Lara Logan, well respected, courageous journalist (as in REAL journalist), has given lie to the administration’s contention that Al Qaeda is ‘on their heels’. She is correct! She is correct on the details and more importantly she is correct on the context.
Fox News pointed out that in the last two days the President has eliminated the claim that “Al Qaeda in on its heels” from his stump speech. Ask yourself this question; if the US with the massive amount of resources dedicated to intelligence and counter terrorism has not gotten it right, how is it that Lara Logan got it right?. Or, ask yourself; if the intelligence community does have it right, why has the President put such influence on statements he knows to be a gross falsehood? Are you comfortable with that?
As always the messenger must be killed. Administration surrogates, contended that Ms. Logan must have been ‘affected’ by the fact that she was sexually assaulted in Tahir Square during the ‘Arab Spring”. The implication being that she can no longer see straight and suffers from some manner of psychological dysfunction. No doubt she was affected; no doubt one of the effects is clarity of vision regarding what evil looks like, up close! Ms. Logan is deserving of tremendous respect for getting back up on the horse that threw her, we can put her picture in the dictionary next to courage.
Recall, that the administration claimed that less than 150 Al Qaeda operative are left in Afghanistan. That contention misses the point. There is barely a dimes worth of difference between Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The Taliban is resurgent, the ideology is the same, and Americans continue to die at their hands. The question to the administration is; do you really know so little about Jihadism that you can actually separate the belief systems of Al Qaeda from other violent Jihadist groups that claim the Al Qaeda ideology as their own? No one with any level of expertise on the subject will make that contention; the reverse is true.
In the aftermath of the first 9/11 all we heard was that Al Qaeda had ‘morphed’, become decentralized and was more of an ideological force than an organized terror organization. We heard that independent splinter groups were the wave of the future. That simply means that the number of ‘official’ Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan or anywhere else is a meaningless metric. Ms. Logan correctly points that out.
The Taliban in Pakistan is resurgent. Al Qaeda in Iraq is resurgent, same goes for Yemen. Reports of Al Qaeda affiliated groups fighting in Syria is accepted as fact. Same goes for Egypt where traditional constraints applied to Salafist groups by Mubarak kept them under control. That is no longer the case. Bin Laden and Zawahiri both claimed to be influence by the Muslim Brotherhoods founders. What can you project will be the case in Egypt in the future?
Ms. Logan understands that the group of the day that garners our attention is not the key factor. The ideology is. She understands that Jihadist ideology is a dominating force in the Middle East, and elsewhere.
We have not even approached the ability to mitigate the impact of Al Qaeda and general Salafist ideology in the Arab World or anywhere else for that matter. We have failed to effectively fight the war of ideas, failed to elevate moderating influences such as the Green Movement in Iran, failed to understand the power of Islamic faith. Failed to understand that in the Muslim world, today’s ally is tomorrows enemy; literally, tomorrow!
Lara Logan does understand it; up close and personal. Lara Logan paid an extreme price for that knowledge and insight. Lara Logan is right!