Shadow Government

We can't wish al Qaeda away

In a stunning development, a leading member of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which unifies Pakistani Taliban groups under the authority of Mullah Omar and Osama bin Ladin, has claimed responsibility for the attempted attack on Times Square. The failed car bomb is yet another reminder that our enemies have not gone away, and the rush to take credit for it shows that they still want to kill as many Americans as possible. The lethality of the attempt should not be underestimated. Authorities on the scene described the propane canisters and gasoline tanks in the car, and experts have said that a successful detonation of the bomb would have created a fireball that might have killed dozens of pedestrians. But if this bomb was like the one recovered in 2007 from Piccadilly Circus, and comparisons are already being made with that earlier failed attempt, the car might also have contained nails and other metal objects intended to kill even more people in an explosion.

This attempted attack is also a reminder that the administration's conviction that "solving" the Israel-Palestine conflict will end the terrorist threat to the United States is mistaken. We cannot negotiate away or mollify the desire by al Qaeda, the Taliban, or other Salafi-jihadis to kill us, because the men who subscribe this ideology do not want a just peace between Israel and Palestine with two states living side by side:  they want the destruction of Israel. They also do not have reasonable demands for the United States, e.g., a desire that the U.S. stop "meddling" in the affairs of the Muslim-majority world:  they want the United States destroyed.

One other important point: we have now been lucky twice in just a few months -- the "underwear bomber" only failed to bring down the flight into Detroit because he did not correctly detonate his bomb. In much the same way, hundreds were spared in Times Square solely because the car bomb failed to explode. Lucky can only take you so far, however, and we need to be more than "lucky" if another attempt is going to be stopped.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Shadow Government

Welcome Mary Habeck

We welcome Mary Habeck who joins us today on the Shadow Government bench. Mary has a wide range of interests, including a focus on the ideological aspects of the war on terror -- an unfortunately very timely specialty, as her blogpost explains. Dr. Habeck is currently a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, but as with any vast conspiracy, her links to the Shadow Government community are varied and stretch back many years. She received her Ph.D. and then taught in the history department at Yale (where she first met my wingman, Will Inboden), and she then served as my successor as special advisor for strategic planning on the NSC staff in the White House in the Bush administration. She is writing a trilogy of books examining the ideology and grand strategy of the terrorist networks and also the strategy of the American response. The first book, Knowing the Enemy was published by Yale University press in 2005 and the sequels are due in the next several years.