Al-Awlaki Video Released For Mass Distribution
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today the U.S. is actively seeking cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is on a U.S. "capture or kill" list.
This weekend, a video interview of al-Awlaki, an excerpt of which was released in April, was posted in full on radical Islamic websites.
"Oh, America, if you transgress against us, we will transgress against you, and you keep killing our people, we will kill your people," Anwar al-Awlaki says in the video. "This is the image that we need to present. These American soldiers heading to Afghanistan and Iraq will be killed. We will kill them if we can, there in Fort Hood, or we will kill them in Afghanistan and Iraq."
He praised the actions of Maj. Nidal Hasan, charged in the Fort Hood, Texas killings, and according to CNN, urged others to follow in Hasan's footsteps: [More...]
If he indeed urged others to do what Hasan did, the question as to whether he is only inspirational rather than operational, seems pretty moot. (Although, I still wonder if the U.S. targeting him for assassination wasn't the impetus for the change.)
If the tape was made in April and only fully released this weekend, I wonder if al-Awlaki's comments that he moves freely in Yemen protected by his tribesmen are still accurate.
Regardless, as to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, he gets this much right:
[H]e said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspect in the failed Christmas Day plot to bomb a Northwest Airlines flight, succeeded in "even though it didn't cause the killing of one single person."
"They spent more than $40 billion, and a mujahed like Omar Farouq was able to infiltrate their security apparatus even though they claim he was under surveillance," he said. "And despite all he managed to get there and reach the American heartland, to Detroit."
Any time we restrict our freedoms in response to a terrorist threat, they've won. Whether it's the mass employment of full body scanners, increased electronic surveillance or creating more exceptions to providing Miranda rights to suspects, they have succeeded in chipping away at our fundamental values and freedoms and made another dent in our economy by our predictable response of ramping up the funds spent on the war on terror.
One of the few "successes" we've had in the war on terror has been the Justice Department's conviction rate in 300 or more terror-related cases. Since they are conducted in federal court, the whole world sees what happens to a terrorist who gets convicted -- decades behind bars in a place like Supermax. Instead of capitalizing on the potential deterrent effect such sentences bring, Republicans and weak Democrats want to move the biggest cases to military commissions, which are far less transparent and will receive much less publicity, rendering their deterrent value close to zero.
Young would-be suicide bombers are brainwashed into believing they will become martyrs. If they succeed, in their world, they do. But when they fail, they are abandoned. If they were aware that failure at their mission would lead not to a valiant death or unknown destiny, but only to being locked up in cages for decades, maybe they would think twice before signing up.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Times Square accused plotter Faisal Shahzad, Najibullah Zazi, Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid, -- even the teenage Somali pirate -- are poster boys/men for what happens when plans fail or one gets caught.
Maybe we should take the money we're wasting on TV ads that say "this is your brain on meth" and replace them with TV and internet ads that say and depict "This is your cell at Supermax" and broadcast them in international as well as domestic markets and on You Tube. Over time, maybe the ads would have a greater impact than body scanners, biometric cards, and massive use of security cameras, which cost far more money and infringe on the rights of the rest of us.
Al-Awlaki and his associates have learned to use the internet to recruit and spread their message. Targeting them for assassination has no deterrent effect, it just fuels the hatred and gains them followers. Our reactive policy of increased surveillance only proves to them they can succeed, even with a failed attempt, in destroying our freedoms and values. We should be smarter than this.
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