Update below the fold.
What is most important lesson to take away from the British disclosure of the terror plot to blow up 10 airliners?
It’s not what you may think it is.
No, it’s not that the British foiled the terrorists with traditional law enforcement tactics, and cooperation from a state that harbors terrorists. That’s an important point to make, considering the Bush/Cheney “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” malarkey is still a constant talking point among their addled base of supporters (now down to a “majority” of 33% of the American Public based on the latest AP-Ipsos poll).
And no, its not the fact that, despite having known about the possibility of liquid chemicals being smuggled on board airplanes to be combined to make a crude explosive device, the Bush administration (i.e., thanks to the incompetence of our Homeland Insecurity Department, as clammyc has so ably pointed out) had done nothing to protect airline passengers from such threats. We’ve known about the Republican’s complete indifference to actual security measures to protect Americans for some time. This most recent story merely highlights what many of us have been railing about for the past several years. Not that anyone in the mainstream media will take notice, of course, reliant as they are on the official Republican spin that this the terrorist threat coupled with the results of the Lamont victory over Lieberman proves that only Bush and the GOP can save us.
No, the most important lesson to be learned from this most recent terrorist plot is who the 21 arrested terrorists were not:
So who were they? British citizens and others with strong connections to Pakistan.
The Pakistan Connection
Pakistani terror networks were behind the 7/7 bombings and the London airline plot. What will we do about it?
by Thomas Joscelyn
Similar to the 7/7 bombings, reports indicate that the plotters had ties to terrorists operating in Pakistan. The British investigation into the 7/7 bombings revealed that the plot’s ringleaders had traveled to Pakistan, where they likely “had some contact with Al Qaeda figures.”
But while the terrorists’ ties to the al Qaeda hotspot failed to register in time to stop the 7/7 bombings, they set off alarm bells this time. Several reports indicate that Pakistani intelligence officials played a role in breaking up the plot. The precise information Pakistan provided the British has not yet been reported, but it may have involved the plotters’ ties to the same Pakistani terror network which had a hand in the 7/7 bombings.
The plot apparently began to unravel when Pakistani authorities arrested two British citizens of Pakistani descent in the last week to ten days. Starting from there, British, American, and Pakistani authorities connected the dots on the terrorists, leading to their compatriots in London, who also had ties to the Pakistani terror network.
Pakistan. The country in which Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri (as well as many former Taliban leaders) have long been thought to be hiding.
Pakistan. The country which allowed the head of its nuclear program, Dr. A.Q. Khan to set up a network which is believed to have shared nuclear weapons technology with Libya, Iran and North Korea.
Pakistan. The country with the highest proportion of radical fundamentalist Islamic schools known as Madrassahs, which preach jihad against the West and India, and which are a source of recruits for terrorist organizations.
Pakistan. A country headed by a military dictator, Pervez Musharraf who remains in power primarily due to economic and military aid received from the United States. A leader who rules an increasingly radicalized citizenry, including many members of his own Intelligence service, ISI which has links to several radical Islamic militant organizations. Indeed, some experts believe that elements of the ISI have links to Al Qaeda.
It’s not a stretch to think that we should be focusing our efforts in the “War on Terror” on Pakistan. That’s where Al Qaeda and the Taliban are. That’s where most of the recent threats against targets in the West have arisen. That’s where the only terrorists to strike in the United States are based.
Yet, time and time again, the Bush administration deliberately elides this connection between Pakistan and terrorism. Instead, Bush, Cheney and other administration officials have muddied the waters claiming at various times that Saddam Husssein, the Iraqi insurgency, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran were, and are, the central figures in the ever expanding War on Terror, and pose the greatest threat to America’s security. In short, they have deliberately turned a blind eye toward the most active source of international terrorism, Pakistan.
Which begs the question: Why? Why do we continually downplay Pakistan’s role in the terror attacks which have been launched at the homelands if the United States and the United Kingdom. Is it because of the nuclear weapons they possess? Is it because their US supported leadership is one well placed assassin’s bullet away from becoming the most dangerous fundamentalist Islamic state on the planet? Is it because they have no oil, unlike Iran and Iraq? Or is it that they pose no threat to Israel, like Hamas, Syria and Hizbollah?
In a sense, these are all rhetorical questions. Many of us already suspect that the answer to each of them is yes. These are unknowns that we think we know, to paraphrase Mr. Rumsfeld. Yet, that hardly lessens the outrage of watching our troops die in Iraq, or the citizens of Iraq suffer from a sectarian civil war created in large part by our occupation of their country, or our bombs dropped by the Israelis on the Lebanese, or Al Qaeda continue to engineer terror attacks around the world.
We are breaking our Army on the anvil of Iraq. We have destroyed our international reputation and become isolated diplomatically from our traditional allies, considered by many a rogue nation and the greatest threat to world peace. We are pissing away our national treasure into the hands of corrupt contractors and a defense industry in bed with the highest officials of our Government. Soaring Oil prices are eating away at the financial security of ordinary Americans while oil companies reap obscene profits. Meanwhile, Republicans shills are screaming to their media pals that only they can save us from the terrorist sympathizers in the ultra-left Democratic Party.
And somewhere, in Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden is laughing at us.
Update [2006-8-11 14:29:40 by Steven D]: 9/11 Commissioner, Tim Roemer, says the UK terror plot is why we shouldn’t be in Iraq (courtesy Think Progress):
ROEMER: We need to finish the job in Afghanistan. We need to capture Osama bin Laden. These are unfinished parts of the agenda. Afghanistan is backsliding. We are sending more NATO troops there. We are running into more problems in the south. More sorties are going on there then maybe even in Iraq and we’re having problems with the Tora Bora hills and trying to find Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri who seem very confident these days releasing their tapes and these are CNN studio quality tapes that they are putting out there these days communicating with hundreds of millions of potential jihadists and trying to get them to sign up.
O’BRIEN: You mention more problems potentially than Iraq, that’s a little bit of a quote of what you just said. Are you suggesting that maybe we should be withdrawing resources and money out of Iraq and putting it into capturing Osama bin Laden and in Afghanistan and other things? I mean at the end of the day, right, it comes down to ‘X’ number of dollars can be spent in certain things. Where do you put that money?
ROEMER: I don’t think you can cut and run from Afghanistan. I think you really have to finish the job there. We started out well. We did some things innovatively there with special operation forces and our CIA recruiting Muslim Americans to help. We did a great job there initially and now we’re seeing some backsliding and some lack of progress there, and I think it’s very important to finish the job in Afghanistan. It’s very important that we don’t put all our intelligence and military resources in Iraq and take our eye off the ball in other places in the world and it’s very important that we capture Osama bin Laden and we are not letting him release a tape every few months trying to motivate and inspire and recruit new jihadists.