Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Victory for the Good Guys

by Michael Kaplan

But America thought that it could threaten the lives of others, kill and invade, occupy and plunder, and conspire without bearing the consequences of its actions. 9/11 was the answer of the millions of people who suffer from American aggression, and since then, America has not been safe.

Americans need to stop looking at themselves from their own lens, but look at themselves from the lens of the world. They will then see the ugly face of America. America is not despised only by Muslims, but by many millions of people around the world, and in America itself.

This is a day to celebrate. Anwar al-Awlaki, the most dangerous Al Qaeda leader after Osama bin Laden (even more dangerous according to my congressman, Peter King), is now a martyr in paradise surrounded by 72 virgins courtesy of a CIA predator drone. I do hope the good imam is suitably grateful to the nation he so despised and whose citizenship he tarnished, for enabling him to finally achieve, and none too soon, the martyrdom he so desired.

All credit to President Obama and his national security team: Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Leon Panetta; current CIA Director and former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus; Admiral Michael Mullen, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; and all of the men and women of the military and intelligence services. Whatever his mishandling of the economy and his humiliating diplomacy of apology for American greatness, President Obama has successfully built on the Bush administration’s strategy and methods in fighting the war on radical Islamic jihadism, the war against “Those Who Must Not Be Named.” The president who came into office pledging to reverse and repudiate George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, shut down the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, put an end to enhanced interrogation and prosecute those CIA officers who used it, and try terrorist masterminds like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian courts, has done none of this much to the chagrin of the left. Instead the Obama administration has prosecuted the war in Afghanistan and expanded the use of predator drones and Special Forces for the targeted killing of our jihadist enemies. The result has been the elimination of bin Laden and Awlaki, Al Qaeda’s two most dangerous leaders, truly important victories in the war against the Jihad.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born son of Yemeni parents, a man with feet in both worlds, was the ideal propagandist for the Jihad. From his base in Yemen as a leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Awlaki used his intimate understanding of America, its culture and technology, to reach out to vulnerable American and British Muslim young men and turn them into jihadis. With the modern technology of the Internet, Awlaki recorded sermons in both English and Arabic which he posted to YouTube, spreading his hateful interpretation of Islam far and wide. Modern technology is indeed a two-edged sword. Like other demagogues Awlaki was a charismatic orator who, whether in person or through his recordings, held his listeners spellbound. This was his true power. Awlaki was not an organizer or a warrior in the field like Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri. He was a storyteller and a mythmaker. Journalist J. M. Berger, publisher of, has studied Awlaki and other American jihadis in depth. Berger writes that “Awlaki took traditional Islamic sources and breathed life into them, transforming religious texts into gripping and emotional stories, often with substantial embellishment. He tailored his idiom and analogy to Western language and culture, but his most important skill was the ability to transform often skeletal sources into gripping tales.” Among those who fell under Awlaki’s spell was U. S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan who killed thirteen people at Fort Hood, Texas, Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, and the Nigerian underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab. Awlaki also had some involvement, as yet unclear, with several of the 9/11 hijackers. There’s no question that this imam was a bad actor who for years played a major role in advancing the Jihad.