroit-based jet on Christmas day, and to the Times Square bomber, these developments only confirmed Obama's view that Awlaki was a clear and present danger.
The government of Yemen was not going to arrest him. And unlike bin Laden - excuse me, just a turning a page here. Unlike bin Laden, he moved constantly, meaning the Special Forces team would be going into a location they knew little about. And while Awlaki's protectors were numerous, hardened and well-trained, these those two factors increased the odds of a deadly failure, nor was there any reliable way to lure Awlaki to a place where he might easily be captured. The president was left with two hard options: ignore Awlaki or kill him in a way that minimizes civilian and American casualties.

Abroad and at home,
the U.S. goal must be to dispel al Qaeda’s narrative
that the United States is at war with Islam and
to prevent extremist voices from again hijacking
America’s relationship with the Muslim world.
The spate of recent terrorist incidents should not
lead the United States to jettison what has been
working and bring back “Global War on Terror”
rhetoric and practice that only serves to strengthen
al Qaeda’s hand. The Obama administration is on
the right track, but much remains to be done to
translate strategic commitments into operational
practice and bureaucratic reality.
National Security Strategy rightly warns of the need
to "resist fear and overreaction" in the face of terrorist
attacks and provocations.    The administration
should resist, and push back hard against, public
demands to respond to domestic threats by taking
actions that would alienate American Muslims and
threaten civil liberties; an example would be Senator
Joseph Lieberman’s suggested legislation to strip
suspected terrorists of their American citizenship.110

As terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann puts it: “It
is increasingly second- and third-tier extremist social
networking forums managed by unaffiliated fringe
activists – many of them offering dedicated Englishlanguage
chat rooms – that appear to play pivotal roles
in the indoctrination and radicalization of some of
today's most notorious aspiring terrorists."107 The role
of English-speaking Internet jihadists such as Anwar
al-Awlaki feeds the fears that domestic radicalization is
a coherent new al Qaeda strategy to flood the American
homeland with a variety of plots from diverse individuals.
108 Maj. Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood shooter, was
connected to Awlaki, with evidence of considerable
contact over the Internet. A generation is emerging
of influential English-language recruiters for jihadist
groups, such as Awlaki from AQAP, Adam Gadahn for
AQC and Omar Hammami for Shabaab. This evolution
of the jihadist movement online should be carefully
monitored, though its significance should not be

There are some areas where al Qaeda has not yet
been able to establish a presence where one might
be expected, including Palestine, Syria, Lebanon,
several of the small Gulf states, Egypt, Turkey, Iran
and much of Southeast Asia. Its inability to gain a
foothold might be explained by the strength and
counterterrorism efforts of those states, by the
presence of a strong competing Islamist movement
or by a tacit or explicit modus vivendi. Al
Qaeda has a long-standing desire for a presence
in the Palestinian arena, for instance, but thus far
Hamas has prevented al Qaeda-like salafi-jihadist
organizations from establishing themselves in
areas under its control. Al Qaeda and salafi-jihadist
figures have engaged in an escalating war of words
with the Palestinian Islamist movement, slamming
Hamas for restraining attacks against Israel
and participating in democratic elections under
Israeli occupation. The weakening of Hamas – or
its “taming” through acceptance of a two-state
solution and pragmatic governance – may actually
improve al Qaeda's chances of obtaining its muchdesired
foothold in Gaza.98
89 An American-backed Ethiopian
military campaign ousted the relatively moderate
Islamist Transitional Federal Government in 2007,
creating renewed chaos that opened the door to
the more radical al-Shabab movement. Although
al-Shabab is not officially affiliated with al Qaeda, it
reportedly has received training and support from

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