State Dept. Counterterrorism Chief Warns of Domestic Radicalization « The Washington Independent
Speaking of counterterrorism, here’s Amb. Daniel Benjamin, the State Department counterterrorism chief, speaking today to a Jamestown Foundation conference. (Via Marc Lynch.) Benjamin, who was a fervent critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism record, basically sees al-Qaeda in disarray, under pressure in Afghanistan-Pakistan and ideologically discredited. Its only real sparks of hope are in “under-governed” places like Yemen and Somalia. And, well, the good old U.S.A.:
The second arena where Sunni radicals continue to succeed is in persuading religious extremists to adopt their cause, even in the United States. A bus driver, Najibullah Zazi, was trained in Pakistan and now faces charges in federal court for planning to set off a series of bombs in the United States. An indictment that was unsealed Monday in Chicago portrays an American citizen–David Headley–playing a pivotal role in last year’s attack in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people and dramatically raised tensions in South Asia. So even if this radical movement is not mobilizing the masses, it is still galvanizing enough people to take to violence and poses a continuing, powerful threat. The importance of these two cases should not be glossed over–the conspiracies these men were engaged in had roots in the FATA, and eight years after 9/11, should give us all pause. The threat to the U.S. remains substantial and enduring despite the operational constraints on al-Qaida central.
It is also multifaceted as we have seen in the movement of young men, many of them motivated by a sense of ethnic duty, who have left their communities in Minnesota, been radicalized in Somalia, and fought and died for al-Shabaab.
This follows on testimony last week from Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, echoed to a lesser extent by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.