Real War against Terrorists Isn’t in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

While much of the public attention continues to focus on Afghanistan, the U.S. has been quietly ramping up its attacks on al-Qaeda in Yemen, one of the many countries into which the war on terror has expanded under President Barack Obama.

According to The New York Times, the American military has carried out at least four covert strikes in Yemen since December. Some have had mixed results. An attack in late May killed not only a group of al-Qaeda operatives, but also a Yemeni deputy governor who was trying to talk local terrorists into quitting their fight.
The newspaper reports: “In roughly a dozen countries—from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife—the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.”
President Obama also has approved an expansion of CIA drone missile attacks in Pakistan, as well as raids against terrorists in Somalia. Because these are not officially military operations, there is some concern that if the Americans involved are captured, they will not have the protection of the Geneva Conventions.
According to a RAND Corporation report, between 2001 and the end of 2009, 125 “homegrown terrorists” were apprehended or identified. Of the 109 for whom a national origin or ethnicity is known, 16 come from Pakistani families, 16 from Somali families, 8 are of Yemeni origin and 7 have Jordanian roots.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents (by Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti and Robert F. Worth, New York Times)
How Serious is the Threat of Terrorism in the United States? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia: A Ticking Time Bomb (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations) (pdf)


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