Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Times Square Terrorist Attack Recap

Now that the dust has settled a bit on the Times Square attack, I wanted to revisit it with a bit more analysis that should be very useful for the future protection of America.

First, this guy Shahzad was on the terrorist watch list for a decade, he had no job, his house was in foreclosure, and he'd just returned --
with a load of cash -- from a trip to Pakistan for several months where he associated with a known terrorist maker, but we didn't stop him? Why not?? We need to demand answers from Congress and the White House.

Oh, and as to his motive...he told the authorities exactly why he did it: as retribution for drone attacks in his home country. And yet, the liberal Left has gotten extremely creative in fabricating just about any other motives they think might fit their template. He hated DemCare, he was crazy, we deserved it for attacking him first, he was stressed because of his financial troubles, he was a suicide bomber who chickened out, he was stupid, or he had no motive at all and it's a complete mystery. This is like asking why a starving wolf feels the need to go hunting for a rabbit, and it is precisely the kind of willful blindness that is going to cost American lives. Luck makes a pretty awful security policy, but Democrats seem pretty happy with it so far.

How did he get here? Well, there are a few tried-and-true ways jihadists get into the U.S. (besides being picked up on the battlefield, given an ACLU lawyer at YOUR expense, and being sent up for a show trial), including fraudulent marriages and student visas. If the federal government was serious about securing the nation from terrorists, they'd dismantle both programs, at least in terms of nations that are known to be hostile to the U.S. Clearly, they're not serious about it.

The other thing we need to be asking ourselves is: was
this simply a test mission? What did terrorists learn, even from this failed attack?
Here are some things al-Qaida could have found to be true:
  • A U.S. national moved back to Pakistan, lived in areas controlled by terrorists and was trained by them, then easily re-entered the United States.
  • After returning to the United States, their OPERATIVE easily moved about the New York area without detection by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. He was able to buy equipment, albeit rudimentary, to construct a bomb.
  • OPERATIVE was easily able to enter one of the MOST celebrated locations in America, to do a test run of the bombing.
  • Days later OPERATIVE was able, again without detection, to drive an SUV stuffed with bomb making materials and park it directly in Times Square. OPERATIVE escaped safely.
  • Despite the fact that Times Square has been talked about as a major terror target for years, authorities reacted only after local vendors saw a suspicious car. [ Judith Miller reports in her blog post, “10 Questions About Shahzad and Times Square,” about 80 surveillance cameras that dot Times Square never captured him leaving the scene. She wonders why the New York police never invested in surveillance cameras like London has. Such cameras are relatively inexpensive.]
  • Though capture of OPERATIVE took place relatively quickly after the attempt, nothing authorities did would have PREVENTED a major terror attack in Times Square. Al-Qaida could have successfully detonated a weapon of mass destruction using OPERATIVE’s SUV.
  • Authorities successfully apprehended OPERATIVE in a short period, though OPERATIVE used limited effort to avoid detection.
  • OPERATIVE was captured on outbound jet at JFK airport. OPERATIVE came close to exiting the U.S. without detection, as the “No Fly List” system did not work as planned. Had OPERATIVE tried to leave the United States within 24 hours of his bomb attempt, OPERATIVE may have exited the country without being captured.
  • Authorities quickly accepted OPERATIVE’s claim he acted alone.

Personally, I find this list pretty disturbing. The thought that this was all gathered from a failed attack makes it even worse - what happens when the big boys utilize this information to create a real-deal plan like the 9/11 attacks? Luck won't cut it.

In a completely unsurprising move, the Obama administration, when faced with a mountain of evidence disproving their initial reflexive denial that this had anything to do with a network of terrorists or the Muslim faith, actually admitted their error...though they did it with so much spin that it appeared they had been saying that all along:

The Washington Post calls Eric Holder’s admission that the Pakistani Taliban plotted the Times Square bombing a “sharp escalation,” but it’s more like a U-turn. Initially, as the Post notes, the White House tried claiming that Faisal Shahzad had acted alone and that the Taliban claim of responsibility was hogwash. That U-turn hasn’t kept the White House from pushing its other favored response, that the system supposedly worked ...
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said investigators had “developed evidence that shows the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack,” a sharp escalation from the initial assessment that Faisal Shahzad had acted alone and without sophisticated training. Holder’s remarks, coupled with similar statements by other senior U.S. officials over the weekend, highlighted the emerging role of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group that appears to have only recently moved to follow through on its ambition, expressed for years, of striking inside the United States. …
In the first place, an “escalation” is an increase in direction or scope. That’s not what Holder did yesterday. He and the Obama administration changed directions, thanks to an avalanche of evidence that Shahzad had traveled to Pakistan for five months, trained with the Taliban, and suddenly had a lot of cash to spend on his return in February. The White House wanted to spin the attack right away as one conducted by a one-off lone wolf, which would not prompt the kind of questions the Obama administration wants to avoid at the moment. That brings us to Brennan’s laughable statement, that the system worked because Shahzad’s an idiot. That’s not exactly the full expectation of counterterrorism. We have had three attacks now in six months, two of which failed only because of dumb luck and poor design. The goal of counterterrorism is to stop plots before they get to the point of exploding in mid-air or Times Square. It’s nice to be lucky, but it’s better to be good, and eventually our luck will run out.

It really says something that the enemy of our age is being enabled more by our own government than by anyone else. It says we're in serious trouble, and it says that we need to throw out that government NOW.

There's my two cents.

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