Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Terrorists Are Still Losing

           The thirteenth anniversary last month of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks committed by al-Qaeda Islamists marked another year in which federal civilian and military officials and their supporters have helped to keep the American homeland safe from major terrorist attacks on the scale of September 11.  Since then, there has been a widespread sense that the United States and its allies are losing the War on Terrorism to Islamists, but recent losses notwithstanding, the forces of counterterrorism have been winning.

            Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists are regaining or even seizing new territory in some places, especially in the Levant, Libya and Nigeria.  They have even been able to establish safe havens in some of these areas while resisting destruction in some of the key fronts of the War on Terrorism.  However, al-Qaeda and its allies were defeated last year in Mali, where they had seized much of the north, and have been prevented from recapturing key towns there while the tide had long turned against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia before an American air strike decapitated its leadership last month, as Somali troops, backed by African forces and supported by American air strikes, have been steadily gaining ground.  Continued progress is also being made against the al-Qaeda affiliate in the Philippines.  Al Qaeda had been crushed several years ago in Algeria and effectively eradicated in Saudi Arabia

            Meanwhile, the overthrow of the repressive Islamist government in Egypt that had replaced an ally has been of benefit to the War on Terrorism.  Egypt has exhibited strong counterterrorism cooperation with Israel and Libya, as well as support for American-led efforts against the “Islamic State,” while continuing to battle Islamists in its Sinai Peninsula

The recent American and allied air strikes on the “Islamic State” in Iraq, joined by Arab and Western allies, have reversed or at least slowed the terrorist army’s progress in some areas, but it is hoped that a more aggressive military campaign against the Islamists in Iraq and Syria will shift the momentum against the enemy more dramatically.  The new government for Iraq and the U.S.-brokered power sharing agreement and new government in Afghanistan is expected to result in a renewed effort on those two critical fronts in the War on Terrorism.  Despite the presence of terrorist rebels in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and even the occupation of significant territory by them, the elimination of the terrorist-sponsoring regimes that controlled most or all of these states has been helpful in denying them the full resources of state sponsorship and the advantages of safe haven. 

As the U.S.-led War on Terrorism is targeted at global terrorist organizations that threaten Americans, it is not limited to al-Qaeda and its allies or even to Islamists generally because terrorism from any source can be threatening to Americans.  Indeed, terrorism anywhere is a danger to all mankind, but militant Muslim and Communist terrorists, because of their ideologies of world domination by any means necessary, are particularly a global threat to Americans and their interests, directly or indirectly.  I observed in my post, Progress on Many Fronts in the War on Terrorism, from November of 2013, the recent progress being made by the U.S. and its allies not only against Islamist terrorists in Asia, Africa and Europe, but military successes achieved in various decades-long conflicts against non-Islamist militant Muslim terrorists in the Philippines, Communist terrorists in Colombia and Peru and the defeat of Marxist Kurdish rebels in Turkey, for example.

Militant Muslim or Marxist terrorists had also been set back or decisively defeated elsewhere around the world since the beginning of the War on Terrorism.  Since earlier in the war, after its last rocket attack on an American military base, the Communist Japanese Red Army has gone dormant.  Also earlier in the war, Greece was successful in dismantling a leftist terrorist organization while Spain’s socialist Basque separatists have given up their terrorism campaign.  The British have continued to make significant progress in eliminating the left-wing terrorist threat in Northern Ireland.  Meanwhile, in action against terrorists who were neither Muslim nor Communist, Sri Lanka had crushed Tamil terrorists – the only non-Muslim terrorists who practiced suicide bombings.  

Despite the recent resurgence of al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists on some fronts, they have been losing the War on Terrorism, as counterterrorist forces around the world have been defeating terrorists of various kinds through improved law enforcement, increased intelligence sharing, cutting off of funds to terrorists and military action.  Cogent religious and ideological arguments and providing more attractive political and economic systems have also been helpful.  Not giving in to terrorists’ demands has been an essential part of counterterrorist strategy.  Continued vigilance is critical in the long fight against terrorists.   

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